Magazine article Parks & Recreation


Magazine article Parks & Recreation


Article excerpt

Is your maintenance program lost in the Maintenance Wilderness? Are you able to factually back up the purposes of your current maintenance expenditures? Is it possible to draw on past experience to project future budgets? Can you break out by park, program or equipment what you are spending on each for maintenance? How much of your work is scheduled, planned, reactive, emergency, or delayed? Do you have a current actively managed backlog of work to be done? Do you schedule and prioritize your work with operations and program managers against department goals and objectives? Is the periodic maintenance for your rolling stock -- trucks, tractors, and mowers -- current?

How many of the above questions sound familiar? Weak answers are signs that your maintenance program is not under full control. These are signs that it is probably not as sophisticated as necessary. It is in the Maintenance Wilderness. It is characterized by a methodology of reaction, that is, "doing what we always do until there is a fire." Once the fire is identified, it is fought until it is extinguished.

I am sure problems with the Maintenance Wilderness predate the first true assembly line, which made tackle blocks for the Royal Navy prior to the Napoleonic Wars. Since that time, the evolution of maintenance thought has been to move from fix it when it breaks (sound familiar?), to maintaining the minimum production capability needed to produce the desired outcome.

Evolution of Maintenance Thought

In the beginning there was the "Fire Fighting" methodology. That is, when things break, do what has to be done to fix the problem and bring equipment back into production - NOW! This attitude is best described by the statement, "It's not a problem until it is a problem!" Once a piece of equipment has broken, people, material and money are showered on it until it is fixed and production resumes.

Slowly, the Preventive Maintenance (PM) methodology was developed. PM is characterized by trying to maintain equipment in accordance with manufacturer's guidelines. Equipment capability is maintained to the "like new" standard. This keeps equipment capabilities at the highest production standards. What is truly required of the equipment for production is not a factor in determining maintenance requirements. Thus, excess capability that will not be used is maintained.

The next generation of maintenance thought is called Reliability Centered or Total Plant Maintenance (RCM or TPM). RCM or TPM requires the maintenance and production departments to talk to each other. Their Maintenance Plan is based on desired outcome requirements. That is, if a pump is capable of 250 gal/min, but production only needs it to be able to pump 175 gal/min, it is maintained to that 175-gal/min standard. Maintenance standards are based on production requirements, not equipment standards. Thus, the amount of maintenance activity is decreased. You only maintain capabilities required by production needs.

Current State of Recreation and Parks Maintenance

In my work as a playground installer, I noticed that maintenance at most Park and Recreation Maintenance Departments is characterized by the "Fire Fighting" methodology. Throughout the various park systems, workers and management were aware of delayed maintenance items. However, there was seldom a formalized method to identify, prioritize, plan and schedule such work. For the most part, maintenance was delayed until it became a problem. Then the work was advanced in priority and routine work, such as mowing, or trash pickup, was delayed until the problem was fixed.

When there was a Work Order (WO) System in place, it was seldom used to document routine work, such as mowing or trash pickup, and almost never used to document emergency work, even after the fact. If a WO was used, once it was completed, it and any information on it usually disappeared into a filing cabinet. …

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