Today’s organizations are under more pressure than ever to improve productivity while reducing their operating costs to boost their bottom lines. But profitability does not have to come at the expense of forgoing investments in digital transformation solutions or cutting maintenance jobs. With today’s skilled labor shortage, you need to optimize the use of your limited staffing.
A mobile maintenance solution can help organizations to cost-effectively transform their maintenance departments while retaining valuable human resources. Read about how the return on investment in purchasing a solution can be secured without counting on a reduction in headcount from the productivity gains.
Eliminating Costs with a Mobile Maintenance Solution
The goal of every organization is to increase its profits. To become more profitable, management typically seeks to slash operating costs. As operational cost centers, maintenance departments are often at the top of the list. This puts tremendous pressure on maintenance managers forcing them to find new ways to allocate their limited maintenance resources.
It is not always desirable or feasible to reduce fixed operating costs such as administrative or maintenance technician positions. Especially today where there is a significant skilled labor gap in these functions. This often leads to cost-cutting measures at the expense of optimal maintenance processes.
With limited resources, proven cost-saving practices such as preventative maintenance are often postponed to deal with more pressing issues. As one scholar puts it, “There is a general belief that preventative maintenance can easily be postponed until financial constraints may be less tight, and because it is difficult to quantify the cost of neglect, maintenance work has always been subjected to under-funding and budget cuts. It is therefore not surprising that maintenance activities other than day-to-day, ad-hoc or emergency work are mostly of an aesthetic or cleaning nature aimed at hiding the damning signs of neglect.”
But what if you could retain your employees and have a cost-effective and proactive maintenance department? There are essentially two ways to accomplish this: focusing on preventive maintenance strategies and adopting technologies such as a mobile maintenance solution to support the implementation.
Adopting a Proactive Maintenance Strategy
Proactive maintenance strategies, like preventive or predictive maintenance, helps organizations save money by better allocating resources and avoiding breakdowns that result in lost productivity and costly repairs. This strategy increases productivity, extends the life of equipment, reduces the frequency and severity of breakdowns, and reduces overall labor costs.
Predictive maintenance leverages technology such as sensors and AI to collect and analyze data. Using this data, maintenance organizations can predict and repair equipment before failures occur. These strategies can drastically reduce operating costs. But as a practical matter, implementing a proactive maintenance strategy is not feasible without the help of the right technologies.
Eliminating Costs with a Mobile Maintenance Solution
A mobile maintenance solution or Mobile EAM app empowers technicians and allows maintenance departments to eliminate direct and hidden costs without the need to slash fixed costs such as headcount. Here are several ways a mobile maintenance solution can pay for itself:
Replace Paper-Based Processes
Many organizations in asset-intensive industries have yet to digitize their paper workflows. Paper-based processes are both time-consuming and wasteful. Employees spend more time collecting, reviewing, entering, and storing data. According to a study conducted by IDC, employees can lose upwards of 50% of their time every week by searching for, managing, and preparing data, as well as duplicating work tasks.
For maintenance professionals, this translates to a significant amount of time spent manually completing work orders. Moreover, administrative staff must print and distribute work orders and manually input data back into the EAM systems. This leads to gaps in data visibility and prevents management from having access to reliable information in real time.
Maintenance departments can eliminate paper-based processes by adopting a mobile maintenance solution. Technicians can easily view work orders on their mobile devices, complete tasks and move on to the next job cutting steps out of their day. The productivity improvement can be funneled into getting more work orders accomplished per shift. Hard costs such as paper and printing can be eliminated.
Decrease Reliance on Outsourcing
According to one survey, 44% of respondents indicated that they outsource up to 20% of their overall maintenance. Another 10% reported that they rely on third parties for at least half of their maintenance tasks. The survey also identified several factors that contribute to increased maintenance outsourcing. These include a lack of in-house resources (52%) and a lack of maintenance skills among existing staff (46%).
Organizations that rely on outsourcing experience higher turnover. This is due to contractors having less allegiance to the company than in-house maintenance teams. It takes a lot of time and money to train new technicians on the company’s operating procedures, equipment, and technology. When contractors leave, they take their knowledge with them.
A mobile maintenance app is proven to increase technician wrench time enabling you to get more done with the existing staff and decrease your reliance on contractors. According to studies by McKinsey, “The average wrench time in the market is between 15 and 25%...we have seen companies increase wrench time 2.5x due to the digitization of maintenance processes.”
Increase Asset Reliability and Reduce Downtime
According to experts, downtime costs companies between $5,600 and $9,000 per minute. There are many metrics to consider when calculating the true costs of downtime. In addition to lost productivity, unplanned downtime is packed with many hidden costs. These can include:
- Labor costs. If equipment is down your employees are not producing. But they are still getting paid.
