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OCR for page 68
Chapter 3: Measurement RESOURCE MEASURES The next broad class of measures needed for benchmarking is resources composed of labor, equipment, and material, as well as financial costs. Labor Labor is an important input to the production of maintenance products and services. In benchmarking, you need an overall measure of the quantity of labor that is used to produce a maintenance product or service or undertake an activity. The quantity of labor is measured in terms of person-hours of labor. Person-hours equal regular hours plus overtime hours. Try to separate travel hours (i.e., time to go from the garage to and from the worksite). Some agencies require workers to report travel hours in addition to regular and overtime hours. Eventually, as you become more deeply involved in benchmarking and desire to understand your practices in detail, you will want to distinguish between labor hours of different quality. Measures of quality pertain to training, education, and experience. The productivity of different people is not a measure of quality; productivity is the output of labor that is achieved as a result of labor hours expended and the quality of the labor. As you assemble labor data to support initial benchmarking and for subsequent comparison of your own and "best" practices, you should break down your labor hours by categories that distinguish the levels of training, education, and experience of different personnel. You can do this by categorizing labor hours expended into one or more of the following: Wage class or other class of personnel (e.g., equipment operator or not); Number of years of experience; or Documented training or certification to perform certain types of activities or to use certain types of equipment (e.g., herbicide application). 70
OCR for page 69
Key sources of labor data are the agency's maintenance management system and the payroll system. Some agencies might also have a database containing information on the training of each employee. Equipment As with labor, you will need an overall measure of the equipment used. Equipment quantity consists of the number of hours each type of equipment is used or some metered measurement of usage--for example, a truck odometer reading. Equipment quality is determined by the type of equipment, its condition; frequency of breakdown; and operator requirements, which relate to the ease of operation and number of operators required. In preparation for analysis of best practices and comparison to your own, try to categorize your equipment along these different dimensions of quality and to measure equipment usage of each in hours, by odometers, or both. Information on equipment type and utilization usually can be obtained in a maintenance management system, an equipment management system, a financial management system, or in all three. Material You will also need a measure of material usage. Material usage can be measured by the physical quantity of each type of material used to deliver a specific maintenance service or product or to undertake a specific activity. Examples of material use are the number of signs and posts, linear feet of guardrail, tons of pothole material, and gallons of crack sealant. Selection of the proper units to measure material usage requires some care. For example, it might be better to measure signs replaced not by the number of signs replaced, but by the area of the sign facing, which reflects the magnitude and difficulty of putting up or replacing a sign. Alternatively, one could count both the number of signs replaced and the number of signposts. The number of signposts required might be an indicator of the difficulty in replacing certain types of signs. 71
OCR for page 70
Chapter 3: Measurement Various information on materials used can be found in the maintenance management system, material management system, financial management system, or in all three. Costs Another measure of resource utilization is the total dollar costs of using the labor, equipment, and material involved in delivering a maintenance product or service. Sometimes, however, it is better to employ measures of the raw labor, equipment, and material inputs instead because there can be local and regional differences in the unit cost of labor, equipment, and materials. If you use total resource costs or even costs of each input to maintenance production, you will not easily be able to distinguish to what degree the physical inputs or variation in price of inputs are contributing to the outcomes. If physical measures of labor, equipment, and material resources are not available and only cost data is available, then cost data can be used as a measure of resource utilization. Indeed, one can argue that expressing all resources in financial terms results in convenience of analysis and, in some cases, in a better measure of resource utilization than does separate usage rates for labor, equipment, and materials. Note that if a maintenance cost index that varies by year and part of the country is available, you can use dollars as a measure of resource costs and can normalize the costs by geographical area for any past year covered by the index. It is important to understand that even if you do not use resource costs when you measure performance, once you have identified best performers and improvement opportunities and begin to analyze the effect of adopting best practices, you will need cost information in order to estimate potential cost savings or the costs of improving certain outcomes. Variable Costs Wherever possible, you should distinguish between variable and fixed costs. Variable costs vary with output and include labor, selected equipment costs such as fuel, and material costs. Variable costs do not include overhead and other fixed costs. Therefore, fixed costs should be excluded from your measures of labor, equipment, and material input. 72