Monday, December 16, 2013

Do You Need More Wedding Planning in Your Plant Outage?

So lets talk about really solid outage planning and scheduling. Not the half-hearten effort that I sometimes see organizations pass off as planning and scheduling, we want to see the good stuff.
Imagine if you will, a wedding. It could be yours or your kids, but think back to that process. Here are just some of the key pieces that were crucial to creating that special day.
Scheduling starts early with all big life turnarounds:
You picked a date for execution of the plan. Hopefully, it was not a reaction to a problem that was brought to your attention during the previous week and instead was scheduled well in advance (a year) and with the full agreement of all parties. It hopefully was picked based on resource availability and with the agreement of both members of the operations team, the bride and groom.
Budget bound:
A high level budget was created based on either what you were willing to spend, what you had available, or what you had been allocated from the parental organization. This at first is an order of magnitude or a not to exceed number that you broke down and further detailed as the planning process was completed.
Experts do what experts do:
Unless weddings are a particularly interesting past time for you then you probably lacked experience in certain areas or may not have had the resources to do all the work internally. For those areas you might have hired an expert. Experts could include professional wedding planners, musicians, tent and table erectors, chefs, photographer, and florist. These people do not always work well together so the coordination was key. For instance if the photographer arrived to do his work before the tent erectors or the florist you could have a real problem on your hands and face embarrassment, lost time and money. That is where the detailed schedule has to be defined and followed.
Planning and then Scheduling:
With all the additional labor needed and all of the task that must be completed in a timely manner you more than likely first built a simple plan and then with time expanded on that plan with detailed steps or task for completion. That plan included pre-work items that had to be done in advance and items that would be executed on the day of the event. The plans included all the important details like what songs to play and what foods to serve. All of these could then be sequenced into the schedule and a critical path review could be performed. Normally here in the US people are not prepared to attend a wedding where it takes two days to complete the ceremony because some forgot to tell the caterer that it was a mid day wedding. Getting all of the activities completed in a 4-6 hour period is important. The critical path tells us if that is possible with the choices we have made. So both time and money become limiting factors that must be attended to. Since we know time lets look at money.
Request for Quote (RFQ) budget refinement:
If you are like me, once you decided on the date, time, and the location and the types of expert that you needed you began to get bids and and built a more complex budget with allocations to each part of the event. There were trade offs and discussions until you finalized the monetary side of the plan. Do you spend more on the dress and less on the flowers? Can we get a DJ instead of an orchestra?
At the two week out point you review the job plans, evaluate weather and family risk and put mitigation strategies into effect as required. Aunt Suzy did not want to set next to uncle Carl so you updated the seating plan one last time. You verify completion of the pre-work and you mentally prepare for the big day by meeting with your operations partner. At this point you cross the final gate and green light the event knowing that it is the best that it can be. 
Your outage should be no different. Everything you see above should be done in the plant too.
Remember all this planning went into one 4-6 hour day and your outage may be a week or even longer. Are you planning and scheduling like a wedding planner or do your weddings aimlessly go on for days?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Coordinated Constraint Management vs. Chaotic Improvement

a guest post by Darrin Wikoff:

“Constraint Management”, the phrase used by Dr. Goldratt in his book The goal: a process of ongoing improvement, is based on the understanding that the rate of throughput, revenue, or work is limited by a minimum of one constraining process or process step (i.e. the bottleneck) and management must focus only on increasing the flow at the bottleneck in order to achieve optimum levels of throughput.

Constraint management follows five basic steps:

1.    Identify the constraint – the singular element of your system or process that most significantly limits your organizations ability to achieve the desired level of capacity or takt time.

2.    Exploit the constraint – verify that the constraining element, step, or process is behaving as designed and is performing a function that is unique to only the constraint.  If the function being performed is not unique to the identified constraint then this element of your system is an “error”, or process variable which has occurred as a result of a constraint, so dig deeper, keep looking.

3.    Prioritize the constraint – all other process variables are the result of the constraint and, therefore, will be resolved by managing the constraint.

4.    Remove the constraint – increase throughput (flow) at the constraint in order to increase overall capacity.  Verify that the constraint is removed by evaluating takt time and the cycle time for the given step or process.

5.    “Don't let inertia become the constraint”, says Dr. Goldratt - realize that a new constraint has formed as a result of managing the previous constraint.  Return to #1.

Dr. Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints is a time-valued practice that allows business leaders to focus narrowly to improve the holistic performance of their operation.  Over the past several years, as Lean and Six Sigma efforts have become more and more predominant, I commonly see and hear of Managers who are overwhelmed by the number of issues or problems associated with their manufacturing process.  In these organizations, numerous improvement or Six Sigma teams exist to eliminate chronic problems which are perceived to be limiting plant performance.  If the operation contains nine processes in order to produce a single product, then there are nine separate initiatives, all focused blindly with no regard to the greater connection within the enterprise system, all efforts consuming resources and business leaders’ time and energy.  Business leaders should stop and identify the one constraint that limits the entire process, focus all efforts on improving this singular bottleneck, and track performance in order to prevent recurrence before tackling the next constraint.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Flipping the Switch: Starting a Successful Change Journey

We all talk about doing things tomorrow or next week or next year but unfortunately those days never come for most of us.  If they did then everyone would have quit smoking or created washboard abs on their perfect body shape and sizes. If you have been to the mall or the beach lately that as of today that has not happened. So what do we need to do to flip the switch. How do we start the journey of change and discovery? How do we get from the current state to the target state.
Im going to offer three tools to help you make it happen. They address the individual change, group change, and leadership style change that is required to flip the switch.
The first is ADKAR and acronym created by the folks at Procsi. It is the model I use for personal or individual change. In order for a person to change you need to address each of the letters of the acronym below.
  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to participate and support the change
  • Knowledge on how to change
  • Ability to implement required skills and behaviors
  • Reinforcement to sustain the change
Once we began to address the individuals that will work for the change we can in parallel start to think about the organization. The model that I like for organizational change comes from Dr John Kotter and his book Leading Change. The 8 steps are as follows:
Step 1: Establishing a Sense of Urgency
Help others see the need for change and they will be convinced of the importance of acting immediately.
Step 2: Creating the Guiding Coalition
Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort, and encourage the group to work as a team.
Step 3: Developing a Change Vision
Create a vision to help direct the change effort, and develop strategies for achieving that vision.
Step 4: Communicating the Vision for Buy-in
Make sure as many as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.
Step 5: Empowering Broad-based Action
Remove obstacles to change, change systems or structures that seriously undermine the vision, and encourage risk-taking and nontraditional ideas, activities, and actions.
Plan for achievements that can easily be made visible, follow-through with those achievements and recognize and reward employees who were involved.
Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don't fit the vision, also hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision, and finally reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes, and change agents.
Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and organizational success, and develop the means to ensure leadership development and succession.
Lastly as the individuals and the team begin to travel down the road to change the leaders need to meet their needs as they move from phase to phase. For that situational leadership I recommend Ken Blanchard's Situational leadership II model.  In the model the individual progresses through the 4 D phases below as they complete the journey from neophyte to guru. I have some additional images and a single point lesson here that can help with the explanation.
The affected will have:
  • D1 - Low competence and low commitment
  • D2 - Low competence and high commitment
  • D3 - High competence and low/variable commitment
  • D4 - High competence and high commitment
The leader must provide the matching style of leadership depending on where the student is. The D number should match the S number below. If a leader does this then the change process can be substantially faster and the return on investment should benefit substantially.
The leader will provide:
  • S1: Telling - is characterized by one-way communication in which the leader defines the roles of the individual or group and provides the what, how, why, when and where to do the task;
  • S2: Selling - while the leader is still providing the direction, he or she is now using two-way communication and providing the socio-emotional support that will allow the individual or group being influenced to buy into the process;
  • S3: Participating - this is how shared decision-making about aspects of how the task is accomplished and the leader is providing less task behaviours while maintaining high relationship behavior;
  • S4: Delegating - the leader is still involved in decisions; however, the process and responsibility has been passed to the individual or group. The leader stays involved to monitor progress.
Of these, no one style is considered optimal for all leaders to use all the time. Effective leaders need to be flexible, and must adapt themselves according to the situation and where the individual is in the journey to the change.

