The maintenance industry, along with the world at large, has undergone drastic changes over the past year.
As we slowly begin to emerge from the lockdowns and head back out into the world, it’s important to take a look at how this past year has impacted our industry, and how we can prepare for a new future.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to adapt to new ways of working, and there are important changes happening for the asset maintenance and management industry.
Let’s look at some of the biggest impacts the pandemic has had on our industry.
People are still the most valuable resource
If there’s one thing the pandemic has done, it has reminded us that people will always be any company’s most valuable resource. As a world and as an industry, we have endured drastic changes to help keep ourselves, our families, and our co-workers safe.
We’ve seen several examples of this such as:
- New workplace procedures
- New and updated safety equipment
- Digitizing workflows
- Remote working
- Adopting digital tools
Some of these changes may disappear as vaccines become available and the world gets a better grasp on the disease, but some of them will forever be a part of the industry going forward.
One of the most immediate impacts of these new changes was how people interact with each other in the workplace. If you work in any sort of indoor environment, facility managers are now having to implement temperature checks, sanitation procedures, social distancing measures, and more.
It’s hard to know for sure how many of these procedures will remain in place, but there are things you can do to help your company make them more seamless, including:
- Keep guidelines simple
- Ensure your team understands objectives
- Make data-driven decisions
- Consult SMEs
With any guidelines you decide to adopt, make sure they are simple and easy to follow. Your team already has enough on their minds and adding difficult, complicated, or seemingly unnecessary procedures only adds stress.
One of the best things you can do to alleviate some stress is to help your team understand the reasoning behind the new procedures. Some of them may not fully understand why certain policies have been put in place, and may even disagree with them, but a proper understanding of the reasoning behind them can go a long way.
In difficult and potentially confusing times like this, it’s important to not make irrational or emotional decisions. Whatever policies your team is looking at putting in place, make sure you’ve gathered all the data you can so you can make the most informed decisions.
A key part of gathering data should be to consult with the recommended experts. Just like you and your team are knowledgeable experts in your fields, there are others who likely know quite a bit more about much of this stuff than we do.
New safety equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is pretty standard fare for most people in our industry, but there’s a good chance you’ve been asked to incorporate additional PPE into your work lives. Face masks and face shields are now required in most public places and most companies will be deciding for themselves how long those requirements will remain in place.
Digital workflows have been an increasingly large part of asset management for a few years now, but recent circumstances have highlighted just how valuable they can be. Quite a few asset-heavy companies have continued to rely on paper and spreadsheets for managing their asset maintenance programs and the pandemic has thrown into sharp relief how inefficient those methods are.
Preventive maintenance has quickly become the gold standard for asset maintenance programs, but it requires digital tools. Most of the industry has been slowly investing in this for a while, but the pandemic has brought technology adoption forward by about five years according to the McKinsey consulting group.
Implementing preventive maintenance programs can be expensive which is why many companies have been slow to adopt them. The pandemic may be forcing their hand, but many organizations are now beginning to realize the real benefits of preventive maintenance earlier than they had planned.
Most of the knowledge and service industries have implemented a remote working model due to the pandemic-induced lockdowns, but asset management has seen increased adoption of this as well. New digital tools have enabled managers, engineers, and even technicians to accomplish much more of their jobs remotely than they have ever been able to do before.
Remote work is likely to continue in some form or fashion for the foreseeable future.
Adopting digital tools
For years now businesses have been preparing for the fourth industrial revolution driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). These connected technologies are increasing the adoption of computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and enterprise asset management (EAM) solutions.
COVID-19 has skyrocketed demand for these digital solutions and many companies are already seeing real benefits from these solutions far beyond employee health and safety.
Maintenance workflows are one area that can see significant benefit from implementing digital tools. McKinsey estimates that digitizing maintenance workflows can cut maintenance costs by up to 15% and a good EAM solution is crucial to realizing these savings.
A new approach to maintenance
Whenever your company faces unprecedented circumstances, there are essentially two ways you can approach the situation.
The first way to approach situations like this is to hunker down and wait out the storm. Cut as many costs as you can as quickly as you can while still producing enough product to stay afloat. There are a few different ways to do this:
- Minimize downtime
- Reduce held inventory
- Reduce maintenance activities
Equipment downtime is one of the biggest costs for almost any company with large assets. If your equipment is down, you’re not producing product. Preventive maintenance activities can significantly reduce your equipment downtime. Like DeFore Corp. which saw a 50% reduction in preventable downtime using ManagerPlus.
Holding onto inventory can be costly because oftentimes companies hold on to more maintenance parts than they need. Implementing a good EAM software can help you keep track of your inventory and let you know precisely when it’s time to order so you don’t have to hold on to parts you aren’t using.
Labor is typically one of the largest costs for most companies so anything you can do you optimize your maintenance work is helpful. This does not necessarily mean cutting staff. Automating your workflows can help you manage work orders more effectively so you get more out of your time on wrench.
You can also choose to go the other route and aggressively try to grab more market share from your competitors. The best way to do that is to:
- Offer a higher quality product,
- In greater volume,
- At a lower cost,
Producing a higher quality product will involve reevaluating what factors you can change about your product to see what you can improve. The main way for asset managers to do this is by improving asset operations to produce less wasted product.
Increasing the amount of product you produce can be done by increasing your asset uptime. Achieving higher overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) allows you to produce more product over longer periods of time without having to replace the asset.
We’ve already discussed several ways to reduce the costs of your product. The less you’re spending on maintenance products and activities, the higher cost savings you can pass on to your customers.
Whatever your approach, ManagerPlus can help
As the pandemic continues to require companies to adapt their operations, ManagerPlus is ready to help you with the digital transformation of your asset management.
Our automated work orders help you schedule your PMs so they go out on time, to the right technician, with all the information they need to get the job done.
Your operators can perform visual inspections from wherever they are with the Operator Companion app and your technicians can complete work orders on-site through the Work Companion app.
ManagerPlus is based in the cloud so your data is always saved and always online so you can access it from anywhere. Even while your staff is working from home, everyone can communicate seamlessly so the job gets done.
Best of all, getting set up with MangaerPlus is easy because our implementation teams can do the heavy lifting for you. We’ll come on-site and audit your assets and inventory for you and help train your crew, so you don’t miss a beat.
When you’re ready to dive into the future of asset management, we’re ready to help.