Limited budgets and aging equipment are the most commonly cited barriers keeping maintenance departments from improving their total manufacturing uptime, according to a new study from Rockwell Automation and Plant Services magazine. The study illustrates the perception that corporate management views maintenance activities as an expense rather than a strategy.

Conducted in August 2003, the survey asked 519 maintenance and plant manufacturing managers in North American to indicate the business metrics they use to measure uptime performance and the ways they apply those measures to maintenance repair and operations (MRO) activities.

While manufacturers measure corporate performance through production uptime and return-on-investment metrics, they do not apply the same metrics at the maintenance department level. Maintenance managers believe that corporate officers most often use factors such as meeting production goals, uptime and return-on-investment (ROI) to measure MRO activities. More than half of respondents say uptime is a key metric and more than three-fourths note that meeting production goals is a primary tool to measure manufacturing performance.

Survey participants noted that decreased expenses and improved production uptime are top company-wide priorities for the coming year, yet 79 percent said one of the largest barriers to improving uptime is budget limitations. Respondents noted that even a minimal (one-third) increase in budget would help meet corporate goals for uptime.

Results of the survey can be viewed at