Diffusing a ticking time bomb

September 10, 2008   by Plant Staff

One area that’s woefully underestimated and urgently needs attention is deferred maintenance.

Joel Leonard, who leads the growth and advancement of the MPACT Learning Center in Greensboro, NC, a technical skills training initiative for maintenance professionals, calls deferred maintenance “a ticking time bomb.” When you defer a repair, he says the cost you incur later can be 15 times greater because of the ripple effects that will impact production.

How do you deal with the ripples? He has some suggestions:

• Track and report your total maintenance backlog and deferred repairs. Prepare detailed and executive-level versions in layman’s terms so executives will understand your needs.
• Develop and implement maintenance career-progression plans, training programs and succession strategies for retiring workforce members.
• Have a list of what needs to be fixed and prioritize it from critical items to desired activities.
• Organize your MRO stores. Every component should be in place, labelled and accounted for. Everything should be entered into the CMMS and information should be up to date.
• Have predictive maintenance (PdM) reports handy that show vibration analyses, infrared readings, ultrasonic survey reports and lubrication studies.
• Post maintenance articles and maintenance quotes. Establish a plant services maintenance crisis resource centre. Have key maintenance reports, goals and graphs on display.
• Build more allies by providing maintenance department tours. The more transparent the processes and procedures, the more other stakeholders will understand and respect your activities and the less likely you are to be hassled. Plants and corporations will begin treating maintenance not as a cost and necessary evil, but as a profit-making resource.
• Stay up-to-date on the latest news, keep abreast of regulatory legislation and get copies of new reliability laws.


MPACT has launched Skill TV, an internet-based program designed to help solve the shortage of skilled trades in maintenance by showcasing the challenges, opportunities and career awards in maintenance and facilities engineering. It also addresses the consequences of deferred maintenance. Skill TV includes interviews with industrial and government decision-makers and maintenance practitioners.

Short video clips are posted on and highlights are provided to the news media.

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