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Raul Martins

You are a new maintenance manager in a large, ageing industrial plant that is very much in a reactive maintenance mode. What would be your strategy to deal with situation?

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Hello everyone!

For this week's topic, I would like to create a hypothetical situation and push ourselves to discuss and suggest different ways to sort it out. Our goal is to share different perspectives for a single problem based on our experience and knowledge.

Basically, "You are a new maintenance manager in a large, ageing industrial plant that is very much in a reactive maintenance mode with a lot of breakdowns, high costs, poor productivity and pretty low morale. What would be your strategy to deal with this situation?"

However, you have the following restrictions:

  • You are about to go over budget, so spending the rest of your money carefully is a must;
  • The Human Resources manager just sent you an email saying that you cannot hire more staff;
  • A new customer just closed a deal with your company, ordering a challenging production for the next months.
 

Don’t forget of telling us your strategy, as well as why you think this would be a good way to tackle these issues, as this is one of the best ways to understand different perspectives and to develop our knowledge!

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Buenos días 

Debes de realizar un análisis de criticidad nuevamente sobre los equipos para que sepas orientar y destinar bien los recursos limitados que te ofrece la compañía. Una vez que sepas cuáles son los equipos críticos , revisa las estrategias de mantenimiento a través de PMO o AMFE. A este punto no recomiendo RCM por el tiempo y costo. Previo a esto realiza tu análisis RAM para fijar tu disponibilidad, confiabilidad y mantenibilidad con el objetivo de asegurarla a través de la técnicas ya dicha.

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Show some leadership first, insist on performance of some essentials and use reliability to give you some revenue generation opportunities. Costs can be brought down later with better maintenance practices, but quick wins (needed for production) will come from asset reliability.

You need to spend some money to help your people understand what "good" looks like - clearly you are walking into a situation where they do not. Keep that training fairly high level (overview) and get their ideas about what needs to change. Asking them for their input will help morale and begin a shift in attitude. Using those ideas you can build a longer term improvement plan. Costs are not important at this point so demonstrate you care by investing a small amount in training.

You need to up your game on production and that means increased reliability to get out of break-down mode. Your people are used to break then fix, and they need to know there is a better way - training! Some quick wins will come from bad actors using root cause analysis methods. Those enable increased production and revenue generation - your budget shouldn't be touched if you pick the ones that are causing the most downtime. There's no need to get fancy - use 5 why's and make sure you can prove the answers you get with some form of evidence. Success with those will give some breathing room to get more of your workforce doing proactive maintenance.

If you have a PM program - follow it. If you don't, then you need one - see Appendix C in my book, "Uptime - Strategies for Excellence in Maintenance Management" (3rd edition). If necessary put dedicate some of your people to those PMs (e.g.: an oiler or lube tech),

Get your planners planning - not supervising and not chasing parts. Use your MRO support people (Supply chain) to get what the plans say is needed. Don't schedule work without all the parts available. 

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I agree with all what UptimeJim has said and would like to add a few more thoughts:

 I.     FOCUS ON THE BASICS & STAGE

It is crucial to start with the basics and focus on Wildly Important Goals (see e.g. https://www.franklincovey.com/Solutions/Execution/4-disciplines.html).

You may want to use some assessment tools to help you prioritize the steps.

Terry Wireman puts it very nicely in several of his books that the Preventive Maintenance Program should be a fundament, enabling all other methodologies to be built upon. Wireman’s maintenance management pyramid is also useful for that purpose. The staging of the maintenance processes improvements needs to be realistic and well managed. Some suggested steps to start with:

·        Develop a PM program, or refine the existing one using a simplified risk matrix, “bad actor” Pareto analysis etc.

·        When the PM tasks are updated, cleaned up and put into the CMMS work on planning and scheduling.

·        Strongly focus on concise Work Ordering Process. There are at least three good reasons for that: firstly, a WO should define and enable control of LOTOTO and HSE requirements, and, secondly, a WO is a key information vehicle in maintenance. Without a good history, it is hard to make any analyses, KPI calculation and tracking etc. In many cases, WO can provide useful inputs for RCAs. Thirdly, only a solid WO process enables the right prioritization and gatekeeping which also affect reliability.

