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How Simplifying ROI Calculations Helps with Maintenance Efficiency and Compliance

by Mariah Patterson on July 20, 2017

Despite where a business is located or what it produces, the maintenance community is interdependent on each other. Workers collectively often share the same frustrations, and celebrate in tandem when advances are made to impact the bottom line, increase efficiencies and reduce hazards.

In this vast community, tips and tricks are shared and companies collectively benefit when new tools are designed and shared freely.

One of the newest tools in the industry is Solufy’s ROI Calculator the brainchild of Matt Midas, Solufy’s Director of Sales. Matt built this online calculator as another option to help companies better understand their Return on Investment. This calculator is offered to users in the maintenance, reliability, and planning and scheduling field.

Access ROI Calculator!

It’s no secret that over the last several decades, technology has taken an increasingly important role in just about any industry or business. In the planning and scheduling world, people realize that improving these functions can have a rather significant impact on the bottom line. The ROI Calculator is a tool that helps organizations determine that impact based on predefined calculations.

A maritime beginning to enterprise planning and scheduling expertise

MattMidas.jpgLike many others involved in the planning and scheduling arena, Matt came into this facet of his career with a strong engineering and maintenance background.

To truly trace his education, however, one could say that his informal training in the maintenance world began much earlier than the first time he sat down at a school desk. “I’ve always been interested in the way things work,” he said. “As a kid, I was always taking things apart and putting them back together.”

Working with his two grandfathers, Matt learned the fundamentals of how to tear a device apart to rebuild it, including lawn mowers, radios, bikes and just about anything else he could get his hands on. “One time we built a small sailboat,” he said. “It wasn’t anything fancy; just a couple of feet long. It’s neat to be able to build something with your own hands. It was pretty cool.”

However, he also learned what happened when things didn’t exactly go as planned.

“One time, my cousin and I built a mini bike from bicycle parts and a lawnmower engine,” he confessed. While he shied away from providing too many details, Matt did admit that the venture failed due to what he summed up as “poor engineering.”

As we all know, failure is as important a learning tool as a successful venture and Matt transitioned his growing knowledge into his chosen career. Matt’s formal training commenced with the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York where he studied Marine Engineering. “At Kings Point, I took a lot of engineering classes where we would take things apart, rebuild them. This was preparing us for shipboard life.”

After graduating from Kings Point, he joined the US Navy. Matt was stationed in Charleston, SC where he sailed on the USS Jesse L Brown, FF-1089. A main propulsion assistant and boiler officer, he explained that as an engineer, he was always doing maintenance. “I didn’t really do any planning and scheduling then; I just carried out the plans and the schedule that somebody else made.”

The U.S. Navy Knox-class frigate USS Jesse L. Brown (FF-1089) off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1979.

Interestingly, while in the Navy, part of his responsibilities included keeping track of all of the maintenance schedules. “We used to use the PMS (Preventative Maintenance System) 3M, which was really just a big white board. That was set up in the hallway outside the log room and we would have our entire maintenance plan written on that board. We would have a plan for the year, we would have it for the month and then we would have it for the week.

“It was all done by hand, with grease pencils. You would circle something and underline it if something had to be rescheduled. We got it all done but there was no automation to it.”

Although things could get inadvertently wiped out if someone brushed up against the board, they did have everything documented in logbooks as well. “We knew what assets had to have maintenance weekly, monthly, every six months and so on. We had that all written down so even if something ever got wiped out, we could just go and redo it.”

Fortunately, with so many people on a ship, they never had to worry about having enough resources to get something done.

To illustrate this, Matt recalled one time when he was sailing on a merchant ship prior to joining the Navy. “We pulled into port in Norfolk, and there was also a Navy ship there at the same time, so we started asking them questions.

“They had 400 crew on the Navy ship; we had 21 people.”

Zenith  Z-248.jpgStill, with a full capacity on the USS Jesse L Brown, they tracked preventive maintenance tasks without any computer aid. “We had computers on board the ships,” he said, “but they weren’t very powerful. I think it was a Zenith 248 with a dot matrix printer. But that was more for printing out work orders and things like that. We didn’t do any of the planning and scheduling on that.”

