Predictive and Preventive Maintenance

Building the business case for maintenance investment in construction.

Over the last decade, the construction industry has gone through a period of recovery and is now in growth-mode. There is no room for complacency. Many challenges still persist, such as squeezed margins, economic uncertainty and ever-increasing demands for better environmental performance and productivity.

This is why getting the most out of equipment ranks so highly on the to-do lists of construction and equipment companies. In a major survey commissioned by Shell Lubricant Solutions, 76% of construction companies said extending the lifespan of existing equipment was a priority.

However, trying to make equipment last for longer is a false economy if it’s going to be breaking down repeatedly during its lifetime, or worse still, if it proves unsafe for operators. Unexpected breakdowns cut into project profit margins, particularly if parts take days or weeks to arrive and machinery is sitting idle. Similarly, the breakdown of one piece of equipment can have the knock-on effect of unplanned downtime of other units while the overall project is stalled. If work is stalled because of faulty equipment, firms can also face hefty penalties and reputational damage.

More than half of companies surveyed (56%) often experienced breakdowns because of ineffective lubrication

A study by one global manufacturer found idle time can range from 400 to 800 non-productive hours per year, per machine. This was supported by Shell’s data too – nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) said equipment breakdowns are a challenge in their business, and 75% said issues with equipment reliability have led to unexpected costs.

Minimizing the total cost of ownership is the holy grail for site managers and company bottom lines – but it simply won’t happen if companies neglect maintenance. Fortunately, a large majority (83%) of construction companies realize this and believe effective equipment maintenance can generate savings.

Less fortunately, this theoretical grasp does not seem to extend to what is in practice on job sites – nearly two-thirds (60%) said that maintenance is often deprioritized until there is a breakdown. A lack of knowledge and skills, too few staff and a lack of support from senior management are all cited as reasons maintenance regimes are suffering.

What’s holding back maintenance in the Construction industry?*

Three key reasons that lubricant decision makers in the construction industry point to:

  • Equipment maintenance is often deprioritized until there’s a breakdown
  • Maintenance is not sufficiently valued by senior management
  • Inadequate staff training/expertise
  • Challenges in keeping up with the latest best practices and trends
  • Too few maintenance staff

Firms also appear to be missing out on quick wins that can be quickly implemented and be highly effective, such as proper lubrication. The life expectancy and reliability of construction equipment is inherently tied to the application of the right lubricant, at the right time (and in the right amount) needed to reduce friction, heat, and wear. Despite this, 56% of companies surveyed often experienced breakdowns because of ineffective lubrication, while a similar number (53%) admit that lubrication is rarely a priority.

On a positive note, construction firms know that they cannot, and should not, have to figure it out alone. 77% agree their maintenance staff would benefit from additional training on effective equipment lubrication - and 76% value lubricant suppliers who can share expertise.

As market conditions continue to be a challenge, it makes sense for construction equipment owners and operators to consider opportunities to target savings where they can. Putting in place effective maintenance practices and partnering with lubricant suppliers who can offer expertise, help position you for success in the long run. Shell Lubricant Solutions have found that customers worldwide who invest in our lubricants and lubrication services can save anything from a few thousand dollars to many millions of dollars per year.

True partnerships can provide good quality services and staff training but ideally, can also contribute to positive cultural change. By working hand in hand with maintenance managers, the right partners can help construction firms build a solid business case for their senior management to invest in scheduled preventive maintenance. Which delivers measurable, and much needed, profitability for everyone in the long term.

Let’s start talking. Contact us today to begin building a partnership.

*Source: Powering Peak Performance – Shell survey of lubricant decision makers in construction industry (January 2019)

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