Across manufacturing, including industries that use heat treatment, good maintenance staff can be challenging to find. Before many processes became automated, the machine operators usually doubled as maintenance technicians because they had intimate knowledge of how the machine worked and could determine malfunctioning. Now that much of the process is automated by the machine itself; many operators are no longer as skilled in maintenance.
Ligman says, “With skilled maintenance technicians either retiring or moving on to other types of industries, many of our customers find that they are short-handed on people who can perform the maintenance competently and with excellence. If you don’t have enough maintenance people to handle your workload and one of your pieces of machinery goes down unexpectedly, you don’t have the workforce to get [it] back up and running, which leads to downtime.”
Ligman also notes that some vacuum pumps need to be sent out to specialized workshops for repair. He says, “These repairs can cost from $7,000 to $20,000, based on the damage that you have to your pump. If you have a facility with 30 vacuum pumps, and if you have a repair cycle of three years, you may have to repair on average ten pumps a year, which will cost between $70,000 and $200,000 per year.” He recommends getting pumps that last longer to reduce maintenance and repair costs.