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems take center stage

In fact, he didn’t begin to utilize computers more until he left the Navy and began a four-year tenure as a nuclear engineer in the Charleston Naval Shipyard. “I wasn’t responsible for any scheduling. I wrote the plans for things like how to install the core removal cooling system on a nuclear submarine. You had to have all the materials, procedural steps, safety requirements, and all the radiation control activities well documented.

“They were very detailed plans. Then, the person who was running the overhaul for that sub was responsible for putting the schedule together and making sure everyone was there at the right time.”

Matt began the journey into the scheduling side as well when he began working for a facilities management company in Washington, D.C. “We used Maximo,” he said. “I used to dump all the work orders into an Excel spreadsheet and manipulate all the data from 186 buildings by using the filters and sorting capabilities of Excel. I would build my schedules that way, but we didn’t have a way to put all that information back into Maximo.

“It was much better than what we had before that time but it was still very labor intensive to create a workable schedule.”

Throughout his career through the different aspects of maintenance as well as planning and scheduling, including several years at PSDI, Matt realized that despite the level of technology, there are always some common concerns in maintenance: how to improve efficiencies and the final costs with any maintenance plan.

ROI and wrench time connection

“Everybody wants to know, ‘What’s my ROI? What’s my Return on Investment?’ It’s something that people sometimes struggle with. When I used to write proposals, I would always think about how something would impact the customer. What are some of the returns that they were going to achieve?”

When he worked with PSDI and then MRO Software, there were general statements about how much the software could reduce costs for a maintenance department and therefore increase the revenues.

Wrench time is really what it’s all about,” he said. “How much time are your technicians actually turning a wrench? That’s one of the benchmarks for how effective a maintenance organization is.

“With all of the companies I’ve dealt with, you know immediately which ones are in reactive mode. They’re scrambling. They’re putting band-aids on things to keep the plant running. At the end of the day, the plant is running but that’s when it gets very expensive.

“It’s hard to break out of that cycle,” he said. “The companies that do break out of that cycle end up doing very well because their maintenance operations are more efficient.”

With this critical component in mind, Matt realized it was important to put together a calculator tool specifically for planning and scheduling that could easily identify where benefits and cost savings could come from.

“When you sit down and look at the numbers, that’s where the ROI Calculator comes in,” he said. “It will tell a company that if they are increasing their efficiencies, with a set number of mechanics, here’s how many additional resource hours they could have available for additional work.”

At 35% wrench time– a common standard in the industry – the efficiency equates to 2.8 hours (of an 8-hour work day); at 45%, that number improves to 3.6 hours. By increasing these efficiencies, a technician will be able to get more work done.

“If you want to get more work done without improving wrench time, you would need to hire more people at the same level of efficiency. That’s really not an option. When you think about it, how much more expensive is it to hire a person as opposed to having somebody become more efficient and getting an extra hour or two each day?”

Simplifying maintenance calculations

While there are numerous studies on increasing efficiencies, Matt explained, “I just wanted to put it down in its simplest form. If you can plug in your numbers, here’s the output of what the cost savings could be for a company with increased efficiencies.”

The ROI Calculator has received many positive responses since its recent launch. “It does help people understand the importance and the value of implementing good planning and scheduling processes,” Matt said.

“Everybody does perform some level of planning and scheduling,” he continued. “If you don’t have a system that simplifies the process, you’re going to export all of that data into an Excel spreadsheet and you’re going to muscle through it. You’re going to spend a lot of time on it but at the end of the day, as an engineer, we’re going to get it done.

“It’s when you can simplify the processes, that’s when you can improve the efficiency. But at the same time, you’re giving the planners and schedulers the tools that help them become more effective and more efficient.

"And when those guys become more efficient—when they’re spending less time manipulating data, trying to understand the work that they have and where it is—they’re going to spend more time analyzing the performance and that’s where the compliance comes in."

“It’s the simplification of these processes,” he said. “And that’s where we can help organizations out with the AKWIRE Visual Suite for Maximo.”

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Mariah Patterson

Mariah Patterson began writing as a child as a way to fill her time when her family moved to an isolated region in Maine. With no close friendships, developing cabin fever from intense snowstorms and only one fuzzy Canadian channel on TV, she created her own world through writing.

She began her

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