Archive | February, 1998


3:25 am
February 2, 1998
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Where's The Beef?

bob_baldwinCommenting on the Internet’s World Wide Web last month in this space, I said: “it gets better and better.”

Now, after spending a month exploring the World Wide Web over a high-speed Internet connection, I’m beginning to wonder. Not wonder about the viability of the Web, but about the thought processes of the suppliers of maintenance technologies and services who have a presence on the Web.

I continue to be delighted by my finds in many areas of the Web, but I’m disappointed by the lack of helpful content on the sites of companies that regularly contribute articles and purchase advertising space in this and other technical business magazines.

With the greater bandwidth of my new connection, it is easy for me to bore down into a site to see what it offers. I’m not finding much–only two really helpful sites so far out of the dozens I’ve visited.

As expected, every site has lots of stuff about the company’s products. Some of the stuff is truly impressive, but it’s just brochureware, a fancy Web version of a capabilities brochure or short form catalog. Some sites go on to provide a complete company history, post all the press releases they have published since the site went up, list all the trade shows at which they exhibit (some long past), and list job openings at their plant. There is usually a “contact us” link that pops up an e-mail form that often asks you to fill out a couple pages of life history before you get to the spot where you can write your message.

Where is the good stuff–the information that can help you understand technology or business issues related to the company’s product offerings? A few sites provides some crumbs by posting their company newsletter and application stories from customers, but that’s about all.

Where are the white papers, maintenance tips, rules of thumb, glossaries, do’s and don’ts, frequently asked questions, and installation check lists?

The lack of good maintenance stuff on supplier Web sites reminds me of that delightful 1984 television commercial in which Clara Peller looked up at the server behind the fast food counter and asked: “Where’s the Beef?” MT

Thanks for stopping by,


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3:23 am
February 2, 1998
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Is Your Commitment to Excellence Enough?

There are basically two ways to think of maintenance. First, every defect and every problem is an opportunity for improvement. Or the alternative, maintenance is an unavoidable and unpleasant necessity–something like raking leaves. The former must be our future. The latter represents backward thinking that unfortunately is too often the mindset of those controlling investment.

In mid-January I was very fortunate to participate in a discussion with a most impressive and truly visionary individual who also happens to be a corporate vice president. This was one of the most enlightening and educational discussions I have experienced in a long while. Here was an individual who had not only a strong positive vision of equipment reliability but also the power to implement the vision.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn how his company utilizes maintenance cost as a percentage of replacement asset value (a measure I have not favored) to establish worthwhile objectives and drive ownership of the improvement processes. One point is especially noteworthy: The recognition that maintenance costs are directly proportional to defects–reduce defects and reduce maintenance costs. There is no other way. Objectives like this are accompanied by a clear understanding of the necessity for investment and performance measures to track and manage results.

Several essential elements were mentioned as vital for successfully accomplishing ambitious objectives:

  • Top down drive
  • Creating and spreading ownership through line management
  • Recognition that eliminating problems (the need for maintenance) is the only way to reduce cost
  • Form a Reliability Technology group totally directed to eliminating defects
  • Use predictive technologies in a proactive rather than reactive mode, require value added measures of performance
  • Commitment to investment for productivity improvements and permanent corrective action.

The alert reader has probably noted a common thread–cost reductions are not a command but rather a result. Many have stated that fact in different ways but few seem to comply. In this discussion, a clear, fundamental understanding was expressed that systematically identifying and eliminating defects not only reduces costs, it is simply good business. If the top person in an organization does not totally believe that and demonstrate that belief with commitment and support, success is very difficult to achieve.

Commitment can be demonstrated by the willingness to invest to eliminate problems. Can workers be committed to corporate objectives when they must combat the same problems over and over and they are surrounded by signs of deterioration that suggest that management seems unwilling to make the financial and moral commitment necessary to make progress? There may be some “I only work here” cynics who have been that way since childhood. There are a lot more who are made that way by management. The “I only work here” attitude really says if management doesn’t care, why should I?

Once we accept the premise that eliminating defects and the need for maintenance is the real goal, several other elements must be placed in effect.

The vice president’s company requires reliability training for every engineer, operator, and maintenance person training that demonstrates the impact of defects, focuses attention on their elimination, and conveys value to both the company and the employees.