With these three models that I have provided and the links out to additional material you can be ready to flip the switch and go on a successful change journey with your organization. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

3 Things You Could Learn From Your Doctor About Reliability.

So when you go to the doctor you expect your problem will be addressed quickly, thoroughly, and at the lowest cost to you. You don't want to spend hours of downtime in the "waiting room." You want a root cause understanding of the problem and a strategy and the drugs to resolves the problem. You want to pay a standard amount deductible and get no surprise bills after the treatment. Operations and Shareholders should expect no less from the maintenance and reliability organization. We should use condition based tools and proactive methods to identify issues early before operations experiences downtime. We should use problem solving tools like root cause analysis to understand the cause of the pain and prevent re-occurrence. Shareholders would prefer that all work be planned and scheduled so that it can be performed at the lowest total cost.
Here are three more things that the doctor does that we should do as well.
When you arrive, the doctor seeks to understand any changes in your life. He checks your vitals and the basic details like weight. He looks for what has changed. When you arrive at a failed piece of equipment you should perform the root cause method called change analysis. You would look at what things have changed. It can fall into categories:
  • What has changed (product mix, load etc)
  • Who might have changed (new operators or maintainers, different conditions etc)
  • How might have it changed (weather etc.)
  • When did it change (run at a new time, different shift etc.)
  • Why did it change (operations strategy etc.)
If you answer these questions then you can begin to understand the causal chains and root causes.
When you go to the doctor they don't just run one test with one technology. We should use multiple technologies to understand the health of our assets. We might use vibration, infrared themography, oil analysis, Airborne ultrasound as well as others. Using these tools together gives you a full picture of the health of the equipment just like the doctor's test gives him a picture of your health.
The last point I want to note is that the doctor or surgeon uses checklist for procedures. Many sites do not have nor want to create good procedures or checklist. These sites have told me that they do not need them because their craftsmen are skilled and experienced. My point is that the doctor has done common procedures hundreds of times and yet he, a skilled doctor, still uses a checklist. These checklist do not tell him how to tie a stitch but it does point out key measures commonly forgotten steps and verifies that all of his equipment that is used is returned.

Next time you are at your doctor think about what you see him do and how you can use that to professionalize our field.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Are Your Business Processes Traffic Bottlenecks?

First up sorry about the blog unreliability recently. We are back after a short break and focused on helping you with your pursuit of reliability.
So this week I was caught in traffic and that got me thinking about processes. Processes are like the roads we follow. In the picture you see many people following the process. Unfortunately it has a bottleneck ahead. Now what if I decided to leave the road and drive into the grass? I could move much faster there outside of the normal process right? The problem occurs when everyone decides to leave the process. Now, we are all out in the grass going different ways and causing damage and congestion.
This is what happens in many facilities. They build great processes through their lean implementation or EAM or ERP roll out but over time things change and it becomes easier to work off process through a work around than it is to follow the outdated process with all of their bottlenecks. This is not catastrophic at first because only a few power users are running off in the grass but over time more and more people tire of the bottlenecks and create their own path. Then data and people start colliding and the system starts to struggle because it is not being used the way it was designed. After a period of time you are left with carnage and debris and truly broken processes. Inefficiency takes over and waste piles up everywhere. 
So how do we avoid it? I like to do a yearly process review and improvement event. It starts by printing out all of your processes on large format paper and posting them on the wall. I then get multidisciplinary groups of users to come in and we go through the processes box by box or step by step. We are looking for changes that have occurred or should occur, "work arounds" that have been instituted and broken connections from one process to another. I reward honesty during this process and we note what we like and what is not getting us where we want to be. We study the "work arounds" and see if they should become the revisions to the process. An added benefit of the exercise is that we are reviewing and reminding the groups of what we have said we will do and they are adding details that increase their ownership of the processes. After this exercise, compliance goes up and efficiency follows as well.
Are you doing yearly process improvement events as part of your continuous improvement plan? 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Critical Factors to Determining Criticality of Your Asset Base

Today, thanks to a conversation I was having yesterday with a client here in the United Kingdom, I thought I would pontificate on the science of criticality. Here are three quick points to think about when you are setting up your equipment criticality process.
First ABC or 123 is not enough.
The idea for criticality is that you are listing your assets in order of importance to your business goals. The more granularity you provide then the easier it becomes to use the list for things like:
Planning, sequencing, and scheduling (order of job plan development and level of plan detail etc.)
Materials stocking and spares (critical equipment may have critical parts or spares)
Equipment maintenance plan development (level of detail and techniques applied)
If all of your assets are in three or five "buckets" of criticality you can run into issues. For example lets say you have 1000 assets and five levels of criticality, but in the mind of your facility staff you have a process driven plant with assets in series so almost nothing is unimportant. Because of this, your team scores few low criticality assets in the 1 (lowest) criticality. Now you have say 970 assets in four levels of criticality with most of them on the upper end but you reserved the highest level for safety or environmental assets. Now you have 920 assets spread across 3 levels. Even if they are spread evenly you will have 30 percent of your assets in each category. This is just not good enough to facilitate good business decisions. So what can you do? Try at least a 100 level criticality and better case is that you use a 1000 point scale. The idea is to get the assets spread apart across the range so that when you use criticality in decision making it does not give you buckets of assets but instead just a few assets at each level.
The second thought is that your criticality criterial must disperse the assets out across the range. You should have at least 10 criteria. They should include things like:
Spare parts availability
Historical reliability
Importance to the process
Safety, health, and environmental effect
And others.
Third, this was an interesting though provided by the client who was studying their spare parts supply chain, you should take the spare part availability to the next level and think about supply chain risk. As many countries close down and off shore the manufacture of spare parts and equipment your risk can go up.  For example ten years ago here in England if you needed a spare part for a mill there might be three suppliers here in country that could manufacture and provide that part with in a few weeks maximum. Now it is only made and stocked in India or Japan and the local manufactures are gone. Think about the earthquakes and tsunamis that have effected Japan and the wars that have effected other supplier regions. This puts the facility at risk raising the criticality of that asset because if it breaks and the only spares are in an unstable part of the world. It could be months or even years before that part is available. Because of this risk we may want a factor to raise criticality to the point that critical spares are kept onsite for this machine.
So there are three things to think about as you ponder the set up of your criticality process. I'm sure you will think of others.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Changing Face of Training: Education through Application

