Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Back To The Future ... But Stuck In The Past

Click here to see an inspiring message from Doc Brown himself: The future has finally arrived
Here are some thoughts on the matter from our lead coach Brandon Weil:

Well folks we made it (despite what the Mayans had to say about the matter), today is the day that Marty McFly and “Doc” Brown traveled to the future, October 21st 2015. As I sat in traffic this morning, on my way to work and unleashed a fury of 4 letter expletives, I also cursed the movie for the broken promise of delivering on those flying cars by now (although with the way people drive around here maybe a bunch of flying death machines would only lead to fiery shrapnel raining from the skies during rush hour).
While it’s easy to focus on all the things that haven’t come to pass as of yet, it’s incredible to look at all the things that have. Futuristic headsets? Just look at the Oculus VR headset or Microsoft Hololens. Video Conferencing? Skype and Apple’s Facetime enable remote face-to-face conversations and is a favorite of many grandparents and families that aren’t in close proximity.
Things that seemed like pure science fiction are now integrated into many aspects of our everyday life. As I look back at all of the advancements in technology I still get the feeling that maintenance and reliability programs as a whole are more than a few steps behind. It’s not to say that there haven’t been advancements in reliability related technology, there certainly has, the issue seems to be with our adoption rate and integration of these technologies to advance our programs.

Using the figure to the right we can trace the origin of many existing PM and Reliability Programs, however, the trouble is that many existing programs are still stuck somewhere between the green and blue sections (or even as far back as the orange!). There are so many existing technologies that we ought to be leveraging, but in all honesty, are basically just tinkering with or have deployed on a very limited basis including vibration analysis, oil analysis, infrared, ultrasound, motor circuit analysis, and laser alignment, just to name a few. We need to take a hard look at our existing programs and ask ourselves, "Is there a PdM technology that I could be using to find the failure earlier on the P-F curve and minimize the introduction of defects from invasive inspections? Is there a technology I should be leveraging such as laser alignment that will extend the time between when I install/repair the equipment and when the first noticeable defect is detected? Am I certifying defects found with technologies have been properly corrected with the same technologies after repairs are completed?" If you are deploying these technologies what percentage of your assets are currently on a route and have no identifiable defects? It used to be that cost was the entry barrier for many of these technologies but, with advancements and price drops, it’s costing you money NOT to fully embrace them.
To the future!
We’ve harped enough on the present, but what about the future? What does this look like? With emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality, there are some real opportunities to take things like job plans and reliability education to the next level. We’re not too far off from the scene in Back to the Future 2 where “Jaws 19” comes out of the screen and eats Marty. Imagine learning about the inside of a motor when a 3D animated image pops out of a 2D card right on your smart phone. Think this is something from the future? Think again (see image below). Imagine scanning a component on an asset and seeing an overlay of critical job plan steps appear and guide the technician to improve the consistency of how the job is executed....This can be done! Imagine single point lessons on various reliability topics that pop out of an image and can be accessed on demand to refresh concepts or share with others…It’s here!
Change the present, shape the Future!
While I'm still holding out for that sweet hoverboard, I haven't lost sight of what's available today. My fear is that the M and R community will continue to lag behind with the adoption of technology while we ought to be on the cutting edge. It’s very clear that we’re under-utilizing existing technologies and are not embracing new ones quickly enough. With a large influx of Millennial age workers entering the M and R field that grew up and thrive on technology, it would be foolhardy to ignore the power of both existing and emerging opportunities. Don't wait until 2045 to implement things available in 2015.

Now hurry up with that flying car!

 Here is a quick look at Eruditio's Augmented Reliability taken from an iPhone.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Unsustainable Improvement Strategy: Three ways to ensure you fail.

Over more than ten years of consulting and training globally, I have watched a lot of companies spend an incredible amount of money to go after an organizational change in a very unsustainable way. Today's post will list three of the most frustrating and ineffective ways to make unsustainable change. Don't set out with failure as a goal or a likely destination.

Problem #1: Asking consultants to do it all for them. "But it easy to let the "experts" do it"
There are many consultants who will be more than willing to come in and do all of the heavy lifting. Consultants want as many billable hours as possible and taking it all on provides for their goal. Many of them do not drive sustainability, in fact, if it doesn't get sustained then they can come back again in a few years and sell more billable hours to right the ship. Now don't get me wrong, there may be times where you require a hired gun to knock out some elements because of resource constraints, however this should be used with caution and not applied to processes that require much organizational buy-in and change. We know organizational change is hard but it is no different than going to the gym... you can't let someone else lift the weight for you.

Problem #2: Not developing the solution from within. "Why would I develop it when I can just copy someone else?"
There is study after study that shows that the solution is most effective when it is developed from within. Without this ownership of the solution the organization struggles to implement and sustain. Are you suffering from the same issues the site that created the solution was? For example, a long distance runner does not use the same workout plan as a power lifter. Do you have the same culture? Are you at the same maturity, with the same performance gaps? You would not wear a tutu to a tractor pull just because somebody said you needed some clothes. So, don't put on someone else's solution just because it covers some of your important parts. In the end, a solution may share features or best practices but should be developed as part of a journey of self-discovery.

Problem #3: Not learning how to do it themselves. "Just give me the overview, I've got people for that"
If someone else develops it, and someone else implements it, then you don't get the education that is required to sustain it. The overview taught as the implementers are on the way out the door will be completely ineffective. During studies of how adults learn, it has been proven that retention of the material increases substantially when the content is directly applicable to the task at hand. If all of the heavy lifting has been done, then you as a learner have little reason to retain the content that is being delivered to you. Especially, if it is in the form of a 372 power point slide presentation that the guy in the front of the room is reading so he can go on to his next big gig. The best way is to ensure your organization is capable of sustaining the change is through a process where you learn best practices, apply those practices in your facility within the boundaries of processes you develop with the help of others in the organization. It is a bonus, if you can take that journey with a trusted adviser or coach that challenges the decisions you make but does not do it for you. Think of this as a personal trainer. They guide you down a path to success but they do not try to lift the weight for you.

In the end, we want to lift the weight for ourselves (organizational implementation), develop a work out plan that is based on our gaps and goals (facilitated self-discovery of the path and processes) , and work with a trainer to learn what to do and when to do it to get maximum results (learn by doing with coaching). If you implement with these three potential goals, then you will be one step closer to creating a sustainable habit and dodging an incredible improvement fail.