Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Are Your Reliability Efforts Haunted by the Lack of an Effective Plan?

So many facilities struggle with timely results and expected return on investments within their reliability improvement efforts. One of the demons that continuously shows it's face is the sequencing within the improvement plan.
Sites tend to want to pursue the exciting and fun things and forget many of the foundational elements that support the shiny stuff.  For example a site will purchase technology in the form of software or predictive tools before developing work flow process. Without understanding the work management process you don't have the data needed for the software to analyze nor the ability to execute the work identified with the predictive tools. This just leads to the exciting new tools being underutilized and then eventually put on a shelf to gather dust.
When you are looking at your initiative and planning your strategy, take a look at what is required to support the pieces that you desire. Be honest about your maturity in these support elements and build your base before your tower. Towers are great to look at and show others but foundations are where a smart man spends his time.
Some of the common issues I see include:

  1. Scheduling work without planning first. How can you have an accurate schedule when you have not had a planner break down the job into small enough parts to accurately estimate time required?
  2. Predictive tools applied without work process to execute the findings prior to point F on the P-F curve.
  3. Software such as EAM and CMMS without standard work process to make them work.
  4. Software for engineering analysis without data from FRACAS or failure coding to input for analysis. 
  5. Initiatives like lean and six sigma applied before with maintenance induced variation and waste is reduced. 
  6. Reliability engineering tools applied before maintenance engineering tools. When you have a pure reliability engineer working on the future in a fully reactive facility it becomes a lot like rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. You need the maintenance engineer to introduce procedures, precision maintenance and failure mode based maintenance to stop the the sinking and then we can focus on the next cruise. 
If you want to keep the gremlins out of your improvement strategy then focus on the processes first then apply the tools, software and shiny stuff.

Monday, October 22, 2012

SMRP Annual Conference Recap

The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP) 20th Annual Conference was last week in Orlando and I thought I would take a few minutes to share the highlights as I saw them.
Attendance was great with over 900 people from all over the world at a great venue that provided for networking and learning with over 70 industry papers presented.
Disney Institute provided a seminar on Business Excellence. Supplier members provided many other pre and post conference workshops which were well attended and from what I saw very well presented.
The tours were great. I was able to attend a behind the scenes maintenance tour at Universal Studios that was very informative and entertaining. The group rode the Spiderman ride and then went into the maintenance shop to see the ride equipment and witness the maintenance testing of the assets we had just ridden on. They wrapped up the night with a great dinner and a presentation of all the fine work they are doing to improve reliability and the experience for the customer.
In one of the conference tracks SMRP had two panels of past SMRP chairmen that provided thoughts on all facets of the organization and the industry. They spoke at length on topics like the upcoming ISO-55000 standard and the industry skills crisis.

Many SMRP benefits were featured included:
Creation of 3 Special Interest Groups: Oil, Gas and PetroChem, Reliability Analytics and Pharma & Biotech. It looks like a few others are on the horizon
Continuation of 18 local chapters. Is there one near you?
Award winning Solutions Magazine
Free Regional Workshops
SMRP Metrics Compendium 
SMRP Bench Marking Survey
CMRT and CMRP certifications are provided to allow member to demonstrate their skills
Past year Conference Proceedings are now available to members

Last but certainly not least the new board of directors was elected and I have the honor of serving as the Chairman for the next year.
It was a great week spent with an incredibly passionate group of reliability professionals. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I'm A Change Manager... But Do Not Ask Me To Change. Part 3 in a 3 Part Series: Duck Hunt

Communication is key, but we have all heard that before. That in its self is not news. But the element that I see missing from many change initiatives is the plan. So maybe it should be "Communication planning is key." If you are trying to create change in the organization and you do not have a communication plan then your communication may be ad hoc and ineffective.
It would be much like going on a duck hunt with a rifle. You would make a lot of noise but the chances of success are unnecessarily low. You need a distributed plan that like a shotgun blast approaches the problem in multiple ways and increases the chances of success.
If you completed the FMEA of your project  (from the last blog) and you have your list of ways the project could fail and the causes associated with those failures then many of those can be addressed in your communication plan.
The plan should include the following things:
  • Items to be communicated (Goal of communication element)
  • Audience (Who needs to hear or see the message?)
  • Time frame and number of iterations (When does it get sent?)
  • Media (How does it get sent?)
  • Person responsible to create (Who?)
  • Person responsible to deliver (Who?)
The other key thing to think about when developing your communication plan is striking the right balance of broadcast and two way dialogue around the messages. Two way is the most effective form of communication, however it is not always efficient. Email blast to the complete population is very efficient but not very effective. You have to find a balance of both.
In the end you need to think about the messages and the points you want to communicate and then craft a plan that has repetition of the message in multiple medias for extended periods of time to ensure the highest level of penetration and understanding.
Happy Hunting!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm A Change Manager... But Do Not Ask Me To Change. Part 2 in a 3 Part Series

 In this post we will focus on risk  management for the change effort. Since many of you are maintenance and reliability engineering type folks I would suggest that you use you failure modes effects analysis (FMEA) tools to look at the change you are trying to make. Think about what the function or goal of the change is. Next you would think about the ways your change or initiative could fail to meet its function. Then think about what might go wrong that could cause each of the failures. Once you have completed that step you can look at what you are currently doing to prevent the failure. Then you could apply a ranking like risk priority number (RPN) to bring the high risk modes of project failure to the top of the list. RPN is assigned based on three factors multiplied together: severity for the failure times the probability of occurrence times the chances of detection prior to failure.  These are all on a ten point scale. Once this is done then you can look at the high risk elements and create communication and project strategies that will lower the risk in one of the three factors of RPN. If you take this step then you will be ready for next week’s blog which will dive into the communication strategy. If you would like to see past blogs on this subject then click here.