Monday, August 30, 2010

Eliminating the Dog Fight over Reliability

I often hear clients tell stories of the culture of their plant. They use words and phrases like “constant battle”, “eternal struggle”, and even occasionally it has been described as a “dog fight.”
When I ask why they tell me that operation “does not understand reliability” or operations thinks their job is to break it and maintenance will fix it. When I talk with operations they tell me maintenance will not respond fast enough and that they never want to leave the shop. Both sides go on and on but I think you get the point.
Interestingly, when we look at the differences between best practice facilities with a high level of reliability maturity and the dog fight facilities you notice that the mature facilities function more as a cohesive team. Below are a couple of the reasons that I believe drive this difference in behavior.
The first practice I have identified is a combined shared set of goals driven from the top and cascaded down through the organization. In the more mature facilities you find that they have removed the silos that divide the organization and have a common set of goals. Operations and maintenance are accountable for metrics like Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and also metrics like Preventive Maintenance (PM) compliance and Maintenance Cost. They understand the impact of each and they manage them together based on the business. In facilities with a disconnect you find sub-optimization. Maintenance may look to lower maintenance cost at the expense of production or production may skip preventive maintenance to “increase uptime.” This just fuels the dog fight.
The second is a partnership agreement. This is a key exercise that opens eyes on both sides. Many folks don’t understand the needs of the other parts of the organization. When they work through the partnership agreements they identify the needs of each group and develop a plan to insure they are met. Operations will discuss their expectations for the equipment in the area from a reliability and throughput standpoint and maintenance will use this information to build effective maintenance strategies that can deliver under those conditions. If the operating context changes the two groups have the partnership agreement as a path of communication. As the group works through the exercise they have “discoveries” such as operations and the operators learn that maintenance needs their input and even their help so they should stay with the equipment during breakdowns. Maintenance learns the importance of certain assets to the livelihood of the plant and what expectations the process puts on them. I have seen many reoccurring problems identified and resolved just within the dialogue that occurs while creating the partnership agreement.
In the end if you want to spray the cold water on your facility’s dog fight you need to focus on shared goals and complete understanding between the groups. This will tear down silos and make coming to work a better experience for everyone.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How to Beat the RCA Out of Your Facility

Here are three ways you can insure that Root Cause Analysis (RCA) will never deliver results in your facility. I have seen these in action and they are quite effective.
1.    Use it as a stick. In other words use it to punish the people involved in the incident without looking for the latent or systemic issues that allowed them to make the poor choices. (Exceptions given for safety but only after detail analysis) Remember what Deming tells us: “Blame the system not the people”
2.    Don’t create RCA triggers. Just request an RCA when it feels right. This one causes people to forget to request RCAs or request too many at once. When you request too many the action of creating many RCA reports gets in the way of implementing the findings and insuring results. Take the time to decide what criteria should warrant an investigation and to what level the investigation should go. Once you decide what criteria then set the triggers so that you get a manageable amount of RCA investigations each month. Start off with one or two RCAs per month per team or area until they are comfortable with the process and then lower the threshold increasing the number as they become more comfortable with the process.
3.    Spend lots of time making a pretty and incredibly detailed RCA report documents that will impress everyone with their bulk. Reports don’t solve problems they only communicate them. The are not sold by the pound. They should be concise, preferably fitting on one A3 size sheet of paper.  I have a template for this if you send me an email. Spend your time implementing the findings and verifying that you got the results you expected.
Can you think of other ways that you have seen the RCA culture beat out of your facility?