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6:26 pm
December 1, 2004
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Creating a Reliability Culture

Benchmarking is key to improvements

Air Liquide America (ALA) is part of the Air Liquide Group, the global leader in industrial and medical gases, headquartered in Paris, France. Its products include air gases such as nitrogen, oxygen, and argon as well as hydrogen, CO2, electricity, and steam. In the United States, the company maintains more than 125 production facilities and 700 customer installations.

Late in 1999, ALA’s management team realized that a higher reliability performance was key to existing and prospective clients. Concerned that current performance levels needed to be raised, a standardized benchmark assessment of maintenance and reliability capabilities was commissioned.

This article will summarize the original assessment in 2000 and the ensuing improvement efforts from 2000 through 2003. The focus is on the improvements made from 2000 through 2003 and the benchmark update in late 2003. The progress achieved by ALA over 3 years is highlighted.

Situation in 2000
Since the company’s beginnings in the United States, the maintenance function was decentralized and primarily the responsibility of the plant managers. The plants were supported by technical resources at headquarters, but were largely autonomous. Few reports or key performance indicators (KPIs) measured maintenance or reliability performance. Performance was mainly measured by two indicators—costs and headcount. This arrangement served ALA well for many years, but by the late 1990s, reliability issues began to affect customer satisfaction and maintenance costs were rising and unpredictable.

In 1999, ALA commissioned a regional maintenance concept designed to support up to two dozen sites from regional reliability centers (RCs). Initially the RCs were staffed primarily with a manager and technicians from the plant sites. Maintenance engineering support was provided as was planning and scheduling. However, the RCs were mostly reactive in nature, trying to provide resources for plant shutdowns and emergency responses.

After a year, the RCs were having moderate impact on reliability and maintenance costs remained unpredictable. As a result, the plants saw minimal value in the new centralized approach. Rather than abandon the effort, ALA executives decided to commission a Maintenance Benchmarking Study to define the issues that could accelerate progress.

Benchmarking process
Benchmark assessments usually involve the collection of pertinent data and a mechanism to validate the data. For most studies, a base of comparison data already exists. The challenge is to collect “apples-to-apples” client data. Using an unvalidated database can introduce a wide variation in data submissions for key information such as maintenance costs, replacement asset value, and personnel counts. These variations, in turn, can significantly affect comparisons and interpretations.

In the ALA studies in 2000 and 2003, all data was validated through on-site review of definitions, data reconciliation, and interviews. Similarly, comparison data also was validated project-by-project to ensure that comparisons were as consistent as possible.

On-site validation not only provides an opportunity to validate submitted data, but also allows observation of maintenance practices. In reality, the validation visit provides the opportunity to:
• Validate data
• Interview personnel
• Tour and observe the plant and its conditions
• Develop data comparisons and key issues in a team-based environment
• Draw conclusions that the plant team understands and supports
• Develop consensus lists of plant strengths and improvement opportunities

Interviews conducted during the site visits allow the process to move beyond collection and comparison of data. The interviews typically highlight problem areas, obstacles to improvement, and, very often, support conclusions implied by data comparisons.

When the on-site work is completed and the benchmark team has discussed the issues and key improvement needs, the assessment report documentation begins. At this stage, the team understands the hard number comparisons and the key areas for improvement. The final report and the subsequent presentation to management are designed to highlight issues to be addressed and resources required. The report also quantifies the potential financial gain from improvements.

Benchmark 2000 conclusions
In applying the benchmark assessment process at ALA in 2000, standard techniques were used with accommodations for the typically smaller size of ALA’s United States plant locations. The same validation processes, interviews, and team approaches were applied, as described above.

The areas identified for improvement from the initial 2000 assessment were:
• Improve cost control through improved reliability
• Coordinate maintenance and reliability with capital projects
• Restore key support resources
• Redesign the reliability center concept
• Strengthen or replace the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)
• Develop a contractor management strategy
• Institutionalize root cause failure analysis (RCFA)
• Perform reliability centered maintenance (RCM) analyses
• Institute work planning and work scheduling
• Strengthen spare parts management

Benchmark comparisons were provided in the assessment to allow the ALA team to gauge appropriate staffing levels for direct maintenance as well as for support functions including planning, reliability improvement, and parts management. The comparisons with external data and practices also provided a frame of reference for total maintenance costs, maintenance organization structures, and maintenance philosophies.

