The dreaded maintenance department- a cost center most upper level management personnel would like to see disappear.  As a consultant in the manufacturing industry for the last seventeen years, I am continually amazed at the lack of vision companies have when it comes to maintenance and equipment reliability.  Consider that when an assembly line goes down due to an equipment malfunction, it can cost upwards of $10,000.00 per minute in lost production!  If your maintenance staff is not capable of fixing the problem in a timely manner, the downtime revenue losses can be staggering.

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It has been a long time since schools had auto shop, wood shop and metal shop. The concept of working with our hands has become foreign to a large percent of the population. This is a big reason why the maintenance division is the mystery division.  The mindset that the maintenance staff carries around a big hammer and crowbar still exists at upper management levels.  The truth is that the maintenance staff has to understand complex processes controlled by high-end electronics.  If they are not fully trained then you can count on your unplanned downtime to go up.


Let’s compare your maintenance department to a hospital.  If you were in a car accident and got rushed to the emergency room, you would expect a doctor to be there ready to do whatever it takes to save your life.  You would also expect that the doctor had been trained in all the techniques necessary to perform the job efficiently and safely.  In manufacturing facilities, the maintenance staff are the doctors.  They have to be prepared for whatever emergency occurs and correct it efficiently and safely.


America’s skilled trades’ personnel will be retiring in droves over the next five years; are you ready to replace them?  Do you have a program in place to insure your company’s “doctors” are going to be replaced by personnel with the same qualifications?  If you’re not, then next time your line goes down and you see a maintenance person standing at the machine scratching their head, look at your watch and count the minutes.  Ask yourself, “how much did that just cost me?”

For in depth information about preventative maintenance, visit the Facility Preventive Maintenance page in the TTS wiki. TTS is your source for all things maintenance and operations; contact one of our Process Improvement Specialists for more information about our services.