The search for defects is always detail oriented. Steam and air leaks, faulty insulation, recirculation valves partially open or leaking, and excessive pipe strain that reduces pump life are examples. Measures of performance track the number and cost of defects and thereby demonstrate progress to the shared objective.

Every p redictive and proactive technology has individual measures of performance based on value of results. A 4 to 1 ratio of benefit to cost is considered necessary to continue. In several cases, shifting orientation of a low-performing technology to a more proactive status substantially increased the benefit/cost ratio.

So there you have it–the overview of at least one company’s idea of how maintenance and reliability are opportunities for improvement and good business as well. How would you rather be viewed–as a high value contributor to business success or a leaf raker? MT
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12:27 am
February 2, 1998
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Simplified CMMS Interface Can Enhance Plant Communications

Local area networks are becoming common in all types and sizes of plants. Computers are strategically located throughout the plant for easy access to information. For companies with a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), employees with an appropriate security password can access information on equipment, parts, and maintenance activity and enter data from many locations within the plant.

Access to the CMMS has typically been restricted to employees who have been fully trained in the use of the software. However, there are a number of advantages to making the information in the CMMS more widely accessible to others on the plant floor.

Many CMMS packages and recent version upgrades contain features that can provide a simplified icon menu on computers located throughout the shop for casual users of the CMMS. This concept gives anyone the capability of asking for maintenance and repair work (open a work order), inquiring about the status of an earlier request (work order query), or viewing equipment information, yet does not allow access to the full menu of maintenance selections.

This capability enables the maintenance shop to allow anyone to make a request but not alter critical information such as equipment history, parts inventory, purchase orders status, and preventive maintenance routines. The solution is simple and is initiated by the log-on password. When a user logs on, the system shows only the functions that user has access to, such as those in the illustrated drop down menu from a network-based CMMS for midsize plants.

The reduced menu set provides the security needed to protect other information. A typical main menu has all the functions of the maintenance department displayed for ready access and fast execution. Good security still limits usage of parts of the program to those who have need of the functions, but why show a full menu to the casual user who needs only a part of it or can gain access only to parts of it.

A complaint often heard from casual users of most systems is that there are too many functions or choices available on the computer screen and it is not readily apparent how to enter a request or obtain information. This does not apply to maintenance supervisors, planners, or data entry personnel, but it is a valid criticism of the system from the casual user, especially someone such as a machine operator or office worker.

There is one fundamental principle of interface design for computer systems: keep the screen simple and easy to understand. Nothing will kill a successful program faster than clumsy usage, conflicting instructions, or screens that are not straightforward and simple. The limited menu approach for casual users enhances ease of use and application credibility.

A related function for the limited menu approach is remote access and data entry over the network at sites with multiple buildings or campus settings. A limited functional menu could easily direct a person to a work request form or general inquiry screen to send or receive information that formerly required pagers, radio, telephone, or even the Internet to communicate with the maintenance department.

One other advantage of remote entry is the functionality of the remote terminal to maintenance personnel in the field. After completion of a job it is a simple matter to go to a nearby terminal, enter the pertinent information, close the work order, and see what is next on the schedule.

Another advantage to the maintenance department is a reduction in telephone calls because the requester can go to a terminal to see if a work request has been assigned to a maintenance technician or crew, thereby making it an open work order. This function is a time saver for operations and maintenance.

Simplified menus for casual users and remote access are options to explore with your current CMMS supplier or with other suppliers when a major upgrade is planned. It is a relatively straightforward enhancement that can pay good dividends. MT

Information supplied by CK Systems, 772 Airport Blvd., Ann Arbor, MI 48108; (734) 665-1780; e-mail

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6:30 pm
February 1, 1998
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The Loose Electrical Connection Myth

One of the most widespread myths of electrical maintenance is that the hot electrical connection highlighted by an infrared camera can always be fixed by tightening the connection. That may only make it worse.

Despite the 30-year history and worldwide use of infrared electrical inspections, there is much misconceived, mistaken, and false information circulating within the industry on how to accurately perform these inspections. One of the most widespread ideas is that infrared inspections are not necessary when all the connections are tightened regularly as part of a preventive maintenance program.

Similarly, it is assumed that the thermal anomalies at electrical connections highlighted by an infrared camera are loose connections that can be corrected by tightening the fasteners. Both are false.

During conventional preventive maintenance, a number of procedures can be carried out, including visual inspection, equipment cleaning, tightening connections, over-current device testing, resistance testing, and insulation testing. All of these procedures have their place except one: the systematic tightening of electrical connections.

