Are you Spending More Time on Technology than on Processes and People?
A common reason why reliability and maintenance improvement initiatives often do not generate the expected achievable results is competing priorities and focusing on the wrong things.
A great example of this is technology. Technology is good and necessary and maintenance people like technology. It is common that the improvement effort will focus on technology instead of processes and people. There are many stories about engineers and these stories almost always make fun of our personalities. For example: “How do you know an engineer is extrovert?” “The engineer looks at your shoes, instead of their own shoes when they talk to you”. Many engineers are used to working with facts in designs and specifications. In a maintenance organization, you will have to manage people with different opinions and all that come with that.
A new vibration analyzer, a handheld data collector for inspections or an online condition monitoring system are all good and valid technologies, but if they are not used by qualified people, in a well-defined and executed process, the possible improvement from the use of these technologies will be absent.
For the example above there would be processes to do vibration analyses and inspections, with the right methods and frequencies, and a work management process to prioritize, plan and schedule the corrective action from failures found using these technologies.
As mentioned before it is relatively easy to develop, document and communicate the processes. To instill a culture to execute work in these processes takes much more effort and time.
This will include the education and training of people to achieve awareness, understanding and skills.
To sustain craft skills to perform precision maintenance repairs, it is important to first implement the basic processes of inspections and work management in order to reduce reactive work. When that is done, people should be trained in precision maintenance repairs.
If not done in this order, the people trained will fall back into reactive maintenance. In a reactive mode, too much work is urgent so there will not be time to do for example precision alignment.
The skills acquired during training will be lost and people will be disappointed.
In summary: Most people know what to do, but cannot find the time to do it. As Illustration1 describes. Too many conflicting priorities are common reason for this. If you implement and execute the basic reliability and maintenance processes and execute them well, you will free up time to do what you do not have time to do today.
Christer Idhammar, is Founder and CEO of IDCON INC a reliability and maintenance consulting firm headquartered in the United States with partners in Norway, Finland, Italy, Germany, Australia, and South America.