Portland's New Approach to Maintenance

by Ray O. Brandon, Maintenance Super.; Wastewater Treatment Branch, Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland, OR,
Mary H. Winter, Group Mgr.; EMA Consulting Services, Inc., St. Paul, MN,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 6, Pg. 58-59

Document Type: Feature article


The traditional if it ain't broke don't fix it approach to maintenance was not working for Portland, Oregon's two wastewater treatment plants. By 1987, with 3,900 work orders generated annually, the Wastewater Treatment branch's 56-man staff was sinking under the weight of maintenance demands. Many of the 4,700 pieces of equipment were out of service. Maintenance-related downtime was increasing as were staff and overtime levels. Most resources were being expended on crisis management, not prevention, and scheduled maintenance was usually postponed. When preparing budgets and determining the size of maintenance crews, engineers relied on gut intuition and crystal-ball gazing, rather than empirical data. Inevitably, violations began to accumulate. The need for change was painfully clear. And it came in the form of an automated system aimed at helping engineers regain control of their workload. Now, with a network of computers, maintenance is based on preventive action, rather than crisis management and emergency reaction.

Subject Headings: Maintenance | Wastewater treatment plants | Emergency management | Wastewater treatment | Equipment and machinery | Resource management | Scheduling | Budgets

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