- Repair costs. The costs to repair or replace a machine can be significant such as rush shipping of needed parts.
- Downstream costs. A broken-down machine can create bottlenecks in production processes. This can negatively impact downstream workers’ productivity as well as loss of perishable raw materials.
A mobile maintenance solution helps maintenance departments to implement proactive maintenance strategies resulting in an increase in Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF). Reducing downtime increases asset availability for the production department resulting in better meeting customer demand and greater business profitability.
Improve Data Quality and Timeliness
Data quality is key to improving maintenance planning and operational productivity. A proactive preventive or predictive maintenance strategy requires good data to support the analysis of root causes of failures as well as understanding the time it takes for different tasks.
A mobile maintenance solution enables the standardization of data entries. Technicians can enter data using drop-down menu selections in a Mobile EAM app. If they need to inform the organization of a breakdown, they can do so immediately from within the app.
With paper-based work orders, there are gaps from the time work is completed or noted on paper until it is manually entered into the system. Data quality issues ensue from typos and misinterpretation of hand-written notes. Capturing verbatim notes into the work order system creates a challenge to analyze, look at trends and make decisions on the data. Consider this situation at a petrochemical plant.
A petrochemical plant in South Africa started a process to create a more robust system for planning, managing, and executing their maintenance strategy. Their goal was simple: do a better job, do that job faster, and do it for less money/more profit. They began to deploy tools to help them along this path.
As a part of the deployment of a maintenance planning and scheduling solution, they wanted to understand the core reasons why either preventive maintenance jobs or break/fix jobs were not being completed on their first attempt. This customer used SAP for plant maintenance. Within that system, they found something pretty scary. There were over 1100 reason codes for an equipment failure.
Astonished by this fact the team discovered that when the SAP PM system was originally set up, there were no predefined codes or easy drop-down menus for technicians to choose from. When they ran a search for the word “part”, they found that there were over 300 reasons that had to do with one simple fact: Parts were not in stock or available. Because their reason codes were so distributed, their analysis in reports and KPI’s never pointed to a critical fact: There was a big problem between the planning of work and parts availability. This problem was causing hundreds of wasted hours of technicians’ time and more hundreds of hours of additional downtime due to failures that were not fixed quickly.
With a mobile solution, stakeholders can easily track work orders and make informed decisions with consistent, quality information. They can also react immediately to coordinate responses to downtime events. And importantly, they can drive use the data to more effectively plan and schedule preventive maintenance work resulting in higher staff productivity and increased technician wrench time.
Improving Safety and Compliance
Proactive maintenance improves plant safety and reduces the risks of accidents. With a Mobile EAM app, safety checklists can be a mandatory read before completing a work order. Avoiding the risk of safety incidents and compliance fines may be hard to quantify in terms of cost savings, but like major downtime incidents, the budget impact can be significant if issues arise.
A mobile maintenance solution also increases accountability. For example, a work order can be set up to not open until the technician is in actual proximity of the piece of equipment to be inspected. Providing oversight from afar can improve the productivity of your foremen and supervisors.
Adding it Up
When making an investment in a digital transformation solution like a mobile maintenance app, you typically look to the productivity benefits enabling headcount reductions for a return on your investment. But given today’s environment with skilled labor shortages, you need to improve the utilization of your existing staff and justify the investment in technologies in other ways.
A mobile EAM app replaces paper-based maintenance processes to free up your current staff to more effectively cover your needs. Without considering headcount reductions, the savings can be direct costs, such as savings on contract labor, paper and printing costs, to indirect costs such as fewer downtime incidents, higher data quality and improved safety and compliance. And, from the improvement in equipment reliability, consider the revenue and profit potential from enabling the production department.
How Sigga Can Help
Sigga has been helping asset-intensive enterprises to improve productivity and reduce costs for 20 years. We offer automation and mobile solutions that integrate seamlessly with SAP.
Sigga Mobile EAM is a proven mobile solution designed to digitize the activities of the maintenance and repair worker. The solution replaces tedious, manual paper-based processes with everything the maintenance worker needs in a mobile device while in the field or plant. See how Sigga’s Mobile EAM helped Furnas, an electricity generation and transmission company, to dramatically reduce their operating costs and shift 50 administrative employees to higher-value roles.
Sigga Warehouse and Inventory extends the mobile productivity impacts and supports cross-organization collaboration to reduce inventory and improve parts availability.
Sigga Planning & Scheduling enables the planner to replace tedious spreadsheet work with automation to create a baseline schedule for maintenance and repair activities. This allows the planner to focus their time on finessing the schedule with ad hoc requirements and making their own value-added inputs.
Read more Sigga's Solutions and how we can help you get a quick ROI without reducing headcount.