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Saturday, November 01, 2008


This is Steven Petrick Posting:

One of the aspects of a budget that gets very little thought (whether in government or in smaller business) is maintenance. For the government, failing to do proper maintenance leads to failures of infrastructure. For a large business it can lead to electrical outages, or large machines (like a machine press at a newspaper) failing to operate.

The point here is that money does not simply come in and accumulate to be spent on more things in the future. It has to be spent to take care of the past as well.

We had two breakdowns this week, for example. Once more the sealer/cutter wire on the shrinkwrap machine parted (one more laying a small scar of seared flesh across the back of my hand). That is a small breakdown (which could be worse if the wire maintained contact with my hand longer than the fraction of a second it does, i.e., impairing my ability to work at minimum and requiring hospitalization in an extremely unlikely worst case). But fixing the shrinkwrap machine takes time, and parts, which are slowly consumed and need to be purchased yet again to have on hand for those times when the machine fails. And this is just a minor breakdown, we have had to replace the heating elements in the machine, and sooner or later the conveyor belt will fail.

The more serious breakdown involved the booklet maker. We need to fold and staple nearly a 100 booklets this weekend to ship on Monday. But the rollers in the booklet maker have finally failed, and while we may manage to keep them going a little longer (maybe enough to meet this order), we have to pay to have replacement rollers sent in.

The maintenance on all of the company's equipment is continuous and ongoing. None of them are going to last forever, and we have to make sure that there is money set aside to deal with each problem as it arises. Especially those that cannot be dealt with "in house".