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The Maintenance Management Blog

January 27, 2023

Eliminate Maintenance Waste

"It's not about your resources, it's about your resourcefulness." – Tony Robbins

We've all heard the admonishments of "Turn off the lights. You're wasting electricity" and "Close the door. You're wasting energy." "Don’t waste your time/money" is another popular suggestion. And of course, companies want to reduce costly waste wherever possible. Some of these come from eliminating maintenance waste.

I'm not implying you throw out tools, inventory, or even Bob for taking a two-hour lunch. Rather, there are certain aspects, procedures, routines, and whatnot in the department that are costing you productivity and money.

This is similar to those little money-takers in your home. No, the printer left on doesn't use much electricity. Neither does the night light or the electric clock. However, look around the house and list everything that is switched on, left running, and using power when you're not there or you're not using when you are home. Granted, the total cost per month may be negligible but could you eliminate that nominal waste?

Returning to maintenance, the following points may not seem to waste much money/time individually. Put them together and you have a different story.

Inspiration for this discussion came from an article in Plant Engineering. I've adapted and added to some of the points they list.

1. Travel time.

"An hour, Bob? All you had to do was walk behind the warehouse."

The job will take maintenance technicians where they need to go. There's no getting around that. Travel time should be included when estimating job competition time. It also can be factored in if sending a maintenance worker on a series of jobs—a route—such as fire extinguisher inspection in several buildings. The most efficient route should be planned. Even a couple miles 'out of your way' costs productivity.

Again, I'm not saying dispose of inventory unless…

Image: a bunch of boxes

2. Overstocked on slow-moving items.

Okay, you may not want to dispose of these, but be aware of quantity. Don't waste more money buying more items that are used once or twice per year.

Obsolete parts – "Bob, I think that went to an old Commodore 64."

Parts that you can't use anymore or for equipment you no longer have. Here, you should have a disposal plan (recycle, baby!) because they're using stockroom space. As above, be aware of quantities. Track usage of parts for all equipment in case the decision is made to not use a particular machine.

Other inventory waste measures to note:

Stockout – Add up the cost of a quick shipment because a part is needed.

Location – Similar to travel time, how much search time is used by workers wandering the stockroom on the hunt for inventory?

One at a time – Do you have routine jobs that require the same inventory each time? Why waste time gathering one item at a time every time? A bundle or 'it' of inventory works better.

BOM – Are maintenance workers guessing what inventory is needed? Perhaps a part is forgotten. How much time is saved by having a bill of materials attached to a work order?

Missing inventory – No tracking of comings and goings of inventory costs when they're needed and not in stock or not on the right shelf. Think of the waste of time and money elimination with an issue/return policy.

Image: man working on engine3. Motion.

Some of this was mentioned in the first two points. Travel time, search time, etc. However, that can be expanded to include:

Worker efficiency – Without sacrificing quality, how long is the job taking to complete? Supervisors should check on the reasons behind those taking longer or shorter than was reasonably expected. Waste of time for that long job and what's the worker doing with the extra time for something finished early?

Part of efficiency comes from work order clarity. Supervisors should include everything necessary so the technician isn't delayed or confused. Type of job, priority, location of the job, added BOM (from before), and of course job description details, perhaps with checklists so no steps are missed and time wasted redoing or repairing an additional problem. (A personal, not funny example was the time I had oil all over the engine because the mechanic didn't see a gasket sticking out.)

4. Waiting.

Time wasted for stockout parts.

5. Processing.

"I know you have fifteen minutes left on your shift, Bob, but I'm sure you can finish this one little job…"

Specifically, work order scheduling. Once again, several factors from before are in play for maximum efficiency to be achieved. Type, priority, description, location, and length of time for a job. Workload of a worker or a team. Whether inventory is in stock.

6. Reports.

Supervisors analyze reports of all the above, looking wherever waste can be eliminated, cost being a huge factor.

The reports also help shape asset management and preventive maintenance tasks, inventory and purchasing management, and labor on-time compliance and attainment.

Beyond the reports, supervisors hold meetings with personnel both in the department and others such as production line workers. Discuss options for eliminating waste and areas for improvement.


I saved this for last only because many of my posts circle down to a computerized maintenance management system. It's a common denominator for many maintenance departments, businesses, and life skill discussions, and it holds true here.

Review the above points and see how a CMMS can organize everything from asset management, inventory management (and all the subpoints within that category), and work order management.

Routes, quantities, job types and priorities, and reports are all in one place, easily accessible with a few navigational clicks.

A CMMS on a mobile device also reduces time wasted returning to the office to look up assets, inventory, and work orders. We all strive to eliminate waste at home and in the workplace. A concerted effort is needed to recognize and acknowledge a problem and devise a solution. Then it takes more of an effort to maintain and improve on the new waste-less situation. Otherwise, disorder creeps in. The reality is understandable because people become lackadaisical in home and work lives. Focus and dedication keep the waste down.

Mapcon Technologies is here to help eliminate maintenance waste with a superb and easy-to-use CMMS. 800-922-4336 Ask for a free demonstration. Call today. You won't waste time investing in anything else.


Stephen Brayton

About the Author – Stephen Brayton


Stephen L. Brayton is a Marketing Associate at Mapcon Technologies, Inc. He graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College with a degree in Communications. His background includes radio, hospitality, martial arts, and print media. He has authored several published books (fiction), and his short stories have been included in numerous anthologies. With his joining the Mapcon team, he ventures in a new and exciting direction with his writing and marketing. He’ll bring a unique perspective in presenting the Mapcon system to prospective companies, as well as our current valued clients.


Filed under: maintenance, cmms, inventory — Stephen Brayton on January 27, 2023