Management: Beware the Phantom

Know the difference between “real” and “phantom” savings.


Each job takes a shorter time (on the time clock). Materials and tools are available when the job starts. More jobs run smoothly. Without a layoff or reduction to overtime there are no savings in maintenance costs. To makes matters worse, those additional jobs will consume materials. The uptick in material usage will be real (not phantom). In the end, improving productivity might adversely impact the maintenance materials budget.

Usually there are additional jobs added that didn’t make it to backlog originally, because no one had confidence that the job would ever get done (particularly infrastructure jobs, it seems). Eventually, when the backlog is reduced to a manageable level the whole plant will run better. Fewer corrective jobs will breakdown waiting for maintenance to get there.

Keep your eyes peeled for all types of savings, but remember: real savings are like gold while phantom savings are like silver or copper (useful but not quite the same).

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