Deferred Maintenance: Turning Crisis Into Strategy
Maintenance and engineering managers know all too well that deferred maintenance never went anywhere. In the last five years, many people inside and outside of institutional and commercial facilities were understandably preoccupied with fallout from the nation’s financial crisis.
While all that was occurring, managers were continuing to address the mounting backlog of maintenance needs many facilities have faced for decades. So while the issue of deferred maintenance might seem like it has only recently become a problem again, managers know that it never really stopped.
Deferred maintenance is the practice of postponing maintenance activities, such as repairs on both real property — infrastructure — and personal property — equipment and systems — in order to save money, meet budget funding levels, or realign available budget funds. The failure to perform needed repairs could lead to asset deterioration and ultimately asset impairment. Generally, a policy of continued deferred maintenance results in higher costs, asset failure, and in some cases, health and safety problems. Consider this example:
A neighbor of mine knew the large oak tree in his front yard needed to be removed, but he didn’t have the money to hire a professional, so he let a local kid try his luck. The young man had never cut a tree that large, had no idea how to cut such an imposing object, and in the process of trying nearly had it fall on him. Of course, nature took care of the tree the next week when a storm blew through and laid it across the porch and two cars.
Without an aggressive, proactive approach, deferred maintenance will always win.