Reader Forum

Outsourcing the maintenance function I am concerned about the shift from inhouse maintenance staffing to outsourcing of the required services. Outsourcing supporters claim that it results in maximum uptime and I have no doubt this is true. Yet I take exception that higher reliability is produced by the act of outsourcing.
By Staff June 1, 2001

Outsourcing the maintenance function

I am concerned about the shift from inhouse maintenance staffing to outsourcing of the required services.

Outsourcing supporters claim that it results in maximum uptime and I have no doubt this is true. Yet I take exception that higher reliability is produced by the act of outsourcing. The higher reliability is a result of wiser investment in the maintenance functions required. This same reliability could be achieved with a wise investment in the existing maintenance workforce!

As a maintenance professional for 30 yr, I have witnessed the ins and outs of inhouse maintenance. One of the most prevalent attitudes I have witnessed is a lack of focus in the maintenance area. With the elimination of various layers of management and supervision in our plants today, we find that upper levels of management are being asked questions about — and to provide financing for — maintenance functions they do not understand. So, the simple solution is to outsource — at the cost of many employees, careers, and livelihoods. Some may call it a “lack of focus,” but I call it a lack of proper management of the resources of the company.

I agree that in some applications, more pointedly small businesses, outsourcing may be the best scenario. But let’s not forget what we lose. We lose a workforce that is familiar with the equipment. In many industries, it is not just standard off-the-shelf equipment. It has been modified to work in a variety of undocumented situations. The best people to have on the job at that time are those that used their ingenuity and sweat equity to make it work in the first place. Those people will see that things go right whatever it takes. That attitude is not usually found with an outsourced workforce, and attitude is a major part of the maintenance function.

There are many good reasons not to outsource, but the most overlooked is the loyalty and consideration factor. If we have grown too large to consider loyalty a factor that is worth something, then we have gone too far. If we want a good maintenance department, then let’s get qualified people, supervisors, engineers, and workers, and train them properly. Let’s provide them with the tools to do the job. Then let those in management that do not understand the maintenance program get out of the way while we do our jobs and do them with pride. — Gary Pillischafske, Maintenance Supervisor, A.P. Green Industries, Mexico, MO

First aid tips

According to the latest information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Labor, 6026 people died in work-related accidents in 1998. Of that number, 6% were electrocuted. Here are some tips for applying first aid in an electrical hazard situation. Information courtesy of Cooper Bussmann; bussmann.com.

  • Have a victim in burning clothing drop and roll to extinguish flames.

  • Cool the burn with water or saline for a few minutes or until the skin returns to normal temperature.

  • Remove constricting items such as shoes, belts, jewelry, and tight collars.

  • Elevate burned limbs to reduce swelling.

  • Handle victims with care as they may have broken bones or spinal injuries.

  • Treat for shock: maintain body temperature, do not give anything by mouth, and administer high concentrations of oxygen, if available.

  • Keep the victim warm and as comfortable as possible during transport to the medical facility. Cover victims with clean, dry sheets or blankets. Wounds should be covered with sterile dressings or clean sheets.