Preventive maintenance for profit

Audit your practices, and make time for uptime.
By John Kravontka, CMRP, Fuss & O’Neill Manufacturing Solutions

Most things in our lives require maintenance. Automobiles, trains, aircraft, trucks, houses, bridges, roads, industrial machinery — none of these can continue to operate correctly if they aren’t properly maintained. Even our own bodies require maintenance in the form of nutrition and exercise.

But what is maintenance? Some people think it’s fixing, like repairing a flat tire. But in reality, when a piece of equipment needs to be repaired, that’s an indication that maintenance didn’t occur. Webster’s definition of maintenance may surprise some people: maintenance is “those actions required for the care of machinery, a building, etc., to keep it clean and in proper functioning condition, to prevent or forestall damage due to normal use.” Maintenance is really all about keeping something from breaking or failing. It is all about prevention.

Worldwide, even in the United States, maintenance tends to be handled very poorly. Most municipalities, companies, and institutions either fail to maintain their capital assets or defer maintenance to some time in the future. Typically, that time never comes. And poor or deferred maintenance costs the United States hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

On the road to ruin

Take, for example, America’s roadways. Deferred maintenance causes millions of dollars in damage to American automobiles every year. Lack of maintenance leads to the development of potholes at best, and roadway failures at worst. Currently, 32% of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, costing U.S. motorists $67 billion a year or $324 per motorist, in vehicle repairs and operating costs, according to the 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which also cites roadway conditions as a factor in one out of every three traffic fatalities.

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