Given the number of issues highlighted by the study, it was clear that ALA would have to prioritize its targets. A potential cost reduction of up to 25 percent was identified, but it would come slowly, given the economic downturn in 2000.

Using the benchmarking report as a basis, a maintenance improvement team began to develop strategies and implementation plans. The elements of that strategy are described below.

Gaining control of the work
Figure 1 shows that at the start of the change process, the plant audits were generating 50 percent breakdown work. After applying the new tools and processes, ALA would control the work and equipment to the point where 90 percent of the work would be plannable.

The level of existing emergency work required a significant amount of resources and overtime. In addition, plant turnaround performance was inconsistent, hampering cost control and causing additional overtime. Before any of the improvements could be implemented, it was imperative that the plants and the RCs gain control of the work.

The RCs decided to concentrate on improving shutdown performance. Experienced professional planners were hired to supplement the existing planners, who were provided training. Planning tools were developed and planners began the planning process months in advance. To better manage the shutdowns in the field, additional field supervisors were hired and developed.

However, the most important aspect was the consolidation of quality contractors. ALA turnarounds were small compared to those of our large customers such as refineries, chemical complexes, and steel mills. ALA plants usually shut down when their customers do. However, because the customers dominated the labor market during shutdowns, ALA was often left with few quality contractors.

ALA immediately identified three high-quality contractors to do general mechanical, high voltage electrical, and major compressor repairs, and signed national contracts with them. These efforts gave ALA improved planning, good field supervision, and quality contractors. In less than a year, a measurable improvement in turnaround performance was observed.

There was not much that could be done about the frequency of emergency breakdowns at this point, but they could be better managed and investigated. Maintenance and reliability engineers were hired at each RC. These engineers were assigned to provide engineering analysis to determine the optimum scope for the repair.

The new planning resources provided some planning, and the increased field supervision was deployed to better manage emergency repairs. The new national contractors improved the quality of repairs and RC performance in emergency situations started to improve. The new maintenance and reliability engineers were all sent to RCFA training and began to perform RCFAs on incidents in an effort to understand and prevent them in the future.

Implementing a process
One of the major barriers to improved coordination and communication between the plants and the RCs was a lack of process by which they would work together. There were no agreed upon roles and responsibilities. Each group did what it thought it should be doing.

A simple maintenance management process was developed that included work identification, approval, planning, scheduling, execution, and documentation. Each of these functions was broken down into tasks. For each task, roles and responsibilities were spelled out in RACIs. RACI is a simple tool that details for each task who is responsible (R) for doing the task, who is accountable (A) to see that the task is completed, who is consulted (C), and who is informed (I) . Training manuals were developed and all RC and plant employees were trained.

Soon thereafter much of the wasted energy and confusion, trying to determine who was going to do what, began to disappear. Employees began to better understand their roles and how their roles supported the process.

As new and unexpected issues arose, collaborative troubleshooting took place. Improvements in the process were documented and after a year the process was reviewed, the manual was revised, and employees were retrained.

CMMS implementation
The study revealed that the legacy CMMS was not being fully utilized. The strategy development team evaluated reconfiguring the system or replacing it with a new one. After a thorough analysis, the team recommended replacing it with a new version of Maximo from MRO Software, Bedford, MA.

The new software was configured to support the new processes. Asset data was gathered from the sites and placed in a multilevel hierarchy. Engineers entered legacy PMs where they existed and created new ones where they did not. The workflow feature of the software was mapped to route work orders for approval according to the approval limits set forth in the company’s delegation of authority. The software was interfaced with the company’s financial software to enable cost tracking and enable the purchasing and inventory modules. Virtually all software functionality was exploited.

This CMMS project is discussed in the article “Enhancing an Enterprise Asset Management Project”.

