Every business has expenses — manufacturers even more so than other industries. But having a robust maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) strategy can help keep factory expenses low. The key is making good investments in maintenance strategy that pay dividends via saved repair costs and more reliable operations.
We’ve previously discussed the numerous costs that come with machine downtime. And while having a robust action plan in place is great for minimizing these costs, it does nothing to prevent them. Aside from a reliable reaction plan, manufacturers need to invest in preventive maintenance. But, like all investments, focusing on a better maintenance approach comes with costs.
Let’s take a look at some of the various ways to invest in better maintenance and how each of these actions affect the bottom line:
- Training and education are reinvestments in your personnel — among the most cost-efficient investments, in fact. Training employees on the latest and greatest MRO strategies makes them more capable of performing the duties expected of them and meeting high expectations for repair and maintenance quality. For just a couple thousand dollars per employee per year, having more informed workers could recoup the cost of their training and more by preventing MRO-related issues.
- Investment in better tools and equipment certainly comes with a high cost, but if those tools enable better performance from your existing maintenance approach, it may be a cost worth eating. This includes everything from machine-specific calibration tools to high-performance diagnostic items. It all comes down to the math. Will an investment in a FLIR imaging tool deliver its worth by preventing machine failure and saving money?
- Hiring more personnel is a necessity if your maintenance staff is already running at peak capacity. But the cost of bringing on new full-time employees is high, and throwing more people at the problem isn’t always the solution. Consider this investment in cases where maintenance is being skipped due to staffing issues.
- An alternative to hiring in-house maintenance techs, outsourcing is a cost-effective compromise to increasing your total capacity for maintenance. Outsourcing some of your maintenance tasks could also save you the cost of training staff or inventorying components.
- Is it time for new machinery? This is by far the most expensive approach to mitigating repair issues. But a new machine with a new lifespan and advanced technology powering it could save your company countless costs, as opposed to machinery riddled with age-related defects and outdated technology.
- Modern investments in predictive maintenance software and the industrial internet of things (IIoT) may require a lot of upfront capital, but they’re the undisputed barrier to a future of preventive and predictive maintenance cost savings. Making the investment in these technologies means planning long-term and, more importantly, investing in problem prevention.
- Smarter inventorying may reduce or raise costs, depending on your approach. Stocking more parts and performing more maintenance may increase costs temporarily, while offsetting the cost of machine failures. Conversely, cutting your inventory to only the base essentials and ordering other parts as needed can reduce inventory costs without reducing maintenance effectiveness.
Believe it or not, there are costs to consider even beyond these! What matters isn’t the front-facing cost of these or any other investments, but rather the cost savings and ROI they bring you. Managers need to look at potential ROI and use cost calculations such as cost divided by estimated replacement values (ERVs) to understand just how far their reinvestment dollars stretch.