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The Case for Planned vs. Reactive warehouse and loading bay maintenance

Mar 16, 2017

Certainly in these straitened times and senior management’s pressure on warehouse or distribution managers that budget cuts have to be made in an attempt to cut costs on site.

This is the main driver leading the trend towards reactive maintenance in the logistic and warehouse sector.  This shifts the expense from the more discernible Operating Expenditure budget, to the less obvious Capital Expenditure budget. But as quick fixes go, there can be some serious, even dangerous, longer-term issues that will not be addressed using reactive maintenance for extended periods. 

Planned maintenance can be perceived as the more expensive option, but in fact can be as economical in the long run, plant or mechanical failure, such as metal fatigue can be anticipated and a well-timed scheduled repair or remedial work can prevent the need for a costly replacement.  In most cases it can extend the life of existing plant. 

Any savings made in OpEx budget during the year will be vastly outweighed by a greatly increased CapEx budget at year-end.   Using a dentists analogy – regular check-ups with the dentist usually lead to a filling, leaving it too long leads to expensive and painful extractions.  Planned maintenance can take advantage of special offers or distressed sellers of assets, in some cases with reactive maintenance Warehouse or distribution managers can be held to ransom by plant that is hard to come by or parts that are no longer produced. 

Further down the line, literally, the effects of loading bays or plant being unavailable hits logistical capability, impacting production negatively for the rest of the company.  Loading bays or plant awaiting repairs lead to production bottlenecks, meaning raw materials can't be brought in and finished product, shipped out again – profitability of the company as a whole is negatively impacted, another unintended effect of cost cutting in maintenance. 

Conversely as a company expands, scheduled maintenance can help grow capacity, with the data generated aiding the decision process to increase capacity in-line with future demand.  This leads to a phased retirement of assets and the introduction of new plant seamlessly.

Even seasonal variations in demand can be better catered for, by planning maintenance cycles to coincide with quiet periods, leading to less disruption at critical times in the year for the business as a whole.  A chocolate factory would not be best pleased with vital capacity being taken offline because of a breakdown ahead of Easter or Christmas

Lastly and certainly not least, working with poorly maintained plant and machinery can lead to a greater probability of injury to a logistics worker, such as a Dock leveller collapsing through being badly maintained, causing injury to fork-lift operatives.  Planned maintenance can seek out any potential dangerous working conditions before they become lethal.  Waiting for something to fail is very short-sighted and your Health and Safety officer would sleep a little easier at night if everything is current and well maintained.   We all know where liability would lie if something bad were to happen due to cuts in maintenance budget.


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The Case for Planned vs. Reactive warehouse and loading bay maintenance

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