Reliability and Maintenance Management Beliefs
Excellent leadership is an essential success factor for lasting results for any improvement initiative an organization undertakes, including improvements of Reliability and Maintenance performance. As a leader you need to create an organization of disciples that will follow you to make your vision, or future organization, a reality.
As a leader I have found it very important to develop and communicate your beliefs to your organization. These beliefs will then be guiding your organization on their journey to your goals.
In this column I will share two beliefs of my own and that I hope can serve as a guideline to develop your own beliefs.
Lost Production Reports
In most organizations the operations department is viewed as an internal customer to the maintenance department, and the maintenance department view themselves as a service organization to the operations department. This working relationship is often reflected in the lost production reports. Lost production is reported by department e.g. Operations, Mechanical, Electrical and Instrumentation etc. This serves no purpose more than to find someone to blame. It is also very often wrong because it frequently reports the symptom instead of the cause of the problem. E.g. an electric motor failed and caused lost production. This is often reported as down time due to an electrical problem, but the cause to the motor failure can be something different. If you want to create a partnership between operations and maintenance the common goal between these two departments is reliable production.
Solve and Eliminate Problems
This belief shall be documented and reinforced in a mission statement. An example of a production, or manufacturing mission statement could be. “In a partnership between operations and maintenance we shall safely deliver continuously better production reliability”. Then all work processes, including lost production reports, must be designed according to the mission statement.
Instead of reporting lost production by department it should be reported where, when and what happened. A trigger is set to filter what events shall go through a Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE) activity. In a RCPE process the first step is to clearly describe the problem in a problem statement, and then ask “why” or “how” can the problem occur? This process will help build a partnership. Also notice we talk about problems, not failures. The term failure will lead thoughts to equipment and maintenance, while the perm problem is more inclusive of everybody.
Keep Things Simple
Sustainable improvements in reliability and maintenance performance is “90 percent” about getting skilled people to work in a disciplined system. The technology part is important and easy to get people interested in. E.g. buying a new handheld data collector for equipment condition monitoring can be interesting, but to use it in a disciplined system, report failures, plan correction of found failures, schedule execution of correction of failures, report what was done, and to use this information to avoid repetition of the failures, that is more of a challenge.
Technology is the only thing that has changed significantly in the last 50 years. The principles on how to manage maintenance are pretty much the same. New names on well-known concepts occur frequently and this can be very confusing to people.
Perhaps it started many years ago when a new manager implemented “Planned Maintenance”, this lead to short, but not sustained improvements. The next initiative, often with a new manager, was “Predictive Maintenance”. Again short-term results were generated. When results disappeared the next action was to implement TPM (Total Productive Maintenance). When also this initiative failed to give the significant sustained results that had been expected it was time to enter into AM (Asset Management) and then RCM (Reliability Centred Maintenance), RBM (Reliability Based Maintenance), 5S, Six Sigma, Total Production Reliability (TPR), Lean etc. Nothing wrong with all these initiatives but it is of vital importance to stick with one holistic system and clarify the difference between the system and the tools used to enhance the system performance. Almost all initiatives were initiated by changes in management. Best performing organizations have documented and implemented best practices for reliability and maintenance and over time consistently executed these practices better and better. While seeing results every year, after two to seven years they have been rewarded with break-through results.
Because of the confusion all these concepts and tools it is important to simplify as much as possible. Successful organizations have done that and focused on continuously improving the basic processes: Prevention, Inspections, Planning, Scheduling and Execution of work.
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A common reason why reliability and maintenance improvement initiatives often do not generate the expected achievable results is competing priorities and focusing on the wrong things.