Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top 5 Maintenance and Reliability Acronyms for 2011

As the year comes to a close you begin to see a lot of list. These list cover the top X "somethings" of 2011. They are beginning to show up on the TV, the radio, and the web. In fact, on the way in to the office I heard part of the top 40 pop songs of 2011. With all of these list flying around I could not help but think about the top topics for maintenance and reliability in 2011. I have looked back over conference proceedings, discussion group post, website and blog traffic and have put together a top five acronyms list with a bit of commentary on each.

5. PdM
Predictive Maintenance is one of the maintenance and reliability tools that sites are using more and more in the place of their time based preventive task. This year, as the cost of the technology continue decreasing, more folks are adopting the technologies and wanting to talk about them. I think the key point with PdM is that your work execution process has to be strong or these technologies will just identify a lot more work that you can not get through your planning and scheduling system to execution before it runs to failure.

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems/ Enterprise Asset Management Systems continue to be a big discussion point for many folks as they struggle to get the value and return on investment from these systems. Many folks continue to see the CMMS as the solution instead of the tool that enables good processes to be successful.

3. RCA
Root Cause Analysis has been very popular on this blog this year but I must admit it could be because of my focus on it as a great tool to eliminate reoccurring failures and process losses. I think the one point I would share is this: RCA doesn't have to be complicated but it requires a great deal of follow to get good results.

2. BPR
Business Process Re-engineering is a topic we see and hear most discussed around EAM implementations and LEAN projects. This tool and the process that are associated with it can remove a substantial amount of waste from your work flow. The key element for success is not that different from RCA it requires tremendous follow up and a regiment that includes the change management methodologies and our number one topic for 2011... KPIs.

1. KPI
 Key Performance Indicators or metrics as they are sometimes called have been an intense area of focus this year. They generate lots of interest as sites try to figure out where they are and how they compare to others. The one suggestion I would provide for this topic is the following: Don't compare what you dont understand. Take the time to note how the metrics are calculated and how your methodology differs from others you may be comparing with. Too often I see dissimilar metrics compared and poor discisions made based on the conclusions. If you can standardise on metrics using documents like the SMRP Metrics Compendium that is avalible through then you can remove some of the frustration around metrics and KPIs.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention one topic that does not have an acronym yet but was a major topic of interest in 2011.  That topic was the skills crisis or the departure of the baby boomer generation from the work force. Many of the acronyms above are crutial to capturing this departing knowledge and allowing for its use in the future. The key is to start now.
Reliability Now!

Thank you to all of you who have followed this blog this year and I wish you a Happy New Year

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do you have an "Elf on a Shelf" in Your Facility?

The Elf on a Shelf has become a great behavior modification tool in many households. In ours, all we have to do is point at the little guy and bad behaviors become good.
For those of you who have not experienced the Elf’s power it is all stems from the tradition of a Georgia family who had a small elf that reported the children’s behavior to Santa every night and would come back home and sit in a different location every day. The matron of the family recorded this in story book form and the rest is history. Now kids are controlled by the little cloth elf from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.
Now on to the previous question, do you have an "Elf on a Shelf" in Your Facility? Do you have something that reminds everyone to do the good things every time they see it? The good things may be focusing on improvements you are trying to make around reliability practices, precision maintenance, operational procedures, quality or others. What do you have that keeps these improvements in the mind’s eye of the folks in your site?  Does it reinforce the goals of your business? Some facilities use symbols, slogans, logos and characters. Others use metrics boards, electronic OEE marquees, and other real time metrics displays. I don’t want to argue the merits of the methods, however we do know it is crucial to find ways to remind everyone that the elf is watching and we have to do our best every day to remain competitive in this economy.
So what is the Elf on a Shelf  in your facility?
I would love to hear what has worked for your site and what you would not use again.

Monday, December 19, 2011

10 Things We Learned about Asset Health Management from Domtar

Special joint blog post with the fine folks from the Ludeca Blog:

Domtar Espanola from Ontario, Canada won Uptime Magazine’s Best Asset Health Management Program. Their goal was “Go from Reactive Maintenance to Proactive”.

To achieve this goal, they put together a plan including several proactive actions and PdM technologies integrated with an Asset Performance Management Software which allow them to closely monitor equipment health.

Kim Hunt shared some of their plan elements:
  1. Implement a precision lubrication program and oil analysis
  2. Skills training: Value your staff and empower them with training. From formal training to just watching Reliabilityweb Webinars together and afterwards eating cookies and holding discussions —great for team building!
  3. Size your equipment properly
  4. Use laser alignment and balancing for precise machine rebuilds and installs
  5. Precise operator care
  6. Maintain excellence in housekeeping
  7. Equipment health monitoring. Use predictive tools including vibration analysis to baseline your equipment.
  8. Root cause analysis and problem elimination
  9. Plan and schedule your maintenance activities with effective standard operating procedures
  10. Continuous improvement - you are never done!

What did they accomplish?
21% reduction in maintenance costs
30% increase in production efficiencies
Increased MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure)
A total average savings of US$450,000 per year without increasing actual/potential production loss.

