Everyone wants to reduce maintenance costs, but cutting spending is only part of the solution. For real, long-term savings, you need to look at ways to boost your return on investment, getting more bang for every budget buck. 

So, where can you invest your time, energy, and money for the best results?

Spoiler alert: for many manufacturing facilities, a big part of the answer is a modern CMMS solution.   

But first, let’s look a bit more at the idea that you can’t control spending with across-the-board cuts. 

Improve ROI and avoid quick cutting for fast cost savings 

If you narrow your goal to just “cutting maintenance costs,” it’s easy to hit your target. Stop doing any maintenance, and your costs quickly fall to zero. You’re not spending anything on maintenance, and all those zeros in your paperwork look good for the first little while. But not for long. 

Without maintenance, everything eventually cost a lot more, with unscheduled downtime and expensive repairs. 

So, it’s not just about finding places to spend less. It’s also about finding ways to make your investments deliver better returns. You still need to spend on maintenance, but you want to make sure you get the biggest ROI. So, what sorts of investments should you be making? 

Put money into your processes to get the most out of your people. 

Implement the right maintenance software 

Everything that slows down or trips up your team costs you time, money, and frustration. If you want to cut maintenance costs, you need to look for ways to boost efficiency. 

A modern CMMS solution can smooth out your processes by centralizing your data, making everything safe, secure, and accessible. You get streamlined workflows and reliable data you can turn into actionable insights for your maintenance operations. Finally, you know who’s doing what and where the money’s going. And from there, you can see how to make everything better. 

Let’s look at specific ways CMMS software makes life easier and less stressful for maintenance teams in manufacturing. 

Manage work orders to boost time on wrench 

One of the many problems with traditional attempts at work order management is all the time spent doing everything except maintaining and repairing assets and equipment. Everyone from the maintenance manager to the newest tech on the team wastes a lot of time on admin, robbing the organization of their valuable time and talents. 

With old workflows, it can take forever for the maintenance department to even know there’s work to do. Because there’s no easy, consistent way for people to reach out with maintenance requests, the department wastes time trying to organize working from random emails and confusing voice mail messages. And even when you know what to do, it’s tough and time-consuming to get that information out to the techs. Every time there’s a new work order, they need to circle back to the office to pick up the paperwork. Later, when they have a question mid-maintenance inspections or tasks, they have to run around looking for help. 

When the techs finally close out the work order and are manually entering all the data into the system, which might be just another book full of loose paper or one of a couple dozen disconnected spreadsheets, they’re not only wasting their time but also very likely adding mistakes into the data. Something as simple as entering the wrong date for a work order throws off your numbers for all future monthly reports. 

Work order management software can strengthen and streamline workflows, so the team moves in straight lines, not circles 

Modern work order management software lets your team do what it does best: fix assets and equipment. 

It starts with the open request portal where anyone in the facility can quickly go online and submit a work request. From inside the CMMS, the maintenance manager can review all the requests, decide which to approve, and generate, prioritize, assign, and track the work orders. Because techs can access the CMMS from any connected mobile device, they never have to waste time heading back to the office for paperwork. They can check their phone or tablet for new assignments, and work orders come packed with all the critical details they need to work efficiently and close out quickly. 

And if they have any questions, they can instantly upload comments and digital images to the CMMS work order using their mobile device’s built-in camera. 

Schedule preventive maintenance to reduce downtime 

Another way to cut maintenance costs is to do more maintenance. 

How does that work? Remember that old saying about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure? It’s true, and it’s worth expanding the meaning to make sure it includes the idea that prevention is not only less work than a cure, but also a lot less expensive. So, if you want to save on maintenance costs, do more maintenance, fewer repairs. 

work orders-1

Think about an on-demand work order. We’ll use a worst-case scenario in a manufacturing setting to make sure we get in all the possible costs. When an asset or piece of equipment goes offline, the entire production line could be down. Remember, it takes only one weak link for the whole chain to break. 

The organization is looking at immediate extra costs connected to: 

  • Idle operators 
  • Lost production time 
  • Damaged/wasted feedstock 

And depending on the type of failure, there might be additional costs from health and safety issues. When machines break, people can get hurt. And on many different levels, workplace injuries are expensive.  