Vendor consolidation
Because the maintenance function was decentralized for many years, the company employed hundreds of mostly small local vendors. Most of these vendors were responsive to the local site but many lacked the level of quality needed to improve long-term reliability of the company’s assets. Furthermore, the fragmented service providers did not leverage ALA’s expense in the basic maintenance services.

The maintenance department teamed with corporate supply management and began to identify common services used at all of the sites. Collaborative cross-functional teams of experts and stakeholders were assembled to evaluate potential service providers.

A matrix of critical success factors was weighted and agreed upon by the team, and potential service providers were identified based on the quality of their work with ALA and the potential of providing their services on a national basis. Each potential service provider submitted a proposal and made a detailed presentation to the team.

Based on the data and final matrix score, a finalist was selected and formal negotiations took place. After negotiations were completed, the contacts were signed for a 3- to 6-year period. Both ALA and vendor KPIs were established to assure that both parties benefited from the new agreements. For ALA, KPIs were established to measure quality and savings. For the vendor, leakage and timeliness of invoice processing were measured.

Prior to rollout, each agreement was communicated to both maintenance and operations employees. Service providers handed out catalogs, normal and emergency contacts and phone numbers, and answered questions. Problems that arose were quickly addressed by the team to ensure that small issues did not escalate into bigger ones.

After 2 years, 17 contracts were signed including gas turbine maintenance, general mechanical services, compressor maintenance, electric motor shop repairs, safety relief valve management, electrical switchgear PMs, inspection services, transformer oil analysis, vibration monitoring, MRO supplies, and expander turbine shop repairs.

Organization changes
As it existed in 2000, the maintenance organization was comprised mostly of technicians and specialists. To support the new processes and tools, the RCs needed to be reorganized. The new organization increased support in the areas of engineering support, and work planning and scheduling.

Additional maintenance engineering resources were hired in each RC to apply engineering principles to determine the optimum repair scope for equipment failures or equipment with known component degradation. They were required to document the repair scope and write detailed job plans in the CMMS. They followed the repairs, examined the parts, and made necessary adjustments to the scope and plan based on what they found. They documented the repairs and conducted RCFAs.

Reliability engineering resources also were hired to monitor and improve equipment health. They were assigned to monitor vibration, oil condition, and infrared scans for the plants in their zone. For each recommendation, they were to write work orders in the CMMS with target dates based on their review of the data.

In the first year, more than 500 interventions were made prior to failure, saving large amounts of downtime and significantly reducing costs. The reliability engineers also were assigned to do an in-house version of streamlined RCM called a vulnerability study. For each piece of equipment, failure modes were identified and the appropriate predictive or preventive activity was identified. Spare part stocking levels were determined based on criticality and lead time.

Work planning was also strengthened. Additional planners and schedulers were assigned to each RC. All RC employees attended planner training to instill the importance of the activity throughout the organization. Additional schedulers worked with production to plan work on a weekly and monthly basis, according to business needs and equipment availability.

At the technician level, both in-house and outsourced competencies were determined. It was decided that ALA needed to keep instrument, electrical, and control system technicians in-house because the intimate knowledge of plant processes could not be readily obtained off the street. On the other hand, it was decided that almost all mechanical maintenance services could be safely outsourced because of the high quality of service providers available.

Importing and developing talent
Perhaps the most critical success factor was the hiring of new talent to fill many of the key positions and the development of the substantial technical talent that existed.

The new department inherited some outstanding technical talent, but there were not enough resources to meet the needs and there were some gaps in certain areas. The gaps were identified and an extensive talent search began. Over 2 years, some of the best technical talent in the nation was recruited to join the team. Together these technical specialists made an immediate impact better managing major overhauls and repairs.

However, the most critical positions needing an immediate influx of talent were the five RC managers. In the early stages of the implementation, several of the technical specialists were used for these positions because it was thought that these senior-level engineers would be the perfect mentors for the influx of younger talent being hired as maintenance and reliability engineers.

However, this was not the best use of their talents. What was needed was managers experienced with change management and implementing maintenance and reliability best practices.

