First, the pandemic. Then, the raw materials shortage crisis. Now, war and subsequent the rise in fuel prices. You have to go back 40 years to find such a high inflation rate. So, in the midst of this snowball, where do companies want to cut costs? In “invisible” activities, such as maintenance and facility management.
But if you are a maintenance manager, where can you cut costs? When you are asked to “reduce maintenance costs” within “three to six months” there are two obvious options: lay off staff or postpone tasks. Generally, laying off staff is counterproductive because it only adds to the chaos. As for postponing tasks… until when? It generates savings in the short term, but it is not sustainable.
So, is it impossible to reduce maintenance costs?
It’s not all or nothing. It is true that reducing maintenance spending in a short period of time is difficult. However, it is possible to improve control over your maintenance budget with a systematic approach. The key is to eliminate waste. This way, you eliminate tasks you are overdoing, increase productivity, and save materials.
According to one study, 50% of maintenance costs are “waste”. However, reducing maintenance spending by half requires almost superhuman efficiency. Instead, let’s try to cut maintenance costs by 20%. The prime suspects for cutting costs are:
- the equipment with the highest preventive maintenance costs;
- the equipment with the highest number of work hours per year.
11 Strategies for Reducing Maintenance Spending
The equipment you spend the most time on are probably the biggest sources of waste. However, you can use these strategies to reduce maintenance costs on any asset:
Eliminate repetitive tasks
Did you know that 30% of preventive maintenance tasks are performed too often? Not all breakdowns follow a clear pattern over time. So, unless you have established a pattern (number of cycles, quarterly or semi-annual maintenance requirement, etc), you may be over-performing maintenance.
Eliminate tasks that do not correspond to any failure mode
Another way to avoid over-maintenance is to ensure that each task corresponds to a specific failure mode. In other words, ensure that you are not scheduling maintenance tasks that do not prevent anything specific. Not sure what the failure modes are? Here’s how to do a root cause analysis to better explore failure modes.
Instead of “fixing”, find a cure
Do you have equipment that breaks down frequently? Instead of constantly “fixing” the problem, conduct a root cause analysis to understand the true source of the problem. Often, investing a little more time will pay off in the long run. Here’s what you can learn from breakdowns.
Cut down on day-to-day wastage
Just like any other activity, maintenance is full of waste. On average, only 30% of technicians’ time is spent working. The rest? Waiting for tools, for authorisations, going back and forth… Anyway, the list goes on. Use the data collected by your CMMS to understand where the bottlenecks and productivity losses are.
Optimising work orders can help technicians to act faster and understand immediately what they need (protective materials, tools, etc). But there are more ways to avoid waste. For example, when you receive notifications of breakdowns, use geolocation to find out who the nearest technician is to optimise travel.
Avoid reactive maintenance
According to Reliable Plant, unplanned work takes 3 to 9 times longer. This means that reactive maintenance is not only haemorrhaging money and resources, but also time. Therefore, one of the best ways to reduce maintenance costs is to avoid reactive maintenance.
Prioritise preventative maintenance
If we want to reduce reactive maintenance, we need to prioritise other forms of maintenance. Preventive maintenance is the main alternative, although you can also explore predictive maintenance and various condition monitoring strategies. Make an annual preventive maintenance plan and always follow manufacturers’ recommendations.
Another strategy to lower maintenance expenditure is to optimise inventory for maintenance, repairs, and operations. Again, use the CMMS history to forecast your needs. This ensures you don’t spend money on parts and tools you won’t need or that are still in stock. This also allows you to save space and improve logistics.
Negotiate contracts with current suppliers
This strategy has the potential to reduce your maintenance spending by up to 5%. Review all the contracts you have with suppliers and learn if there are any that you can renegotiate, any that are not being fulfilled, or any that can provide more than one service for a more competitive price.
Invest in training your team. Not only the maintenance team, but also the employees who use the equipment. With training, they will be much more attentive to signs of possible failures and will report the problem to the maintenance team. If you act immediately, you will avoid many costly breakdowns that compromise the normal operation of the space.
Know the life cycle of your assets
If an asset requires numerous repairs, consider whether it’s worth continuing to repair it. Knowing the life cycle of your assets can go a long way in deciding whether it’s worth repairing the piece of equipment, completely refurbishing it, or exchanging it for a new one.
There is no one strategy to reduce maintenance costs. Maintenance is essential to ensure everyone’s safety and comfort! What you can do is eliminate wasteful maintenance and increase the productivity of your staff. For this, each task needs to have a specific goal and the staff needs to have an optimised work routine.