The Value of Preventative Maintenance

Written by Steven Garcia

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” You’ve probably heard this phrase before and for most situations this is a sound piece of advice. Take, for example, the common kitchen stove; attempting repairs on a functioning stove will most likely just result in concerned looks from your significant other.

But! There are numerous situations where “fixing” or performing maintenance on something that’s not broken is the right thing to do. We call this “preventative maintenance” and it’s one of the core values of any successful industrial company.

Alternatively, performing maintenance on an asset or item that is broken is called “reactive maintenance.” This is a perfectly suitable solution for your stove but an incredibly less effective method for manufacturers and other large-scale operations.

Unlike the common stove, manufacturing plants are an interconnected web of machines, tools, and employees all working together to produce an item in the most efficient method possible. So, when one of those machines or tools stops working, it affects everything else in that web and efficiency plummets.

This is called downtime and it’s very, very bad. When downtime occurs, it costs the company time because production is halted while reactive repairs are performed. It costs the company money because product is not being manufactured. Ultimately, it creates an unsafe, unstable and stressful environment for employees.

An effective preventative maintenance program is a systematic approach to reducing downtime and addresses each of the aforementioned issues. Typically, preventative maintenance is performed through scheduled routine inspections and processes that ensure and preserve the functionality of an asset. Reducing downtime isn’t the only benefit of preventative maintenance; here’s a few more for consideration.

Cost Savings & Improved Efficiency

One of the common knocks on preventative maintenance is that it takes time out of day-to day operations to implement. While there may be an initial investment of time during implementation, the payoff in the future more than makes up for it. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, an organization using preventative maintenance can expect a 12 – 18% cost savings over reactive maintenance*. That’s no small potatoes.

Along with the incredible amount of money that can be saved from preventing downtime, it can also provide your maintenance team with a surplus of hours that can be utilized in more effective ways. Instead of spending hours or days performing unexpected repairs on a malfunctioning asset, they now perform routine maintenance for a few minutes in a scheduled routine.

Employee Safety & Well-Being

Besides preventing downtime, preventative maintenance can also extend the life of your valuable assets. Just like car owners perform regular maintenance (such as an oil change to extend the life of a vehicle) so should manufacturers perform regular maintenance to extend the life of their machines.

Besides the obvious cost savings and improved time utilization, preventative maintenance is also beneficial to your employees.  Properly maintained and functioning equipment creates a much more stable and safe working environment, which at the end of the day, should be your top priority.

This applies to mental health as well as physical. A malfunctioning machine may cause bodily harm, but a regularly malfunctioning asset will create a stressful environment for even the staunchest of maintenance teams.

With preventative maintenance, your workers now enjoy the peace of mind that comes with operating in an environment with properly functioning equipment, a surplus of hours to perform their duties, and less stress on their mental well-being.

So, when we consider all the benefits of preventative maintenance; saving money, saving time, safer and more harmonious work environments, happier employees, and more efficient production, it’s hard to think of any reason not to adopt a preventative maintenance strategy. Maybe it’s time to retire the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and adopt something less catchy but more practical like, “If it ain’t broke, just make sure.”

Written by Steven Garcia

* Statistics provided by Department of Energy