Archive | February, 2005


1:35 am
February 2, 2005
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Reliability: Up close and personal at MARTS


Robert C. Baldwin, CMRP, Editor

The words “reliability” and “maintenance,” two separate but linked disciplines noted in the tag line on our cover, are often used interchangeably be people who don’t understand the difference. (Do you?)

The people around the periphery of our profession have co-opted the word “reliability” because they have heard that it is important. Little do they know how important it really is. The producers of the Maintenance & Reliability Technology Summit (MARTS) certainly do and we have designed some unique offerings into that comprehensive conference and show for people new to reliability as well as experienced practioners.

The reliability curriculum begins with a pre-conference workshop on the Fundamentals of Reliability Centered Maintenance.

Elements of RCM will be addressed on the first day of the conference in a track introduced by Jack Nicholas, Jr. of Maintenance Quality Systems. Then, separate speakers will each focus on on one of RCM’s defining questions:

  • What are the functions and associated performance standards of the asset in its operating context (functions)?
  • In what ways can it fail to fulfill its functions (functional failures)?
  • What causes each functional failure (failure modes)?
  • What happens when each failure occurs (failure effects)?
  • In what way does each failure matter (failure consequences)?
  • What should be done to predict or prevent each failure (proactive tasks)?
  • What should be done if a suitable proactive task cannot be found (default actions)?

The second day of the conference will present sessions on reliability methods: Wiebull Analysis, Proactive Root Cause Analysis, Human Error Reduction, and Cause Mapping.

The curriculum will be capped by a post-conference workshop on Reliability Engineering for Maintenance Practitioners.

Anyone participating in this unique program should walk away with as good an understanding of reliability and reliability centered maintenance as one can get in 4 days.

Now, back to the question posed in the first paragraph—the difference between the disciplines of maintenance and reliability. There are many definitions, but one that may count most is the attitude of practitioners, neatly summed up by Charles Latino, founder of Reliability Center, when he noted that maintenance practitioners are “today” people, while reliability practitioners are “tomorrow” people.

And speaking of tomorrow, don’t wait; mark your calendar to attend MARTS May 23-26, 2005. MT


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6:00 am
February 1, 2005
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From Zero to Hero

Six steps to effective maintenance management for smaller operations

You can see the eyes of many maintenance managers in many small companies glaze over at the mention of CMMS, RCM, TPM, FMEA, and the other maintenance-related acronyms that often are introduced in discussions on maintenance and facilities management. Big companies often employ some of these initiatives in their maintenance organizations because they can afford to do so. The reality for many cash-strapped, smaller businesses is quite different. Most of their maintenance is reactive. Plant and equipment problems get dealt with only as they arise and that is usually when it is too late to avoid the resulting disruption to their production or processes.

Even when a company has both the will and the money to spend, it is difficult to know where to start when considering the implementation of maintenance management systems. Probably the majority of smaller companies are still at this stage, which effectively means the majority of maintenance people. The prospect of developing suitable maintenance control strategies and policies from a standing start is daunting. There are many questions such as how much will it cost, where will the resources come from, and how will we cope.

Well, here is a surprise—the truth is that there is not really a lot to it and I would suggest the following simplified, nonscientific approach. I will not show you any pie charts or fancy graphs and there will be no more three-letter acronyms, but it is a realistic, effective plan and its low cost puts it within the reach of all small companies.

Step 1: Select a low-cost CMMS
The purchase of a low-cost computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) will involve spending some money, but it is the tool for developing an equipment register, arguably the most important component in this process. The good news is that low-cost, Microsoft Access-based systems can fill the bill. If you have $1000 to spend, you should be able to find a single-user system that will meet your needs.

Step 2: Develop your equipment register
Maintaining an equipment register (a list of all of your maintainable equipment) is a necessity. At the lowest level this may hold only details of your equipment and its location. But most CMMS applications provide space to store all sorts of equipment details. These may include make, model, serial number, equipment history, linked spares, linked drawings, etc. You can decide for yourself what information you want to record. If you are lucky you already may have this in a spreadsheet or database.

If you have a lot of equipment you may want to consider developing a user-friendly asset numbering system. These are not hard to create, e.g., FAPACK03 could represent the final assembly area (FA), packaging machine (PACK), number 3. You can develop this to meet your needs.

Step 3: Develop a planned preventive maintenance (PM) schedule
Clearly PM schedules are best when they are based on equipment history, but you probably will not have any history available. If you do not have it, your experience should allow you to determine which equipment really must be on your PM schedule. The initial schedule, therefore, will be based on your familiarity with your own equipment but the PM frequencies that you choose initially should be considered no more than educated guesses. Where practical, you also may want to consider the use of metered maintenance that is based on runtime or cycle time as opposed to a fixed time period.

