Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Reliability Engineering: Glorious Work or Laborious Work?

When you think of reliability engineering, especially in manufacturing, does your mind conjure up images of the glorious work of a Reliability Rockstar or the laborious work of the forgotten few? I think we all wish, at least sometimes, our day included marching as the Grand Marshall in the Uptime Parade followed by an afternoon writing your acceptance speech for the CMRP of the Year Award; but that really just is not the case. While becoming a reliability engineer or reliability technician is a very rewarding career, it takes a lot of hard work and does not come with a lot of trumpets and fanfare. Let's face it, if you do your job perfectly, then nothing happens... the equipment just runs, the plant just produces, and technicians and craftsmen just execute planned and scheduled work. It is calm; firefighting is at a minimum. Life is dare we say boring. So how do you get here? You have to start with the basics and facilitate your site completing tasks like building hierarchy, collecting name plate data and then determining asset criticality. This is definitely laborious work, but it has to be done and done right. This information is the foundation on which all future reliability engineering work will build. How can you collect meaningful Mean Time Between Failure data if you don't have a hierarchy or know what assets are where? Next, you need to take the hierarchy and criticality and use that to identify high risk areas and equipment. Then, begin to create asset management plans that are based on the actual failure modes not the bloated OEM PM documentation. You can do this by using anyone of the Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) methodologies or even just a failure modes effects analysis (FMEA). Again, this is laborious and even a bit tedious, but this has to be done and you might as well be the one to get it rolling. Once we know how the equipment fails, we can now apply the more glorious tools of Predictive Maintenance (PdM). But, if you jump here first without the other steps, you will find yourself an under achiever at best and a money wasting good for nothing gadget guy at worst. Once you get to this stage, you now ready to think about many of the more advanced rock star statistics tools, loss elimination, and RAM modeling. All of these work best when you have good solid data collected to the hierarchy within your Enterprise Asset Management Systems (EAM) and a process that demonstrates stability. With this level of focus and data, you can make the fine adjustments needed to really help the assets perform at rock star levels; then you can practice your glorious parade wave.    

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Technical Subject Matter Expert Facilitating Your RCA? Stop It.

What is the number one thing that all technical subject matter experts possess besides large amounts of knowledge?
Opinions... followed by years of past history and possibly preconceived notions.
What makes them great as contributing RCA team members for problem solving, can be kryptonite to them as facilitators. Their history and expertise leads to three possible problems when they lead or facilitate an investigation:
1. They take the team down a road to their favorite conclusion that may or may not be based on all the facts discovered.
2. They are so respected as SMEs that no one will challenge their thinking or ideas with new ones.
3. They can be blind to facts that don't fit their paradigms.
Some offer an opinion from the leaders chair and then it is a race to prove that they are right. Don't get me wrong, there are extraordinary folks out there but, in general, most SMEs struggle with these problems when asked to facilitate an RCA. So why put them in this situation. Let a leader lead and an SME provide knowledge in a facilitated manner.
A good facilitator tries to create an environment where everyone on the team is providing ideas and input. They are not ignoring any of the facts even if they are inconvenient and they are working to drive the team to consider all the possibilities and solutions. Not every problem will be solved with an answer from the past, so facilitation becomes important to draw out these new, more effective solutions.
My experience says to separate the roles and have others from different parts of the organization facilitate. Then you can instantly watch your root cause analysis teams drive more failures from your site at a lower total cost of implementation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Simple Demonstration of How Business Process Re-Engineering Really Works

So I noticed recently that my personal morning routine had some waste in the process. If I could remove this waste I could sleep longer and still make it to work on time. That was enough motivation to get me started. I was going to re-engineer my morning process. I studied the current or "as is" process and found that the time waste was only just over a minute. But, when you think about the fact that this waste was part of a daily routine the minutes added up to 6 hours of waste in my life every year. I saw this as 6 more hours of sleep annually. I found that to be an amazing discovery so I set off to remove the issues from the process. As part of my current process I shaved prior to brushing my teeth. The problem with this was that I had to wait for the water to warm up before shaving. Cold water causes an off quality shave and is a safety issue with a blade. This delay also included a waste of natural resources namely off temperature water.  By remapping my morning process to include brushing my teeth while the water warmed up and before I shaved, I made use of the off quality (cold) water and did not have the associated idle time. While I brushed my teeth the water would warm for the shave. I tested and verified that the new process was effective and made it my target or "to be" process. Now I only had to ingrain the change into my lifestyle. Change management and visual reminders were important because at 6 AM I am not always at the top of my game. I found myself falling back into the old way without the reinforcing elements. Over time it became the way of doing my morning and the reinforcing systems were no longer as important and could be relaxed or removed. The changed state was now the new current state.
If you think about your processes at home or your business processes at work, you travel through this same re-engineering process. First you look at the "as is" process and identify what does not work. You find a motivator for the effort required. Then you re-engineer and remove the non-value added steps creating the "to be" process. Next you put in place reinforcing systems like metrics and that drives the change in behavior to get the value from the new process.

That is Business Process Re-engineering simplified!

Monday, August 3, 2015

10 Quotes That Could Mean Your Maintenance Program is Not Quite Best Practice

The following are ten quotes I have heard over the years that might not speak well of your maintenance and reliability efforts or the culture that has been created. The question is have you heard any of these in your facility? What did you do?

"I don't need a vibration analyzer, I use a screw driver and my ear."
"Prebreak is a thing. You can not go to break with dirty hands"
"The way we do it now is obviously the best way... Obviously, or we would not do it that way."
"A hammer is a precision maintenance tool and a knife is an acceptable screwdriver"
"Grease is grease and oil is oil"
"Is this an interruption? My break clock restarts with any interruptions"
"My maintenance jobs expand and contract to fit the job estimates. Tell me how long you want it to take"
"Our maintenance guys come in pairs and sometimes coveys regardless of the size and scope of the job"
"Our maintenance guys know the best gossip because we send them back and forth over and over for parts and tools and they see and talk with everyone."
"Yea we have predictive maintenance tools they are on the shelf in the office" under a coating of dust.

Please share you favorites below in the comments... Do not be shy we know the quote came from another plant not the one you work in now.

If you want to change the culture of your facility check out these post by clicking here!