What was that your grandmother told you? ‘A stitch in time saves nine’? ‘Make hay while the sun shines’? Perhaps it was that other old chestnut: ‘the early bird gets the worm when it comes to maintenance versus repairs’?

The truth is, all three are tried and tested adages that emphasise the wisdom of not putting off until tomorrow jobs that you really should get done today. And they make just as much sense now as they did when they were first coined, back when Adam was still in short trousers.

In field work, however, we can actually extend these secular homilies and arrange to carry out those necessary tasks before they even come up. What we’re talking about here is the concept of planned maintenance, which covers preventative, risk-based and condition-based monitoring. All of these to greater or lesser degree involve scheduling and preparing for things to go wrong well before they do in order to save an organisation the significant amounts of both time and money caused by reactive repairs.

Preventative maintenance versus repairs is a very one-sided battle. Consider these six advantages of scheduling in advance rather than waiting to patch up the problem once it has developed.

Shutting down operations at any time has a direct impact on revenue, but by planning ahead you can schedule preventive maintenance to be carried out when it will cause the least disturbance and/or inconvenience. Which would you rather: work with the data from predictive algorithms produced by equipment sensors to schedule maintenance when your facility is closed for the night, or wait until your asset develops a critical fault and shut down the entire facility while you locate it and resolve the issue?

Staff scheduling
When a field worker is unexpectedly distracted from their everyday tasks to report on or deal with an unforeseen breakdown of equipment, their productivity is unavoidably affected. This loss of productivity inevitably results in negative impacts to the bottom line.

Set costs
Planned maintenance means set costs can be factored into annual budgets as opposed to breakdowns, which will entail unforeseen and un-budgeted for outlays. Add to this the inconvenience of random disruptions and the impacts are severe.

Maximising equipment life cycles
When you are able to accurately pinpoint likely problems in complicated machinery before they arise, parts needing to be repaired or replaced can be identified before they fail – possibly mitigating further related breakdowns with that particular piece of equipment. Early intervention via a regular schedule assists in maximising the overall functionality and lifetime of the equipment.

Avoiding downstream issues
Aside from the immediate impact of a breakdown, unexpected incidents can lead to further complications down the line, possibly as a result of chain reaction breakdowns, or unforeseen safety issues.

The implementation of a field management software solution enables organisations to capture data about all of their field assets using customised forms, while each is serviced and maintained separately. The data that is created can then help supply a long-term overview of trends and likelihoods, while a total service solution such as Retriever Communications’ Field Service Management software can cover all aspects of preventative maintenance as just one component of its comprehensive scheduling and dispatch interface.