The case of reappearing anomalies
The “loose connection” myth first presented itself to the author in 1979. An infrared electrical inspection was carried out at a pulp and paper mill prior to shutdown. Afterwards another inspection was requested to evaluate the repairs as well as inspect newly installed equipment. The results were disconcerting to both thermographer and electrical supervisor–40 percent of the anomalies discovered in the first inspection were still there. Of the 40 percent, some anomalies had worsened, while in others the temperature had fallen.

Over the years, this percentage of anomalies remaining after maintenance has turned out to be quite consistent worldwide, regardless of the type of electrical area inspected. The reasons are usually two-fold: the chosen method of repair was incorrect for the type of problem, or the problem was not identified or diagnosed properly and maintenance was performed on the wrong component.

Thermographers know the greatest percentage of faults found during electrical inspections are connections of one type or another. So it was not surprising for the mill to find 60 percent of the anomalies still in existence were connection problems.

Notice I did not say loose connections. Typically, when a connection is identified as a thermal anomaly, it is assumed the connection is loose and hence the chosen repair is to tighten the bolt or screw. This seems like a proper repair procedure since, if something is loose, it must be tightened. The mill electrical supervisor wanted answers to the high percentage of repeat connection problems on what he thought was simple corrective procedure.

Looking into the repair records it was discovered that connections which were disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled had a 92 percent success rate. The ones which were just tightened had approximately a 20 percent success rate. It was concluded that the surface of the faulty connection had time to become dirty and oxidize.

When a loose connection was tightened, good contact was not restored and the fault remained. This made good sense but did not fully answer all the questions. One repair person put forth a possibility: The connections were not loose at all, so when they were tightened they actually became too tight which aggravated the problem.

The mill felt enough time had been spent on this problem and did no further investigation. It did, however, initiate a new repair procedure for electrical connections which increased their efficiency greatly.

What makes a good connection?
To have a good connection, two elements must be taken into account–clean contact surfaces and proper exertion of force and pressure.

It is important to understand that just because a connection is identified as a thermal anomaly does not mean it is loose. It could have oxidized, corroded, or dirty contact surfaces. There may be a problem with cross threading, the wrong bolt or screw may be in place, the connection may be wrongly sized, or conductor stands may be broken away from the fitting.

In these situations, applying a specified torque will not result in a proper connection. As we have seen in the preceding case, the solution can be worse than the problem.

Purpose of a thermographic electrical inspection
Thermographic electrical inspections monitor the operating condition of electrical components and equipment. The inspection will identify thermal anomalies associated with increased resistance to the flow of electrical energy.

The purpose of the inspection is to accurately identify, locate, measure, classify, and document the anomalies so the maintenance department can proactively maintain the electrical system. When thermographers begin to diagnose problems and suggest corrective actions, we are going beyond the scope of the inspection and looking into crystal balls.

If the thermographer has been hired not only to identify anomalies, but to establish cause and corrective actions, then it will be necessary to secure the services of a qualified electrician and make arrangements to de-energize the components for disassembly and investigation.

Thermographers often are guilty of diagnosing problems without a full investigation. Very often a standard phrase in the comments section of the report page is “loose connection, remove, clean, tighten and replace.” First, how does the thermographer know it is a loose connection? Unless the threads are exposed, he doesn’t. Overall, as thermographers we do not know what is causing the anomaly. We know where the anomaly is, but not what problem is causing it. The only way to know for sure is to de-energize the component, disassemble it, and look at it. Then and only then can a proper diagnosis and repair procedure be established. We do not have x-ray vision, but thermal vision of a surface phenomena.

The case of overlooked anomalies
During a follow-up infrared electrical inspection at a process plant, the scenario of the paper mill case was duplicated with 36 percent of the same anomalies showing up again, some worse, some a little better. This time, however, the request was not only to re-inspect the previous faults, but to re-inspect the entire facility.

The most unbelievable finding was that more anomalies were found in the second inspection than in the first inspection which took place two months before. The immediate question was, “Why were they not found during the first inspection?” The thermographer was contacted and an investigation was launched.

Four possible explanations were presented:

  • The thermographer missed them.
  • Some components were operational during the follow-up that were not during the first inspection.
  • New anomalies developed since the previous inspection.
  • During routine maintenance new anomalies were created.