The maintenance department is faced with its own extra costs connected to bringing in extra techs and paying overtime rates. If the right parts and materials are not on hand, there are also extra costs for rush deliveries. 

Those are some of the immediate costs. Down the line, the organization might have to deal with reputational costs, including lowered sales volume and lost customers. 

Preventive maintenance software makes setting up and running a PM program much easier, so the team gets ahead of the maintenance curve 

Modern preventive maintenance software helps you set up, schedule, and track a PM program. And because you can shift your focus to preventing issues before they turn into budget-busting maintenance disasters, everyone sees savings. 

Here’s how it works. First, you can plan out your PMs. For newer assets, it usually makes sense to follow the predetermined maintenance recommended by the manufacturer. But over time, you have more direct experience with your assets, their maintenance and repair histories, so you can start fine-tuning both the inspections and tasks as well as their frequencies.  

From there, you can have the software automatically generate and assign the PMs to technicians. When they close out, the software automatically captures the data, ensuring you get reliable numbers. 

To see how preventive maintenance helps save money, all you need to do is look back at all the costs connected to unscheduled downtime. 

When you can schedule work in advance, you have the luxury of choosing times when you know the production line is already supposed to be down. For example, between shifts or production runs. That means you never have to worry about idle operators standing around waiting for your team to get started or finish up. 

And because you know what work the team is going to be doing, you can make sure you have all the MRO parts and materials you need on hand. For some departments and certain inspections and tasks, just as important as the MRO are the techs. When you schedule work ahead, you can make sure the right people are there to do the work right. 

There are long-term costs savings, too. When you’re able to find and fix small issues before they become big problems, your assets and equipment simply last longer, and extending the useful life span saves money. 

Make better business decisions and cut wasteful maintenance

There are many ways to cut maintenance costs, and some of them might seem a bit counterintuitive. For example, one way to stop spending so much on maintenance is to do more maintenance. 

But there are some that are more straightforward. 

For example, if you want to cut maintenance costs, stop buying things you don’t need. And stop throwing good money after bad. 

Here again, a good CMMS makes life easier for you. Remember, CMMS software makes it easier to generate and share data. But it also makes it easier to capture data, and once you have clean, reliable data, you can leverage it into actionable insights, including decisions about which inventory to buy and which assets and equipment to replace. 

Control inventory 

Implementing a preventive maintenance program helps save you money by making it easier to know when you need parts and materials. When you schedule work ahead, you can line up inventory deliveries, so techs have right what they need, right when they need it. 


But you can do more. With reports, you can quickly see which assets and equipment are costing you most to keep online. From there, you can start to look at the reasons. It might be time to update your inspections and tasks. Certain techs might need additional training and supervision. Or it could be the parts and materials you’re using; in which case you can look into switching suppliers. 

Repair-or-replace decisions 

If you want to spend less on maintenance, you need to avoid throwing good money after bad. Knowing which assets and equipment are costing you most to keep up and running also helps you know when it’s time to decommission them and upgrade to newer ones. 

Because you can track failures, repairs, and associated costs, you can see when it makes more sense to go from maintenance and repairs to straight replacement. 

Quick Summary

Cutting maintenance costs takes more than just “spend less.” The trick is spending more carefully, making sure you get the best return on investment for every dollar you spend. For many maintenance departments in manufacturing, a good CMMS helps cut costs. First, it removes roadblocks, making your workflows smoother, and the maintenance team more efficient. As soon as they’re doing less mindless admin, they’re able to focus more on maintenance and repairs. CMMS also helps you make the jump to preventive maintenance, and that helps you cut costs connected to unscheduled downtime, including rush deliveries on parts and unexpected overtime hours. A CMMS also makes it easier to cut costs directly, helping you better control and choose inventory as well as make cost-saving repair-or-replace decisions. 

Next step 

If you want to cut manufacturing maintenance costs, you need to implement a modern CMMS solution.  

Hippo has many ways to help you, no matter how far along you are in the process. We can answer your questions about maintenance strategies (and everything else related to maintenance), help you book a live software demo, or even set you up with a free trial

About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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