Whether it is quality, safety, leadership, asset management, or reliability training the expectations are changing. The days of training for training sake are quickly passing us by. As companies focus more on getting results and a return on investment from their training classes the industry leaders are not just using traditional face to face lecture based classes. To super-charge their education efforts they are combining multiple medias and delivery methods as well as raising the expectations for each students. Below are three areas you might consider making a part of your training efforts.
1. Mix it up: Do not just lecture. Use video, student teach back, e-learning (example here) and simulations (example here) to keep boredom from rearing its ugly head. If they are bored then the material retention will be very low but if they are engaged or even better yet teaching the material then retention will be substantially higher and so will the return on training. I have always said you do not know the material until you have taught it in front of a group of your peers.
2. Expect application: As part of the class set the expectation that the student has to go back and apply the core concepts to their area or plant. For example if they learn about risk analysis then we would expect them to submit a risk analysis template fully populated for the area they are focusing on.
3. Provide coaching and mentoring: If you are going to have the students submit the application of the concept then devote the resources to be there as coaches.  These coaches provide the students with single point lessons, corrections, and good feedback from someone who has been there and done it before.
With these three additions alone the return on your training dollar will be increased and you will be more able to make the changes you want within your organization. We have been able to document 10X returns by using this methodology within our education programs. I hope you can do the same. Feel free to reach out to me at if you would like to discuss it more.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Benchmarking and Internal Assesments: Eight Questions That Will Improve Your Studies and Their Results

If you saw last weeks post on the troubles "benchmarkers" deal with here then you may be wondering how do we make it better? If you are addressing the issues mentioned there and you want to take it to the next level here are eight points to consider when assessing your performance and benchmarking with others. These are based on the seventy plus assessments I have been involved in during the last ten years and the struggles I have seen during those and other assessments.
Does your assessment or benchmarking study have the following: 
an element of Volume – Does the assessment have more than just yes or no questions? Does it look into the amount of application of the concept or element or just the existence? For example, does it ask "Do you have planners?" or "What percentage of work is fully planned?" or as a second example "Do you use work orders?" or "What percentage of your craft hours is captured on a work order?" The second question in each provides the element of volume. This demonstrates the penetration of the concept into the way the site does business not just whether they have pockets of excellence in one area.
Detail - Do you have enough data and detail in each of the sections or elements of the assessment? Do you get a complete picture of the components that make up the element being assessed?  For example: Can you address all of the elements of Planning and Scheduling effectiveness with just one question in your study? Not likely. You will need more details and data in order to identify actionable gaps for closure.
Frequency – Are you doing it often enough? If you are only assessing or benchmarking once every ten years that would show little trend data. I would recommend a robust external assessment every three to four years for maximum effect. External does not have to be a consultant driven process you just need fresh eyes from another site or division.
Process Standard – Do you have a process and standards for the benchmark assessment so that the data is of like kind and comparable with other locations?
Personnel Standard – Do your assessors have the knowledge and competency to assess? Are they task qualified in the process standard. Are they standardized? Will the non-task qualified assessors affect the comparability of the data where they are involved? I have seen this over and over. Having a standard for performance and qualifying individuals is crucial to effective benchmarking.
Performance – Is the assessment having the desired effect? Is the assessment providing a view into the gaps that you need to address? Is the study executed at a level that identifies next steps to close the gaps. Is it driving the organization to close those gap? Is the organization better as a whole because they did the study?
Efficiency – Are you doing the study efficiently? Is it a major disruption to the business or can it be accomplished with minimal interruptions. Is your assessment or benchmark study addressing the elements required without being exhaustive? Is it full of manual calculations or does it standardized on base data that is used to generate the various calculations "automagicly"?
Innovation – Are you finding a better way to do it? Have you improved the assessment and benchmarking process each time you have executed it? This could be through data standardization or tool improvements or collected history.
This become the checklist that I review to ensure the highest level of success with benchmarking and assessments. Every time I use this list I am upping the return on effort of the study.

Are you happy with your assessments and benchmarking studies? Tell us about what you like with yours below in the comments section please.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Five Reasons Your Benchmarking Survey Might Suck

That's right your benchmarking efforts might not be worth the time it takes to populate the survey. I know it hurts to hear it but it is all too common. You may even be shocked but, I see surveys all the time where the data and comparisons are nearly useless except to draw the most basic of conclusions. Below are five reasons they miss the mark and next week I will share five areas your surveys should focus on to be most effective. 

  1. Companies and organizations exchange numbers with no context for the data and the result sucks. Are the sites even truly comparable? I do not believe that we are all different in fact there is a blog on that subject here but I do think that certain key differences are important enough to note and communicate in the survey. For instance, you would not compare the Overall Equipment Effectiveness or OEE from a continuous process chemical plant with a batch process specialty paint plant. They are both in the chemical arena but they would have significantly different OEE numbers. So comparing by industry alone is not always a good idea without more information.
  2. Companies and organizations exchange numbers with no standards for calculation and the results suck. If you try to compare two metrics that are calculated using different data or a different equation you can not draw meaningful conclusions. Sticking with the OEE example, if you have one site that includes preventive maintenance down time and another that does not then their is no comparison in the metric.  If you are an SMRP member you can gain access to their metric standards for calculation of many of the common metrics and improve your comparisons validity.
  3. Benchmarking studies that do not look at processes and practices just metrics might suck. While metrics are important we have to look at processes and practices. If all we do is compare numbers without looking at the systems and processes that generate those numbers then I believe it is very hard to identify the best practices that can get you to a new level of performance. Many times you can learn more by walking around and talking to staff than could ever be gained from a metrics survey. All I am saying here is you need to do both.
  4. Benchmarking sample comparison is not representative of the best practices that exist so sites have a false sense of security and that sucks. Many organization only want to look at surveys and practices from their industry or niche. Over the years I have seen a couple of industries in particular that love to do this. The problem is while they were comparing themselves against their "peers" other industries have passed them by elevating the best practices.  They are now left to be the best in a sorry lot.  Study other organizations and other vertical's metrics and practices to see how you compare with the best in the world not just the best in your vertical.
  5. Metrics in the study are not targeted to the problems or situations you face at your site therefor they provide little actionable information and you guessed it... it can sucks. Sometimes the benchmarking survey leads people to believe that those metrics in the survey are all they should focus on when in reality the metrics that they really should be focused on are entirely different. The metrics you focus on are the ones that drive the behavioral change that you need. If you change the behaviors then the other metrics will improve on their own. For instance, if you are having trouble getting failure history for FRACAS and that is the behavior you are trying to change then that is what you should measure and focus on but you will be hard pressed to find work order failure code completion percentages on a benchmarking study.
In the end these are not hard and fast rules but they are things to think about when choosing to participate in a benchmarking study of your site. I'm off to benchmark my blog against others on the internet but until next week I wish you reliability now.

