Vacation Interruptus – and the Value of Preventative Maintenance

Vacation Interruptus – and the Value of Preventative Maintenance

I have always been fascinated with industrial automation. In fact, I started off my university career as an Industrial Engineering major, before changing course and earning an Electrical and Computer Engineering degree.
What continues to interest me – albeit only as a fan, at this point – is the way that true experts can derive huge benefits through seemingly small changes operational processes. These folks work continuously to figure out how to make an entire operation more efficient, and sometimes even more importantly, keep it running without unplanned downtime.
When I think of the impact of unplanned downtime, I am reminded of a personal situation that took place about four years ago. I sometimes use this story to illustrate the value of having a solid preventative maintenance plan with a reputable service partner.
There I was - enjoying a romantic getaway with my wife in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. It was beautiful and peaceful, and a wonderful place for a hike, a mountain bike ride and long scenic drives.
But, while we were relaxing with a glass of wine on the deck of the log cabin where we were staying, I received a phone call from my 20-year-old daughter. Her car had broken down on the way back to her university home in North Carolina after visiting some friends in Charleston, SC.
Now she was driving a well-travelled Volkswagen Beetle with about 90,000 miles on it. While these aren’t known to be the most reliable vehicles on the planet, they run pretty well if you take care of them. And as such, I had spent countless hours educating her on the finer points of maintaining her vehicle, including changing the oil regularly.

Vacation Interruptus – and the Value of Preventative Maintenance
As it turns out, my daughter’s car had run out of oil, and the engine had completely seized, stranding her on the side of the road in a small South Carolina town.
And that’s how a romantic getaway with my wife became a rescue mission that included driving for nearly nine hours and more than 450 miles.
Now, we still have not determined exactly what caused the engine oil to mysteriously vanish, but we believe it was some combination of poorly executed oil change (the plug was missing) and an engine that was routinely burning through oil.
The moral of the story? Without a solid preventative maintenance routine performed regularly by a skilled service partner, you might end up like I did - with a significant interruption to your operation due to unplanned downtime.
Interested in reading little more on the topic? Here’s a terrific whitepaper on the value of preventative maintenance: preserving the useful life of older systems.
More Market Research
Recently, Bell and Howell commissioned a market study on how the mailing industry views the cost of operational downtime. You can download it here.
The result?
More than 625 professionals responsible for commercial mail operations were invited to participate in and report their issues related to downtime. Among other things, the questions were designed to assess their primary concerns with respect to downtime and the number of incidents of downtime they faced in a typical year. Furthermore, participants also shared how downtime negatively impacts their customer experience and how they combat, or plan to combat it, with preventative maintenance and other proactive efforts.
Download the report to get a detailed view of the findings.


Bell and Howell
Follow Bell and Howell on Linkedin.