The Maintenance Challenge: Be Valuable, or Be Gone!

This article was featured in our eNewsletter today, 4/7/11. We wanted to share it via our blog too.)

Rising Costs & Market Uncertainty: What Does it Mean for Maintenance?

On the shoulders of a recovering world economy, manufacturing and other wealth creating industries face new threats:

  • rising oil and energy prices
  • supply chain hold-ups as a result of the crisis in Japan
  • unsettled markets with turmoil in the Middle East

...to name a few.

How these events play out in the long term, and what their impact will be on manufacturing is unknown. However, we can be confident that if these effects are prolonged, management will almost certainly focus on reducing costs and increasing productivity. The domino-effect and impact starts to become clearer for maintenance. Maintenance will be assessed for value contribution and probably targeted for cost reduction.

When there is competition for internal resources, value is the name of the game. The maintenance department has been notoriously poor at highlighting its value. So, what can you do to highlight the importance of maintenance and its ability to continue adding value in the face of management scrutiny? In the passionate and subjective debate over value and importance, data is the objective arbitrator. 

For maintenance, this means getting hold of key data from the CMMS to highlight the current performance and KPIs. Despite the importance of metrics such as Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) in the maintenance world, it is vital that these metrics are translated into corporate language. This means being expressed at least one of the following ways:

  1. Financial: costs, ROCE, RONA
  2. Performance: production rate, asset utilization
  3. Capacity: capability, availability
  4. Contribution: safety, integrity, alignment with key strategic goals

This is certainly much easier said than done. But what choice do you have? This is your job! It is a mandatory responsibility in lean times.

This challenge should not be one fueled by a desire to maintain a certain number of work hours or even a job – although understandable. This is about maintaining the reliability, safety and integrity of the facility, processes and equipment. Maintenance and reliability play an integral role in organizational performance; be valuable, or be gone! 

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