When running a commercial facility, maintenance can often seem like an afterthought or a frustrating extra cost. However, maintenance is essential for keeping businesses and equipment running efficiently. When maintenance is put off, it can have damaging consequences for businesses, from last-minute emergency costs to long-term efficiency hits. As well as this, it’s clear the maintenance and repair sector has not been immune to the cost of living crisis, with prices rising 3.9% on average between January 2021 and January 2022. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for businesses to save money where they can and avoid increasingly expensive emergency repair costs.
This article will explore seven hidden costs of deferred maintenance that could affect your business. We will also go through how you can combat deferred maintenance, with services such as planned maintenance programmes, and explain how facilities management companies like MSL can support you with this.
What is Deferred Maintenance?
When it comes to maintaining a building, there are different maintenance options that you can choose from. Deferred maintenance is maintenance that is pushed back, and not done immediately. It usually happens in response to a problem when something breaks or malfunctions. Whilst this strategy can be useful, it can also have hidden costs which we will look at in more detail below.
Why can Deferred Maintenance be Expensive?
1. Emergency repairs
Emergency repairs are inevitable, and since repairs must be swift, more often than not this also means that they are going to be costly as well. Examples of emergencies may include things such as fires, broken water lines, core equipment malfunction and HVAC failure during hot weather. When emergency repairs are needed, businesses are often forced to close until the premises are safe to open. Therefore, added to the cost of the repairs, businesses will also suffer the loss of revenue that unexpected closures can bring.
2. Long-term facilities costs
Delaying maintenance can lead to more costs in the long term. Problems mount up, and small mechanical failures that haven’t been spotted quickly can lead to decreased efficiency over time. More importantly, without regular maintenance checks, problems that could’ve been easily fixed become expensive disasters that now require specialist intervention.
3. Reduced equipment efficiency
Naturally, the more you look after something, the longer it will last. The same applies to facilities management. Equipment such as mechanical ventilation systems need regular maintenance to stay efficient. Deferred maintenance, by nature, is not regular as it only happens when a problem occurs. Therefore, if your business defers maintenance a lot, your equipment will naturally have a shorter lifespan and succumb to faults more quickly than it would do with regular upkeep.
4. Health and safety risks
Deferring maintenance on buildings facilities, including machinery and the exterior of buildings, can lead to health and safety risks. For example, obvious risks like missing roof tiles or uneven surfaces can cause direct harm to staff and customers. Furthermore, there are invisible risks that can be caused by deferred building maintenance, such as irregular HVAC system cleaning that can lead to the build-up of mould, mildew, and pathogens. So, without a regular maintenance programme, customers and staff in a building could be exposed to harm without anybody realising.
5. Collateral damage
When maintenance is deferred on one asset, it can also cause damage to other parts of the building. Imagine, for example, if maintenance is deferred on an unnoticed leak in the roof of a building. In time, this could cause water damage to electrical wires and lighting fixtures, creating additional costs for the business owner. In this way, collateral damage can turn a simple maintenance issue into a large, expensive problem.
6. Future emergency costs
If a building’s systems are not well maintained, then one emergency is likely to lead to another. As well as more general future costs that can build up in response to a lack of overall maintenance; repeat emergency costs can cause serious financial damage to a business. For example, if a machine is not regularly maintained, and then suddenly breaks once, it is likely to do so again as the system deteriorates. Furthermore, during the period of time the machine isn’t working, called ‘downtime’, the business will lose revenue. Indeed, in 2021 a report from the International Society of Automation revealed that large industrial facilities lose more than a day’s worth of production each month due to machine failures. For a smaller business, this loss of revenue combined with emergency repair costs could be extremely financially challenging.
7. Compliance fines
The UK Government has specific regulations for the safe use of work equipment in specific industries. If these are not met due to neglected building maintenance, the HSE can fine businesses an average cost of £150,000. Plus, if employees’ health suffers at any point due to deferred maintenance, employers will also have to pay sick pay to their employees. These additional costs are more common than you may think and can contribute to businesses struggling in the long run.
The Role of Planned Maintenance
Planned maintenance programmes are designed to spot problems before they become serious. Regular, planned checks of a business’s premises by a skilled technician, and cleaning of facilities before they become hazardous are important parts of the planned maintenance process.
The main advantage of a planned maintenance programme is that even though there will be regular outgoing costs, your business will save money in the long run by avoiding the kind of emergency and long-term costs that we have listed above.
What’s more, research from the World Green Building Council found that employees’ physical work environment has an impact on their health and productivity. Therefore, well-maintained premises will encourage employees to do their best work, and take fewer sick days, benefiting the business overall.
At MSL, we can support you with planned, reactive and compliance maintenance services. Our bespoke maintenance programmes are tailored to the maintenance needs of your facility, making sure that we save you time and money along the way by dealing with any problems that arise.
If you are interested in discovering how MSL’s planned maintenance services can help your facility, don’t hesitate to contact us on 0333 1234450.