How to Make a Business Case for Motor-Management Programs
One of the most important tasks in implementing a motor-management program is making the business case for the investment. But motor management involves preventive and predictive maintenance, activities top management historically has been hesitant to support. Top management's skepticism will be particularly tough when it comes to spending money to test operational motors that show no visual or audible clues of problems. Managers do not help their case when they underestimate the impact and cost of failure, both on maintenance and operations.
The key to success in selling the program is showing the impact a motor failure can have on facility operations related to a critical application. If a motor supporting such an application has failed recently, use it as the example. Managers must demonstrate the differences between a planned and an emergency repair. Underestimating any of these elements only makes the task of selling the program more difficult. They include:
- The time and cost required to identify and respond to a motor failure. For after-hours operations, this cost would include premium pay for call-in work and overtime.
- The time required to troubleshoot and evaluate options. During unscheduled outages, managers might not have as many options available, due to the pressures to get systems operating as quickly as possible. Reducing options typically increases costs.
- The difference in labor costs. When technicians can schedule motor service, they can minimize labor costs for removing a motor from service and reinstalling it. In contrast, unscheduled service typically involves premium pay.
- The cost of unscheduled system downtime. While some motor failures might result in inconveniences to building occupants, others might require shutting down operations, relocating operations, or renting temporary equipment to keep support systems running.
- To be successful, a complete motor-management system must go beyond monitoring and diagnostic activities. It has to start with policies and procedures that dictate replacement factors, including the age of a motor, its size, and its efficiency. It also must establish when technicians should install premium-efficiency motors, and it must include an inventory of installed motors that includes their operating parameters, the loads they serve, and the criticality of their operation.
Equally important, the motor-management program must identify repair-shop partners qualified to perform the necessary repairs in a timely manner. Trying to find a qualified repair shop after hours when facing angry occupants or top management is a recipe for disaster.
James Piper, P.E., is a national consultant based in Bowie, Md. He has more than 25 years of experience in facilities management, maintenance and engineering issues.