Thursday, September 17, 2020

Maintenance as a Way of Thinking

If you use the search box in the upper left corner, you'll find a batch of articles over the years that cover specific maintenance of cars, bicycles, and a few other things. Today, I want to look into the various philosophies of maintenance.

Having worked for companies large and small in several capacities, I've done a lot of maintenance in my lifetime. Differing managers/owners have different ideas of the most efficient way to conduct maintenance, and I've dealt with the four most common types. These four types carry over across fields of work and even into taking care of yourself, and each is more of a philosophy than a method.

Preventative Maintenance 
Preventative maintenance is the art of replacing or repairing something before it goes bad. Checking the oil in your car on a schedule is a good example: you're making sure the level hasn't dropped to an unsafe point before causing damage to the engine. Regular inspection is also a big part of preventative maintenance, looking for signs of impending failure.

From a prepper perspective, rotating your food supplies and keeping your tools sharp fall under preventative maintenance.

Predictive Maintenance 
Predictive maintenance is using historical data to show when something is about to fail and repairing or replacing it shortly before that point. Going back to the oil in your car example, changing the oil every 5000 miles even though it may still be good is a form of predictive maintenance. Predictive maintenance can be expensive and hard to justify to the bean-counters, but it does reduce the amount of time that systems are off-line.

Changing out the contents of your first aid kit based on the expiration date is another good example: they're probably still usable, but you change them just to make sure they're good when you need them.

Fix on Failure
This is the most common form of maintenance: “If it ain't broke, don't fix it”. Unless you have redundancy built into your systems, this can cause huge problems. This way of thinking can also get quite expensive because very little thought is put into having spare parts and the proper tools on hand to effect repairs when needed.

The heart of prepping is having what you need when things go wrong.

Ignore It and It'll Go Away
I've seen this (lack of) thinking more often than I wanted to. There is no plan, time, or money to fix something because it may be cheaper to replace that thing than to work on it. In the business world you'll see this when someone is planning to “flip” or dump a business before it falls apart; ignoring maintenance saves them money, but will cost the next owner a lot more. The other reason I've seen is pure denial: owners who don't want to think about spending money on maintenance and ignore it until it bites them in the butt.

For a prepper, this philosophy is summed up as “Failure to plan is planning to fail”.

You'll likely end up using a mixture of the four philosophies, just try to avoid the last one.

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