A recent article in PlantServices.com discussed some of the pitfalls of inconsistent labor tracking practices…and offered solid solutions to avoid them. According to the article, conservative estimates peg labor maintenance costs at 42% of total maintenance cost. Given that maintenance labor allocation directly impacts the cost of maintenance materials, optimizing the former has the potential to dramatically reduce total maintenance cost spoilage.
What kind of figure are we talking about? There is wide consensus among Insiders that a substantial amount of maintenance funds are spent on unplanned (or unnecessary/poorly executed) maintenance. One subject matter expert projects that the waste amounts to, approximately, $66 billion – per year. Maintenance managers, like school teachers, can’t improve what they can’t see or measure, which is why given the sizable portion of maintenance costs labor takes up, assessing maintenance labor costs is an area of great potential for any kind of cost-savings optimization program.
Computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) or enterprise asset management (EAM) software, are tools that can help maintenance management more clearly assess maintenance labor, but many facilities have not invested in them. Of those who have, another more insidious problem occurs when those facilities fail to create documentary guidance for reporting maintenance labor, across the organization.
Examples of Inconsistent Labor Reporting
If a technician begins their shift at 7AM and their day breaks down thusly:
- Obtain a work permit (one hour)
- Gather tools and materials (two hours)
- Wait for isolation and access of equipment to be worked on (one hour)
- Travel to and from equipment location (one hour)
- Perform actual maintenance work on equipment (three hours)
- Housekeeping (one hour)
- Maintenance history update in the CMMS (30 minutes)
One technician might report their labor hours as three (the actual time spent on maintenance work), whereas another could report six labor hours (the sum of the time needed to gather tools and materials, isolate and access equipment, and the actual time spent on maintenance work). Given this variance, labor reporting becomes unreliable, at best, making proper maintenance planning likewise difficult.
To use CMMS optimally to support labor tracking, benchmarking is recommended. Towards that end, a guidance document should be created and all relevant persons trained to use it – consistently. Periodic audits are also recommended to ensure uniform utilization of the guidance, which will in turn allow facilities to accurately assess their true labor costs, trends, and challenges and identify potential improvements through valid comparative data.
Dana Madama is the Online Marketing Manager at eMaint Enterprises, located in Marlton, NJ, which provides CMMS and EAM solutions for all of your maintenance and asset management needs.