Friday, August 16, 2013

It’s Not Like I’m Speaking Chinese Here! 5 steps to "deglaze" your audience

When you are communicating with your team or organization do you ever feel like you are speaking a language they don’t understand? Do they look more glazed over than a box of Krispy Kremes? Yea, me neither.
Is it all the acronyms we used… maybe?
Is it the latest business buzzwords that we tossed in… possibly?
But more than likely it’s that we forgot to answer the most important question of all first?
This question is the “deglazer” if you will. It allows them to relate and then process and use all the information that you follow with. What is that question you ask? Well it is...
How does your subject affect them? Or said differently, what is in it for them if they comply or follow along versus ignoring and remaining with the status quo?
So many times I listen to leaders as they discuss new initiatives and they share great plans for big changes. Unfortunately the audience cannot hear them because they are listening to their inner voice speculate on how this is going wreck their life. Very few leaders can talk louder than the inner voice of the audience but if that leader answers the question for the inner voice sometimes the voice can be kept quite long enough to allow the listener to grasp more of the key points of your message.This is one of the reasons we must communicate key changes multiple times and with multiple medias. This is also why we focus on two way communication to check for understanding after the topic is communicated.
So to recap 5 steps to "deglaze" your audience and speak over the inner voice:
1. Address what is in it for them
2. Address how it affects them
3. Communicate the message multiple times
4. Use multiple medias
5. Use two way communication to check for understanding
Are you communicating over the inner voice of your audience?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Four -isms That Might Be Killing Your Reliability

Lets talk today about the four -isms that may be running around in your plant and limiting your ability to improve up-time, quality and reliability.  The first step is to recognize that they exist and then we can determine a plan to mitigate or eliminate it. Below I have given you the four as well as a sound bite and possible mitigation strategies. It is best if you can prevent them from rearing their ugly heads through good risk and communication planning but today we will look at a reactive response.

Negativism: The disposition to project the worst case scenario.
Sounds like: "This CMMS is horrible it takes 16 screen to do what I could do in one in the old system."
Mitigation: Focus on the positive and don't let meeting become bashing sessions. Celebrate the little successes or steps from your project plans.

Criticism: The disposition to be preoccupied with incomplete or imperfect.
Sounds like: "This new process is not good enough to roll out. Let's continue to work on it."
Mitigation: Create a pilot area where it is OK to fail and trial the processes there with a mind for continuous improvement. These safe zones clear the way and the fear of failure and allow for progress not paralysis.

Skepticism: The disposition to always question but never commit.
Sounds like: "I'm not sure we have enough data to show that this will work. Let's collect more.or That will never work here. We are too different. "
Mitigation: Show case studies from similar sites that have succeeded. We call them "real world examples" in our training. Visit sites or invite sites to visit you once they have had success. Let you negative folks mix with their positive ones.

Cynicism: The disposition to view every human enterprise as selfishly motivated.
Sounds like: "Maintenance just wants us to do autonomous maintenance so we can do their work for them"
Mitigation: Communicate fully the intent of the initiative and how it affects each individual. Cynicism loves to attack the ill informed.

What are you doing in your site to address the -isms?

Friday, August 2, 2013 Five Ways to Improve Plant Reliability with the In... Five Ways to Improve Plant Reliability with the Internet: Many of us are becoming more and more dependent on the internet to manage many parts of our lives, however some of our reliability peers are not there yet. Click on the link above to see the full post but in the mean time here are ten ways to use the internet to increase your reliability right now.
Here they are in no certain order:

1     For RCA preparation prior to getting the team together, I would pull equipment documentation and    any history available via Google.
2     Search bulletin boards and user group pages for common equipment failures using Google. Verify these are part of your equipment maintenance plan.
3     Locate spare parts for obsolete equipment via eBay and Google
      Locate new lower cost vendors and service centers for existing parts via Google
      Identifying physical defects with picture of similar failure from Google images
      Find equipment vendors websites via Google… it is not always so obvious.
      Read about additional vendor, equipment, part or product characteristics information on Wikipedia
      Follow your common vendors on Twitter to be in the loop with most recent product releases and updates
      Read the blogs of people interested in the same topics or that deal with the same issues you face.
        Read the various trade publication websites for articles that target the problems you are facing.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Maintenance Planners: Are they focused on the future or pulled into the present? Their boss decides!

How does organizational structure dictate focus?
This week I am working with a client that is building their future state organizational structure to support reliability improvement. The question they ask was should the planners report to the maintenance supervisors for the area they plan for? My response was a sometimes controversial one but I truly believe it based on my experience and observations. Planners should not report to maintenance supervisors. They really should be peers in the organizations working as a team. If you set the organization up with planners subordinate to the maintenance supervisor then you are in essence having your future focused planner reporting to your present focused supervisor. By future focused I mean the planner should be building job plans for the future work that will be scheduled at least one week out. Your supervisor is using the plans and schedules to execute the day to day work in the present. If you create this reporting structure and if you believe the old adage “What is important to my boss is important to me” then the planner will be forced to continuously focus on the day to day issues that are important to his or her boss at the expense of the future planned and scheduled work that drives reliability improvement.  They will become a "gofer" for the supervisor and go for this part or go for that tool. This is not planning this is reacting. As you build your organizational structure you have to force proactive thinking and create barriers for some parts of the organization to keep them away from the reactive day to day activities.
What are your thoughts? Who do your planners report to? Are they focused on the proactive future or pulled into the reactive present?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Improvement Strategies like Kudzu? Cut through the vines.

Is your reliability, lean, six sigma or Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) implementation like kudzu? Does it look green and vibrant on the surface? If you peel back the leaves on the surface do you find withering death and destruction?
Kudzu (shown on the left) is an invasive nonnative plant imported to the US from China that spreads by vine and runners and covers the native plants with broad vibrant green leaves. The problem is that it spreads at a miraculous rate and kills the plants it grows over by starving them of light. So if you go out and look below the surface you see the native plants rotting and breaking down but if you are taking a quick glance it seems green and healthy.
I have spent time in more than a few sites where they work to show corporate how green and vibrant they are. They create a parade or tour routes for executives when they visit where they paint and clean only the areas of the facility that can be seen from the path the executive will travel. They build daily management boards, operator care boards and other highly visible tools of the improvement initiative and put them on the parade route. In the end, the executive sees the green Kudzu and the employees, who are off of the parade route, see the death and destruction that is behind the fresh paint and new staged communication boards.
So how do you cut the vines, allow the light in and build a healthy forest.  Check out this series of post that all address multiple ways to cut the vines and create the health forest and a improvement initiative that is more than just surface deep. Click here to see the series.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Leadership, Fast Cars, and Road Blocks: Three things leaders need to know about project roadblock removal.