In 2002 and 2003, several new RC managers were hired with this type of experience. Most of them had successfully passed the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals’ certification examination and were Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (CMRP).

Each of these new managers was able to articulate to their employees and counterpart in production how and why we were doing what we were doing and could paint a vision of what the end state should look like. They focused on roles and responsibilities and did extensive troubleshooting of issues and work processes that hampered performance. Once on board, the new managers applied the knowledge and experience of the new and existing technical specialists in a more effective manner, focusing on long-term reliability improvement.

The new department also recruited some world-class planners to lead the new planning efforts and to serve as mentors for the fleet of planners in training. After 2 years, the depth of planning talent has increased significantly. These new planners were critical in troubleshooting issues that arose in the new planning and scheduling processes.

The new department also filled entry-level engineering positions with extremely bright young engineers. With their enthusiasm for their assignments and the new managers’ ability to use them effectively, their impact exceeded expectations and made the future of the department bright.

Condition monitoring
By 2002, the focus was on improving condition monitoring. The benchmark study indicated that the existing vibration program was not optimal, primarily because data was not collected frequently enough to avoid most failures.

A team was assembled to design a state-of-the-art system that could increase the frequency of data collection and implement a process that assured action prior to failure. The idea was to partner with a nationwide company that could provide data collection, analysis, issue reports and provide ad hoc troubleshooting.

After evaluating several proposals, the team selected Rockwell Automation as that partner. The program provides three full time and dozens of part time Level 2 (Vibration Institute Certification) vibration technicians to collect data at all plants on a monthly basis and issue monthly reports to the reliability engineers. The program also provides a full time program manager who is located at ALA headquarters. This program manager is considered a valuable member of the ALA maintenance leadership team, just as if he was an RC manager.

KPIs were established to assure timeliness of data collection, the issue of reports, the review of the reports, completion of recommendations, and the number of saves attributed to the program. As mentioned earlier, more than 500 work orders were issued that intervened in component degradation prior to failure.

The program has since expanded to include infrared scanning and oil condition monitoring. The predictive maintenance data and reports for all three technologies are kept on a single database accessed from the ALA intranet. ALA technicians, engineers, and managers anywhere in the world can access this data for analysis or troubleshooting of issues with any piece of equipment at any plant in the United States.

Given the challenging geography of the assets, this is an invaluable resource of information that is constantly being accessed to address and preempt equipment component degradation and avoid breakdowns.

KPIs and monthly reports
Once the new people, tools, and processes were in place, KPIs and monthly management reports were created to drive improvement. As ALA defined them, KPIs are quite different from monthly reports.

KPIs were initially established to measure the effectiveness of the initial implementation and subsequent adjustments to the processes. For example, during initial implementation of the maintenance management process (MMP), it was discovered that simply writing work orders for maintenance work was inconsistent. So a maintenance work order compliance measure was developed for each plant and zone. This identified plants with high and low compliance. Plants with high compliance were recognized publicly and additional training and coaching were provided for plants with lower compliance.

As work order compliance increased, the next problem arose—the lack of resources and skills to adequately plan the increased amount of work orders. There were work order planning KPIs for volume and quality but when work order compliance was low, the planning KPIs looked pretty good. As the planning KPIs fell, additional planners were hired and others were trained until the volume and quality improved.

As planning volume increased, it was discovered that the scheduling process was under-performing. Managers, planners, and engineers worked hard evaluating and troubleshooting the issues and bottlenecks in the scheduling process until it became streamlined and effective.

This process was called “getting around the bases.” In other words, we had to get to first base before we could reach second base. And we had to get to second and third base before we could get to home plate and score a “run.” A run was defined as getting a well-written work order; having it properly approved, well planned, scheduled days to weeks in advance; executing it on time and with high quality; and documenting the problem, cause, and remedy. In this environment, KPIs were use for tactical improvement and modified weekly to measure new issues as they arose.

As problems were solved and improvements became sustainable, old KPIs were dropped to make room for new ones. To assure that the improvements were institutionalized, a higher level of the most critical KPIs was incorporated into monthly reports for management and corporate executives.

