How managers can move their organization from reactive emergencies to planned activities
Angela Testa, senior vice president of operations at American Campus Communities, strengthens operations without compromising a healthy work environment
Transportation by maintenance and engineering departments rarely gets the attention it deserves. For most departments in institutional and commercial facilities, transportation is the No. 1 type of lost — or what I call non-valued added — maintenance labor time.
Obviously, maintenance technicians need to move from one job to the other quickly and bring materials and tools with them. Travel time is something managers must deal with. The key is to minimize it as much as we can.
In most organizations housed in one building or location, the travel time can be 15-20 percent of the maintenance day in an eight-hour workday. But for departments set on a campus or with multiple locations, travel can easily be 50-60 percent of the maintenance day. Think about it — that is half of your maintenance budget. Despite those high numbers, I still see technicians and tradespeople traveling in pairs, moseying along and looking as though they are on a date, with no sense of urgency or meaning to the mission.
So why do most organizations not spend a significant amount of management time trying to figure out ways to reduce travel time? Most of you who have worked with me over the years know that I am seldom without an answer to questions or problems, but I honestly do not have a clue as to why organizations do not spend more time and energy monitoring and trying to reduce technician travel time.
Travel time is eating up your department's budget, and much of it is useless time. But before we talk about ways of reducing it, let's talk about the most common excuse I hear as to why departments have technicians work in pairs — safety. Get ready for it ... that is bull! In rare and infrequent situations, such as working in the dark or on a roof or troubleshooting live electrical panels, of course we need to work in pairs, but not to check on a complaint of a toilet not flushing properly.