Thermographer error is always a possibility but a very low probability for this case because the inspector was a trained, experienced technician on a routine inspection of a familiar facility and electrical system. If it was a first-time inspection at the facility, more weight would have been given to this point.

The fact that some equipment was not operational during the first inspection did play a role in the new faults found. Some of the electrical apparatus operational during the follow-up inspection was not operating during the first inspection. Since the thermographer was not documenting the nonoperating components, it was difficult to assess the exact percentage of new anomalies attributed to this.

It is highly recommended that thermographers document all the components not operating during an inspection, or carry additional liability insurance. If a component failed and shut down a portion of the plant or caused injury soon after an inspection, it would be good to have documented that the particular component was not operating and therefore unable to be inspected.

New anomalies are developing on a continuous basis so the third point has some validity. The operating environment will dictate the frequency of new problems developing. This is why some industries require more frequent inspections than others. A clean, relatively vibration free, climate controlled building environment requires only a yearly inspection, while a dirty, high vibration environment should have bi-yearly inspections.

Prior to suggesting that routine maintenance was introducing more anomalies, the ongoing investigation identified the types of new anomalies which had appeared–5 percent were on connections. The thermographer, who was involved in the first case several years earlier, asked the question, “As part of routine maintenance, are all connections re-torqued?” The answer was: Yes. Looking into this aspect a little further, it was concluded that routine tightening of connections was the culprit.

With over 20 years of performing inspections on electrical systems as well as receiving similar feedback from more than 2000 electrical thermography students worldwide, my experience has verified the conclusion. Under these circumstances, the main culprit contributing to new connection problems is the routine tightening of connections.

The basic purpose of a bolt in an electrical system is to bring two metal surfaces together and hold them in position with the least resistance to current flow. Joint performance is a function of the clamping force applied by the fastener. Clamping force is developed by stretching the bolt an appropriate amount by tightening the nut. Because the bolt continually tries to return to its original condition, it pulls and holds the joint together.

It is important when assembling bolted connections that a torque wrench be used and appropriate torque values as received from manufacturers, codes, or standards be applied. It has been noted that bolts tightened with a torque wrench can vary 30 percent on the same assembly. Consider what the variance would be if a torque wrench is not used.

Joints can be undertightened but typically they become overtightened after years of routine tightening (typically without a torque wrench). The joint can become over compressed to the point of deforming the metal faces and creating a poor connection as shown in the accompanying diagram. As well, a bolt can become over-stretched and the joint will not attain the proper compression and will create a thermal anomaly just like a loose connection.

It has been suggested by several experts that the routine tightening of electrical connections be stopped and maintenance be performed only on the anomalies identified with infrared thermography. Thus more time can be given to proper maintenance on real problems and new ones will not be created. MT

Ron Newport is the president of the Academy of Infrared Thermography, 177 Telegraph Rd. Ste. 720, Bellingham, WA 98226; e-mail

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4:37 pm
February 1, 1998
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Switch in Contract Maintenance Proves Costly

In May 1995, a company we will call ACME North America to protect its identity, began a focused effort to improve manufacturing performance at one of its major production facilities. Particular attention was given to improving plant reliability and its potential impact on increased uptime and lower maintenance costs.

ACME North America had a respectable profit on sales, and revenues stood at several $100 million. The company was taking prudent action to assure its long-term financial health.

Over the next several months, a number of performance measures were put into place, and specific actions were taken to improve maintenance performance. These included measuring uptime and the causes of lost uptime, as well as implementing certain maintenance improvement tools such as:

  • Maintenance planning and scheduling and routine preventive maintenance (PM) activities
  • Several predictive maintenance technologies
  • More proactive efforts, such as root cause failure analysis and precision alignment and balancing of critical equipment
  • Operator PM efforts to improve equipment basic care and to relieve maintenance of several routine tasks
  • Assignment of a manufacturing reliability engineer to facilitate the implementation of these practices in a comprehensive manner.

Prior to these efforts, maintaining high uptime had become increasingly difficult, with uptime typically 70 percent or higher, but rarely better than 80 percent. Following the implementation of the reliability program, uptime improved steadily to a peak of 88 percent.

Maintenance costs trended steadily downward after implementing reliability practices, going from $980,000 per month to $480,000 per month.

