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What Is Deferred Maintenance?
Deferred maintenance is the practice of delaying maintenance work, such as repairs on both personal property (machinery) & real property (infrastructure) to save costs, redistribute available budget monies, and meet budget funding targets.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out the way it should. Failure to carry out the necessary repairs could result in the deterioration and eventual impairment of assets. A policy to continually defer maintenance will ultimately result in asset failure, higher costs, as well as health and safety implications.
Why Should Facilities Managers Care?
A facility manager’s main objectives are to mediate between the facility owner and engineer about what repairs need to be done, how much maintenance should be allocated to what assets, and how these repairs can be monitored while keeping expenses at a minimum.
Generally, deferred maintenance is a common issue for all facilities managers to achieve the objectives listed above. In some scenarios, practicing deferred maintenance might seem like a great idea to keep facilities management expenses down. However, deferred maintenance only slows down the unavoidable maintenance delays and costs that come along with it.
Stalling on repairs through deferred maintenance can endanger your business and result in cost inflation, asset downtime, and a lot more damage to your department. If a piece of equipment breaks down, it should be resolved quickly so that other systems will only need to compensate for that asset failure for a limited period.
Deferred Maintenance May Result In Increased Risk
Depending on the particular maintenance repairs under consideration, deferred maintenance exposes your business to risks such as the possibility of like-asset failures resulting from overloaded systems. With electrical systems, the outlook could be more disastrous with increased dangers of fire and injury to customers or employees.
Challenges Faced by Facility Managers and Engineers
Listed below are some of the difficulties facility managers and engineers experience that most often lead to a deferred maintenance strategy.
- Shortage of skills – There could be a knowledge gap with new recruits during the onboarding process without adequate documentation. Also, the non-training of veterans on new technologies and inaccurate reporting of asset issues eventually develop in problems in the future.
- Communication gaps – Inadequate communication about what type of maintenance needs to be implemented causes confusion issues within the maintenance planning road process.
- Problems with funding – Older assets on site don’t have much funding allocated to them, so they are ignored without any preventive maintenance carried out on them. Instead, facilities leave these older assets to be dealt with in a reactive instance.
- Incorrect use of funds – Even when facility owners budget funds for maintenance purposes, they are often diverted to other departments without the consideration for any maintenance needs and the costs related to fixing them.
These problems are prevalent in facilities where top-down and bottom-up communication are not prioritized. If the facility owner is not informed about a problem being faced by engineers, then the issue will be unsolved until it ultimately leads to a bigger malfunction of an asset. There are also situations where issues get to the top-level, but they are labeled with the type of importance they require.
Also, if work orders and work requests are documented on paper, this may slow the communication of critical information to the decision-makers. The information could either go missing on someone’s desk or is communicated inappropriately.
Reducing Costs From A Deferred Maintenance Plan
Step1: Record maintenance activity
Invest in CMMS or EAM, such an IBM Maximo, that records time to complete, wrench time, warranties, and maintenance costs. Running an audit through a CMMS such as IBM Maximo can then centralize data around equipment, assets, work orders, and work requests. These reports are essential for reducing deferred maintenance backlog.
Step 2: Carry out an audit
Once essential data has been collected, a maintenance audit gives you a better understanding of the magnitude of the issues relating to maintenance by providing answers to these questions:
- Are some pieces of equipment with warranties about to expire?
- Have some specific equipment failed more often? Were these unexpected and unpredictable failures?
- What can be considered a safety threat? What is affecting staff and the production of goods and services?
The responses to these questions will guide you as you provide an answer to the most important question: If your budget and resources were unlimited, what would you have on your comprehensive list of repairs and upgrades?
Step 3: Prioritize the backlog
To make this happen, divide the backlog into two major categories:
1) Immediate Attention: projects that have been marked for safety violations or need repairs to run normally.
2) Delayed Attention: projects that will be critical if they are not dealt with within a particular time frame.
You can also categorize backlog through the cost of an upgrade, time to repair, location of repair, asset lifecycle, in-house repair vs. contractor repair, and dependencies – what has to be on hold during a repair.
Step 4: Start or increase Preventive Maintenance tasks
Increasing preventive maintenance tasks is a guaranteed way of avoiding emergency maintenance and deferred maintenance from going wrong. Investing in a CMMS like IBM Maximo makes for easy PM scheduling with automated reminders and calendar view to ensure routine maintenance is on track.
Step 5: Acquire additional budget
This is easier if you’re able to show how the current budget is distributed. After that, you can then convince higher-level management that budget savings and growing short-term profits are more costly ultimately. Industry-wide standards have revealed that deferred maintenance compounds by 7% per annum. Budgeting acquisition shouldn’t be a one-time thing. Maintenance operations and strategy should be an ongoing process where you carry other departments along.