How to Reduce Maintenance Costs (Without Losing Progress)
Maintaining a plant is an expensive and labor-intensive responsibility, but it is one that is necessary in order to maximize output and increase efficiency. A single unexpected breakdown can cause you to go over your maintenance budget for the year, and that can lead to more problems down the road.
Maintaining a plant is an expensive and labor-intensive responsibility, but it is one that is necessary in order to maximize output and increase efficiency. A single unexpected breakdown can cause you to go over your maintenance budget for the year, and that can lead to more problems down the road. Despite the inevitability of maintenance expenses and unpredictable occurrences, there are still many ways to reduce your maintenance costs without sacrificing progress.
Take a Proactive Approach to Maintenance
Many plant managers today still use a reactive approach to maintenance, meaning that they wait until something goes wrong to fix it. This is attractive to short-sighted managers who don’t see the value in paying for preventative and predictive maintenance. However, unless your operation runs smoothly at all times and you get extremely lucky, it ends up being more expensive in the long run.
Sticking to regular maintenance schedules for all of your physical assets is the best way to prevent an emergency repair, which can end up wiping out your entire budget in one call. The cost of preventative maintenance is a drop in the bucket when you compare it to the price of a new machine or parts.
Invest in Proper Training
Anybody who works with a particular machine or device should be well-trained not only in its operation but also in maintenance. Your techs should be certified, experienced, and encouraged to take part in ongoing education. If your employees know how to properly manage minor malfunctions, they will be less likely to turn a small problem into a bigger one. The money spent up front on training and hiring will save a significant amount on repair bills that could have been avoided.
Revamp Your Lighting System
Lighting can be a major expense – up to 35% of a building’s energy costs. While energy-efficient LED light bulbs carry a higher price tag than many of their counterparts, they last far longer and use up far less energy. The money saved on electricity in the long run far outweighs the initial cost of buying the bulbs.
Investing in an automated lighting system can also go a long way in reducing maintenance costs. You pay for the system once, but it operates continually and ensures that all lights are turned off at a certain time, saving you even more money on your electricity bills.
Don’t Neglect Your HVAC System
A malfunctioning HVAC system can cause a variety of headaches and may even shut your plant down while it’s getting fixed. Failing to perform regular maintenance and schedule inspections puts your HVAC system at high risk for a malfunction.
Again, it is best to take a proactive approach and schedule regular inspections and to listen to your HVAC professional when it comes to repairs. Ignoring a small problem may save you a few bucks in the moment, but it makes it far more likely that you’ll be burdened with a major malfunction in the future that will be far more expensive.
Make Safety a Priority
Anybody working in your plant should be well-versed in your safety protocol. While safety training carries a small up-front cost, you are insuring yourself against hazardous behavior and potential accidents on site. Employees should be well aware of what they can and cannot fix and should know who to call if they sense that something isn’t right. It is highly beneficial to update and review your safety protocol annually.
Consider a Facility Management System
Despite all the technology currently available to us, many plant managers still take the “old school” approach and choose not to invest in it. This is a grave mistake, and another example of promoting short-term gains over long-term savings.
A Facility Management System is a comprehensive software suite that streamlines operations and helps your plant to maximize output. It can be used to organize and place maintenance requests, log production data, and communicate with building occupants. If utilized correctly, it can save the plant manager and other employees hours every day, not to mention that it can reduce the money spent on paper usage and mail.
Audit Your Energy Usage
If you aren’t itemizing your energy bills, you may be missing some significant waste. You should break down your energy use to see where you may be able to save some money. It may be in lighting charges, HVAC-related expenses, or a wide range of other items. Taking a detailed look at your costs every 6 months can help you determine if there has been a sharp increase in spending in a specific area, and it will allow you to address it accordingly.
Utilize Predictive Testing
Predictive Testing is the practice of monitoring your equipment and performing tests to determine what problems, if any, might lead to long-term wear or failure. By performing this sort of testing, you can address minor problems before they turn into major ones, allowing you to absorb the smaller up-front cost of a repair rather than racking up large bills after an emergency repair.