Reactive maintenance dropped from about 70 percent in mid-1995 to about 30 percent in August 1996. The reduction in reactive maintenance, which typically costs twice that of planned maintenance, was a result of implementing specific preventive (time based) maintenance, predictive (condition based) maintenance, and proactive (root cause based) maintenance practices in an integrated, comprehensive way. In particular, predictive maintenance was used to confirm the need for scheduled efforts, to trend the condition of equipment, to diagnose the root cause of certain repeated problems, and to balance the need for preventive and proactive maintenance, making it more optimal.

Financial data were normalized by a fixed constant to maintain the confidentiality of the actual data.

Consolidating maintenance contractors
In parallel with the reliability program, the company’s purchasing department in the second quarter of 1995 determined that considerable money could be saved by consolidating contractors on site, reducing the administrative and management effort associated with those contractors. It felt this was particularly true for maintenance and related contractors, such as those involved with minor capital and construction projects. The decision was made in June 1996 and the consolidation process began in September.

Simultaneously, at the corporate level, considerable benchmarking led management to conclude that maintenance costs were too high, and that productivity (units of product per employee) was too low. After considerable debate, and apparently unable to wait long enough to realize the full benefit of the improvement process already being established, management decided to cut the number of employees, with maintenance employees being reduced by about half.

Uptime dropped immediately to about 66 percent, then rose gradually to near 86 percent-dropping thereafter for an average of about 75 percent for the period from September 1996 to June 1997. However, it should be highlighted that the immediate drop in uptime in September was related to two specific equipment failure events (a large motor and a heat exchanger), and those specific events should not be attributed to the consolidation effort, or to the downsizing effort. As luck would have it, however, the timing of those failures was very inopportune. And, nonetheless, the plant has had great difficulty recovering to levels of performance exhibited prior to the downsizing and contractor consolidation. Overall, uptime dropped from about 82 percent to 75 percent following these actions.

In the first quarter of maintenance contractor consolidation, maintenance costs soared to more than $1,080,000 by December 1996, over twice August and September’s levels, and significantly above costs a year earlier when the reliability improvement program began.

As of June 1997, maintenance costs were still at $880,000 per month, a comparable level to that of October 1995. In effect, after nearly two years of effort, maintenance costs had not improved, and in fact had increased substantially from about a year earlier.

The level of reactive maintenance had trended downward until August 1996, even continuing downward into November to some 20 percent. However, as consolidated contractor staffing levels and work efforts increased, predictive maintenance was essentially eliminated, giving way to time based or preventive maintenance because the contractor was apparently not familiar with condition based maintenance methods for improving maintenance performance.

Coincidentally, reactive levels also began to rise, peaking in May 1997 at over 40 percent -comparable to levels in early 1996 -and in spite of increased PM. Indeed, some studies indicate a 10-20 percent probability of introducing defects into equipment using a preventive maintenance approach alone.

Stores issues and purchase orders for maintenance parts about doubled from early 1996 levels to some $300,000 per month. Further, purchase order expenses now represented about $150,000 of the total, or about half. This is believed to reflect the contractor’s not understanding or using the stores system -preferring the use of purchase orders, stores not having the material required, or some combination of these factors.

The contractor injury rate was initially five times that of employee injury rate, but it has improved to three times the employee rate.

Scheduled maintenance was initially less than 20 percent, but has risen substantially to near 75 percent, although deteriorating in recent months to near 65 percent.

All in all, performance has been substantially worse than expectations by almost any measure -worse than before contractor consolidation, and no better than 1995 when reliability concepts were first introduced by the company.

What happened?
There were many factors at work; some were beyond the control of the contractor. The decision to use the new contractor was driven by a need to consolidate contractors, as well as a perception that labor costs for contractors were cheaper than in-house labor. In fact, costs actually increased following consolidation of contractors. Some of the factors associated with the performance shortfall include:

