Maintenance Improvement Fundamentals - Be the Change

There are some actions which must be taken at any plant if the maintenance contribution is to be improved. Indeed, some of the recommendations which follow should be implemented even in the absence of any corporate or top management directives! That is, they are well within the span of control and the organizational charter of the maintenance department as it currently exists, and ought to be pursued as a natural consequence of the responsibility and authority vested in the organization already.

There are at least six areas needing improvement that are fundamental to improved management and control of the maintenance function in general:

Lessons of Operator Equipment Knowledge from the Boise State Police

Often when I talk to groups about the importance of operator training and skills, I relate a story that happened to me in Boise Idaho back in 1999.  I use this real life missive to communicate the value of know how systems work as an operator....

I was conducting a Basic Equipment Care workshop in Boise, Idaho; I decided to attend a church service.  It was Wednesday night, I had no particular plans and this very large fellowship - around 1000 people - had a service with an awesome band.

Marshall Institute - Meet the Family

Meredith RozierIn today’s fast paced world we are losing touch with the human side of business. In an attempt to rectify this I would like to introduce a member of the Marshall Institute family, and what better way than through our new blog. My hope is that you feel better acquainted with Marshall Institute, and you know who to contact if you need any support.

This week I would like to introduce Meredith Rozier, our Seminar Coordinator:

Meredith’s primary role is the organization and planning of the annual maintenance training schedule. In doing this, Meredith selects seminar locations (both City and hotel), frequency and timing. Basically, she makes thepublic seminars happen. (Although as modest as she is, she would never say that herself)

3 Principles of TPM / Total Process Reliability (Video)

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is not a new concept, however it is often misunderstood.  It is still viewed as solely a maintenance initiative and lacks respect in other departments. Through the years Marshall Institute has refined TPM into Total Process Reliability.  A concept, highlighted in the name, that focuses on the efforts of everyone in order to improve equipment reliability and production output.

Greg Folts, president of Marshall Institute, outlines 3 key principles of Total Productive Maintenance and Total Process Reliability to help answer a few questions that people may have about the purpose and goal of these reliability improvement strategies.


Basic Equipment Care Savings - Capture and Report

A  Basic Equipment Care Workshop (BEC) is a powerful event.  It can literally transform people’s behaviors and way of thinking – turning skeptics into believers.  BEC events usually consist of a cross-functional team whose goal is to improve the reliability of a specific piece of equipment. This is done by identifying and repairing defects, as well as designing and implementing improvements and countermeasures. In addition to reliability improvements, BEC events are great for establishing a “team-based” Teamworkculture and strengthening operator ownership.

Often just by having all of the equipment Operators, Engineers and Maintenance personnel working together in a team environment, defects that cause unscheduled breakdowns or minor stoppages are identified and repaired.  By eliminating possible causes for unscheduled breakdowns and minor stoppages there are monetary savings with improved equipment uptime, production output, product quality, SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Dies) improvements, and standardization of both operations and maintenance tasks.

Maintenance Supervisors – Are They Set-Up for Success or Failure?

Is your organization proactive about training or do they opt for the “Baptism by Fire” approach? 

Success and Failure

Too many facilities I visit have no formal training plans. A key position which training is often overlooked is supervision.  The common misconception is that because the individual was a good maintenance mechanic or technician, they must automatically default to being a good maintenance supervisor.  I tend to believe not.  I would rather see good employees promoted to make excellent maintenance supervisors and given the appropriate support to assure their success, rather than setting them up for failure. Success requires a comprehensive understanding of the new role and responsibilities. Often the best way to attain this understanding is through training

Maintenance & Reliability Consultants - Why Use Them?

Its very simple. There is an old saying attributed to a wise man from long ago. I will paraphrase it, "A prophet is not welcome in his own town". Unfortunately this piece of wisdom is true in most businesses today especially when viewed from the lens of the maintenance organization.

Over the years maintenance has taken on a persona that it is not a core business function. Worse yet, it is often viewed as a"cost", necessary evil, and, for some, a place of exile. For those who are unenlightened the maintenance organization is viewed as primarily a service organization whose function in life is to respond to the demands of the production or operations team. With this type of appreciation maintenance might as well be outsourced to a "body shop".

A body shop is a maintenance company that makes their living by providing bodies to a client to perform maintenance. Because their margins are so "tight" they make their money by maximizing the bodies on the shop floor. This type of arrangement is counter and opposed to a companies business strategy to lower operational costs while maximizing production, throughput, and availability.

Managing Maintenance Resources Productively

Peter Drucker, "guru" of modern management, says that the task of a business, any business, is to make resources—labor, material, capital—productive. The work of management, he says, is to manage those resources through planning, organizing, integrating, measuring, and controlling activities appropriate to that purpose.

The most significant deficiency associated with the maintenance process at many plants is a "systemic" one: that is, there are insufficient administrative principles, practices, and procedures currently in place for adequate control of maintenance resources.

This is not usually a question of management competence, ability, or oversight, but simply a lack of management systems with which to do the job.