Step 4: Put a good, ad hoc work reporting system in place
Maintenance can be broadly classified as planned or unplanned, where unplanned is breakdown or reactive work. Before a proper maintenance plan is in place, the ratio of unplanned maintenance vs planned maintenance will be high, perhaps 20 to 1, or even more. Your aim must be to reduce this ratio to a more satisfactory level. To do this you must introduce an effective work request system that captures the details of all ad hoc work that is being done. One way to do this is to refuse to accept any work requests unless they are routed through the CMMS. The details of these jobs will then be captured and included in your equipment history.

Step 5: Use the maintenance history to fine tune the schedule
As time passes and equipment history starts to be collected in the CMMS, you can use it to identify the equipment whose performance is causing disruption and downtime. You then can optimize the PM work that is taking place in an effort to minimize this. The CMMS must be capable of producing the specific reports that can identify your improvement areas. For example, if you are in a production environment and reduction of downtime is a problem, a downtime “top ten” report will be important.

Step 6: Convert PM routines to planned inspections
One of the dangers of introducing PM routines is that after some time it can become generally accepted that they absolutely must be done within the specified period. This period was probably chosen by the guesstimate method mentioned in Step 3 and it may not be the optimum interval. For example, a monthly maintenance routine often can be scheduled on machinery that may have been used only for a week or two during the previous month. PM periodicity must be reviewed regularly.

You can use your developing equipment history to analyze the PM work that is taking place and ask yourself what it is achieving. Look at the likely failures that could occur on the equipment and try to put in place inspection routines to monitor equipment condition.

With more time and a greater understanding of the problems that are occurring, you should be able to drop many of your PM routines in favor of planned maintenance inspections. These will give you an indication of when a routine really needs to be carried out as opposed to doing it blindly, on a calendar basis.

The advantage of inspections is that many of them can be done quickly, while the equipment is still running (subject, of course, to normal safety regulations). This is basic condition monitoring or condition-based maintenance and even at this grass roots level it can be effective.

What does all this cost?
This scenario is within the reach of almost all maintenance departments. At this stage there is no need to throw money at the problem. You can do it for as little as $2000. If you can afford $10,000 you could get yourself a pretty useful CMMS. All you really need is the time and the motivation.

If you do it right you will end up with more time on your hands for analysis and prediction of problems as opposed to reacting to them. If you follow the above rules your returns will be much greater than your investment.

How long does all this take?
It cannot be done overnight. There is a significant amount of work involved and it depends on the resources that you can allocate to it. That said, a small company could put a CMMS in place in a couple of weeks. It will be easier if you already have an equipment register and maintenance procedures.

Gathering equipment history is a different story and it will be a few months before you have any significant data available. One year down the line you should be able to measure significant performance improvements.

Bryan D. Weir is principal consultant at Perspective CMMS, Balloch, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland; +44-01389-758245

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6:00 am
February 1, 2005
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Just what is World Class Maintenance?

We often freely brandish the term “world class” around without a true comprehension as to what it really means. In my opinion, world class maintenance organizations are those that consistently demonstrate industry best practices and produce bottom-line results as well. The later part of that statement, “produce bottom-line results,” is what separates the best from the rest.

I believe it is possible to have a world class maintenance organization without paying through the nose to achieve it. Several years ago, I would send clients to benchmark an organization that had long been recognized as world class amongst its peers.

Closer examination showed that this company’s maintenance costs were high as compared to the estimated replacement value (ERV) of the assets being maintained. On top of this, the organization had a large amount of spare or redundant equipment which increased uptime but lowered the return from its assets. I stopped sending clients to this location because it was not encouraging cost reduction through efficiency gains.

One of the advantages of tracking financial ratios such as RONA (return on net assets) and ROCE (return on capital employed) is that it begins to show how efficient we are with generating returns from our asset pool.

RONA is a measure of financial performance expressed as RONA = net income ÷ (fixed assets + net working capital).

The higher the return (RONA), the better the profit margin performance for the company. In other words, we return greater margins when we can produce more with less. This is similar to increasing inventory turn rates so we become more efficient with smaller amounts of inventory.

ROCE is a ratio that indicates the efficiency and profitability of a company’s capital investments expressed as ROCE = EBIT ÷ (total assets – current liabilities), where EBIT stands for earnings before interest and tax.

Obviously, ROCE, the efficiency with which capital is being utilized to generate revenue, should always be higher than the rate at which the company can borrow additional capital.

If we understand that our mission in maintenance is to ensure maximum capacity, we also should be aware that it is ensuring the right mix of assets to do the job. In other words, it is not enough to ensure availability, we also should be looking at utilization and returns from each asset. The problem is that we often look at groups of equipment and rarely focus on individual equipment profit and loss.

