The Right Fix

PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCEPreventative Maintenance is a must for distributors.

By Eric Kirchhoefer

There are two common approaches to keeping things running smoothly in your warehouse or distribution center: proactive and reactive. The reactive approach is common in many environments – facility managers often wait until machinery breaks down or there is a problem, and then attend to those issues as needed.

A proactive approach to maintenance places emphasis on routinely addressing facility concerns and equipment upkeep to prevent issues. Regular inspections allow you to identify and correct potential problems before they happen. In addition to inspections, minor equipment maintenance, cleaning, and seasonal adjustments are all key components of a strong preventive maintenance program.

Prevention Matters

A preventive maintenance program is an important component of operating at maximum effectiveness. Not only does it ensure that your equipment is running properly, it also promotes employee safety and prevents you from having to make costly repairs down the road.

Companies that choose to switch from reactive to proactive maintenance can save thousands of dollars a year. While your exact cost savings will vary based on the industries you serve, the equipment you use, the size of your facility, and other specifics, it’s generally accepted that reactive maintenance will cost you three to four times more than a preventive maintenance program.

Cost is just one of the benefits of a preventive maintenance program. Implementing this kind of strategy can also lead to reduced downtime, increased equipment efficiency and performance, safer working conditions and even an improved reputation.

Reduced Downtime

To meet your customers’ expectations, you need to be able to rely on your facility and equipment to function optimally. The trickle-down effect of unplanned downtime can be devastating – employees are idle, shipments are halted, and your customers are disappointed. A reactive approach to maintenance puts you on the defensive, creating fire drills that could be avoidable. These unexpected breakdowns will usually require paying a technician overtime and overnighting parts to get your facility back up and running as quickly as possible.

Taking a preventive approach allows you to minimize disruptions in your operations. You can plan maintenance checks around your schedule, ensuring that they don’t impact service. As a result, you’re able to save valuable time and money while also keeping your equipment functioning properly.

Efficiency and Performance

Equipment breakdowns are inevitable. Over time, lifts, fans, overhead doors, and other equipment take on wear and tear from regular usage. A preventive maintenance program allows you to spot that wear and tear before it creates a problem. It also allows you to perform tasks that slow down the inevitable breakdowns. Replacing parts, changing fluids, and performing inspections keep your equipment functioning at its best and protects your warranties. Properly functioning equipment also uses less energy than neglected machines, which lowers your company’s power costs.

When you take care of your equipment proactively, you extend its lifespan. Fewer breakdowns translates to fewer large-scale equipment overhauls. As you know well, equipment isn’t cheap, so the more hours you can get from each piece saves you money in the long run. And when you spend more of your time using your equipment instead of having to service and replace it, you can focus more on meeting customer needs.

Safer Working Conditions

Worker safety is always a top priority. Safety programs not only protect the people who keep your facility running from harm, they also prevent costly downtime and workers’ compensation claims. Regular preventive maintenance can lead to improved safety and quality conditions for everyone. Performing routine checks and regular maintenance tasks allows you to uncover any hazards and prevent unsafe working conditions. Workers can feel safe knowing that they are using tools and equipment that are regularly serviced and functioning properly.

Increased Company Reputation

Cost, performance, and safety are the primary incentives to implement a preventive maintenance program, but you can also benefit from the improved reputation that it offers. A reactive approach to maintenance leads to all the negative side of the things listed previously — more downtime, lower equipment efficiency and unsafe working conditions, among others. With safety being a major concern for warehouses and distribution centers, your competitors, customers, and potential employees will notice that negative impact. If you’re constantly having to delay or stop work, or deal with accidents and injuries, your reputation will suffer.

Routine preventive maintenance is necessary for you to keep your company operating at its best. A reliable company that always delivers on customer expectations and creates a safe environment for employees will have a reputation that precedes itself.

Implementing a Program

Implementing a preventive maintenance program will require some initial investment of time and money, but it won’t take long for you to reap the rewards of that investment. One way to approach it is to work with an outsourced facility services provider to implement the program for you. They can not only provide standard protocols and best practices, but also will deliver on service level agreements to maintain accountability.

If you’ve previously relied on a reactive maintenance strategy and want a solution that will save you time and money and increase your employees’ safety, a preventive maintenance program is the best approach to take with your facility management.

Eric Kirchhoefer is the vice president, sales and national accounts for ABM. Over the course of his tenure, He has helped develop and direct the company’s overall sales and marketing strategy. 

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