3 Tips for Eliminating Emotional Priorities at your Plant
Priority, as defined in the Franklin Dictionary, means “coming before in time, order, or importance.” When prioritizing maintenance work, one must consider its importance to the entire company.
By Christer Idhammar, Reliability and Maintenance Management Expert and founder of IDCON INC a reliability and maintenance management consulting firm
Over my six decades helping organizations improve maintenance management, you can classify priorities in two groups:
- 1. Emotional priorities
- 2. Real priorities
I’m going to focus on Emotional priorities and give you 3 tips on how to eliminate or at least reduce their frequency at your organization.
Feelings, instead of objective judgment of importance, govern emotional priorities. The importance of the maintenance work is judged only as it relates to the production area where the requester works.
Here are two scenarios to illustrate.
Scenario 1: An operator just wants to have the maintenance work done to get the problem off their mind. Instead of using the computerized or manual work request routine the operator uses either a standing work order number or calls in the request to heighten the priority. Using either of these methods completely bypasses the work request routine.
In the scenario above, these methods of requesting maintenance work will continue to increase if written work requests and strict disciplines for standing work orders are not enforced. This happens because it is more convenient for the requester to have someone else document the work request than to do it themselves.
Scenario 2: An operator doesn’t have confidence in the system because everyone is abusing the priority work guidelines. The system is so broken they know that only a priority 1 or 2 will get the maintenance job done in a reasonable time frame.
They also know that if they try to be nice and instate a lower priority than is necessary, their specified job will never get done. Ultimately, this means that the work request will be pushed through with a higher priority than necessary.
These two scenarios, and I am sure you can think of many more at your organization, will end up costing more money because the emotional priority jobs bypass the planning and scheduling process.
A SOURCE OF CONFLICT
Requesters of maintenance work often have only their own production area in mind when prioritizing maintenance work, while their maintenance partners are often faced with ten “priority one” jobs from different requesters when they can only accommodate five.
This results in conflict with the people who don’t get their jobs performed. And to make matters worse, it is often the people who give the maintenance planner or supervisor the most problems if their jobs are not done. So, inevitably it’s the “squeakiest wheel” that gets the grease, and it’s often done at the cost of others who might have had a more real need for a completed job.
I know that many readers recognize the type of conflict I have described as if it had been taken from their own workplace.
Here are my 3 tips for changing the state of the maintenance process from being emotional and reactive to being planned, scheduled, and controlled:
- Set up a task force between operations and maintenance. The objective is to arrive at more disciplined priorities.
- Educate key people about the importance of using the right priorities. Teach them that it costs several times more to do a job that breaks into a set schedule than to do a job that is planned and scheduled.
- Agree that operations and maintenance will decide priorities together according to well-defined guidelines. The only jobs that justify a “priority one” (immediate action that breaks into other ongoing jobs) are jobs such as the following:
Immediate risk for personal injury or environmental damage.
Immediate risk for production loss or high maintenance costs.
All other jobs, which should be included with examples in the priority guidelines, should be prioritized with a requested date for latest completion. For example, if a pump has backup fails, it will not automatically constitute a “priority one” job. DOWNLOAD OUR SIMPLE PRIORITY GUIDELINES AS A JUMPING OFF POINT.
Determining and using new priority guidelines will yield faster results with fewer breaks-in work and increase the planning, scheduling, and control of maintenance. However, count on the fact that even this simple process of implementing guidelines will take time.
Do you want everyone on the same page and get your workload under control? Our new online, Introduction to Work Management Planning and Scheduling course ensures everyone in the organization understands the importance of this process and their role in supporting it. Contact us today to learn how to bring it to your organization.
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