Three maintenance myths that may be hurting your bottom line

July 20, 2018  •  Alayna Giesting

I’m sure you’ve heard countless times just how important a preventive maintenance plan is for your facilities, but it’s hard to believe all the hype when those quick fixes have been getting the job done for years. Let’s take a moment and think, though - have they really been solving your problems? While quick repairs alleviate the matter at hand, they usually don’t solve the underlying maintenance issue, which can lead to bigger problems down the road. Take a look at the following three maintenance myths and see if your organization puts preventive maintenance on the back-burner for any of these reasons. Your facilities, and your bottom line, may be suffering because of it!

Myth #1: Preventive maintenance takes too much time. 

The all-too-famous “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” motto is one that many Facilities Managers (FMs) follow, thinking it will save them time. But the truth is most FMs spend around 80 percent of their time reacting to equipment malfunctions and breakdowns already. That seems like a big chunk of time — so, why not turn it into money and timesaving opportunities for the future?

By enforcing a preventive maintenance plan, you reduce out-of-the-blue breakdowns and the need to repair equipment, which will save you tons of time in the future. Don’t feel like you need to inspect all of your equipment within the first month, though. Take things slow and start by analyzing your equipment to see when it is failing. Is there a seasonal trend? Do certain parts or assets break more often than others? Does it tend to happen when an asset is overused? Answers to these questions can help you determine which pieces of equipment need the most attention and how often you should be performing preventive maintenance on them to prevent a significant breakdown or (dare I say) failure.

How FMX can help: With FMX, tracking maintenance histories for each piece of equipment is a breeze! You can simply click on the equipment item you are evaluating in your FMX site (or scan the QR bar code on the physical asset) and see its work order history. FMX even generates reports that indicate the pieces of equipment that require the most maintenance, incur the most cost, and need the most labor. These reports can help you determine which assets to start performing PM on first.

Myth #2: Deferring maintenance saves money.

While the cost of repairing a piece of equipment may seem low – four hours of labor and the new part for the machine – the lost production and downtime costs can end up being much greater. If your organization is performing significantly more reactive maintenance than preventive maintenance, you may be experiencing these issues and more. For instance, your inventory costs may be higher because you need to keep more parts in stock for equipment failures. You might also be paying a premium price each time you need to priority ship a spare part to your facility, and more than likely you are paying your staff overtime hours in order to make sure a failed piece of equipment is up and running again before the next business day.

With preventive maintenance, the days of frantically calling your suppliers for spare parts are mostly (let’s face it, PM isn’t magic) gone. When you find an issue during an inspection, you will have plenty of time to find the part and replace it before something goes awry. You can even make sure to schedule the maintenance repairs during a time when that machine isn’t in use. This reduces downtime, inventory, and shipping expenses. In fact, switching from reactive maintenance to preventive maintenance can save an organization anywhere from 12-18 percent. And numbers like those are hard to argue with!

Myth #3: Reactive maintenance is more effective than preventive maintenance.

While a quick maintenance fix may seem like it gets the job done, it’s actually just a Band-Aid for the underlying issue.

Let’s take a minute and visualize this. If you think of your equipment as an iceberg, then all of the problems that you fix with reactive maintenance are the tip of the iceberg (the part you can see). When your AC unit has a major leak, you are able to patch up the area where it’s leaking, temporarily stop the leak, and go on with your day. But, what you can’t see is the clogged condensate drain line. This is the part of the iceberg that is below the surface, and what is ultimately causing the leak. Patching the leak might fix the problem for the next couple of weeks and save you more time and money upfront. However, in the long run the clogged drain is just going to lead to more leaks and then eventually cause your unit to break. If you were utilizing a preventive maintenance plan and inspected your AC unit on a bi-yearly basis, you would have recognized the underlying issue and fixed it before the initial leak began, saving you time and money in the long run.

Tip of the Iceberg Analogy

Don’t let the low cost, quick solution keep from you seeing the importance of preventive maintenance. It will only deter you from keeping your facilities and equipment functioning longer and more efficiently.

One final note:

When you’re implementing a PM plan remember that you will still need reactive maintenance as well. Sometimes, things break and we aren’t able to see it coming. Be prepared for accidents that may cost you some money or require a little bit more labor. You should remember the 80/20 rule for this – 80% of your maintenance should be preventive, and the other 20% should be reactive.

How FMX can help: FMX can help take the hard work out of planned maintenance by helping you plan tasks days, weeks, months, or years in advance. You can even schedule recurring tasks so that every 6 months you get a notification sent to your email that it’s time to check the AC unit, for example. FMX even allows you to create step-by-step instruction sets, eliminating any confusion your team might have when it comes to inspecting your equipment. When a PM task is closed out, you can have your team include the labor hours and parts used, which will automatically populate in your equipment module. You can then see a running total for labor and inventory costs for that asset.


FMX-headshot-300x300Alayna is the marketing communications specialist at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not drafting up content for the blog or social media, she is most likely reading a good book or taking short weekend trips!

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