The relatively few monthly report measures were much different than the numerous KPIs. Instead of being malleable measures used at the field level to measure the implementation issues of the day, the monthly reports measured performance at a higher level and were held consistent for at least a full year. They were used to assure management that the new processes were working and improving.

The monthly reports consist of two sets of measures—one set for the MMP and one set for equipment reliability. For the MMP, four items are measured:
• Age of the work order backlog. This measures the age of each work order so it can be determined if the volume of work orders exceeds the capacity of the RCs to complete work orders. The measure easily shows how many work orders come into the system each week, are completed, and grow old past the target of 9 weeks (excluding turnaround work orders).
• Preventive maintenance work order scheduling compliance. This measure shows compliance to the schedule date of PM work orders.
• Predictive maintenance work order target compliance. This measure shows compliance to the target date of work orders that were written as the result of a discovery by a condition monitoring report.
• Maintenance activity type. This measures the percentage of man-hours worked for each of the maintenance management plan work types: normal (planned at least a week in advance), preventive maintenance, urgent (planned less than a week in advance), and emergency (no planning). (See Fig. 2.)

The equipment reliability measures are a series of mean time between repair (MTBR) calculations for our most critical equipment. These classes and subclasses are:
• Compressors—large (>2000 hp), medium (200-2000 hp), and small (<200 hp)
• Motors—large (>2000 hp), medium (200-2000 hp), and small (<200 hp)
• Expander turbines—All

These calculations take the number of significant work orders generated for a class of equipment and divide it by the number of pieces of equipment in that class. Because spared equipment is less prevalent in our industry, we do not attempt to account for on-line spares or actual run time. What the metric lacks in pure theoretical accuracy it more than makes up for in consistency. Therefore, its repeatability makes it ideal for internal continuous improvement. The thought is that if the number of significant work orders is reduced, equipment reliability must improve.

Each of the MMP and equipment reliability measures is published in charts on the ALA intranet for all employees to see. Each has the ability to show any of the measures by plant, production zone, maintenance zone, or business unit. This allows any manager at any level in the company to view a customized report with his staff anywhere in the country (see Fig. 4). Managers can now set improvement targets for any plant or group of plants in a zone or business unit.

ALA also has an extensive set of production availability and production disruption reports generated by other departments. Coupled with these measures from the maintenance department’s databases, ALA now has a balanced and comprehensive view of key performance indicators.

Designing the rebenchmark study
In late 2003, ALA decided it was time for an external assessment of improvement progress. The benchmark approach was used again to get a consistent, 3-year progress analysis. The team approach was applied as it was in 2000. Data collection was conducted on the same basis as in 2000. The focus of this assessment was to gauge the extent of improvements over the 3-year period and to bring attention to lingering issues still to be addressed.

Certainly, we all wanted to identify progress and recognize the hard work invested by the entire organization. Once again, quantifying the continuing financial stake was an objective. Another key objective in the rebenchmark study was to provide input for a more formal strategic plan.

With the list of issues from the 2000 assessment, ALA opted to tackle the low hanging fruit without the delay imposed by developing a formal strategy. The expectation in the 2003 assessment was that the remaining issues would likely be more difficult to address and might require a longer-term investment in shifting the culture. The concept of a 3-5 year formal strategic plan approach forces people to keep all issues on their radar, but follow a disciplined schedule of tasks and resources.

2003 results
Substantial improvements were made in the 3½ years between the initial benchmark study and the follow-up study in 2003. Key improvements included:
• Personnel changes to facilitate planning and reliability improvement
• More disciplined processes for planning, reliability analysis, and work scheduling
• Better coordination of contractors
• Improved material management
• A comprehensive set of performance tracking measures
• A substantially improved morale and teamwork environment
• An emerging reliability culture in place with support at the highest levels of management.
• A number of technology tools supporting improved practices including a new CMMS, vibration technology with routes and analysis, RCFA, vulnerability studies, and improved cost definitions, reporting, and analysis
• National agreements with key service providers and suppliers

Of course, there are still issues to improve going forward.
• Develop the new warehousing system into a comprehensive set of integrated national and regional warehouses
• Continue to support the growth of the new reliability culture by finding ways for maintenance, operations, and engineering to collaborate on solving reliability issues and integrating the operating technicians into the new reliability systems.
• Develop a mechanical integrity program to improve reliability for fixed equipment after focusing on improving rotating equipment over the past few years.
• Take the new systems such as the CMMS, the RCFA process, and condition monitoring to the next level.