For example, perhaps we have several of the same type of equipment, say, 15 rubber-tire backhoes used in our construction business. Now, when we examine the asset utilization of the group, we notice that it is 51 percent. However, when we examine the asset utilization for each one, we can see that there is a range from 10 to 85 percent. We further find that three are primarily used for stand-by (10 percent) while four are worked very hard (85 percent). Now, if we sell the bottom three and focus on improving the utilization and coordination of the remaining 12, or renting the three when needed, we can produce the same level of output or more with fewer units.

By reducing the amount of equipment we also lower the overhead to support that equipment. Our ownership cost per unit goes down while our return per asset go up.

The problem I found is that few companies are actually looking at the bottom line of each piece of equipment. We assume that if we are spending more money on preventive maintenance and condition monitoring, we are doing an good job in reducing costs to the organization. But annual maintenance costs seem to escalate unless management constantly reviews buy-sell-lease options and measures the costs and returns of all assets.

Part of the answer lies with doing good maintenance but the remainder of the answer lies with the efficient examination of profit and loss by equipment piece. Ultimately, we should ask “just how much does this equipment return to our organization and is that the best we can do?”

Most companies see maintenance as merely the function or activities that service and keep the equipment functional.

Maintenance can be seen as more than a necessary evil when it talks the financial language of those who make the final decisions about the fate of maintenance. We then move from simply maintaining assets to managing those assets.—Preston Ingalls

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6:00 am
February 1, 2005
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How Does Your Maintenance Program Measure Up?

Mastery of the fundamentals dictates future success

The most critical aspect of successful industrial maintenance is the existence of a well-defined, properly understood, and well-executed maintenance program.

There are many advantages to the organization that defines its maintenance program properly. It allows the elements of an existing program to be confirmed. The best organization derives from a well-defined program as does the ability to select and use the right information system. New strategies such as reliability centered maintenance (RCM) or total productive maintenance (TPM) can be implemented with success because the program definition has caused maintenance to master the fundamentals.

The maintenance program should prescribe what maintenance does, how it is done, who does what, when, and why. Because the maintenance program includes coordination with production or obtaining services from warehousing, for example, it must clearly describe these essential interactions. The absence of a well-defined maintenance program or the ineffective communication of program elements to other departments penalizes the maintenance organization because it denies needed cooperation and support.

The section “Elements of an Effective Maintenance Program outlines the ingredients for success and offers standards for evaluating a program.

The computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is not the maintenance program. There are a surprising number of maintenance organizations that have concluded that the purchase of a maintenance information system automatically equips them with a program. It does not. The information system is only the communications network that enables a well-organized maintenance department to execute a well-defined and understood program more efficiently as the result of using reliable, timely, and complete information. The maintenance program states what maintenance does, how, who does what, when, and why. If a maintenance organization has not defined its program first, it is unlikely that it will select an information system that best supports the needs of the program.

Impact across the plant

The efficient interaction of departments is critical to the success of maintenance. Maintenance efforts would fail if, for example, production did not make equipment available for scheduled repairs or purchasing failed to deliver needed materials on time. Similarly, this interaction among departments requires that the plant manager guide efforts with clear objectives and policies. Concurrently, he must monitor the total performance of departments toward his goal of consistently reliable equipment.

All departments are adversely affected by an inadequate program. Production, for instance, wonders how it can best cooperate with maintenance. Staff departments like warehousing try to second guess what maintenance wants. Plant managers are frustrated and impatient, expecting that maintenance should, by now, know what it is supposed to do and how. In those instances that maintenance organizations have not defined their programs, maintenance and operations personnel, as well as staff department members whose help is essential to successful maintenance, have little idea of what is expected of them. Thus, essential, basic support for the program is not provided. Instead, confusion and uncertainty prevail. The maintenance program guides the interaction of plant departments as they carry out mutually-supporting procedures. Warehousing and purchasing, for example, will specify procedures to obtain materials while maintenance will include these procedures in its own program to ensure they are understood, coordinated, and followed.

Constructing the program

Program definition begins with the plant manager. He should make certain his operating plan meshes with the company’s mission. His operating plan should state how he wishes departments to work together efficiently and productively by providing them with specific objectives. He then would provide policies to amplify the objectives. From his policies, departments would develop the interlocking procedures that make the plant’s maintenance program work efficiently (Fig. 1).

The plant manager must create an inter-department working environment in which maintenance can succeed. His policy should state, “I want a logical, well-defined program from maintenance that fits my operating plan, and I want all plant personnel to understand it, support it, and make it work.”

Defining the program is a joint effort of all departments. How to withdraw stock materials is as important as how to schedule PM services. The participation among departments clarifies procedures and objectives so that the total plant work force is better informed and more helpful. This interdepartmental participation assures better future performance.

