October 15, 2014
"You're a LEAN...MEAN...FIGHTING...MACHINE!" -Bill Murray, Stripes 1981
Classic movie line, and with a bit of manipulation, an apt description for how many labs go about supporting their instrumentation. Lean, is a concept well known to many manufacturering operations and it's core roots are that of continuous improvement, which is of course finding great interest within research labs.
Lean Maintenance is a proactive approach that favors planned maintenance (PM's) instead of the tradiional annual service contract approach. Annual service contracts are a luxury that most labs (large and smal) can no longer afford. Large labs especially, are moving toward the PM approach for severl key reasons;
It's proactive - good PM's can find problems before they become critical, resulting in greater uptime.
It's pragmatic - mananging multiple service contracts can be very time consuming.
It's cost effective - service contracts costs are a budget killer.
A good PM procedure (one that mirrors the OEM's) requires smaller upfront investments that pale in comparison to annual service contracts costs, which are typically 10-15% of purchase price...year after year. PM's often provide so much cost savings that users are only contacting manufacturers when something breaks.
Finally, in an upcoming post I will talk about some specific strategies for Lean Maintenance. For now, just think twice before you automatically sign up of an expensive service contract...there are alternatives.