During the 2012 Golden Globes Award Ceremony in Hollywood, CA, the Foreign press recognized the best in movie and television. Two days ago the best in the music business were recognized at the widely viewed Grammys. This got me thinking; why can’t we glorify real workers who propel our economies forward? Why don’t we recognize maintenance heroes with more fanfare? Why doesn’t our president invite the best maintenance leaders to discuss energy cost saving techniques? Our president recognizes the Super Bowl winners and national college athletes. Why can’t he acknowledge those who are going the extra mile to keep our buildings, our businesses and machines performing at high levels within severe budget constraints on a daily basis?
Maintenance and Reliability
I’ve been in attendance at the 2011 SMRP conference in Greensboro,NC. Marshall Institute has an exhibitor booth set up and I have had the pleasure of manning this booth at various times when not attending the many training sessions offered this week. I have really enjoyed getting reacquainted with clients and friends I have had the pleasure of working with in the past as well as meeting new friends and acquaintances who share my passion for maintenance and reliability. If you are not an SMRP member, I highly recommend this organization. SMRP is a great recourse for improving your maintenance knowledge and skills through training, literature, networking, and support. Some of the highlights of this conference have been; really interesting papers, workshops, and breakout sessions given by many of the “Who’s Who” of the maintenance and reliability world. The exhibition hall was also packed with leading industry companies offering products and services specifically related to maintenance and reliability.
In maintenance we are often looking for a single solution to a very complicated problem. We hope that by implementing better technology, newer equipment, or newer improvement processes we can solve our maintenance issues. On a positive note, more often that not we can probably save our money on the above equipment, technology and processes; however, there is no easy fix. We frequently find that the most complicated problems arise from small, unobserved sources; these are the very elements that we tend to pay too little attention to because they are small or viewed as too basic.
Let's use lubrication as an example. Many organizations do not invest enough thought, skill, process, training, or execution follow-up into the basics of lubrication. If you have ever tried to define how much grease to apply to one bearing grease fitting, you quickly gain an understanding of how unclear the fundamentals can be in a plant. Worse yet, if we fail to define the basics, we risk high variation and lack of standardization in the process.
Process Mapping is a LEAN manufacturing tool used to identify waste embedded in a process. In general people think they know their process thoroughly from start to finish, but often times creating a process map highlights that they are littered with “extra” steps. These extra steps, or waste, are often costly because they require valuable resources: people, time, and equipment.
(Example of a maintenance work order process map. Click on the map to expand).
Communication is such a big part of life and email is now a common format for daily communication. Although email is not a common topic of discussion in maintenance and reliability, effective communication is an important aspect of our jobs. I would like to share a few rules of effective email writing that you can start using today.
Due to the impersonal aspect of email communication we lose the benefit of eye-contact, body language, tone and rely solely on our words. This means that we are all fallible to misunderstanding and general miscommunication.
Here are a few great tips to remember as you construct your next email:
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.