Maintenance Matters

July 24, 2018 at 2:27 pm by Heidi White

Yes, maintenance matters. The main purpose of maintenance is to ensure that all equipment required for production is operating at 100% efficiency always. Simply stated, it’s less to maintain than repair.

When you are fortunate enough to work for a company like SEM that employs a full department of service technicians, you know you are in great hands.  I recently walked out of my office, walked to the factory floor, and decided to interview the newest member of our team to the most senior and those not on service calls in between.  The result: “It’s like owning a car. “What’s more interesting, when I walked over to the business side and asked what are the three most important things you need when buying a car? Not one person said a maintenance plan.

Why are both conversations just as important? We want the shiny, solution-based machine to do the work it was intended: destroy after we decommission for security and compliance purposes in the data center.  Yes, those shiny machines are EPL listed, support the NIST standard, are approved for compliance with SOX and more, but wait — you are putting drives with platters 10 high through them, blades are shredding them, and you must maintain? Is that another set of decision makers and supply chain engagement? You bet that is.

The SEM service team

Back to the car.  Models don’t matter, users do.  The “business” purchases the machine, the “users,” the security staff, the facility ops, and the decommissioning team (or however you are structured) now must maintain it.  They don’t want to own this task in many cases. For the record, there are some data centers that are very appreciative of their people when doing this task — and they are doing it well.  It’s the minority.

I don’t change my own oil or rotate my tires; rather, I happily pay someone. As Don Donahue, head of our Technical Service Team, stated, “If you don’t maintain equipment, it will let you down.”  The net net: pay for maintenance upfront or pay for service at a higher cost later. In the end you are still going to pay. The question is, can you afford down-time? With what level of risk are you secure?

Safety — let’s go there.  If your car is making weird noises and you keep driving it, thinking “I’ll get to it after one more errand,” you’re gambling with your own safety. Likewise, if your data destruction device is making weird noises and you think “just one more drive to destroy,” you’re asking for trouble. It’s like the insurance company commercial: “We’ve been here, we’ve seen this”.  Don’t go there. Choose safety first, because it matters.

Whether brakes and tires or bearings and belts, parts wear out. Wouldn’t you rather hear the service maintenance person tell you they replaced the belts because there was wear without you asking or assuming everything was fine?

“But the operational manual says….”  Hold that phone.  Do you drive your vehicle the exact same way that I drive my Volvo? No.  Do you put the exact same drives through your destruction machine that we do? No. Manuals are guidelines, you can argue until the belts break but, in the end, I drive my car in the Northeast through horrors of snow and ice with no garage, while you drive your car in sunny California and have a climate-controlled garage. From humidity to environmental erosion to mis-use to proper use, no miles or hours on a machine will be the same.

Now you understand no two experiences are the same, but the common understanding is the necessity of maintenance of your machines. Each of us will value this investment differently, but which one of us will do it for preventative reasons and which one will do it as an emergency?

For the record, when I buy a car it’s about the maintenance and warranty – I spend too much time at SEM to not be smart – maintenance first and then the machine. By the way, my Volvo not only doesn’t break down – it’s also sapphire blue.

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Heidi White

Heidi is Director of Marketing at SEM and is passionate about data security, health and fitness, and her family.