Measurable progress
Between the recent benchmarking report and the new monthly reports, progress in several areas can now be validated and, more importantly, can drive continuous improvement.

Work order execution. Putting the MMP in place with its defined roles and responsibilities and implementing the CMMS to support it has dramatically increased the department’s ability to do more work more efficiently. While the work order volume was not known prior to the changes, the documented number of work orders completed each month has more than doubled in the past 18 months while reducing costs.

The primary reason is that the two most efficient MMP streams of work, PMs and normal (full planning), have increased from below 50 percent to greater than 75 percent, and are fast approaching the target of 80 percent. Consequently, the most inefficient streams, urgent (minimal planning) and emergency (no planning), are now less than 25 percent with the least efficient emergency work now at less than the target 10 percent.

The next opportunity is to reduce the urgent work to below 10 percent so PM compliance can be increased.

Work order backlog. When the MMP and CMMS went live, the number of work orders being written skyrocketed as previously undocumented maintenance work became documented.

For about a year, the size of the backlog increased steadily each month. Then in 2003, as the influence of the MMP and the CMMS began to grow, the size of the increase began to lessen. By the beginning of 2004, the increase stopped and the total backlog remains remarkably constant.

This is another indicator that the ability to complete work orders has equaled the volume of work orders created. The next opportunity is to continue to increase efficiencies so that the number completed exceeds the number created and the work order backlog can be reduced.

PM work order schedule compliance. Again, when the MMP and CMMS went live, the number of PM work orders increased. As expected, initial PM schedule compliance was low. However, the volume of completed PM work orders also has increased and is now four times what it was a year ago. This has increased PM compliance to about 80 percent in some months, but it is not consistently at that level.

This is related to the number of urgent work orders being above target. If the amount of urgent work can be reduced, the 90 percent target for this measure should be attainable.

PdM work order schedule compliance. When the condition monitoring programs were put in place, they initially generated large volumes of work orders because far more equipment was being looked at far more frequently than ever before. As expected, initial schedule compliance for these work orders was lower than desired. But as the work order capacity of the department grew, the backlog of these work orders was minimized and compliance is consistently up from 50 percent to more than 75 percent, and is fast approaching the 90 percent target.

Maintenance costs. Maintenance costs decreased between 2000 and 2003 despite doing more maintenance work. All the efforts from implementing the MMP and CMMS, to consolidating vendors, to increasing the engineering, managerial, and planning talent have played a role.

Downtime for planned maintenance. The amount of planned downtime has more than doubled in the past 4 years, confirming the fact that far more work is being controlled than ever before. The ability to do this work on our own terms instead of the equipment’s terms not only improves the efficiency of maintenance, but also all of the other business unit costs associated with taking a plant out of service. Now that major maintenance is more defined and better planned, it can be better coordinated with customers and the internal supply chain, reducing costs and increasing profits for both.

Supply availability. Like most everyone, during the recent downturn in the United States economy, business volumes were lower than they are today. Therefore, supply availability remained high due to the availability of excess capacity. Now that the economy has picked up markedly, our volumes have steadily increased and in some business units are at record levels. This has put a premium on the reliability it takes to operate at these rates with less backup capacity. During the past 4 years the traditional high levels of supply availability have held steady at these higher rates, again confirming that the investment the company made in the area of maintenance and reliability during a down economy has positioned it well for an improved one.

Reliability. ALA now has two new measures for reliability. The one at the plant level is the number of production incidents, no matter how small and no matter if they had any affect on supply availability. At the equipment level, the MTBR is measured for all motors, compressors, and turbine expanders. Both measures are too new to give a trend, so the 2004 data is being validated and improvement targets for 2005 are being set.