·        As RCA/defect elimination comes to play, together with all the lessons learned from the WO execution, the feedback loop/continual improvement goes back to the PM program and so on.

In many cases it is advisable that improving housekeeping practices in parallel with the above gives an additional signal that the change is real and can be one of the quick wins. The fact of the matter is that the plants with poor maintenance very often show poor housekeeping practices.

 II.               PREPARE A BUSINESS CASE

Without a solid Business Case or at least a good Cost-Benefit Analysis “showing the money” to the Board, maintenance remains perceived as a pure cost generator – instead of becoming a value adder in an organization. And it is hard to expect proper sponsoring of top-level executives if they do not recognize the economic outcomes.

Some good and useful concepts can be found in a book Value Driven Maintenance:  https://www.mainnovation.com/vdm-xl/.

 III.              MANAGE CHANGE

Way too many maintenance managers have never had a chance to receive training in Change Management. True, they are not expected to be solely responsible for CM in this kind of projects. But without their understanding of the need for CM, of its principles and without factoring them into the implementation of new methodologies of maintenance management, the chances for success are very slim.

Many improvement projects in maintenance requiring changes in the way people do the work do not get fully implemented and/or are not delivering the expected outcomes. A common denominator for most of them seems to be the lack of CM.

Lots of useful CM resources and training can be found at https://www.prosci.com/ 

 

 

 

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Hello @Braycher!

It is great to see that we have people from many different countries at Road to Reliability! I am of the view that multiculturalism and different ideas can build really solid bridges!

However, in order to help the other members of the community that do not speak Spanish to understand your perspective and ideas, would you mind of translating your post to English?

Regards,


Raul Martins

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Hi @UptimeJim,

Great post! I totally agree with your point of view.

As Richard Branson says "Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want to.", I believe leaders need to budget money for trainning and development of their teams. It is one of the best ways to increase morale, as well as results.

In terms of bad actors and PM program, I have seen many different strategies to try to tackle failures and poor PM program attendance. You said that dedicating people may be an option, so what do you think of splitting your team in three small ones. For instance:

Reactive Team - as this plant works in a reactive mode, you would have to deal with both preventive and reactive maintenance in the begining. For that reason, dedicating part of your technicians on reactive maintenance;

Preventive Team - in order to follow your PM, other technicians would be fully dedicated to preventive maintenance and some small improvements in order to reduce unplanned breakdowns. Once you have improved your results, you start bringing people from the reactive team to the preventive team;

Improvement Team - dedicating engineers and one or two technicians to focus on bad actors. This team would focus only on avoiding big losses caused by your bad actores using different Reliability techniques, from 5 why to FTA.

How do you think this strategy would perform?

 

Regards,

Raul Martins

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Hi @Andrej,

Excellent points! Here are my comments:

I - Focus on the basics & stage: doing the basics properly plays a crucial role in order to achieving positive results. If they are not done as they should, everything else will not bring the desirable results, even you use FTA to eliminate defects or if you use RAM analysis to simulate different scenarios so that you could find improvement opportunities. In terms of WO, I have seen many orders lacking information for the team, especially tools and specifc details related to the task. I believe this happens mainly for poor training and knowledge management, as experienced employees find new jobs or simply retire, while the no one has been prepared to get their position. What other factors could cause this poor WO information? 

II - Prepare a Business Case: I totally agree. Seeing maintenance from a business perspective and selling it to the board is key to have some support from them. I did not know the book you mentioned, but it seems to be a great source. I just added on my next books list. @Erik Hupje also wrote an incredible article about "How to sell Planning and Scheduling to your CEO and realise a massive productivity improvement".

