Thursday, 12 January 2017

Preventive Maintenance As A Clever Cost-Cutting Process

So many managers in factories and hotels treat maintenance as a necessary evil. The cost of engineers and technicians, who look after and repair the equipment, is considered a burden that deprives the entity of extra profit. In these entities, one often finds the maintenance personnel, “fighting fires” all the time. They tend to serve those who either stand high in the hierarchy or those who shout the loudest.


The lack of an organised maintenance effort brings about a lot of wasted time, time that is preciously limited and time that costs a lot of money. Studies taken in such workplaces showed that a maintenance technician only spends around 25 per cent of work-time actually on the job solving problems. The rest of the time (75 per cent) is spent looking for spare parts, going to and from the work-site (several times), getting permits to start work and on other similar non-productive work.


Change is always difficult to make and changing operating procedures and mentality even more so. The change required here is to gradually move from reactive maintenance (fighting fires technique) to proactive maintenance (preventing the fires in the first place). Proactive maintenance is more commonly referred to as Preventive Maintenance. This can be achieved through short- and long-term maintenance planning. Employing the help of software improves the chances of success drastically.


A Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is software dedicated to improving the efficiency, organisation and effectiveness of the maintenance section. A good CMMS is capable of keeping track of repairs done on equipment or machinery, alerts maintenance personnel on when preventive maintenance is due, plans and schedules jobs to personnel who have the skill to do the job in question, makes sure that required parts are ordered in time for maintenance to take place and other similar organising functionalities.


The use of a CMMS can improve maintenance personnel efficiency to 55 per cent or even more. This means that a maintenance person is capable of doing more than twice the amount of work that used to be done before. It often results that as more time is available to the maintenance section, work that used to be outsourced will be handled in-house, further reducing costs, building better in-house skills while affecting maintenance in a shorter time.

A CMMS application also helps reduce the frustration felt by maintenance persons who might feel that the lack of organisation in their department makes them look inefficient in the eyes of their clients. It creates a pride of being professional through planning and efficient handling of maintenance. It improves production, as downtime is reduced. Maintenance can be planned weeks ahead and the necessary arrangements for reassigning production workers to other chores in the factory can be done with ease.


Long-term benefits of using a CMMS is that equipment and machinery lifetime is extended through the proper implementation of preventive maintenance. This in itself reduces the cost of re-investing earned profit into new machines.

Decision taking is also made easier with the data provided by such an application. Data on each and every machine’s repairs and maintenance is recorded. When the question of whether to repair or replace comes up, a more informed decision can be taken.


With all of these benefits, one wonders why so many entities overlook such an application. Reasons vary from the lack of understanding of the benefits such an application provides to the fear that such an application would cost the earth. On the other hand, while it is true that most CMMS software cost too much to be implemented in SMEs, there exist systems aimed at such entity sizes that are more affordable and still offer a good return on investment .

Technology has come a long way and the use for cost cutting and improved bottom line is a clever way towards moving closer to success.

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