The Real Value of Preventative Maintenance

March 23, 2015

The Real Value of Preventative Maintenance

You may recall our recent blog post about how important it is for facilities managers to stay ahead of OSHA at their healthcare facilities by investing time and effort into preventing slips and falls and stopping the spread of drug-resistant bacteria.

However, prevention has a price tag. Either you invest upfront via technology, training and work time to prevent problems before they happen, or you spend dearly on the back end in a reactive mode on workers compensation claims, temp staffing, backfilling and overtime, not to mention fixing the problem.

So, how do you begin formulating your preventative maintenance strategy? Here are some suggestions.

1. Some experts believe in developing a preventative maintenance plan methodically and patiently. Focusing first on one critical system — HVAC, utilities, life safety and power — is the best way to start.

The real trick for you and your staff is to make that mental shift from short-term fixes to long-term improvements in small doses.

But, what if a lack of time and people are already problems that demand your immediate attention? Consider what facilities management expert Michael Cowley calls “drive-by inspections” in which staffers get to know key equipment by observing, hearing and touching it (as told to

This approach to inspections may help solve one important problem: Studies estimate up to 85 percent of equipment failures are self-induced, meaning the root cause may be improper maintenance.

2. Another fundamental building block Cowley suggests in developing a preventative maintenance plan: Investing the time to schedule work planning meetings at least once a week.

Again, the goal is to keep things simple. Schedule these meetings the same time every week, and always include an agenda that keeps your staff focused on the past, present and future of their workplace,

3. Also, what happens if/when budgets shrink, as they inevitably will? First, it’s important to emphasize that trimming budgets often offer savings just for the short term, and cost more in the long run.

One way to beat potential budgeting issues with preventative maintenance: Increase opportunities for your staff to cross-train on different equipment.

4. Another solution worth considering, especially for healthcare facilities managers, is to demonstrate the value your department provides via benchmarking.

For facilities managers, the real advantage and challenge of benchmarking is changing the perceptions of facilities management (sometimes slowly) beyond expenses and toward cumulative cash flow and return on investment, real numbers that executives really understand and care about.

FM Link offers an interesting approach to benchmarking the costs of a preventative maintenance program by comparing standard costs (typical repairs and maintenance) to exceptional costs (partial or total replacement).

Look for more suggestions on improving preventative maintenance at your facility by subscribing to our Facebook and Twitter feeds that are frequently updated each week.

For guidance on preventative maintenance at your facility, contact Vanguard Resources.