Leadership is about road block removal. Your team may be the best in the world at what they do but certain issues can stop them cold every time. They may be like a garage full of incredibly fast sports cars eager to get the job done, but someone has to open the garage door to get them started and remove the roadblocks along the way that prevent them from demonstrating their full potential. In the picture I show a 505 horsepower Viper stuck behind the cross bar of a train crossing. The way it sits in this picture it could as well be a 185 horsepower Pontiac Aztec as their would be no difference in performance until someone removes the barrier or plans a way around it. So what do leaders need to do? Leaders must take the time to do theses three things to ensure that their fast cars go fast. 
First, identify as many of the barriers in advance. Get with the team and think about what could go wrong on the way to the goal. What are you are currently doing to prevent or mitigate it and what might you want to do differently in a proactively attempt to lower the potential of occurrence or significance of the impact? 
Second, get to know your people so that you know what will be a barrier for them. Everyone is not the same. Some of your team is more like a rental car. You know, "no curb to high no ditch to deep" they can go anywhere. Others may be like the Viper, where anything higher than a speed bump can knock them out of the race. Both cars have their place and are great for the team but you just need to know their needs and meet them for maximum performance. 
Lastly, keep up continuous communication so that you see or hear about barriers before they cause large losses in momentum. Many leaders leave the team to work on a project and are surprised to find them mired in the mud of a problem. The team may not be able to make a decision about an approach due to lack of information, perceived support or buy in. This is where constant contact is important. Not micromanagement per say, just simply understanding the obstacles they are facing and providing help where they request it and based off of their needs. The way the best leaders demonstrate this is by attending team meeting but only for the first few minutes so as to not depower the team and practicing situational leadership
Can you think of other points that leaders should consider to ensure high performance teams maintain the ability to deliver?
Share them below in the comments section please.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Are the Squirrels Getting In the Way of Reliability in Your Facility? The Movie Series

No today's post is not about fuzzy little animals chewing through your control wiring or completing the circuit to ground in your switch gear although many may have noted these as root causes for reliability issues in the past. Today is about an even a bigger root cause of under-performance in manufacturing today. Squirrel! or as I am calling it corporate distraction. Dug and the rest of the dogs in in the Disney Pixar movie Up suffered from this problem. Lets take a look at a promo clip if you haven't already.

Dug and his compadres, they have trouble staying focused on the task at hand and we can hear that because of the verbalizer around their necks. You see the verbalizer allows us to hear their thoughts. What if you could hear all the thoughts flying around your facility. What distractions might we hear? Is the organization focused on a goal or does it seem to chase after every squirrel that comes along.
Manager that are just making a quick stop as they climb the ladder can be especially affected with corporate distraction. When they hear of an initiative that someone in the organization fancies then they want to do it to impress that person. Just as they get started they find out about another one and in their haste to be promoted they go after that one as well. In a nut shell they over commit and under deliver. I have seen this over and over. It becomes a lot like chasing squirrels, on the way to one you see another one that you just have to go after.
I have also seen managers who live for real bottom line results and long term plant performance. They do not let the squirrels get them off track. They take the time to have a leadership planning session regularly where they look at all of the initiatives that are here or on the horizon for the plant as a whole. They look at the value and return for each and how multiple initiatives might fit together to enable the organization to get to the current vision and the goals that have been set. Sometimes they need to change the goals and adjust the mission to match changing business needs that have arisen but when this happens it is communicated well to the organization. Either way they look at the resources that exist for the plant and the funds available to support improvement initiatives prior to committing the plant to them. The next thing they do is start a high level plant master plan that shows not just what, but how and when they are going to execute the initiatives chosen for the site. They also have gates or systems in place to prevent the new squirrels from distracted them from their current focus as they begin execution.
What do you do in your site to keep the squirrels at bay and the focus on results in the forefront?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Saying the Same Thing Differently: A Tip for Change Initiatives

As you start any large change initiative one of the first things you do is form a guiding coalition, a leadership team. That group will champion the change. One of the first things that group is then tasked with is to create a vision and mission for the change initiative. Where do we want to go? How will we get there? This vision and mission is then ratified by the group and should then be communicated to the larger organization. This is where some organizations run into their first major issue. They create the vision without a full understanding by each of the involved parties as to what details the vision conveys. Human resources only hears the part that affects them and misses the operational component or maintenance only hears the changes in their function and ignores the quality aspects. Then the leadership group begins the communication process to the masses and the message is both delivered and received differently by various parts of the organization. An organizational mess can then be created one word at a time.
The suggestion is to take time to practice, as a leadership team, conveying the message to each other. It is expected that everybody will delver the message slightly different using their stories, filters, and life experiences to add the context to the vision. However, in the end the message received by the organization needs to be the same regardless of the communicator or the communication style. This is harder than it sounds and may even require teaming up of leaders from different parts of the organization to ensure consistent messaging reaches the affected associates. If we do not get this step correct the organizational components can go down different paths that may in the end lead to to different locations and inadequate initiative results.
Have fun with this step use role play, single point lessons, and scripting within the leadership team to refine the message and delivery. Work together where needed to generate a cohesive message. In the end this will provide the team with a practiced method to say the same thing differently with in the comforts of their preferred styles and should remove one more barrier from your initiative's success.

What things do you do to refine your communications and messaging around change initiatives?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Is Your Production Line a Race Car or a Minivan? Process Thinking for Maximum Output

