Reliability Matters: Planned Maintenance Vs Reactive Maintenance

Reliability matters, whether it is in your personal life or on the factory floor.  It is generally assumed to cost 2 to 5 times more for breakdown maintenance as the same job in a planned, scheduled environment. This is a truth I was recently reminded of.

During a 600-mile drive to a family reunion my truck's fuel pump failed.  The cost of repair and towing was $781, even with a few towing miles paid by AAA. The lost-time on the trip was 5 hours.  All in all, it was a pretty "fortunate failure" and I was able to coast to an off-ramp, and roll right into a parking lot when the truck died.  In addition to that good fortune a nearby garage could get me in within two hours of the breakdown and the parts were available the same day. Another garage I called had no time available for almost a week.

To calculate the cost of this breakdown failure in comparison to a scheduled failure, I did a search and found that the fuel pump and filter if purchased at a local parts store would total $275.  The labor for the job was about 3 hours and they kept my fuel in the tank.

If the repair had been planned, the total cost of the job would have been $275 for parts and $240 for labor (3 hours of labor assuming $80 per hour) for a total of $515.  Cost of Planned Job = $515

My cost was $781 for parts, labor and towing, 5 hours of lost production (assume that 3 of us: my wife, nephew and myself, are worth $100 per hour) for a total lost production cost of $500, plus $30 for lunch, and $15 in miscellaneous shopping while waiting.  This is a grand total of$1326.  This clearly was more costly than a planned job.  In addition I am pretty sure, back in Raleigh, NC I would have changed the pump myself.

At the end of the day:    

Cost of planned job= $515

Cost of unplanned job= $1326

However, the look on my wife’s and nephew’s faces as we coasted up the exit ramp, through the stop sign, and down into a parking spot at the front of a service station/restaurant.....


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