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Kicking Convenience Out

Thu, 10/09/2008 - 6:43am
This recent crunch has caused me to think about my own spending habits, and how they’ve changed radically since that time in my life when my budget was tight. It seems like comfort and convenience are a few of the first luxuries eliminated when it comes to budgeting. In college I walked everywhere. Now that I have different financial circumstances, not only do I have a car, but I can’t be bothered to shop around for the best gas prices in town. And once I’m at the gas station, do you think I buy my coffee there? Not a chance. I’m going to Starbuck’s.

"If spending out of convenience can have an impact on a consumer's budget, can't the same be true for an industrial facility?"

 

I have been following the recent financial crisis on the news with almost hypnotic interest.

Of course my imagination translates this into visions of depression-era employment lines and government meal rations—things most Americans have never seen in their lifetimes. The closest I came to being destitute was—like many—in college, when 20 hours per week in a coffee shop was the most I could reasonably manage with my coursework. It doesn’t stretch very far towards the cost of an education these days, let alone the basic necessities for survival.

Being broke was tough then, but somehow I managed to survive on my pittance of a wage, scholarships, a few school loans, and the occasional bailout from mom and dad.

This recent crunch has caused me to think about my own spending habits, and how they’ve changed radically since that time in my life when my budget was tight. It seems like comfort and convenience are a few of the first luxuries eliminated when it comes to budgeting. In college I walked everywhere. Now that I have different financial circumstances, not only do I have a car, but I can’t be bothered to shop around for the best gas prices in town. And once I’m at the gas station, do you think I buy my coffee there? Not a chance. I’m going to Starbuck’s.

These aren’t exactly the worst of my offenses, either—but you get the picture. For me, it’s become an issue of allowing my needs to change without really keeping a steady eye on why—or if it’s really necessary.

I’m not saying I want to go back to the Ramen noodle diet again—I wouldn’t wish that on anyone—but do I really need the grapes that are organic, removed from the vine and pre-washed, outrageously marked up because they are out of season?

It’s really not spending that’s the problem, it’s spending without translucence—meaning, letting ease and conveniences cloud our objectives. Does the extra five minutes a day it takes me to make my own coffee and pack a lunch really detract from my day to day comfort? Was my life really so bad before I had DVR and a data phone? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that different. In fact, I actually read more books.

Think about applying this theory of translucence to your plant. If spending out of convenience can have an impact on a consumer's budget, can't the same be true for an industrial facility?

How rock solid are your maintenance management programs? Does something often simply “cost what it costs” because we don’t know enough otherwise? Sometimes the convenience we afford ourselves in a surplus economy includes not taking the time to be informed—and whichever solution is the easiest is the one we wind up choosing, whether or not it’s the best or most economical. Step one might be ensuring you have accurate data on where your maintenance budget is being spent— whether this means investing in some type of maintenance management software or networking solution, or if it simply means keeping a closer eye on your expenditures, downtime, and where your maintenance personnel are spending the most man-hours.

Sometimes the lack of effort we put forth in pinpointing our financial leaks is as bad as having them in the first place.

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