The future
ALA still has several areas to complete and optimize along this never-ending journey toward reliability excellence. In the short term, Air Liquide Group has completed the acquisition of Messer Griesheim’s operations in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States (MG Industries).

In the United States, more than two dozen production facilities will be gained. These plants will be incorporated into the MMP, CMMS, condition monitoring program, PM program, and the national service and supply agreements. In addition, at least four new plants under construction must also be incorporated into these systems.

The commissioning of a new national warehouse in Houston has been completed, and now regional warehouses need to be created to hold spare parts currently located at the plants. This is a huge project that will tell what is on hand. In parallel, vulnerability studies will be completed at all our sites over the next 2 years. Among other things, this will tell what we need. Then the spare parts stocks can be optimized from what we have to what we need.

A cross-functional team of operations, maintenance, and engineering has been commissioned that will determine and define collaborative reliability activities to instill a reliability culture throughout the company. The team will explore several elements of total productive maintenance including operations-driven reliability, equipment improvement teams, early equipment management, and the increasing use of RCFA.

Earlier this year a mechanical integrity project was approved and staffed. This team will implement a more formal and comprehensive mechanical integrity program. They also will institutionalize all of the new tools and processes with new maintenance and reliability policies and procedures and establish a formal audit protocol that will ensure compliance and improvement.

And, benchmarking approximately every 3 years will always be a part of the long-term plan to validate progress, see where other companies are moving, and adjust the strategic direction to meet business needs and incorporate industry best practices.

At ALA, it is our firm belief that our investments in improving reliability will separate us from our competition and, in the end, make both ALA and its customers stronger and more profitable partners. MT


Mark E. Lawrence, PE, CMRP, is director of maintenance and reliability, Air Liquide America, LP, 2700 Post Oak Blvd., Suite 1800, Houston, TX 77056; telephone (713) 624-8181. Edwin K. Jones, PE, is a consultant who can be reached at telephone (863) 699-9196

Early maintenance process

 

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Fig. 1. This is an early ALA strategy to gain control of maintenance work by applying planning and scheduling to half of the work that could be planned and scheduled and using national contractors and improved supervision on both the planned and emergency work. For gaining control of the equipment, the planned work would flow into CMMS work history and the unplanned work would flow into RCFAs. RCM would proactively generate the PM and PdM programs and plant assessments would detail needed restoration. All of this would reside in the CMMS and the outcome would maximize planned work and minimize breakdowns.

 

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Maintenance work categories

 

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Fig. 2. The maintenance management process designated four types of maintenance work: emergency (no planning) where work starts immediately, urgent (minimal planning) where work starts in 24-72 hr, normal (full planning) where work is scheduled weeks in advance, and preventive maintenance (preplanned and approved) that can go straight to scheduling.

 

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Task Roles and Responsibilities

 

Maintenance Management Process

Create Work Orders

Plan WOs

Approval

Procure Material

Receive Material

Schedule WOs

Assign Work

Prepare Equipment & Permits

Complete Work

Safety Activities

Maintenance Reports

Cost Control/Budget Preparations

RCFAs

RCM Analysis

MOCs

PMs

PM Job Plans

PdM Data Collection

PdM Data Analysis

CBM Action Item WOs

RC Manager

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Maintenance Engineer

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Reliability Engineer

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Maintenance Planner

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Maintenance Scheduler

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Maintenance Coordinator

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Maintenance Specialist

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Production Tech

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Plant Manager

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Fig. 3. RACI chart is used to explain the roles and responsibilities of all employees involved in the maintenance management process. R = responsible, A = accountable, C = consulted, and I = informed

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Completed work report

 

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Fig. 4. Sample monthly report shows the percent of man-hours spent on the four maintenance management process flow paths. These reports have drill-down capability to the business unit and plant level and can be viewed by any ALA employee anywhere in the country.

 

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2003 benchmark improvements

 

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Fig. 5. These two benchmarking charts showing estimated replacement value per planner and per engineering support person confirm that both planning and engineering resources were brought more into line with world class companies in the benchmark database.

 


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