Steve Sterling, Contributor

Management May Not Understand the Strategic Value of Maintenance

By Steve Sterling, Contributor | Permanent Link

Does one or more of the following statements apply to your operations?

  • We don’t have the time or budget for extensive training on new equipment
  • We have no formal training process when new operators or maintenance personnel come to the line
  • We don’t have the budget to pay for service contracts with equipment suppliers
  • We often do not service our equipment at OEM recommended intervals
  • When we can, we buy non-OEM replacement parts because they are cheaper
  • Our maintenance team simply does not have the bandwidth to maintain production lines the way we feel they need to be maintained

I hope that none of these statements apply to your operations. I suspect, however, that the maintenance conditions described in the statements are not aberrations, but common problems within the industry.

The statements above come down to time, budget, and/or personnel. Maintenance personnel today may feel more like firefighters than highly trained technicians. Available time to work on problems shrinks while the growing complexity of electro-mechanical machines and the number of machines in use increase, leaving not enough hours in a day for small maintenance teams to stay on top of preventive maintenance. Even before the economic downturn, maintenance budgets and headcount were being squeezed. The downturn simply accelerated the trend of cutting staff and budgets.

Until the operations team can put together a compelling fact-based case for senior management’s consideration, the situation will likely become worse. One suggestion would be to work with a select group of suppliers on preventative maintenance and training. Collect data on downtime, throughput, scrap, quality, and overall maintenance costs on those machines. Have a set of control machines that do not receive the extra attention and after six or eight months compare the difference between the two groups. Prepare a cost/benefit analysis and take your case to management.

If service and support professionals want to see positive change in order to more fully contribute to the success of the organization – achieve outstanding uptime, ensure fast changeover, lower waste, work toward highest possible throughout, and stop the bloodletting in budgets and personnel – they must become fact-based service and support champions.

Here’s the question: Do you have the data that indicates that preventive maintenance pays for itself? Vote yes or no. I welcome your comments.

Do you have the data that indicates that preventive maintenance pays for itself?

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