  • Contractor experience. The contractor’s staff had limited experience with the equipment they were maintaining. As a result, a substantial learning curve was necessary to become familiar with the plant, including its equipment, policies, procedures, and practices. Further, the contractor had limited experience with condition monitoring (predictive maintenance) to help optimize time based maintenance. Thus it relied primarily on a time based approach to maintenance, which is typically not optimal in and of itself. This is evidenced by the concurrent increase in reactive maintenance levels, in spite of a substantial increase in time based maintenance. Finally, many of the contractor’s staff were taken from the construction ranks, where different work processes and methods are used, resulting in a more-difficult transition into an operating plant.
  • Displaced contractors. Existing contractors, who were in effect being eliminated, remained on the job for about three months after the new firm started. These existing contractor charges increased substantially during this transition period prior to their departure. While a transition period may be prudent, better management may have helped mitigate these costs.
  • Shutdown impact. Just prior to the new contractor’s arrival, the entire plant had been shut down for extensive maintenance efforts and bringing on line a major new production process. The start up was difficult and time consuming, leaving few resources to manage the integration of the new maintenance contractor. Morale problems were inherent in the concurrent shift of maintenance functions to the contractor. Confusion was substantial, and morale and productivity were low.
  • Transition process. The process for introducing and integrating the contractor with the plant’s work management practices was poor. There was little understanding of the work order process used at the plant, of the planning and scheduling process, and of the maintenance information software currently in use. There was insufficient management interface, because of the shutdown and startup efforts, to allow adequate communication and management of the integration effort.
  • Loss of key management staff. Concurrent with the arrival of the contractor, two key managers at the plant were transferred, exacerbating the difficulties in providing overall management and integration of the contractor.
  • Loss of skilled staff. Many, if not most, of the employees skilled in maintaining plant equipment began to leave just as the new contractor arrived. Some were laid off; others went on early retirement. Morale was quite low, and the enthusiasm for “training” the contractor coming in was essentially nonexistent.

Current situation
At this point it is too late to return to the way things were. The plant has gone through the pain of bringing in, training, and integrating a consolidated contractor, whose staff is now familiar enough with the equipment and work processes to perform in a reasonably effective manner. However, costs are still substantially above what they should be for world-class performance, and indeed are above what they were when the contractor arrived.

Given this, and that almost all operating units will (and should) continue to use the contractor to support world-class performance, it is appropriate to meet with the contractor on a regular basis to improve the relationship and to create clear expectations.

Path forward
Making the contractor an integral part of the operation is a necessity, not an option; establishing expectations and measures associated with world-class performance also is a necessity, not an option.

The guiding principle behind performance measures is that the contractor must deliver an effect, not simply supply a service for a fee. Desired effects include improved equipment life, higher availability and uptime, lower maintenance costs per unit of contractor supply (for example, normalized to account for issues such as assets under their care or total product produced), and excellent safety performance. In other words, the contractor will be held to the same high standards as the balance of the organization, and become a genuine partner in the plant’s success. Some of the measures of effect might include those in the section “Measures of Performance.”

A fresh look will be taken at the plant’s operation, and firm leadership will be exercised, particularly regarding expectations for contractor performance. Maintenance excellence is not an option, it is a requirement. To achieve excellence, which is not simply doing a lot of PM, a balanced maintenance program will be reestablished including greater application of predictive and proactive methods. More teamwork between maintenance and operations also will be required to eliminate losses from the ideal. Too much is at stake for the success of the business. Therefore, the plant, in cooperation with the contractor, will assure the following:

1. A strong predictive, or condition based, maintenance program, including operator input of equipment and process condition, is re-established.

2. Existing PM tactics are reviewed with the intent to optimize them. Maintenance planning and scheduling will be tempered with good condition monitoring, and the quality of the maintenance effort will be validated with a commissioning process.

3. Operations personnel will become much more involved in operational reliability and what they can do to improve performance, including operator PM as appropriate. Operational excellence is also a requirement, not an option.

This case study of ACME North America produced a number of lessons for management, staff, and the work force. They are summarized in the section “Lessons Learned at ACME North America.”

Even in the best of circumstances, major changes to any “system” will always result in transitory effects -the system will generally get worse before it gets better. This, too, is a cost which should be considered by management.

It is hoped this case study provides an order of magnitude estimate of the cost effects which could occur, and will help avoid those costs. Perhaps the best policy would be to avoid the costs in the first place. Simply replacing one set of warm bodies with another will not necessarily deliver the effect desired.

The processes which result in improved performance must be put in place. In this instance, that was being done, but was interrupted by the introduction of a consolidated contractor through decisions made at the corporate level. The goal of consolidating contractors to improve administrative and management costs would have worked, but it was disrupted by several events not the least of which was a major downsizing.

(A future article will discuss issues related to effective use of maintenance contractors.) MT

Ron Moore is president and managing partner of The RM Group, Inc., 12024 Broadwood Dr., Knoxville, TN 37922; telephone (423) 675-7647; e-mail


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