Keep Maintenance Up in a Down Economy

Contributing Editor David Berger, P.Eng., says these techniques can help you avoid getting hurt by a sharp budget cut.

By David Berger, P.Eng., Contributing Editor, for Plant Services

Maintenance departments learned many things during the economic downturns of 1982 and 1989. For one thing, corporate executives are quick to cut costs they deem unnecessary, and, invariably, maintenance expenditures are placed high on the target list. Intellectually, most senior managers would acknowledge the long-term pain associated with the short-term gain of deeply cutting maintenance activity. However, North American executives are judged on bottom-line results, and thus, maintenance is perceived as expendable over the short term. After all, if you hold off on changing the oil in your car for a few additional months, you still can operate the car, or so the thinking goes.

The other observation senior management has made over the years is that by squeezing the organization for short-term savings, most departments, including maintenance, seem quite capable of reducing costs without an appreciable drop in productivity, despite the doom and gloom warnings that emerge.

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