Plavecsky's Ponderings By Jim Plavecsky
by Jim Plavecsky
January 7th, 2021

Sharpening the Saw

Many of my customers were still so busy at the end of the year that they had to forego their annual plant shutdowns. This is a “good news – bad news” scenario.

The good news is: They were so busy they could not afford to shut down their plants.

The bad news is: They could not afford to not shut down their plants!

The end of the year is when most plants catch up on plant maintenance (PM), so some plant managers look at the year-end slowdown as sort of a luxury, when they finally have time to fix the machines they rely upon day in and day out over the course of the year.

However, preventative maintenance isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity.

The year 2021 is going to be another busy one and each machine is going to be stretched to its limits with overtime hours and even weekend duties. Machines will break down. Machines which have had preventative maintenance may still break down. But preventative maintenance will hopefully do what it is supposed to do: prevent this from happening!

PM programs offer three major benefits that will pay off big in the coming year.

  1. Improved Employee Morale

When machines break down, people in manufacturing get stressed. A backup machine may be brought in to take the place of the idled machine. Sure, it will work while the primary machinery is being fixed, but in most cases it’s slower, not as accurate and certainly not as efficient. Productivity falls behind. Manufacturing workers are forced to work extended hours and time with family and friends is compromised. Or, what if there is no backup machine? Workers are idled while production demands continue to pile up. This can have a devastating effect on employee morale. So, by taking time to perform an effective PM schedule, you will keep your door and window lines humming and your people, too. With manufacturing workers being in short supply, employee morale will be a huge factor when it comes to ensuring your company’s success in 2021. We simply cannot afford to let too many good people walk out the door!

  1. Extended Life of Machinery

Taking time to conduct proper PM extends the useful life of machinery, thereby lowering the overall expense for replacement machinery. Even if you decide to replace the machinery for something more automated that will take your company to the next level, PM will increase the value of your existing machinery on the used equipment market or ensure its reliability as a backup machine if you choose to keep it.

  1. Improved Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

Proper PM reduces rejects and improves the ultimate performance of the finished product. It also helps you deliver your products on time. If 2020 taught us anything, it is the importance of delivering quality products to our customers on time, which thereby enables them to deliver products to their customers on time. The payoff comes in customer loyalty. It is hard to leave a vendor or door and window supplier who consistently delivers quality products on time—not even for a better price!

Stephen Covey coined an expression in his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” as he discussed maximizing the contribution of individuals as part of a team. These same words can literally be applied to the concept of preventative maintenance: “Take time out to sharpen the saw!”

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