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.

06/01/2001


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.



    Top Plant
    The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
    Product of the Year
    The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
    System Integrator of the Year
    Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
    June 2018
    2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
    May 2018
    Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
    April 2018
    2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
    June 2018
    Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
    April 2018
    ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
    February 2018
    Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
    Spring 2018
    Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
    April 2018
    Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
    February 2018
    Setting internal automation standards

    Annual Salary Survey

    After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

    It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

    The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

    Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

    The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
    Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
    One Voice for Manufacturing
    The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
    The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
    The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
    Machine Safety
    Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
    Research Analyst Blog
    IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
    Marshall on Maintenance
    Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
    Lachance on CMMS
    The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
    Electrical Safety Update
    This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
    Maintenance & Safety
    The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
    IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
    Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
    Randy Steele
    Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
    Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
    Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
    Randy Oliver
    Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
    Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
    This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
    Safety First: Arc Flash 101
    This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
    Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
    This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
    click me