May 08, 2023
Eight Reasons For Preventive Maintenance
Most everyone would agree that preventive maintenance is important. However, if we are asked to make a list of why, it might be a bit of a challenge. We might come up with one or two. As a way to provide eight reasons for preventive maintenance, I'll use a recent visit to my friend Bob.
Bob and I have been friends since school but after he moved away a few years ago because of a new job, our schedules, until recently, hadn't meshed so we could play catch-up.
At first glance, Bob's house and property looked pretty decent. Two-story, a couple of acres of lawn, a workshop, and a storage building. However, when he gave me the 'nickel tour,' I soon noticed issues, some of them serious.
When I pulled into his driveway, he'd been working under the hood of his late-model pickup. He had aluminum ramps ready for when he opted to work from underneath the vehicle. I know Bob preferred to be a do-it-yourselfer but he could be lax at times. Unfortunately, he'd been neglecting things more often.
When he explained a couple of problems with the truck—difficulty in starting after sitting for a while and sluggishness in accelerating uphill—I asked him when he'd last changed the oil.
He scratched his head. "I don't remember."
I also noticed uneven wear on the tread. When I inquired how often he rotated the tires, he gave me the same answer.
After he started showing me the outside of the house, I saw water and mold streaks on parts of the siding.
"Yeah, I think the gutter is clogged," he said. "Not sure when I last cleaned it."
Weeds and mole holes had conquered a portion of the side yard. Bob shrugged and said he hadn't found the time to deal with the problems.
I wondered what other issues awaited my discovery. "Bob, have you ever done any preventive maintenance?"
"A little," he said. "Probably not as much as I should. Honestly, I thought it was too much work and didn't see much need for it. I figured if a problem came up, I'd handle it."
Bob's my friend, but it was apparent he hadn't been 'handling it' for some time and it showed.
We went back to the porch to sit and talk. He offered me a soda. After the first sip, I said, "I can give you eight reasons to make preventive maintenance something routine. You'll be able to minimize so many problems."
"I can list three right away. Then I want you to show me the rest of the house and grounds."
"All right," he agreed.
I took another long drink and said, "First off, you have a nice truck, but you'll be paying hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to the mechanic soon if you don't take regular care. Regular tire rotation and oil changes help extend the life of your vehicle. Basic maintenance on any appliance and equipment in the house will also make them last longer."
"That makes sense," Bob said. "I used to do that a lot in the past."
"Now, take those gutters, the weeds, and the mole holes. You have a good-looking house and for the most part, the yard looks fine. Seasonal gutter cleaning, weed eradication, and application of a mole repellent will help maintain the aesthetics of what you own.
"Mole repellent, eh?"
"Yep, clean up those water streaks and the house will look better." I stood. "Follow me to the side of the house. I saw something else that needs repair soon."
When we arrived at about the center of the house, I pointed to the foundation. "You have some settling going on. You're getting cracks in the concrete."
"I never saw that," he said.
"Inspections will help you discover deterioration and degradation."
"Let these and other problems increase, and you'll be violating city codes."
"Don't want that," he said.
"Your foundation might be a bit involved, but simple and regular preventive maintenance keeps you in compliance," I said.
We went inside the house. He and his wife had furnished each room to fit their style. While I noticed minor cracks in the side wall—the possible result of the settling I had mentioned—everything else looked pretty good.
Until we descended the basement steps. I almost tripped on a patch of loose carpeting.
"Sorry, Steve," Bob said. "That gets worse every time."
"Easy fix, Bob. Another reason for preventive maintenance. Safety."
His full basement included a game room and a spare bedroom.
"I'm impressed by all you've done," I said. "However, what is that wheezing noise?"
He showed me the heating/air conditioning unit. "It's been that way for a couple months.
"Have you called in an inspector or ever changed filters?
"I've been meaning to do both."
"You're wasting money, Bob," I said. "You're making this unit work too hard. That's one of the huge benefits of preventive maintenance. reduced energy consumption."
We returned to the front porch with fresh cans of soda.
"Bob, you have issues around here that need addressing."
"I don't know where to start," he admitted. "I try, but I don't feel as if I'm getting anything done."
"You should make yourself a schedule. A simple spreadsheet would do the trick. Once it's made, you'll find your productivity increases, because you're doing jobs more efficiently. After a time, you'll see a reduction in overall costs. This includes all those parts you buy for that truck and having to rush out for an emergency part if a piece of equipment breaks down, like that HVAC."
Bob nodded. "I understand. I just had a thought, though. You know I work out at that industrial plant north of town."
"Sure," I said. "Are you enjoying the work?"
"Well, yeah, most of the time." He paused a moment. "The thing is, that spreadsheet you mentioned. We've been using that for our maintenance department. It worked for a while, but I'll tell you, Steve, our company has grown a lot in the last couple of years. That spreadsheet isn't cutting it anymore."
I nodded and finished my soda. "I understand. Spreadsheets are fine for home usage, but an operation of your size needs something better."
I smiled. "Ever consider a computerized maintenance management system?"
His turn to nod again. "Yeah, my supervisor and I have been discussing that."
"You'll find a CMMS to be so much more beneficial than a spreadsheet."
"How so?" he asked.
"Those PMs you need to do around here are similar to those you do at work in the sense of inspections and minor repairs. You'll go from reactive maintenance to preventive with a CMMS."
"Really?" he asked.
"You create your types of preventive maintenance, schedule the jobs and inspections, and initiate work orders all from one system. You can't do all that on a spreadsheet."
"That would be good."
"Remember the benefits of PMs I mentioned?" I started counting off the list on my fingers. "Longer equipment life. Increased productivity. Aesthetics, because you're not just maintaining equipment but buildings and grounds. Discovering deterioration. You'll be in compliance with OSHA and other regulators. Reduced energy consumption."
I held up two more fingers. "Two biggies are safety and reduced overall costs. That last includes unplanned downtime, inventory, and labor. I'll add in a bonus. All that productivity and efficiency will improve morale. Not just yours but your coworkers."
"A CMMS can do all that?"
"And so much more," I said. "Including better inventory and purchasing control. The important thing, I think for right now, is jumping on that preventive maintenance."
Bob sipped his soda, staring off into the distance as if contemplating my words. After a time, he said, "I think I'll tell my boss everything you told me." He gave me an askance glance. "I don't suppose you could recommend a CMMS company, could you, Steve?"
I withdrew my wallet, opened the top pocket, and took out a business card. "You give this one a call. They'll do you right."
He studied the card. "Mapcon Technologies."
"800-922-4336 will connect you with the cool guys in sales. You and your supervisor can talk to them about what you want. They'll even schedule a free demo so you can see what you'd be getting."
"How about training? We'd have to learn the system," Bob said.
I explained all about Mapcon's training options.
He brought up another concern. "What if we purchase this and have issues and questions later?"
"800-223-4791 reaches support. They'll get you the answers."
"I suppose I'll be calling someplace way overseas," he said.
"Nope," I countered. "Des Moines, Iowa."
He nodded again, tucked the card into his shirt pocket, and raised the soda can in a salute. "Thanks, Steve. First thing Monday, I'll talk to my supervisor. We'll be calling Mapcon soon."
"Then you can stop worrying about those preventive maintenance issues." I stood. "What do you say we take a look at that truck?"