Monday, December 20, 2010

What Can We Learn From Santa’s Very Reliable Workshop? Part 3 Bubba Claus

Bubba Claus and the South Pole Crew

I am not sure if you have heard the story, but Santa Claus is the younger of two brothers. They have been polar opposites from the begaining. Whereas Santa likes to plan out his year and continuously sets goals to improve each year’s performance Bubba is more of a go with the flow kind of guy. Santa operates an environmentally friendly village that produces toys and Bubba runs a broken down factory that produces mostly smog.

global warming

Bubba is always looking for the silver bullet that will make him as popular as his brother but without all the hard work. He has yet to make a single Christmas delivery on time. Bubba is quite vocal about how he thinks things should be done. Below are his thoughts on reliability and possibly the reason you will not find him in a single children’s book.

Proper planning and scheduling

“A plan just gets in the way of getting things done…… In fact, while you school boys were planning, me and the elf tore it down and fixed this thing up again”

Precise problem solving

“I don’t care why the toys are missing their wheels. Just get it back up and running. We don’t have time to go root’n around”

Perfected Procedures

“Procedures are for people who are just too dumb to do it right”

Proactive Maintenance Techniques

“I don’t care if its vibratin’ just throw some weight on it so it doesn’t come off the mounts.”

Precision Maintenance

“You want tools for precision maintenance fine…. here’s your hammer”

Performance improvement plans

“I have been doing it this way for 300 years why should I change now”


“Metrics are for people that have time to measure… round here we got work to do”

Now as you read through them I bet you might recognize some of the Bubba Claus traits in your own workshop. If so, a good plan and a bit of education could be a good place to start well... once the mad rush to Christmas is over in your village.

Happy Holidays to you from Reliability Now and we wish you a Reliable New Year

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What Can We Learn from Santa's Very Reliable Workshop? Part 2

Now even though I have traveled to many frozen tundras and worked in facilities around the Arctic Circle, I could not get invited for a plant tour of Santa’s workshop and maintenance facilities. Some might say it is because I’m on the naughty list but I am sure that is not the case. However if you read through the statistics in post one in this series I would doubt you would argue that Ole Saint Nick runs a world class organization. So let us take a look at what one would likely see in the North Pole.

First to insure up time on the sleigh, the little guys have developed a full EMP (Elf Maintenance Plan) that includes well planned and scheduled off season outages for Santa’s critical delivery vehicle. The work list for these outages is based on data collected from the online condition based maintenance system and down linked via the Allied TS-1 in real time to their North Pole CBM analysis lab (see elf at work below). This allows for the sleigh to perform at its peak and eliminates the need for preventive maintenance stops and lost time during the big night. Prior to this development, they had to carry a full preventive maintenance team onboard to service the vehicle after every seven hundred landings but with the constantly increasing delivery demands and lack of space on board that was no longer an option.

Large computer server farms were built to process the ever growing “naughty and nice” list and to increase processor utilization they also capture all of the condition reports and failure history for the sled and the toy production lines. The data is stored in the EAM (Elf’n Asset Management) System where equipment health is monitored and potential issues are flagged for further study. A little known fact about the elf population is that they absolutely love root cause analysis (RCA). In fact, they say it calms their nerves after a long day of toy making. So, all of the EAM and FRACAS information is made available for their off time enjoyment. Problems are solved and corrective actions are tracked to completion. The solutions are verified using the metrics and balanced score card that Santa put in place a few years back.

With the aging workforce, the big elf relies on the EAM to “remember” both procedures and the details needed for precision maintenance. This allows all elves to focus on the task at hand and not spend their time trying to recall torque specs for the bear stuffer’s fluff puffer.

As part of the continuous improvement process 5S and Kanban and many other tools are being implemented and all of the improvement opportunities and activities that the EIT (elf improvement team) identify are prioritized with leadership support and included in the yearly performance improvement plan. Remember the customer base is growing by a billion every twelve years so continuous improvement is not optional in the fast growing world of overnight package delivery.

Now we could spend days looking at the best practices contained in the NPOP2 (North Pole Operational Procedures 2) manual but I think you get the idea. Santa and his team of elves focus on defect prevention and elimination through:

Proper planning and scheduling

Precise problem solving

Perfected Procedures

Proactive Maintenance Techniques

Precision Maintenance

Performance improvement plans

and it is all monitored through proper use of metrics.

Tomorrow we will look at the other Claus and see how they run things down south but until then think about your site. Have you considered these areas for your 2011 performance improvement plan?

Monday, December 13, 2010

What Can We Learn From Santa’s Very Reliable Workshop? Part 1

First let’s take a look at the facts:

Santa’s workshop has never missed a shipment and delivers all its product in one night. Santa’s delivery vehicle has never had a break down and his workshop has never seen an outage that jeopardized that delivery.

Santa’s workshop has 100% quality record…

Santa’s customer base is constantly growing with the population (1 billion in 1804 and 7 billion in 2011). Assuming that 30 percent of the population is under 14 years of age and each child receives on average 3 gifts then Santa’s staff is producing approximately 6.3 million complex toys per year with simple machines and manual labor.

Santa’s workforce is aging and in some cases is quite old.

Access to new equipment is limited as it has to be built in house due to his lock-tight non-disclosure agreement

Santa’s workforce is extremely limited due to remote location and elf breeding patterns.

Weather is always an issue in the Arctic.

Now that you have the situation and you have compared it to your own, Next we will look at what he has done to insure success. Click here to jump to the next entry.