Congratulations to Kim Hunt and her team for this award and a job well done.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Don’t Start Up In a Bad Way: Five Ways to Limit the Creation of a Reactive Culture in New Facility Startup.

New facilities by nature can be reactive. Reactive behavior when it comes to reliability and maintenance is expensive. Our goal should be to be proactive in identifying risk and mitigating or eliminating it before we have to react. When you bring a new plant online there are many things that can drive the culture to be reactive. I have listed a few below:
  •          Poor start up planning and procedures
  •          The presence of excessive amounts of infant mortality type failure modes
  •          Equipment delivery delays
  •          Stocking of incorrect spare parts
  •          EPC contractor ineffectiveness
  •          EPC contract language that does not insure correct function of the assets
  •          No existing culture in the new facility while there is an influx of new employees from different cultures including other highly reactive companies.
With all of these reasons as well as others, it is no wonder that green field sites find themselves working to overcome a reactive culture, low production rates, and high cost. In order to limit the creation of this situation I have listed five way to turn the tide in favor of a proactive culture.
  1. Start early creating the business processes which will help to create the new culture. When you on board new associates being able to show them how work will be done and train them in the use of proactive tools is critical. This will allow them to change their existing paradigms where required and give you a head start on the culture that is required for maximum return on investment.
  2. Build the business processes based off of the best facilities in the world not just the best facilities in your division or company. Reach out with your early hire team and benchmark with an eye on being the best in the world within the constraints of your facilities business case.
  3. Create failure mode based maintenance strategies using the equipment vendors, EPC, associates as they are brought onboard, the operating context specific to your facility, and tools like RAM, RCM, and FMEA. If this step is done correctly then it will reduce spare parts stocking levels, equipment failures, and poor procedures which will increase early production and profitability.
  4. Budget for new associates to visit sister plants if they exist. The goal here is to ensure that they can have open dialogue with others who live with the assets on a daily basis. They should be looking to get hands on training, learn common problems, identify changes that have been made since start-up of the assets as well as other tidbits that will facilitate their site producing record tonnage the first year.
  5. Fully populate your EAM or CMMS from the start with all of the assets, spare parts, drawings, and failure codes as provided by the vendors per your contractual request.
I hope these five items offer some help on new plant or new asset start up and if you would like to learn more about the elements of a good start up then reach out to me via email and I will provide you with a look at our R5 launch methodology for new facilities.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Looking to the Outside for a Better Mousetrap

Many manufactures and for that matter companies in general have a hard time identifying with others good practices or using better technologies that was not "created here." Don't get me wrong from a change management, implementation, and adoption stand point things that are created or discovered from within can get great marks and a good return on investment. The problem is when your organization is so dead set on internal creation that you miss better technologies or lower cost solutions that could deliver the same results. For example, if you are developing a production down time tracking system, you could have your local Microsoft Access wiz build an application to collect the data and report out the metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) but after you implement that system who will maintain it, update it, and who will support it when it does not work quite right with new equipment. This is an example of where a readily available tool that could be bought right off the shelf at a lower total life cycle cost, but if you never look outside you would not know it is there. Another example is centered around benchmarking. I see so many, who participate in benchmarking, limit themselves to just "their industry." They either do not have any idea what other industries are doing or think it is just "too different." I see this blight in certain industry segments where sites talk about how good they are compared to sister plants. Unfortunately, when you take a deeper look you realize they may be better than the sister plants but they are still underrated when compared to world class facilities from other verticals or my father says " they are the best of a sorry lot." Don't limit your performance by locking yourself in an artificial box. Look outside and use what works where it makes since and remember just because it is different does not mean it will not work for you. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just Trust Me: "Reliability Rocks"

Just trust me "Reliability Rocks"... if only it were that easy. How do you describe it if you have never seen it and lived it? How do you sell it to your team?
The first two steps of the change process according to the Prosci organization and their ADKAR model is creating awareness and desire. It can be very hard to complete these steps if you have never seen or lived in the world you are aspiring to reach. It is a bit like asking someone who has never seen a pineapple to tell others how good the rough spiny fruit is to eat. It is nearly impossible to describe and if you can it is doubtful you will be able to convey it with the passion and energy that is require to kick start desire in others for the new thing.
When I describe a facility that I have spent considerable time in that has the ability to plan for the whole maintenance staff to leave at three on a Friday for a facility fishing tournament most just can not fathom this reality within their reactive world of firefighting. About the only thing these reactive sites can plan and predict is that important equipment will break down on Friday afternoons and Saturday nights. That is their paradigm. It is the reality of their world. This new world is so foreign and so different it is just not a place they can understand, yet.
The best way to create the desire is to show people what it is like to live in the new state. A part of your organization may be able to do this by visiting another site that has made it further along the road to reliability but it is doubtfully that you can take everyone. For the balance of your facility you should define an area that will embody as many as possible of the characteristics of reliability. This is your pilot area. You select this area with a mind for demonstrating gains and successes in a visual way so as to create desire from the rest of the facility. You need to pick a progressive area that has both early adopters that will help pull the change forward but also folks that will sustain the new process and ensure long term success. 

