Documentation

Operation & Maintenance Manual: a Detailed Guide

Everything you need to know about the Operation and Maintenance Manual, and you can use them to their full potential.

Introduction

Have you ever bought a product and found a little leaflet with it that tells you all about it — what it is, how to use it, how to store it, etc.?

An Operation and Maintenance Manual is precisely that, but for larger equipment that a company may allot as its asset. So, essentially speaking, a standard Operation and Maintenance Manual helps a company keep its equipment in good form and get the best from it. 

Here, we will go into a detailed talk regarding this tool and understand why they are so important and why you need to know about it. So, let’s get technical and learn more about Operation and Maintenance Manual. 

Defining an operation & maintenance manual

Talking of technical, we will quickly define what an operation and maintenance manual (or O&M Manual) is — it is an extensive document outlining the details about the technical upkeep and know-how of equipment and its various parts.

The reason why the operation and maintenance manual exists is for companies and staff to ensure that the equipment is run properly, is kept in good shape, and works efficiently. 

It can be called a guidebook for equipment outlining guidelines on how to handle big machines, plants, and other equipment. Among others, you will find executives, organizational managers, technicians and so on who make the most use of it. It is also a very handy tool that managers use to train new employees in the handling and management of said equipment. That is all for the O&M meaning

Now, you might be curious about what exactly does an Operation and Maintenance Manual contain? Don’t worry; we will give you a quick sneak peek of that too. Here is what you may find inside a standard Operation and Maintenance Manual:

Overview

The Operation and Maintenance Manual starts with an overview, which is more like an introduction. It informs you about the equipment, what it does, about the company, information charts, and so on. 

Physical blueprint

This section gives you an idea about the physical build of the equipment or plant. You can go through it to have a better understanding of how the machine is built physically. You will get information on the materials, blueprints, codes, floor plans, and every other thing used to build it. For new employees, this part will tell you what you can and cannot touch. 

Operation instructions

A piece of equipment is obsolete if it cannot perform. Hence, the Operation and Maintenance Manual contains a detailed section highlighting the operations of the equipment. 

One look at this section will inform you of all the actions that the machine can perform and how it can do so. For new employees, this section is what their superiors will repeatedly ask them to focus on. 

Maintenance instructions

One of the prime concerns that come along with any piece of equipment is how to maintain them. Sure, machines and plans are assets, but they are so as long as they can perform. 

So, to ensure that machines can stay an asset for the company for the longest time, the company needs to pay serious attention to their upkeep and maintenance. 

This is the part in an Operation and Maintenance Manual where all physical and technical maintenance routines should be recorded. 

Emergency protocols

It is better to be safe than to be sorry later. Hence, a good part of the Operation and Maintenance Manual stays dedicated to emergencies and the solutions to them. It is a very helpful section that lists out steps and measures that can help sort things out in the middle of a chaotic situation. 

Different types of operation & maintenance manuals

Now that we have the first basic covered, we will move on to the second basic — the different types of operation and maintenance manual. Understand one thing: any piece of machinery is not a simple structure. It is a highly complicated installation that can be listed under multiple layers. It will be impossible to put complete details of it in one single manual. Either that or you will have yourself a very thick book. 

Also, you don't have an operation and maintenance manual only for machines. You can have manuals for all sorts of different activities that a company may perform. So, given that fact, you will easily come across several types of Operation and Maintenance Manuals that a company may keep handy. Of them, here are the most common types:

  • Product Installation Manuals.
  • Product Maintenance Manuals.
  • Recovery And Backup Manuals.
  • Human Resources Manuals.
  • Software Administration Manuals.
  • Help Desk Guide Manuals.
  • Work Aid Manuals.
  • User Manuals (From Manufacturers).
  • Safely Instruction Manuals.
  • Reference Guides.

As you can see, there are several types of operation and maintenance manuals that a company may use. Having these manuals around helps current employees stay relevant to equipment information while making it easier for new hires to get familiar with the equipment. 

Why use an operation & maintenance manual?

We have dropped plenty of hints as to why the Operating Maintenance Manual is a beneficial tool for any said company. But, because we are a detailed walk-through, we will do a pointwise review explaining the benefits of an Operation and Maintenance Manual. 

Helps you stay prepared

The Operation and Maintenance Manual is your go-to manual for any help you need for your equipment or any other organizational activity. It helps you lay down a step-by-step process that is easy to follow. Therefore, in times of emergency or need, the manual becomes an essential item that can help you get desired results. 

