A poorly maintained asset, whether it’s a substation, refinery or oil and gas facility, cannot produce what it was originally designed to do. Unfortunately, many senior managers in technical fields have a weak understanding of the role that good maintenance practices play in the economic success of a company, says Allan Tarita, MaintenanceCourse Leader at Alusani Skills & Training Network®.
“During a looming economic recession, the first part of the corporate budget that gets cut is training and the second is maintenance projects. This is a huge mistake to make, because not only should we be empowering people through education, but halting improvement initiatives means that many asset lifecycles are severely shortened,” says Tarita.
Tarita explains that the reason why maintenance projects are put on the backburner during uncertain financial times is because ill-informed senior executives often see production as the primary focus and maintenance tasks as simply a cost centre of burden.
“Production, however, isn’t the be all and end all of business; profitability is. And profitability is the result of good maintenance and good production coming together,” says Tarita.
Other threats to asset lifecycles include a lack of knowledge-sharing about the health of equipment and diminishing artisan competencies.
“The people who are executing maintenance tasks and checks have maintenance manuals that tell them how often specific components need to be checked, lubricated and so forth. When these people aren’t given the time or empowered to perform preventive maintenance procedures, they become rushed, they’re unable to document their findings and are therefore unable to make recommendations. All of this knowledge is lost and it leads to a lack of continuous improvement and inevitably shortened asset lifecycles as well as underproduction in plants,” says Tarita before adding that diminishing artisan competencies are aggravating the situation.
“In the past, companies offered good apprenticeships that would teach younger technicians about their industry’s workings and how to maintain their company’s assets. Today, young artisans enter the workforce after obtaining a national qualification and the only training they get is on-the-job pointers and tips from senior staff. All of this leads to deteriorating maintenance schedules and equipment,” adds Tarita.