Maintenance management has been operating in closed silos for too long. The day has come for operations that run maintenance as an expense line item to wake up and realize that maintenance management is the core function of industry asset management.

Senior management that fails to recognize the evolution of the role of maintenance management will ultimately see their organization bleed until it goes out of business altogether. The good news is that it is not too late to hit the reset button but to do this; senior, operations and maintenance managers need to know what has changed and why.

The Old, Do It My Way or Hit the Highway Maintenance Management

The classic case of silo maintenance management is where maintenance is purely reactionary and based upon the principle that, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it philosophy. The term silo refers to the fact that maintenance is viewed as a necessary evil, allocated a budget and forgotten about unless something goes wrong.

Maintenance in this type of organization doesn’t have any real responsibility other than to keep assets up and running with maybe a touch of preventive maintenance such as changing HVAC filters or applying lubrication. Maintenance reports to a supervisor who then reports to some mid-level facilities or plant manager. Staff meetings consist of what is to be done for the day.

Work is requested and performed using a primarily paper based system and then recorded on rudimentary spreadsheets which may or may not be on a PC covered with coffee stains and grime. Paper and other documents are eventually filed in a storage room full of file cabinets. Does this sound like your organization?

We could debate the Pros and Cons of this type of maintenance management but what would be the point? The simple fact is that in today’s competitive economy there is no place for reactive maintenance organizations. They are obsolete!

It Is Not Too Late to Hit the Reset Button for Maintenance Management

The most successful businesses in the world have had at least one major reorganization or shake up in order to stay competitive in the marketplace. In most cases, someone is promoted or brought in and handed the opportunity to show their abilities.

Major change can be for any number of reasons including a change in leadership, a need for creativity, product declines or profitability issues. It is the profitability issues that are the major focus over the last few years as many global and domestic economies have taken a beating.

For asset intensive industries, maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) are the most critical area where there is a need for better controls. MRO costs which include energy, labor and the capitalized purchase of assets can easily exceed 60% of expenses.

Stopping the Bleeding

The logical question is how can you stop the bleeding ($ going out the door) is there is no one in senior management with hands on maintenance management experience? Without experience in this field, the issues and ideas of asset management are left in the hands of bean counters that still see maintenance as an expense line item.

The answer is to start increasing asset and maintenance management visibility. This can be accomplished by understanding that the cost of asset management is directly related to the type of maintenance management put in place.

Changing the direction of your maintenance management team means a commitment to:
  • Maintenance being more proactive than reactive. This includes better preventive maintenance, asset inspections as well as using historical work management records combined with technology to project needs.
  • That all maintenance will be planned just like all production.
  • Increasing visibility by understanding how maintenance management impacts the performance of other business units.
  • Including maintenance management in business planning to understand how decisions in other functional areas impact the ability of maintenance management to be proactive.
How does this stop the bleeding? Better asset and maintenance management will:
  • Lower labor costs through the automation of manual processes, scheduling work, fewer emergency repairs and less overtime. Maintenance management can simply do more with the same amount of resources.
  • Lowers energy costs by making sure assets are in optimal working condition. Poorly maintained assets will draw more power to accomplish the same level of output.
  • Decrease document storage and handling costs as paper flow is reduced and important documents are stored on computers reducing the time spent retrieving, locating or copying files, photos, blueprints etc.
  • Extend the useful lifecycle of assets. Fewer breakdowns and better maintenance care equals assets that lasts longer. The longer assets can be productive the less capital funding is needed to replace or perform major repairs
The New Maintenance Manager

How does an organization go from fighting one fire after the next to a proactive maintenance operation? The first step is to rewrite the job description/expectations of the maintenance manager.

The new age maintenance manager has proven planning skills, access to technology tools, knows how to use numbers to justify decisions, recommendations and change. In addition, they have the social skills needed to convince others (up and down the corporate food chain) to be part of the change. In short, they are more tactical than technical but know how to get the job done at the lowest cost.

The Tools of the New Age Maintenance Manager

Technology is an important part of new age maintenance management. Basic maintenance management starts with the use of computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) but depending on the needs of the organization this can be expanded to include:

  • Predictive technology such as Infrared thermography, vibration analysis and ultrasound testing. A good CMMS is able to accommodate all of these technologies.
  • EAM Systems: Has a core CMMS base but great for asset and maintenance management from the planning through retirement. Provides tools to capture and analyze historical work management data for better capital analysis.
  • ERP CBMRCM, and other maintenance methodology software/tools. The point being, there is a tool available for almost any need.
  • IWMS which combines real estate planning, space/occupancy/planning, EAM, project management and sustainability to form a more comprehensive management tool for executives.

Lastly, one other important tool for the new age maintenance department is mobile handheld devices. The use of mobile devices not only decrease paperwork but enables maintenance staff to submit work request, receive work orders, inspections checklists but also transmit results back to management for faster analysis and decisions.

Is it time your organization hit the Maintenance Management Reset Button?