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.