A Facility, Why it is imperative and valuable to fix-it?
I am a proponent of fix-it endeavours to upkeep facilities by fixing and refurbishing and upgrading with the goal to achieve or maintain a ‘state the art facility’. Such fix-it endeavours of course are really counter intuitive to recent trends.
When the world economy is in a high growth mode and financing resources appear to be infinite, the trend is to aim for the biggest, best and all new facilities; the optimum that money can buy. In some cases that makes a lot of sense, especially in developing countries. The low cost of production and the absence of local facilities made demand and related potential benefits very high. This trend is being tempered by the recession and results in economic defensive mechanisms applied by investors, banks and governments in the developed world. A new trend is starting to take hold where financial resources are scarcer and this will lead to leaner investments. This in turn should improve the value of existing facilities and by inference the incentive to fix-it, i.e., to maintain and upkeep.
Support For Point Of View
The following aside is in support of such a point of view:
I remember reading a statement a long time ago from a lead engineer and scientist working in research and development (R&D) for a highly competitive manufacturing firm with respect to R&D. It went something like this: ‘The most successful and economically viable developments come from incremental improvements on existing and successful patented products’.This is analogous to fixing or upkeep of original patent.
A Common View
From laymen’s point of view, especially in the last twenty years or so, one might certainly take exception to such a point of view; especially when seeing and experiencing the inroads and growth of the new electronic technology and its related software. There is no question that such breakthroughs have made certain systems, equipment and supporting technologists obsolete.
From an insider’s perspective such developments, though they might appear to have come from nowhere like magic, are often the result of incremental development processes within existing industries with an occasional new discovery that might be attributed to serendipity. However, one should note that the seed ideas, the initial development efforts, internal financing and R&D support came from existing business structures and their facilities, the core drive for progress. The intent here is not to belittle or negate the fact that some major novel developments that led to new industries are the result of enterprising developers with a new idea. Our emphasis here is on the overwhelming value of innovation.
The above also applies to existing facilities’ physical assets. In the developed world, most facilities’ physical assets exist. There are new facilities being built, no doubt, but most exist. Even in high growth periods, new facilities construction account barely for a few percentage points. And along with existing facilities, exists a workforce with technical knowledge, knowhow and experience that grows incrementally.
In fact, one can postulate that our countries have led the world in development and technology due to a knowledge base that is built up slowly through accumulation of knowledge and knowhow from existing universities R&D, existing plant facilities R&D, existing plant facilities operating experience and support services, the result of a fix-it approach.
During the high growth periods, our technologists with assistance of financiers capture this knowledge, package and export it in the form of world scale plant facilities. However, if our local businesses and people are to compete, existing facilities and their support systems must continue to progress and provide new growth to the knowledge base.
New facilities in the developing world, if they are to succeed, need to do the same. This is actually much more onerous a process than building the initial facility. Gauging from my own experience in developing countries, I can attest that their progress in the long term will be highly dependent on their ability to follow through on such upkeep through a fix-it approach.
Take your home, as an example of a personally important facility. New homes are being built everyday. However, your home exists, and if it is to remain valuable, timely periodic upgrades help to retain and even enhance its value.
A Potential Resource
Should you want assistance to evaluate, plan, design, and manage a facility upgrade or a facility’s sub-systems, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following link opens a list engineering projects. The projects featured are examples of a variety of substantial upgrades to existing facilities.
Fix-it Design Assistance