Maintenance = Value

Fighting the "necessary evil" label, continued...

We have to answer the question, "What do we contribute to the success of the organization?" Once we identify the contribution, are we positioned to make a maximal contribution based out our present skills, knowledge and attitudes? We also return to the question, "Does this specialized knowledge and skills contribute more to the bottom line than its cost?"

Some departments are experts in repairing breakdowns. This is the historical role of maintenance. They can fix just about anything. They have deep and subtle expertise in broken things, how things break and how to put them back together. And especially they know how to do that in the shortest time and with the least cost. There is no dishonor in contributing this expertise to the success of the organization. Fixing breakdowns is a real, valuable and essential expertise that is duplicated nowhere else in the company.

Consider this: most doctors are also experts in breakdowns. They troubleshoot the problem and if it is possible, propose a fix. They are done with their work (you are discharged) when the disease is gone from your system. In truth, very little of a doctor's training or practice is concerned with health. Mostly they wrestle with and hope to cure disease. And often that's enough; believe me, when you are sick you don't want a lecture on preventative maintenance telling you that you should have given up smoking 10 years ago. You want action now.

Yet medicine is changing, as is maintenance.

The new, improved conversation might revolve around the idea that the contribution of the maintenance department to the success of the company is its expertise in asset, machine and unit health. We know how fast and how long to run the equipment in order to maximize profit. We are the folks who know what should be done for maximum equipment life, minimizing long term cost. In short, we are the high priests of the balance between production and equipment integrity.

Joel Levitt has trained over 6,000 maintenance leaders from over 3,000 organizations. Since 1980, he has been the president of Springfield Resources, a management consulting firm that services a variety of clients on a wide range of maintenance issues.

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