III - Manage change: Once again, as you and @UptimeJim have said, training is crucial. Many maintenance professions were not trained properly on management of change and for that reason that see it as just another paperwork that will not bring consistent results; however, having a consistent MOC process implemented is a must in order to achieve greater results. Some of the consequences of not having such process working properly is relying on experienced professionals that may resign, retire, or simply go on holidays, which ends up in confusion and bigger MTTR's.

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3 hours ago, Raul Martins said:

Hi @UptimeJim,

Great post! I totally agree with your point of view.

As Richard Branson says "Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want to.", I believe leaders need to budget money for trainning and development of their teams. It is one of the best ways to increase morale, as well as results.

In terms of bad actors and PM program, I have seen many different strategies to try to tackle failures and poor PM program attendance. You said that dedicating people may be an option, so what do you think of splitting your team in three small ones. For instance:

Reactive Team - as this plant works in a reactive mode, you would have to deal with both preventive and reactive maintenance in the begining. For that reason, dedicating part of your technicians on reactive maintenance;

Preventive Team - in order to follow your PM, other technicians would be fully dedicated to preventive maintenance and some small improvements in order to reduce unplanned breakdowns. Once you have improved your results, you start bringing people from the reactive team to the preventive team;

Improvement Team - dedicating engineers and one or two technicians to focus on bad actors. This team would focus only on avoiding big losses caused by your bad actores using different Reliability techniques, from 5 why to FTA.

How do you think this strategy would perform?

 

Regards,

Raul Martins

 

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Splitting into teams makes sense. I've used that approach before and it works, but avoid the temptation to move people from PMs to reactive. You may need to ramp up the PM team effort somewhat gradually, especially if your anticipated PM workload is substantial. Estimate your hours for the PMs that you have (that might already be in standard job plans if you have them) and apportion people based on the hours of work vs. total workforce capacity. The rest will, by default, be in reactive mode. You may want to consider one or two technicians dedicated as "shift repair" who respond to operations requests and handle smaller jobs as they arise, around the clock. The bulk of your reactive team is probably going to be scrambling with bigger jobs. 

As you ramp up PMs you may want to perform a simple PM Review/Optimization exercise to validate that the PMs are indeed the right PMs. One possible reason for being in such a reactive state already may be that people lost faith in the PM program because they perceived it wasn't working. Be careful about perceptions though, when it comes to task frequencies. Condition Monitoring should usually reveal that there are no problems and only occasionally catch them. If it catches many problems, then it is very likely also missing many.  Preventive work will often seem wasteful because it results in discard of components that appear to be just fine. If the failure modes are truly age / usage related, then that's exactly what they should notice. A bit of RCM-R training would be useful to help inform those decisions.

The "improvement team" will need engineering talent. You may struggle to include technicians if reactive workload is still very high, but including them is the way to go if you can swing it. Keep to simpler techniques like 5 Whys that everyone on the team will understand. The Engineers should be experience people, not juniors. The problems they are solving need to be well defined and the engineers on that team will need to keep in mind that it is easy to get side tracked and solve the wrong problem. 

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23 hours ago, Raul Martins said:

Hi @Andrej,

Excellent points! Here are my comments:

I - Focus on the basics & stage: doing the basics properly plays a crucial role in order to achieving positive results. If they are not done as they should, everything else will not bring the desirable results, even you use FTA to eliminate defects or if you use RAM analysis to simulate different scenarios so that you could find improvement opportunities. In terms of WO, I have seen many orders lacking information for the team, especially tools and specifc details related to the task. I believe this happens mainly for poor training and knowledge management, as experienced employees find new jobs or simply retire, while the no one has been prepared to get their position. What other factors could cause this poor WO information? 

II - Prepare a Business Case: I totally agree. Seeing maintenance from a business perspective and selling it to the board is key to have some support from them. I did not know the book you mentioned, but it seems to be a great source. I just added on my next books list. @Erik Hupje also wrote an incredible article about "How to sell Planning and Scheduling to your CEO and realise a massive productivity improvement".