Maintenance improvement must start with good management processes.  Establishing at least the rudiments of good maintenance practices is the foundation of any improvement effort.

Frontline Supervisors are Key to Continuous Improvement

Supervisors and team leaders are crucial to Continuous Improvement (CI) efforts.  The reason is that often it is a frontline supervisor who provides personnel time to particip

ate on the CI teams as well as the production equipment for the Basic Equipment Care (BECWs) workshops. Supervisors do this at the expense of their own production goals.

In return for their support of the company's continuous improvement goals, they often are left out of the CI team.

Supervisors are often kept out of ‘the loop' because some believe that by including a supervisor on a BEC team their mere presence may inhibit participation and idea sharing as their subordinate team mates become subservient to their thoughts and ideas. A solution to this possible problem is to ensure that the supervisor participates on teams that are not associated with their area of responsibility. Even so, this alone is no reason to exclude such an important individual. 

Controlling Maintenance MRO Inventory Materials and Spares

Companies can realize significant savings by controlling inventories of maintenance materials.  Two points should be understood by all persons involved with developing and instituting a maintenance MRO inventory control system:

  1. Inventory control does not necessarily mean that inventories should be kept at a minimum and or current dollars in inventory is too high.  The lowest possible inventory is often not the best or least costly in terms of total cost.
  2. Although the relative important of various inventory control objectives may change with changes in business conditions, the need for effective control of maintenance inventory is constant.

Maintenance inventory control is best approached by working out the answers to these questions: 

  • What items need to be ordered? 
  • When should an item be ordered? 
  • How many items should be ordered? 
  • From whom should it be ordered? 

These questions can be answered if specific information on each item stocked is available, and various terms concerning inventory control are understood. Formulas can be used to determine the appropriate order quantity if specific information about an item is known.

Cost Cutting as a Maintenance and Reliability Strategy

cost cutting

Cost cutting is the antithesis to improvement. I am constantly amazed that everyone I speak to realizes the inherent problems with adopting a cost cutting strategy in the midst of an economic downturn. Nevertheless that is the exact course many companies take when faced with dwindling profits, disappearing margins, and increasing expenses. Unfortunately this is how value is destroyed. In my research of companies who have adopted cost cutting as business strategy I have never found one that achieved high performance in the long run. In fact no company has ever cost cut their way to "world class" performance. Studies have shown that those companies who adopted a "process or continuous improvement" approach were the ones most likely to achieve best in class performance after the economic storms subside. Has anyone out there adopted a cost cutting strategy in the name of business improvement?
And if so, what were the results?

When 'Good Enough' is Not Good Enough

One issue we face in many maintenance departments is that we accept "good enough".  I have worked in many maintenance organizations in my career and find that "good enough" and "close enough" can be the source of many equipment reliability problems.

Often we find that small issues become large problems.  When quality work is not the norm, equipment reliability and performance will suffer. WrenchWhen the grease we install in bearings, the alignment of the motor, the torque of the bolt, the belt tension, the chain tension, the allowable chain stretch, the pulley condition....are ‘close enough', production output will be close, but not enough.  Why? Because precision matters. 

Maintenance & Reliability Best Practices for Triathlons

Last Saturday, Andy Gager, Ricardo Garcia (Senior Consultant) and I took part in a triathlon called “Over the Mountain”, located in Kings Mountain NC.  The race consisted of a 1 mile lake swim, a 28 mile bike course and a 6.2 mile run. Racing in different age groups we each posted respectable times.  Ricardo’s outstanding performance earned him 7th place; out of 440 Marshall Institute Group on Race Dayracers. 

How do I select a TPM Coordinator?

I am often asked this question by clients who are in the infancy of their TPM implementation.  While there is no cookie cutter pattern for a TPM Coordinator I do believe that there are some characteristics, skills, personality traits that can be very helpful to a successful TPM Coordinator.
I have worked with many companies, organizations, and people who have
 implemented some very good TPM processes over the past 10 years.  I have met many TPM Champions and TPM Coordinators who were essential to these successful implementations.  From my many acquaintances, I have identified a few traits and skills that, at the very least, tend to prove helpful for TPM Coordinators. These are my personal observations and are not derived from any kind of scientific data.

5 Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) Myths

TPM has been around industry for over 25 years, and yet is still an new concept to many organizations. There are many myths and misunderstandings about TPM that circulate industry.

Here are few myths and the correlating truths:

Myth #1 - TPM is all about operator based maintenance

WRONG. While a solid TPM process includes operator care of equipment, it is not the only element. We must combine solid maintenance practices, training development, equipment improvement, and equipment design excellence.  Operator care is critical, but alone will not result in significant reliability improvement.

Myth #2 - TPM can be driven by one passionate champion

While we need a champion, this passion must be developed into a coalition for change.  This is the only way to drive the deep roots required to weather the seasons of the business cycle. In addition we should develop floor level champions that own the process for a specific area of the plant. 

Myth #3 - Many Kaizen workshops strung together will result in sustainable change