by Shon Isenhour
You will see two types of activities carried out to improve maintenance. There are those activities that focus on long-term savings and those that generate a quick influx of cash and flash quarter-to-quarter. Since they both exist,
I thought I would provide four potential ideas to generate short-term cash and four ideas for adding long-term real money to the bottom line.
Four Quick Ways
First, let us look at the quick, short-term ideas. These can be applied today and offer completely unsustainable, but nearly instant results.
- Sell your storeroom parts on eBay. This generates cash, cleans out parts rooms and provides room for new endeavors. It does have one small, long-term drawback and that is when your equipment fails, you have nothing to repair it with.
- Have the maintenance staff run a community bake sale. With this idea, you can generate cash and increase community involvement. The one drawback here is that bake sales do not typically generate the level of funds needed to offset the labor cost of your well-compensated maintenance team, but hey, at least you are not just another cost that hits the operations’ budget any more. You are now revenue generating.
- Sell tickets to the maintenance cart races and offer trackside betting as a bonus income stream. We suggest that you use your maintenance planners as bookies; they can help you generate loads of cash while boosting morale. The drawback is the races will likely destroy the fleet of maintenance transports, occasional walls and other fixed objects.
- Build crafty yard art in the machine shop and sell it on the Internet. You will be able to generate cash, consume scrap metal and old parts, and allow craftsmen to feature their creative sides. The negative here is the yard art market can be quite volatile and may not generate enough cash to satisfy operations’ needs.
Now, of course, these ideas are all in jest and there are indeed more serious and successful short-term changes, often known as “low-hanging fruit.” However, many of these improvements are only marginally better than the ideas I have suggested if you do not couple them with sustainability enabling methods.
Four Sustainable Ways
If you did not find what you were looking for in the first four ideas, then you might be looking for a more long-term solution. Let us look at four ideas that are more sustainable, but still send results to the bottom line.
- Reduce maintenance spend by reducing overstocks and uncontrolled inventory. Lower your reorder points by carefully analyzing usage data, criticality and lead time. Return “squirreled away” parts from tool boxes and cubbyholes to the storeroom where they can be evaluated to ensure quality and applicability, stored properly and reused in a controlled manner. As you consume the extra inventory, you will find that you do not have to spend cash to replace the parts, hence sending those savings to the bottom line. Over time, if this is combined with other maintenance improvement ideas, then you can continue to lower quantities on hand as fewer parts are needed. Money made!
- Begin to plan and then schedule maintenance work. Notice that I said “plan and then schedule” because when you schedule without taking the time to plan the job and understand the activities required, then your estimates are not accurate and will cause your schedule to be ineffective. If you can plan and then schedule more jobs each month, your efficiency will increase, allowing for more work completion with the same workforce. Through this, you will be able to reduce overtime and the usage of contractors. As your job plans improve and begin to include more elements of precision maintenance, rework and waste will be eliminated and compound your improvement efforts. Again, that money not spent is money sent directly to the bottom line!
- Reduce your preventive maintenance load to 15% of your overall maintenance activity while increasing predictive maintenance to 15% by pushing your maintenance program toward a failure mode-based strategy using noninvasive technologies. You can do this by using tools like reliability centered maintenance to identify common failure modes and ensure these modes are addressed by your maintenance strategy, while eliminating preventive maintenance tasks that do not match up to a known failure mode. This will allow you to reduce infant mortality and “over tinkering” and increase reliability and production throughput. This reduction in non-value-added activities and invasive inspections will reduce labor cost, parts consumption and production downtime, driving increased profits for the bottom line.
- Effectively use root cause tools and processes to solve problems. This one sounds simple, but it is often not as effective as my four quick improvement ideas from earlier. Why? Because individuals focus on generating great looking root cause reports and either never get to implement the improvements identified or miss the real causes because they are so busy trying to jump to conclusions and show how smart they are. If you can build a root cause analysis process that focuses on solving problems, not creating beautiful documents, and ensure that it includes triggers to prevent too many root cause analyses from being requested without implementation of the previous findings, then you will see major downtime causes eliminated and bad actors turned good. This will again reduce parts costs, labor costs, and lost production. This element helps to supercharge the results of the other three.
In the end, you have eight ideas to take away and four that have real sustainability and true merit. Which items will you apply today and focus on to drive money to the bottom line with your maintenance improvement program? The key here is FOCUS because the drawback to all four of the long-term suggestions is that they take a large amount of perseverance and are not nearly as fun as yard art and cart races.
Focus on reliability now, then more production follows. In the end, you are left with sustainable profit – more money made, all from your maintenance program improvements.
Shon Isenhour, CMRP is Director of Education and Work Execution Management for GPAllied. Shon specializes in Business Process Management, Strategic Planning, Organizational Change Management, and Reliability Engineering and has lead improvement initiatives for industries such as pharmaceuticals, metals, petrochemical, paper, and power generation, among others. www.gpallied.com • Blog at www.reliabilitynow.com