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How to Make Construction Equipment Maintenance Profitable? Build a High-Performance Team.

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What stops your fellow construction business leaders from growing profits through maintenance operations?

If you ask, some peers may tell you about their struggle with establishing a solid maintenance plan. They don’t feel well-prepared or lack resources to assess the current state, define objectives, and align them with the overall business strategy.

Others will say it’s reporting – production KPIs and metrics to gauge business results – that keeps them up at night. 

But in the end, everyone would agree that people are the make-or-break factor when it comes to profitability. Any new idea introduced to a disengaged, unmotivated maintenance team will eventually fail. Let us explain why. 

A shift in perception: maintenance as a profit center

Maintenance departments have long been considered as cost centers, limiting their operational milestones to decreasing expenses and adhering to the budget.

But this approach is getting out-of-date. 

The rapid development of maintenance technology proves maintenance to have a direct impact on business profitability. Just think of it:

  • Maintenance reduces downtime, preventing money loss from operations that stall due to a non-functioning piece of equipment.
  • It keeps machinery and the work environment safe and reduces the risk of costly accidents.
  • By boosting production efficiency and asset utilization, planned maintenance increases the ability to produce more output (therefore, earn more money) in less time. 
  • Planned maintenance increases wrench time – the technicians can actually work with their tools rather than spending time driving or on administrative tasks. 

The conclusion is straightforward: money saved or generated by maintenance goes directly to the bottom line. 

Today, many construction companies want to stop treating maintenance as a liability — but spinning it off as a profit center requires a shift in perception. Business leaders, maintenance managers, technicians – everyone plays a part in it. And that’s where the problem with people lies.  

The motivation problem

Maintenance – from functional checks to repairs – is carried out by maintenance teams. People stand at the frontline of maintenance operations. Therefore, they need incentives to think and perform in a way that steers profitability in the right direction. 

In reality, however, the staff’s motivations are often driven by simpler reasons: to get back home on time and not take up more responsibility than is required. It is a classic depiction of a low-performance team.

Low-performance maintenance teams

  • “What’s in it for me” mindset
  • Individual players
  • Poor conflict management
  • Never-ending recurring maintenance issues
  • Seen as a reason for all maintenance problems

Organizations with unmotivated teams that operate in a self-centered way ultimately end up with increasing production costs. 

In contrast, businesses that found their way to build and engage highly performant teams, systemize processes, and act on the right tasks at the right time can rapidly move towards maintenance excellence.

High-performance maintenance teams

  • Enabled (by their organization) to see the bigger picture – “What’s in it for the business, the team, and me”.
  • Team players
  • Quickly and effectively address conflicts
  • Able to identify maintenance issues and prevent recurrences
  • Seen as thought leaders with an important role in business improvement.

Building a high-performance maintenance team

Profitable maintenance operation can only be achieved by transforming the maintenance crew into a high-performance team. But how do you build one?

Develop vision, mission, and values

Have you ever considered if every single technician in your team knows what happens if the maintenance is not done in due time — and whose responsibility is making sure that they do? 

Business leaders are the enablers that can encourage individuals to think about how their actions can affect the overall success of the team or the company. Establishing mutual purpose and cultural standards may seem beyond the scope of maintenance departments but it’s an efficient technique to inspire and engage staff. So, you should anchor every single piece of the process in the organizational vision, mission, and values.

Promote communication and collaboration

A 10-minute morning stand-up will help to focus on the common purpose, catch up with everyone’s progress, and strengthen the bonds within the team. Cultivating an open and collaborative culture is important to prevent conflicts within the department and maintain employee engagement.

Set meaningful KPIs

A very common mistake in the maintenance departments is bringing attention to KPIs that track job-related performance instead of measuring progress and improvement. But solving this issue is not enough.

Every job, without exceptions, has a great impact on the ultimate goal. Therefore, the KPIs can only be meaningful when they connect to the business value that high performance will deliver. In this situation, your role as a business leader is to communicate stories that help the staff understand the outcomes of poor decisions (and their contribution to avoiding them).

What are the consequences of not planning maintenance digitally? 

How does the lack of maintenance automation affect customer satisfaction? 

Why should the equipment parts be ordered through an automated system, just before the maintenance? 

Answers to questions like this, wrapped into the stories about the ultimate goal, are what enables teams to see the bigger picture and make them feel responsible for their input. 

Implement a preventive maintenance program

Imagine that every single hour of the machine’s downtime is worth $2000. In one obsolete workday (8 hours), its unscheduled maintenance puts the company at a disadvantage of $16,000:

$2000 x 8 = $16,000

And what if machinery is down for weeks, let’s assume 100 hours per year? That’s a loss of $200,000:

$2000 x 8 = $200,000

Plug in additional costs in the equation: employee wages, emergency maintenance, other costs incurred by project timeline delays. Consider the number of machines per construction yard. You might not even feel some indirect costs, but they exist, adding to the profit loss due to largely reactive work. With preventive maintenance, these hidden additional costs can be eliminated and re-distributed in a profitable way. For example, to pay performance bonuses.

Unscheduled maintenance takes its toll on employee satisfaction, too. Put yourself in the shoes of a technician: would you prefer doing maintenance in the comfort of your backyard, with a pre-established plan, or paying an emergency visit to a muddy construction site in heavy rain? Just think of how much the stress level in your maintenance department will decrease when you establish a routine of periodically inspecting equipment, noticing issues, and fixing them before they become serious problems. 

You are the one to empower your employees with the knowledge, lift their motivation with meaningful incentives, and, ultimately, build a high-performance maintenance team. With 17 years of experience in supporting market leaders with know-how and technology, we can help you embark on the road to profitable maintenance.

If you want to read the entire article, please find a download link below containing an extensive research on this topic

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