Especially during emergencies, when people tend to panic and make mistakes, the Operation and Maintenance Manual helps organize the procedure and makes things easier, thus saving time and cutting costs. 

A collection of “all you need” info

The manual is a compilation of information about a particular activity or equipment. Having a centralized hub of all needed information makes it easier to access. So, when you need it, you will know exactly where you will find it without losing precious minutes. 

Ensures quality performance

What an operation and maintenance manual does is give you a detailed outline of how a task is to be done without any errors and delays. When you follow the detailed guidelines, you are ensuring that your equipment is delivering to its best efforts or your task is being done efficiently. With precise guidelines and instructions, it ensures swift actions and efficient execution, improving the quality of performance. 

Assists in onboarding processes

As we have mentioned earlier, the Operation and Maintenance Manual becomes the go-to document for training new hires and helping them get accustomed to their work. With these manuals, the company does not have to worry about hiring trainers, as new employees can refer to the guidebooks and learn with the guidance of their supervisors. 

Helps You Keep Up Safety Standards 

No matter the equipment or activity, the safety of the employees, is always a top priority. The Operation and Maintenance Manual’s section on safety allows employees to be aware of safety measures during the execution of the action or while using the equipment. As such, a company can avoid accidents and ensure the safety of its employees. 

Putting together an operation & maintenance manual

Creating a materialistic and relevant Operation and Maintenance Manual is no short of a skill. You need to be able to put factual, to-the-point instructions that are relevant and easy to follow.

So, we will whip up a quick ‘how to construct an Operation and Maintenance Manual’ for your reference. Let's get started!

Planning & outlining 

Like everything else, you will first need to plan and outline what you want your manual to be like. So, create a rough structure of the Operation and Maintenance Manual, trying to narrow down the topics and segments you would want in it. A tip: keep in mind who this manual is for and create accordingly. 

Include relevant documents 

The Operation and Maintenance Manual is a very technical document. So you may need to include crucial supporting documents that are relevant to your matter. You can take reference from the person concerned with the activity you are making the manual for. For example, you can consult technicians and managers to provide you with needed documents. 

First draft

Once you have your materials and information, you can just align them to your initial planning. Make sure that your manual is easy to follow and understand. Once that is done, your first draft will be ready. 

Get feedback

A good manual is easy to understand and serves its purpose. So, the next step involves testing its efficiency. Hand it out to the teams and managers who will be using this manual in the future and ask them for their feedback. Make the necessary changes and your manual is good to go. Here’s a tip: you may need to edit and re-edit your manual multiple times before your final draft is finalized. 

Keep updating

Issuing the final draft may seem like the end of the line, but you are far from it. Being a guidebook, the manual needs to be continuously updated and changed to stay relevant to current times and situations. So, make sure you go back to your manual now and then to update and revise it. Here’s a tip: creating an electronic manual aids in quick distribution and updating. You will also find numerous templates online that you can use. 

Operation & maintenance manual: challenges & solutions 

We have come to understand that an Operation and Maintenance Manual is a very information-heavy document. Naturally, writing an entire manual manually can be a tremendous task. To give you a clearer idea of this, here are the top challenges that you may face with the manual creation of the Operation and Maintenance Manual. Don’t worry; we are also going to provide you with some great solutions that you can easily apply.

Manual creation

Firstly, creating an entire operation and maintenance manual physically can be a very taxing job. It is a slow process and requires a lot of effort and resources. When it comes to creating one manually, companies may even need to appoint an entire team to draft an Operation and Maintenance Manual.

Time-consuming & expensive 

As you can understand, it is an incredibly time-consuming effort. You will not only be investing a lot of time but will also have to invest a lot of money and resources.

Prone to mistakes

Manually constructed operation and maintenance manuals are easily prone to mistakes. As guidebooks that the whole company would be following, you would not want a mistake in the Operation and Maintenance Manual. Any of these mistakes could result in bad results that a company would not want to happen. 

Difficult to update

Lastly, manually crafted Operation and Maintenance Manuals can be very difficult to update; any small changes will need you to go back and start from scratch. 

So, with all these problems, what do you think is the solution? It’s simple — go online! As we hinted earlier, you can easily make electronic Operation and Maintenance Manuals electronically. For example, Scribe and Scribe Pages is an excellent platform that allows you to create step-by-step processes and share them easily. It has some excellent features that can help you auto-record steps and easily put them together to form a guide that anyone can follow along.

With that, we will wrap up this walk-through of an operation and maintenance manual and various other things about it. Hopefully, we were able to give you a clear picture of what it is and how it is beneficial for companies.