So during a recent conversation with Duane Siemen, a reliability engineering manager and classic "tweaker", we were discussing process improvement. Duane was sharing some of the work that he had done in the past to improve system reliability and throughput by focusing on the controls, communication, and tweaking how each machine in the system interacts with the system as a whole. I could not help but to compare the work that he did to the work of some of the great car tuners like Hennessy, Stillen, Roush, and Lingenfelter. When you think about cars or process equipment a few things are true for both. When you buy a stock car or a production line it is tuned to be conservative and somewhat mediocre. The car is not tweaked for the way you drive or where you drive from an environmental stand point and it is always "value engineered" to control production cost. It is set up to more or less work everywhere but excel nowhere. This means that without tuning and an understanding of operating context you leave a lot of performance on the table. Your production line is ordered with equipment from different manufactures that may or may not be set up to communicate with each other and may or may not like to run at the system rate. Many of the elements of the system may have been just dropped into the line without any concern for the up and down stream equipment in the system. Designers some time work under the philosophy of "will it work"not "will it work best." Did that designer know all the specifics of your widget packaging process or did they just create a packaging line?
So what if you wanted to tune your production line like Hennessy tunes a Viper.
The first step would be to understand operating context. A drag car is completely different from a track car.
  • What are you using the line to do?
Second, learn all the equipment in the line. Without a full understanding of the dynamics and capability of the components then you can not begin to tweak. Roush would never take a car they had never studied and start changing ECU settings. They take the time to understand the parts before they tune the whole.
  • What is the full capability of the equipment and parts in the production line?
Third, we focus on getting the system unified through communication. We want each piece of equipment in the line to have solid communication with the others so that each can tell the other parts what is needed to push performance. Some parts of the line may actually slow down to improve quality and this in turn will increase overall output but only if they can communicate their need to us or the system. In racing they say, "you have to slow down to go fast" that is what we want to be able to do with the equipment.
  •  Are the parts talking reliably with the whole? Are they using that information to improve system output?
 Forth, we begin to problem solve and truly tune. We change a parameter and ensure we get the response we predicted. Does it effect the whole positively. We then use root cause to understand when it does not.
  • Do the changes give the results we expected?
Lastly, we focus on sustaining the changes. As you tune and increase performance tolerances get tighter. Precision become more important. Operating context needs to be stable or at least understood. Because of these factors you may need more built in checks and possibly more preventive task to keep the equipment in spec and operating at peak performance. You may have to go so far as to build a daily management plan to maintain the levels you expect to produce the performance you want. 

So in the end you need to understand your conditions, capability and components to get from  minivan performance to race day ready production.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Facts and Statistics on Growth, Skills, Reliability, and Manufacturing

Today's blog post includes many facts and statistics that I have collected while preparing to present at the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufactures Reliability Conference this week. This is the group formally known as NPRA and if you are going to be their look me up. These tidbits are from various recent magazine articles and studies and will help you communicate the need for both education and retention of talent in your facility.

According the Group Outlook Survey and and an article in Plant Engineering mid size manufactures are seeing the following:
  • 68% of respondents expect revenue to increase in 2013
  • 87% of companies expect capital expenditures to grow or remain constant and 39% expect to spend more than 2012
  • 43% plan to hire more employees in 2013 versus 24% in 2010 with 52% maintaining current employment levels this is up from the last few year
  • 68% expect increased sales in 2013 over strong sales in 2012
  • 61% are attributing this to new products for 2013
  •  70% have increased material and services purchases from American suppliers with Mexico following second as an effect of near-shoring 
What does all this mean? Manufacturing is growing. They are hiring. They are buying new equipment. They are buying more raw materials here in the US. That effects most of us.
Questions: Are they building reliability into the new assets? Are these new hires ready to operate and maintain equipment at a level that can facilitate the increased output that is required? With this growth in the market and the 401k investment value now returning to per-recession levels will we see baby-boomers retire in mass?

According to a 2011 ARC Advisory Group report:
  • The average impact of unplanned downtime in process industries is $20 billion or 5% of production
  • With every 10 workers retiring only 5 will take their place
 What does this tell us? We will continue to have to do the same or more with less people so automation will grow and efficiency through skills and application will be more important.
Questions: Do we have the skills? Are we spending on training to create the skills to operate, maintain and troubleshoot automation and increasing equipment complexity?

According to Fractional Research Inc. a company that does distillation research for chemical and engineering companies:
  • An estimated 10,000 workers a day are leaving the work force for the next 20 years
  • That's 400,000 years of experience leaving each day
What does this tell us? We can't wait. The time is now. We have to collect the historical knowledge via our Maintenance Planners through the job plan library, Reliability Engineers through FMEAs and through our Process Engineers by incorporating existing knowledge into our automation system logic.
Questions: Are you collecting experience?

According to a 2012 report by the Construction Labor Market Analyzer (CLMA):
  • Demand in the south eastern U.S. for skilled workers is expected to average 2.3 million during the 2012 to 2017 time period
  • That is 3.4 million skilled crafts needed in North and South Carolina alone through January 2016
  • Prior to 2008 it was estimated that 20 percent of current work force would retire. This was slowed by the recession but now it is happening during the recovery further hampering supply of skilled trades when we need them most.
These skilled trade represent a drain of trades from manufacturing and capital improvement and shows a systemic issue with the trades in general.
Questions? What are you doing to retain and up-skill your trades?  Will you have what you need to meet the sales growth and increased volume we mentioned above?

Chemical Processing's Annual Salary Survey of Engineers shared the following tidbits:
  • The average raise is 4.27% which is up from 4.15% last year
  • Bonuses also increased from $6,318 to $6,483 this year
  • 39% mentioned lack of recognition as the main driver for job discontent.
  • 68% mentioned challenge and stimulation of the job as one of their top satisfaction drivers
  • 58% mentioned Salary and Benefits as one of their top satisfaction drivers recently ask their readers "How will the retirement of 'baby boomers' affect your site over the next 5 years?"
  • 46% of respondents expect a significant impact and 37% expect to be effected somewhat. 
What does this mean to us?
With companies offering a 10% increase in compensation over the current level as a new hire, engineers are entertaining offers of employment elsewhere. Others are retiring. You could be loosing talent and experience.
What are you doing to retain your engineering talent? Are you providing recognition? Are you increasing wages to match the industry?

The "Perfect Storm?"
With the need for skilled trades and skilled engineers in manufacturing increasing due to demand driven by economic recovery and capital expansion battling with the departure of the "baby boomers" of both disciplines with the return of the value of the 401K retirement plans, we could be set for a "Perfect Storm." That storm is a skills shortage not a people shortage. To compound the situation many companies underspent on maintenance during the recession creating assets that are unreliable and running with the defects of not being properly cared for. Now we are asking those same assets to produce more and run harder and those induced defects are coming to light. Do you have the skills to fix them?
What are you doing to keep the skilled, collect their knowledge, and equip the future employees for your success?
Will the loss of skills and knowledge take with it your reliability and in turn your ability to meet market demand?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Check the Pump: Same Step Different Results

Many of us have preventive maintenance task in our facilities that are made up of a noun, a verb and a few connector words. They look like these:
  • Check the pump
  • Check the valve
  • Inspect the belts
  • Clean and inspect
Do these look familiar? If they do then ask yourself  two questions. If you send your 20 year veteran mechanic and your 4 year technician out to do these task will you get the same results? And secondly, if you send your 10 year technician out twice over  a 3 year period will he or she do the same thing both times? The answer is probably not. This introduces variability into your equipment maintenance strategy and unreliability into your assets. So what can we do? Here is one examples of how we could very simply step up repeatability and effectiveness of your tasks.
Let's say you have a PM task that traditionally would have said "Inspect Hydraulic Hoses for Wear" You could get any number of different responses and levels of performance. Even if you add the levels of wear A through D you still leave room for interpretation. Whats the difference between mild and moderate? But if we add the descriptions in parenthesis then it removes quite a bit of the ambiguity. This become a much more effective and repeatable PM step. We can take it a step further if we are equipped to collect additional data. If you record instances of each on the asset you can improve the task even more to a quantitative level. This quantitative PM is the best indicator of asset health.
The key here is that PM task do not have to be long and full of loads of pictures to provide good results you just have to choose your words wisely.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Processes and Technology Not Processes or Technology

