Maintaining maintenance and reliability strategies during economic downturns

Maintaining maintenance and reliability strategies during economic downturns

Nov. 20, 2023
Adrian Messer says make the case against budget cuts by communicating how our work contributes directly to bottom line profitability across the organization.

In today’s environment, industrial manufacturing companies face a constant range of challenges. This range includes product innovations, quality control, ESG reporting and compliance, balancing inventory and supply chain issues, keeping assets running and available, cybersecurity threats, finding qualified talent, and managing their budgets. 

Downtime in industrial manufacturing can be incredibly costly. Every minute a production line is down translates to lost revenue. According to the research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unplanned downtime can cost manufacturers as much as $260,000 per hour. When economic recessions hit, companies often feel the pressure to save money wherever they can. However, cutting back on maintenance and reliability can lead to an increase in equipment breakdowns and unscheduled downtime. In the long run, these interruptions can cost significantly more than the short-term savings realized through budget cuts.

Protecting asset longevity

Industrial manufacturing relies heavily on complex machinery and equipment. Some assets may not only be complex, but also unique and dated, and replacement may represent substantial capital investments. Neglecting maintenance and reliability during economic recessions can lead to premature wear and tear, thus reducing the lifespan of these assets. Prolonged neglect can necessitate costly replacements or extensive repairs when conditions improve. In contrast, a well-maintained asset can continue to generate value and support production even when economic conditions are challenging, providing a competitive advantage.

Ensuring consistent product quality

Maintaining product quality is non-negotiable in industrial manufacturing. Today’s customers demand consistency, and any compromise can damage a company's reputation and customer trust. In some cases, customers may be willing to pay more for products and services from companies they perceive as offering higher quality. Neglecting maintenance and reliability strategies can result in equipment failures that directly impact product quality. By maintaining a robust maintenance strategy, companies can ensure that their products consistently meet quality standards, safeguarding customer satisfaction and brand reputation. It’s never a good thing to make news in a bad way. 

Supporting workforce safety

Worker safety is a moral and legal obligation for industrial manufacturing companies. Equipment failures and accidents can result in injuries or fatalities, leading to legal and financial liabilities. During economic recessions, where companies may be under pressure to cut costs, compromising on safety measures can have dire consequences. Ensuring the well-being of employees through proper maintenance and reliability strategies is not just an ethical imperative but also a strategic decision that protects the workforce and the company's reputation. It has also been proven that when reliability improves, worker safety improves. 

Resilient operations

In the industrial manufacturing world, resilience is built on a foundation of proactive maintenance and unwavering reliability. The temptation to cut costs in these areas can be strong during downturns, but it's a shortsighted approach that can lead to long-term negative consequences. As maintenance & reliability professionals, it is our duty to show that maintenance & reliability is not a cost center, but necessary work that contributes directly to bottom line profitability by maintaining assets in a way that they are available when they are needed and will operate and produce with little to no interruptions and with the highest quality of products produced. 

About the Author

Adrian Messer | CMRP, Vice President of Executive Services, Progressive Reliability

Adrian Messer has worked in the maintenance and reliability field for nearly 20 years. During that time, he has worked with manufacturing and distribution facilities across multiple industries helping to improve their plant’s asset reliability through improved condition monitoring. Adrian is Manager of US Operations at SDT Ultrasound Solutions. Previously he worked with Progressive Reliability to advise companies on reliability-focused contracting & hiring and to find M&R professionals for open jobs.

Adrian is a graduate of Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science in Management with a concentration in Human Resources. He is a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP) through the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) and is actively involved with SMRP on a local and National level. He resides in Anderson, South Carolina.

Sponsored Recommendations

Arc Flash Prevention: What You Need to Know

March 28, 2024
Download to learn: how an arc flash forms and common causes, safety recommendations to help prevent arc flash exposure (including the use of lockout tagout and energy isolating...

Reduce engineering time by 50%

March 28, 2024
Learn how smart value chain applications are made possible by moving from manually-intensive CAD-based drafting packages to modern CAE software.

Filter Monitoring with Rittal's Blue e Air Conditioner

March 28, 2024
Steve Sullivan, Training Supervisor for Rittal North America, provides an overview of the filter monitoring capabilities of the Blue e line of industrial air conditioners.

Limitations of MERV Ratings for Dust Collector Filters

Feb. 23, 2024
It can be complicated and confusing to select the safest and most efficient dust collector filters for your facility. For the HVAC industry, MERV ratings are king. But MERV ratings...