Shareholders caught up in crisis?

Jan. 19, 2005
Contributing Editor Joel Leonard says it is important to educate stakeholders on the true value of maintenance. With the proper information, decision-makers will be able to see that spending a dollar today will save many dollars tomorrow.
A contributing factor to the maintenance crisis is that company shareholders don’t understand maintenance and don’t realize what is required to ensure long-term, sustainable processes. I hope you can show this section to your shareholders so they support us in our efforts to thwart the maintenance crisis.The Associated Press (AP) recently reported that 42% of all airline crashes are caused by lax maintenance practices. In the next 10 years, with retirement of this generation and the reluctance of future generations to enter this field, analysts are predicting a 40% to 70% workforce evacuation. Also, with the increase in power outages, have we already encountered a maintenance crisis? To save in the short-term, many companies are abandoning apprenticeship programs and maintenance training and are retiring workers that they will not be able to replace. Technical schools are transitioning into four-year preparatory schools. Many managers report that it now takes about 100 interviews to identify two qualified candidates.Many of the nation’s engineers are openly worried. In the rush to cut any and all costs, companies are inhibiting long-term sustainability, increasing costs and diminishing their ability to grow.True stockholders are interested in not just today’s market rate for their stocks, but also in their company’s long-term sustainability. Effective maintenance and reliability programs are critical to ensuring competitive capacity and minimizing operating costs. However, most stockholders have never known or been armed with critical questions to hold management accountable to not just short-term performance, but also long-term results. We surveyed several of the top maintenance and reliability professionals and they offer stockholders the following questions to ask of the companies in which they have invested:Has your company implemented an asset management/computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) system?

These systems are used to improve performance, eliminate waste and maximize productivity; however, studies have shown that only 30% of companies have successfully implemented a CMMS. What is the average age of your maintenance staff?

The current national average is 48 years old.Do you have a formal mentoring program?Organizations that have implemented this strategy have already seen impressive results by engaging older workers and empowering younger workers.Do you offer a maintenance career path?

Most organizations without a maintenance career path program promote employees who have minimal preparation or training. As a result, these lucky individuals have earned the right to fail.How does the company plan to develop technical expertise while introducing new automation?

Many organizations are skeptical about the value of training. They ask the question, “What if we train them and they leave?” The question should be, “What if we don’t train them and they stay?”How does the company assess a maintenance worker’s skill level? There should be a clear definition of workers’ expected performance. 

Organizations that have implemented this strategy have decreased downtime and increased performance.

If stockholders seek assurance that these issues are being addressed, they will generate balance between short-term performance and long-term sustainability. 

Don't be afraid to ask the following questions:

Does your organization have a disaster recovery plan?

Are all of your maintenance procedures and work order activities documented?

How does your organization recruit maintenance talent?

What measures are being put in place to minimize the effects of the pending skills shortage?

Does your company have a “pay-for-skills” program?