Many of us in the reliability world love to implement new technology in our plants. It might be a condition monitoring tool or a new piece of software like a EAM or CMMS. Today I wanted to share with you a study and graphic that shows the return on investment of both technology and process as well as the two together. In the beginning you start in the red box and you implement new toys and technology and you end up in the yellow box with a negative 7 percent return on investment from your new tools in old processes. So what if we went after better business processes first. By re-engineering our business processes and removing the waste we are able to generate a 27 percent return on investment and arrive in the blue box. Not a bad return but, if we combined our new processes with our new technology we are able to get a return on investment that is very respectable 75 percent and land in the orange square. It is the "synergy of and" versus the "tyranny of or." In the end for the most success we need both in our strategies. You need the processes to start the improvements and then the tools to support the processes for efficiency.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Unreliability

Both coins are fake silver
We are at a point where imitations, knock off, and off quality parts are making their way into our traditional MRO supply chain. Some estimate as much as ten percent of the materials purchased last year were counterfeit. If you look around you will begin to see the effects of these cheap parts. It is costing sites maintenance dollars, production output, and safety performance. It started with imitation bolts that did not meet the grade standards. Then it became apparent with wiring and electrical parts. Now we are seeing knock off bearings, belts, electrical cards and even whole machines. They are produced in China and India where making a perfect look alike copy is culturally a revered skill.
While in China recently I was shown domestically produced equipment that were copies of designs out of Europe and the US.  I even brought back a few copied items to share with my others to make the point. I chose smaller items that travel well but they are available in all sizes. The first one is the US and Chinese coins shown above and the second is the 14 gauge wire shown below. The orange and green spool of wire is labeled as 14 gauge but when you compare it to true 14 gauge RCA wire it contains about half the copper strands and total mass and is encased in a clear plastic shell that magnifies the copper making it look just like the nice heavy gauge wire. The coins were such accurate copies that even using some of the more common test they could not be distinguished. They ring like silver and they weigh the same as the silver coin they mimic but you guessed it they are not silver. I saw other items as well including bearings, grade 8 bolts, electrical connectors, all in perfect copy packaging but with no guarantee of their reliability.
If they were truly exact copies then other than the obvious intellectual property rights issues it would
RCA cable is real Pyramid Power is undersized fake
no be so bad but many of these copies are made with substituted material. For instance a bearing may look like a perfect copy all the way down to the packaging but the metal and production process used can be wildly different. Some are produced with scrap metal with no eye to the metallurgy required.
In the electrical world you see parts and electrical boards that have been copied or re manufactured after not passing initial quality inspections. These off quality boards were meant to be destroyed but instead were sent to facilities where they are "repaired" with no assurance of quality and reentered into the supply chain as "new" parts. The US government and aviation industry have both experienced this in the last year and the cost to replace the counterfeit components after the fact was staggering.
This is leading to failures that are affecting safety, environmental and profitability of facilities both in the US and abroad. I have provided a few links below to further educate about the potential of this problem to affect you and your facility now and in the future.  

Reference Links:
Google search for fake bearings
IHS Parts
SAE Parts
Google search for counterfeit parts

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Best Practice Metrics Performance Requires Best Practices...

Over the years I have worked with many sites all over the world specifically to help them with assessments of their "As is" state. These were in preparation for their reliability, safety, and operations improvement initiative that will help them attain their "to be" state and the performance gain that is associated with that improvement.
The assessment process has many different variations depending on the site and the topic but all of them should have three things in common. The three are:
  • a metrics or key performance indicator review
  • practices and documentation review
  • interaction with as many of the affected and involved individuals as possible to understand application, culture, and norms 
If you are lucky then all three will tell a similar story and you can begin to plot a course to the "to be" state and the value of that progression. This does not always happen. Sometimes two will agree but one does not support the others. It is a bit like looking down at the dash of the car and seeing that your oil pressure is low and you are idling at 500 RPMs but your speedometers says you are traveling at 145 MPH. This indicated disconnect is concerning. Let me give you two industry examples. In the first example, let us say you are assessing a facility and you find well documented business processes but mediocre metrics performance and when you go to the plant floor and speak with the crafts, operators, and the supervisors you realize they don't know anything about the processes or the metrics. Or another possibility, maybe you find that the metrics show great performance but there are no or very limited business process and from the discussions with the site personnel you discover the site culture does not support the current level of metric performance or suggested reliability. This is where the improvement process can bog down. In the first example you would need to investigate to truly understand, but it appears on the surface that the business processes may have come from somewhere else and were never embraced or lost support for what ever reason. In the second example, the metrics may have been "optimized" over time which can cause them to get to a point where the math that is used to make them look so good is beyond science. I worked in one facility many years ago that regularly ran with an overall equipment effectiveness or OEE of 115. They ran a 115 with mediocre practices so there was still room for improvement. If they got it all right, there was potential to see 125 on a 100 scale metric but alas it did not happen as far as I know. Maybe they decided to change the math.
My point is that if the three areas of focus do not match you may want to use some root cause analysis tools to find the underlying causes. Once these are found then you can explain the disconnect between the three areas. The second step is to help the site see the mismatch in metrics, practices, application and culture. I like to use our maturity matrices which you can get here to help with this element. The site has to understand that world class performance on metrics has to be supported by world class performance in business process, culture, and application. Once they are comfortable with this then they can begin to embrace the true "as is" and discover the true potential that they can capture in the gap.
Have you experience the mis-match?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Failure curves and P-F intervals linked and explained: Tying the two most important reliability engineering curves together to generate a better picture of failure

During the early development of what would become Reliability Centered Maintenance, Nowlan and Heap gave us six failure curves to the left. When folks first see that sixty eight percent fall into the infant mortality curve then the doubt fairy tends to show up. "Sixty eight percent of the failures in my facility are not instant or early on start up." With this thought they then discount the incredibly important failure mode data provided to us from these studies. What they are missing is the connection to the P-F curve below.
So if the failure curves show the probability of defects introduced over time based on an individual failure mode then the P-F shows the resistance to failure over time once the failure defect has occurred. Nolan and Heap did not say that sixty-eight percent of your assets will catastrophically fail on or near startup they said that sixty-eight percent will have a defect introduced that will then travel down the curve of the P-F becoming more prone to functional and catastrophic failure. This trip down the curve may take 5 days, 5 weeks, or 5 years depending on the failure mode and operating context. This means they don’t fail instantly, but they do fail prematurely because of the defects introduced during or shortly thereafter maintenance activities. So think of the six failure curves as the probability of introduction of a defect and the P-F as the path of that defect to functional and catastrophic failure. I hope this helps you send the doubt fairy packing and you can begin to better understand both curves and the additional knowledge they can provide.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tips for Your Scheduling Process Via Video

Today I thought I would share with you a video post on maintnenance scheduling with a few tips for taking your planned jobs and generating the most effective schedule.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Are You a Reliability Champion or Reliability Killer?