This area is your pineapple. You can show it to the balance of the facility so that they can see what it looks like and allow them to visualize the fruits of the labor of change. The people that lead this pilot area to success can then become your gurus that propel the change forward in other parts of the facility and coach others to the success they have experienced based on what they have seen. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seven Reasons Why Your RCA is Not Getting Results

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) can be a very powerful tool for eliminating defects and increasing efficiency and profits. I have notice seven common pitfalls that prevent practitioners from getting maximum value from their RCA efforts. Below is a brief look at each of them.

1. Not digging deep enough into the problem.
This manifest itself as either getting stuck on the physical causes which leads to replacing a lot of parts and solving the symptoms but not the true problem or even worse the human cause where it becomes an exercise in blame analysis. A gentleman by the name of Deming addressed this when he said "Blame the system not the people" The system or systemic cause allows for many if not all of the human mistakes to exist. If you want to learn more about the levels of root cause then check out this post.

2. Too many root cause investigations per month because the process triggers that kick off an investigation are too low.
The triggers can be set up to work off of a certain amount of downtime or cost or lost production or safety etc. or a combination of multiple elements but they should be set up to change as you mature into RCA. If you have the triggers set too low or if you are relying on management to ask for the investigation then you could have too many RCAs investigations and reports to complete each month. It is also important not to forget that for every RCA there is multiple action items that must be assigned, completed and verified. Can your systems and resources support that if you are busy generating RCA reports every time the wind blows.

3. Too much time spent on the report and not enough time spent on the implementation and follow up.
I am sure very few of you work for company that make RCA reports as a product. My guess is your  company probably makes wigits and walumps and in the end a three pound final report does not add anything to the bottom line or any more margin on your widgets. Please remember the company is not paid by the pound of report, we are paid by the solution and the return on investment we generates.I have a one page report that I will share with you as a model for your reports if you send me an email

4. Lack of solid well understood and applicable tools and process.
 Many sites have one side of this coin or the other and it is a major distraction. One site I visited in Brazil had great processes for problem identification and prioritization but the reliability engineers were using five whys as their only tool and were really missing the returns that they could have had.  Another site had a great selection of tools to help understand the causes of the problem but their "corporate" RCA process had not been accepted and implemented. This lead to great findings and solutions but no way to ensure that they were ever implemented or if they truly solved the problem.

5. Don't ask the right question and you will miss major causal chains.
To help to mitigate this one use some thing like design and application review and follow up with change analysis to perfect your questions before you start your in-depth investigation and interviews. If you do this correctly you reduce the amount of time you will spend stopping and gather additional data during the analysis phase.

6. Findings and solutions are not verified to ensure that they effectively eliminated the original problem.
When this step is done correctly the site uses quantifiable metrics to measure the solutions that were identified and they are done at intervals that verify a sustainable long term solution.

7. Neglect to put focus on ensuring the best return on investment.
If you use the correct tools and you dig down into the problem you should be left with multiple possibilities for resolution of the problem. Once you have this identified you can evaluate the cost to implement and the effectiveness of the solution to see which action or combination of actions gives you the best overall return on the problem. In the end we change our thinking on analysis and it becomes  less about finding "root cause" and more about finding the most effective and lowest cost mitigation or elimination strategy.

After reading through these seven common causes of "root cause failure" I hope you recognized a few and can eliminate them from taking the profits out of your process.

If you have question about any of these please feel free to send me an email.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Four Reasons Why Your Alphabet Soup Wont Work

We the manufactures, live in a world of alphabet soup. Some of the letters you face may come from programs known as RCM, RCA, TPM, TQM, R5, 5S, 6∑ or Lean. If that is not enough, you can talk about PM, PdM, CBM, CMMS, EAM, FMEA and FRACAS. Any one (or all) of these may be being implemented in your facility right now.
All of these letters represent ideas and concepts that can have great value for your facility. The four problems I see that most plague the value of these implementations are as follows:

1. Non-existent Site Level Master Plan. You need more than just a project plan. You need a plan that takes into account all of the initiatives and all of the resources your site has to offer. It should look at sequencing and insure that the foundation is strong before you move on to higher level challenges.

2. Corporate ADD. If your organization loses your focus on the goal of the initiative before you can progress through the “Valley of Despair” then you cannot expect to get the positive return the project promised. Learn more here.

3. Lack of Partnerships between Operations and Maintenance. You have to share the implementation pain, the metrics, and the reward. Check out this blog entry for more information

4. Poor metric use where metrics drive opposing behaviors in different parts of the plant. To see a past post on this one check out here.

Addressing these issues and taking the time to do a risk analysis on others should help your site address the common inhibitors and get you well on your way to your own success over the alphabet soup.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Somebody's Fault Tree" The Ultimate Guide to Playing the RCA Blame Game

If this chart would be useful for you or it looks like your group has mastered it already you may be caught in the Blame Game. You need to help your organization to push on past what we know as the human roots and on to the systemic and latent causes. Deming said it best when he said "blame the system not the people." In order to get past this issue you also may want to use the Root Cause of Success process to focus on the positive things and get past the blame. There is a blog post Root Cause of Success that describes it more fully.