III - Manage change: Once again, as you and @UptimeJim have said, training is crucial. Many maintenance professions were not trained properly on management of change and for that reason that see it as just another paperwork that will not bring consistent results; however, having a consistent MOC process implemented is a must in order to achieve greater results. Some of the consequences of not having such process working properly is relying on experienced professionals that may resign, retire, or simply go on holidays, which ends up in confusion and bigger MTTR's.

Hi Raul,

Thank you for your feedback.

While I agree with your observation that poor training and knowledge management contribute to the inadequate WO information, let me suggest some more potential reasons:

  • We should all understand that it is generally not realistic to expect from maintenance techs to start filling in all necessary information into the WO when the system is initially put in place. This is human. For that purpose, the change (and resistance!) have to be managed properly - which is not the case very often. If MOC was not utilized when implementing a WO system and the whole process has never been fully implemented, the change in the way maintenance crews do their jobs never gets entirely in place. Hence, not all necessary functionalities of the WO are used as initially planned. 
  • The WO process and associated roles may not be defined well enough and people are not completely aware of the stardards they should comply with.
  • The approval points of either supervisors or maintenance managers within the WO workflow are either not in place or are not executed properly. Those approvals should assure that all the necessary information has been put into the WO prior to execution and after it. If not, the supervisor/manager should return the WO for update. This approach normally gives good results and with the time helps setting the standards.
  • If the links to or data from the warehose are not established properly within CMMS, it is not realistic to expect that the spares will be planed and recorded appropriately.
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I have using and programing ADempiere ERP and there is default workflow and can be modified upon real plant/resource

Engineering Management

First steps is set up resource manufacturing, Manufacturing workflows, products and BOM (Fixed assets) and formulas

Planning Management (product  planning, forecast management, MRP, CRP, DRP)

Production Management and Quality Management

All information are in UI and in databases (oracleXE/postgresql) for extend of reports

Information about work orders and reliability per assets/ spare parts from 3,6,9 months

can be reports and product/BOM costs etc.

I need 30-60 days for production set up in ADempiere, finally  I will create login username and password for my main manager to see costs per products/BOM and other reports using his own mobile phones to see real state and prognoses,

Gordan

ADEMPIERE_SETUP.jpg

BOMCOSTSPERELEMENTS.jpg

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@UptimeJim I think this discipline for sticking into the teams and not moving people from the preventive team to the reactive team might be one of the most challenging steps of this strategy.

To tackle this situation, I believe that a good action plan or something similar to a roadmap with decision gates and triggers would be helpful to live the anxieties behind and keep working on the big picture. Of course, a risk matrix is always useful when it comes to prioritising tasks, as well.

Would you suggest anything else?

 

 

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Hi @Andrej,

You are right! The other potential reasons you just mentioned also play an important role when it comes to WO.

in this situation, I think the big challenge is stopping the vicious circle and starting a virtuous circle of continuous improvement on your work orders. Along my career, I have seen many work orders lacking information, as well as poor feedback from maintenance supervisors, contributing to this vicious circle.

In addition, I have seen a few initiatives to improve the information on the WO; however, these have not been successful as, although staff members liked to work with a detailed WO, they could not see it as a priority and how this could help them to change their routine of reactive tasks.

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Hi @Gordan,

Having a reliable CMMS which contains all the information regarding your assets is definitely an important point to manage a maintenance area. 

A few years ago I had the opportunity to lead a project which we should identify all assets in three different sites (over 16,000), register them according to the company’s taxonomy, as well as their data sheets and bills of materials. Once we had all the information, we gave one step further and defined the criticality of the assets and the maintenance strategy and PM programs for each one of them. This was a really rewarding project and after six months of implementation, we saw all our KPI’s improving considerably.

Regards,

Raul Martins 

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Raul - yes, it is challenging to keep people focused where they need to be. You need to ramp it up on the PM team as I think I mentioned. Discipline is challenging and that's what your supervisors are there to enforce - discipline in execution and consistency and with the schedule. It's about sticking to what needs to be done, not about disciplining people. Your supervisors will need to be on board. Like the techs, they need to be a part of crafting the improvement initiative.

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