As I travel from plant to plant and facility to facility I see both Reliability Champions and Reliability Killers.
First, lets talk about the "bad guys." These are the people in the organization that are not necessarily against getting better but they do not "have the time" to make the improvements and certainly do not want to wait for others to either. These folks are quick to say "When is the asset going to be back up?" without asking "what caused the problem?" and "How do we prevent it from happening again?" These are the ones who will spend the companies money to buy predictive and precision maintenance tools but because of the learning curve, do not allow them to be used lest they slow down the repair process. Their goal is not to fix it right just to fix it again and preferably as fast as possible. During one extended visit to a site I watched the company spend a substantial amount of money on alignment equipment and training but as soon as the crafts tried to use them and took a few extra minutes the supervisor yelled at them "to get that stuff off there and use a strait edge. We have to get this line up!" He was a Reliability Killer.
So what does a Reliability Champion look like? They are still concerned with getting the equipment fixed but they allow that bit of extra time that can get us to root cause and improve the precision of the repair. They use your target business processes. They know if we take a little down time now then I prevent a lot of downtime in the future. Their definition of fixed is a permanent repair not one requiring baling wire, duct tape and a hammer. They like to fix it once and forget it (after it is recorded in the CMMS).
In the end the reliability killer can be neutralized and in some cases even converted to a champion. It starts with communication and the creation of awareness and then as the killer sees the error of his ways and why changing could benifit him then he can accept more knowledge that can used to correct the situation or at least stop the killing. It is not eazy but it is possible with a plan and the desire to communicate.
So which category do your leaders fit into? Are you the Champs or the Killers? What are your plans to change that?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Culture of Reliability: Some Just Do Not Get it and it is Costing Them Big

Over the last few years companies continue to make the news for poor maintenance performance. We have heard from oil and gas companies that have had safety and environmental issues due to poor maintenance practices and cruise liners who have been delayed at sea due to continual maintenance issues. Some of these companies have made the news multiple times in past years with similar issues causing continual problems. At some point one has to begin to evaluate the root causes of the problem. I have reviewed much of the publicly available data and at least in two of the cases I feel very comfortable in saying that those companies do not have an asset management or reliability culture. I am not even sure they understand the concept! This lack of organizational understanding is a latent root that allows for many of the problems that have surfaced to continue. It is costing these companies millions of dollars both for the problems that have been made public as well as the ones that have been swept under the rug.
So what do they need to do?
The first step is of course to admit you have a problem and then you can assess your current state versus the best practices and understand your problem. Once you understand the gaps you can quantify the level of performance your organization needs to be successful, the work that it will take to get there, and the return on effort you will get for making the change.
Next you will need to create a reliability vision and develop the guiding principles the organization is going to use to change the way you do business. Communication and empowerment now come into play as you share with others the goals, the rules, and the boundaries so that they can then begin to attack the focus areas and gaps. This is not easy and it will be demanding on the organization as a whole as you battle to keep the focus and the drive to be successful but in the end the reward is worth the challenge and for many of these companies this challenge may be the only way that they can survive.
Does your organization have a reliability culture? For those that don't, what is it costing you? For those that have created this new culture what are you celebrating?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Confucius say: Planning and Scheduling Cause Confusion

The topic of planning and scheduling and what each one means has been a big discussion point here in China this week. The Chinese appear to have only one word that means both planning and scheduling but in reality everywhere I teach from Europe to the Middle East and all across the Americas there is confusion  on the difference so today I thought I would share planning and then scheduling as the topic of the week.

Planning is the creation of the work package including:
Job plan and steps and durations
Parts required
Special tools required
Permits required
Personal protective equipment required
Crafts or personnel types required

Scheduling is assigning the jobs to a time slot on a schedule.

The reason that this is important is that many of us measure percentage planned work for bench marking purposes and in more cases than not this number is actual the percent poorly scheduled because when you dive in you find that the jobs do not contain the planning elements mentioned above.
Many sites pursue ninety percent planned and scheduled work as a bench mark but you have only reached that number if you have at least the basic elements of a job plan for each job.
One example that I see often would be a work order that says only "remove and replace hot oil pump Time required 8 hours" this is not a plan at best it is a work request that has been scheduled without planning. It does not break down the task or suggest what parts will be needed or what permits might be required. While some might argue that all work is planned and that it is just the level of planning that is in questions I think you can see that it does not meet the intent of the metric and does not provide for the results we are trying to achieve. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Equipment Parody Video

Here is our first iBL parody video. Is your equipment in the arms of the angels?
Let us know what you think.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Guest Blog on Emails and Meeting Management

A great guest blog from George Mahoney on emails and meetings. I enjoyed and thought you might enjoy too.

It's 4:20PM and I am sitting through my fifth meeting of the day.

You notice I use the words "sitting through", as we are not really working. We are simply looking at a PowerPoint presentation that I could have read at my office in less than 5 minutes.

I look around the room and see 2 people typing away on their laptops and another 3 texting on their phones. A few years ago I would have called these people inconsiderate, but now I am secretly wishing I was doing the same thing.

Despite having answered emails before and after each of my meetings today, and during "lunch", I know more and more are collecting in my inbox. What bothers me even more is that most of them are probably coming from the same people who were smart enough to bring their laptops to THIS meeting.

I look around the room again and realize that half of the people at the table shouldn't even be at this meeting. At that moment, it becomes very clear why we have such a hard time getting anything done around here.

When I get back to my desk, I decide to check my email one last time before heading home. Even though I have over 100 new emails since lunch, I am happy to see that 25 of them are junk mail.

At least deleting those emails will make me feel like I made some progress today.

At about 6:15PM, I head to the parking garage completely exhausted and worse yet, frustrated.

I spent over 10 hours at work, but I did not accomplish a single thing.

How many times have you experienced this same thing over the past month?

In order to help break the cycle, I have provided a few tips below on how to reduce your two biggest time wasters – emails and meetings.

•    Designate specific times of the day to check and respond to emails. If you stop doing real work to check even one email, it will throw off your productivity.
•    "Unsubscribe" from junk mail. Even if deleting junk mail makes you feel good, it still wastes time and distracts you from what's important.

•    Never hold a meeting that will last over 45 minutes. If you can't get it done in that time, you are either not prepared or you are trying to cover too many topics.
•    Never invite people to a meeting who do not need to be there.
•    Set the same expectations for people who are inviting you to their meetings. Challenge the time length, ask for an agenda, and most importantly, decline the meeting if you do not feel you would add value.

Over the next two weeks, I challenge you to implement one of these rules and let me know how it turns out.

If you can think of anything that is not on my list, I would ask that you share those as well