Use It or Lose It

Posted on March 15, 2017

By: Alex Reinhardt, Application Consultant

That adage has been around for a long time, and has been applied to many things.  However, did you ever think it applied to your automation?  Well, it does, in at least one important sense, money.

Some time back, you got a piece of automation to help make your work easier.  At the beginning, everything was great, you had great training, management was keen on you learning how to use it, and so were you.  The honeymoon phase, it happens with most things.  Fast forward a while and at some point, old work habits started to rear their ugly head again and you let them, because it was familiar and easy.  The machine needs attention, ah, it’s easier for me to just count out the pills I need instead of refilling the bin, or, it’s just two IV doses to make, I can do that faster by hand.  That’s the start of it, and pretty soon, the machine is sitting there and not being used to its full potential.  Management is probably busy with new things too so they aren’t pressing you to use it, so you don’t, well, maybe sometimes when someone is watching.  We’ve all been there, trying to lose weight, stop drinking coffee late at night, exercise more, whatever the goal is, many times, the old and familiar is easier and we fall off the wagon.

Coming back to that piece of automation, someone paid for that and there was probably a return on investment (ROI) or some other benefit like safety tied to it.  That ROI most probably had assumptions in it that said that the automation was going to be used a certain amount each day.  At the start, all the targets were being met, great!  But then as things started to slide, those targets did too, and so did the ROI.  The thing is that the equipment financing cost is the same, whether it’s being used or not, ignoring the cost of consumables and the labor time of course.  Think of it as your car loan.  The bank will want that money monthly whether you drive the car or not, the loan cost is the same, again ignoring the cost of gas and such.

Another way to look at it is that you are leaving money on the table if you don’t use it.  The savings that the equipment generates only happens when it’s being used.  That’s pretty easy to visualize; just think that if you use it 100% of the original plan amount you get 100% of the savings/benefits, but if you only use it 40% of the time, 60% of the savings are gone, never to be seen again.  The moral of the story is that there was probably a good rationale to buy it in the first place, so use it (the equipment) or lose it (your ROI and benefits).

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