It’s no secret that deferred maintenance can lead to big problems for businesses–from increased energy costs and equipment failure to safety issues. But what is it, exactly? And, what can you do to prevent it? In this blog post, we’ll answer these questions and more, so you can keep your assets and business running smoothly.
What is Deferred Maintenance?
Deferred maintenance is pretty self-explanatory as it is maintenance that has been deferred or postponed. This includes both planned and unplanned maintenance tasks for assets from equipment and machinery to infrastructure. You may know deferred maintenance as backlog maintenance.
Common Causes of Deferred Maintenance
Many factors can contribute to deferred maintenance such as budget limitations, lack of available funds, or supply and labor shortages. The most common cause is funding. However, deferred maintenance sometimes happens when technicians call off work or there are not enough spare parts available. Additionally, deferred maintenance can also occur due to a lack of available trained labor. This could be due to a shortage of qualified technicians in the area or the retirement of experienced workers. In fact, a 2018 study found that 64% of US manufacturing companies experience significant setbacks due to the shortage of skilled workers caused by baby boomers retiring. Without the necessary labor force, scheduled maintenance and repairs may be put on hold indefinitely, resulting in deferred maintenance.
These are the common causes of deferred maintenance:
- Lack of funds or maxed-out budget.
- Inaccessible equipment.
- Run to failure maintenance policy.
- Maintenance is for a lower priority asset.
- Lack of information or shortage of experienced technicians.
- Spare parts are either not on hand or not available.
The Cost of Maintenance Backlog
While deferred maintenance can be caused by many different factors, it is important to remember that it can have significant consequences on the lifespan and performance of physical assets. As such, it is important to take action to prevent deferred maintenance from occurring whenever possible.
Studies have found that deferred maintenance leads to a $4 increase in direct future costs for every $1 saved by delaying maintenance. When adding the indirect cost of deferred maintenance, the costs can reach 15 times more than if you completed the maintenance.
The longer you wait to fix a problem, the worse it will get, and the more expensive it will be to fix. Additionally, deferred maintenance can lead to higher downtime. If a machine breaks down, it will take longer to fix it if you didn’t maintain it. The equipment failure also creates a potential safety hazard, as the breakdown can lead to a safety incident. Finally, deferred maintenance can cause energy inefficiency. A well-maintained machine will run more efficiently than one that has been allowed to fall into disrepair. In conclusion, deferred maintenance is a serious issue that you should avoid whenever possible.
How to Avoid the Vicious Cycle of Backlog Maintenance
1. Gather Asset and Maintenance Data
It’s difficult to make strategic decisions without data. Yet, so many companies don’t have visibility into their maintenance and asset data from the costs to the effectiveness of their preventive maintenance (PM). The easiest way to get on top of your data is to implement a CMMS, or a Computerized Maintenance Management System. Redlist’s CMMS streamlines all of your information into an easy-to-use reporting dashboard. Then, when you’re deciding whether to defer maintenance or how to prioritize backlog tasks, you have your real-time data at your fingertips.
2. Review Your Backlog, Assets, and PMs
Nobody has an endless budget, so some amount of deferred maintenance is bound to happen. But, the key to preventing the negative impact of deferred maintenance is being strategic with what tasks or assets you delay maintenance on. That’s where a review comes in. For example, if you inspect your equipment and find no issues, you may be performing PMs on that asset more often than necessary. Auditing your PMs for effectiveness can help you create an optimal schedule that pushes that PM as far as you can to stretch your budget and labor availability. Other items to consider when reviewing your assets and backlog are any issues that may create a safety hazard, have a large impact on production, or lead to a high failure rate.
3. Set Your Priorities
When your maintenance backlog only continues to grow, it can feel overwhelming just to figure out where to start. Having clear priorities based on the risk and needs of the business will help you not only tackle your backlog but also avoid deferring critical maintenance. Your CMMS provides the structure to more easily prioritize your maintenance plan. You can automate recurring maintenance tasks, track their effectiveness, and easily adjust the schedule. Also, you can make use of important features like customized work orders or inspection checklists and integration with sensors. This further optimizes your PMs, as they can be driven by sensor data or meter readings of runtime to ensure that you only perform maintenance when absolutely necessary.
4. Analyze Your Budget
If you’re still working with paper or spreadsheet-based systems, you likely don’t have accurate data to base your budget requests on. Without solid data showing the success of your PMs, it’s easy for management to deny budget requests only seeing PMs as an expense without seeing the benefit. A report on the state of maintenance operations found that maintenance teams are 28% more likely to have additional budget requests approved if they have procurement managers interact with their CMMS. While lack of funds is the number one cause of deferred maintenance, the real problem is the lack of data behind budget decisions.
Reduce Your Deferred Maintenance with Redlist
Deferred maintenance may seem like a good way to save money in the short term, but it can actually lead to a number of problems and higher expenses down the road. The sooner you can break the deferred maintenance cycle, the better. A CMMS is one of the best ways to do that by helping you take a proactive approach to maintenance. Schedule a demo with us today and see how our software can help you get your maintenance backlog under control.