The wisdom to know the difference

Dow Chemicalshas just announced that it is laying off around 5000 workers. The oil price hasdropped to around $43 per barrel and demand from Asiafor commodities has tailed off.

But wait – thereis even more good news for maintainers. Manufacturers are continuing tooutsource their operations. And technology is laying waste to entireindustries.

The paper industry is fed mainly by newspapers, books and journals. All of these arerapidly becoming obsolete. In fact, as I write the Chicago tribune has filedfor Bankruptcy. iTunes is rapidly replacing CD's as a medium for sellingmusic.

So industries like paper production and plastics are being hit also.

And on and on it goes. Not a good time to be working in maintenance...

The knee-jerkreaction will be to cut costs. "Reduce costs to sustainable levels"will be the cry. 

My advice -DON'T. You can't cut your way to success, not in our game. Cutting away at thecost base leads to missed maintenance, unsafe assets, increased risk, and increased lost production opportunities.

The only wise focus on costs, EVER, is on cost effectiveness

We can't justcut costs; we need to maximize the effectiveness of the money that we arespending.

That means getting the maximum value out of every maintenance dollar. Thriving, not surviving  - this needs to be the buzz word of the day.

We thrive byreviewing the maintenance regimes, making sure that all of our maitnenance is adding value - not increasing the likelihood of failure.

- Get rid ofuseless time based maintenance

- Invest (Yesspend money) on technologies that will increase the times between turnarounds

- PdM is nowmore important than ever before. If you aren't there yet - get there quickly!

- Invest (Yesmore cash) in reducing human error

- Invest (evenmore) in increasing efficiency of pumps, motors and the like. Not millions atstake here, but tens of thousands at least.

- Criticality out, Bad Actors in. track them, fix them, track them some more. 

But whateveryou do don't just cut.

Cutting costs means less people, when we may not even know what the minimum amount of maintenance is.

It means cutting stores holdings when we don't know which spares are needed based onrisk. (Not just criticality by the way)

And it means taking your eye off the real game, and the real cost game for maintainers has always been cost-effectiveness.

We are part of the profits – not the costs!