Are you in the “Circle of Despair”?

If you work in a highly reactive maintenance organization, you will be trapped in a “circle of despair” and you are wasting too much time on doing the wrong things. A circle of despair starts when you have to react to a problem, or a perceived problem, on a short notice. You then try to correct the problem as fast as possible; the quality of the correction will then be less than perfect. This leads to that the equipment soon has to be repaired again and the circle of despair will repeat itself and absorb all time you could have used to do the right things.

Are you  in the “Circle of Despair”?

The reasons why most maintenance organizations are using more total maintenance hours than necessary is that they waste too much time on doing the wrong things, because they work in a system that does not allow people to be as efficient as they can be. To correct the system is the responsibility of leadership. It is the most important thing a leader can do. I use the term leader, because too many managers are just managing status quo.

Some examples on doing the wrong things include:

Maintenance is driven by cost instead of the actions that drive cost. Maintenance managers become more focused on the budget constraints then on delivering reliability. The focus must be to improve total reliability. It is well proven that a long-term focus on improving reliability will produce more quality production and lower costs.

Reacting to Equipment breakdowns. Our studies show that between 50 percent and 70 percent of all maintenance work is avoidable. The basics of maintenance prevention, the right operating practices, and correct installation will reduce the amount of maintenance work needed. The corrective work remaining can be done more efficiently through good inspections together with better planning and scheduling.

Reacting on emotional priorities. Most maintenance organizations are viewed as service providers and not providers of equipment reliability in an equal partnership with operations. Operations are still viewed as the customer ordering work from the maintenance organization. This leads to a mindset to please the customer by responding to their requests immediately instead of delivering what is best for the business.

Top Management oxymoron.

Top management typically agrees to all of the above but often responds that “Reliability is top priority, but we must cut costs first”.
I call this statement an oxymoron because the fact is that better reliability will drive down costs while a focus on lower costs drives down reliability. It is a very difficult predicament to solve. The solution to achieve consistently and sustainable lower costs is long term, but as a manager you are working in a system that forces you to make short-term decisions.

The focus on cutting costs is in most organizations done by deferring maintenance work. But, a valid maintenance job can never be eliminated – it can only be postponed and you will then often end up paying much more later on. 

Cutting costs by elimination of people without any improvements in people productivity will result in increased total maintenance hours. You might have fewer employees, but there will be more overtime and contractor hours. This will result in short-term savings and long-term loss.
If the focus is to improve total reliability, you will see short-term cost and long-term, continuously improved production throughput and lower costs.

If you are in the circle of despair and plan to break out of it, the first step is that the mill leadership team has to come together and focus on what drives costs down long-term and get away from short-term cost cutting. The lead team has to believe that reliability will drive down cost and understand that short term cost cutting drives down reliability. Unless this agreement is in place, the mill will continue as a reactive organization and have a high maintenance cost per ton.

Torbjörn Idhammar, 
President of IDCON IN

Asset Management | 23.10.2018

Latest articles

The Ultimate Guide to ITSM Best Practices

ITSM or IT service management is a collective term used to describe the processes followed by organizations to design, plan, improve and deliver IT services they offer. It has become a standard procedure for organizations around the world to come up with a business-specific ITSM framework that aligns IT services and processes with organizational goals.

Cmms | 15.11.2018

Leak detection in the age of digitalization with SONOCHEK

Together with the update of the SONOCHEK apps SONOLEVEL and SONOLEAK, PRUFTECHNIK launches the SONOLEVEL DATAVIEWER, a new visualization PC-software for leak analysis. SONOCHEK is an innovative digital leak inspection device used to localize leaks in compressed air, gas and vacuum systems. The device includes automatic leak classification and its broad bandwidth of 20 to 100 kHz allows detecting leaks even at an early stage. SONOCHEK is also used effectively for electrical inspection and monitoring of bearing lubrication.

Asset Management | 24.10.2018

Cost-Effective, High Performance Flare Monitoring in the Petrochemical Industry

Safe flare operation and environmental protection require reliable and accurate flare pilot monitoring.

Partner Articles | 24.10.2018

Standards Increase Economic Growth and Help Companies Access Foreign Markets

Standardisation is a key to a well-functioning, economically prospering and sustainable society. It is also a way to increase economic growth. These conclusions can be made from the results of the new study “The Influence of Standards on the Nordic Economies”.

R&D | 24.10.2018

Future of Work: Gig Economy and Field Maintenance

In today's dynamic and inter-dependent world, traditional jobs are losing ground due to the rise of the gig economy. Modern blue and white collar workers now have the opportunity to choose to whom they will give their time, where will they work and under which conditions. 

HSE | 24.10.2018

How ultrasonic sensors and artificial intelligence improve condition monitoring

In an industrial setting, assets are everything. A breakdown can cause hours  of downtime, and thus hours of lost productivity and lower financial gains. Preventative maintenance is one way facility managers counteract system entropy, but it is not perfect strategy. In some cases, a preventive approach to maintenance can actually lower the overall effectiveness of an asset. In the case of a valve for example, constant tightening can cause premature wear and tear.

Applications | 23.10.2018

Maintenance: A Necessary and Important Function in the Future

Euromaintenance 2016 will take place in Athens at the end of May. It is the ideal moment to reflect on maintenance in a European context. Euromaintenance is known as the summit for all involved in maintenance across Europe, it’s the place to be. The conference, with the support of the EFNMS, is the only commercially independent conference covering the topics we deal with in the maintenance world.

EFNMS | 20.5.2016