This joint effort in developing the program assures that the objectives of quality work, higher productivity, lower costs, and consistently reliable equipment will be attained. The essential interaction of departments is illustrated in the table “Typical Maintenance-Operations Interaction.”

The process of program definition requires that each program element be considered. Therefore, it should be a composite action of all departments. As they work together, maintenance crews, equipment operators, supervisors, and staff personnel (like planners, warehouse personnel, and purchasing agents) should confer as the procedures for each department are explained and added to the program. This collaboration assures the practicality and workability of the final program.

Once the program has been documented, all personnel should be educated. Education must include everyone in the maintenance work force, all operations personnel, and staff. Plant managers should make a special effort to participate in and observe the discussion between departments as they test out and commit to the procedures necessary to carry out the plant’s operating plan. Pertinent questions should be answered promptly and correctly. Those giving the instruction should be aware that their preliminary program definition may require clarification. As a result, recommendations with merit from their listeners should be welcomed and encouraged.

When explanation of the program definition is being given, adhere to the chain of command so that those responsible for work control (supervisors or team leaders) will be addressing their own crews. Plant managers should monitor the educational process and then measure how effectively the new program helps improve performance.

Successful implementation of any maintenance strategy will require plant personnel to rethink how they will perform maintenance. They also will consider how to best use modern management techniques, new technologies, and information to achieve greater equipment reliability and capacity. Thus, the act of defining the maintenance program is an opportunity to change thinking and align responsibilities to apply the new program elements. In the process of defining the program, greater participation is encouraged and commitments are secured as a result of better understanding.


Following over 35 years of observing and evaluating the industrial maintenance landscape, we have found countless situations of poor maintenance management and performance directly traceable to the lack of a solid, coherent maintenance program.

No program means little help from other departments. Maintenance is not a stand-alone effort. To be successful, it requires the guidance of management, the cooperation of operations customers, and the support of staff departments such as purchasing or warehousing. Only the plant manager with his operating plan, clear objectives, and policies can assure this cooperation and support. But he must ensure that maintenance has the essential foundation—a solid program.

Plant managers play a vital role in the success of maintenance. Their operating plan must assign mutually supporting objectives to each department. For example, a production department that fails to make equipment available to maintenance for necessary scheduled maintenance so it can meet its production targets undermines overall plant performance. Plant managers must make production responsible for effective use of maintenance services and hold it accountable.

The managers’ policies must reach into maintenance as well. For example, the plant manager who insists that “PM takes precedence over every type of work except a bona-fide emergency” will be rewarded with high PM compliance, sufficient planned work, quality work, and acceptable downtime levels.

Most operations and staff departments want to help maintenance. But, if there is no well-defined maintenance program, those who must assist do not know how to help. Maintenance has violated an essential axiom: “If you want someone to help you, step one is to tell them how.” That is a primary objective of the maintenance program.

Common failures

Numerous maintenance organizations have failed in attempts to organize teams or implement strategies such as RCM or TPM because they have not yet mastered the fundamentals required to successfully make these changes. Effective teams and employee empowerment do not simply happen. They happen only after clear, logical management oversight is provided and a meaningful program is created to guide interactions. Only then are the initiatives and progressive thinking of team organizations and empowered employees realized. In every instance those organizations failing are the same ones who lack a well-defined program.

Plant managers are often inclined to leave maintenance alone unless something goes astray. Many feel that a maintenance supervisor with 20 years experience must know what he is about. Yet, the incumbent supervisor, while he means well and is conscientious, may still think the same way he did as a craftsman. “Making the equipment run again” may be his primary objective. Working out the overall program and all of the ramifications that go with it may be his least concern. Too often, if a well-defined maintenance program is to happen at all, the plant manager must insist on it.

Pay attention to the program definition

A well-defined and effective maintenance program spells out the interaction of all departments as they request or identify work, classify it to determine the best reaction, plan selected work to ensure it is accomplished efficiently, and schedule the work to ensure it is performed at the best time with the most effective use of resources. In addition, the maintenance program specifies how work is assigned to personnel in a way that assures each person has a full shift of bona fide work. Then, as work is performed, the program establishes work control procedures to ensure quality work, completed on time. In addition, the program specifies how completed work is measured to ensure timely completion, under budget with quality results. The maintenance program also should prescribe a means of periodic evaluations to identify and prioritize improvement needs.

The key words in the maintenance program, noted in the section “Elements of an Effective Maintenance Program,” are request, identify, classify, plan, schedule, assign, control, measure and assess work. Each of these elements must answer the questions of who, what, how, when, and why. Let’s examine each program element:

• Request work. This task is carried out primarily by production personnel. However, anyone can request work with a modern electronic work order system.

• Identify work. Work identification is a primary objective of the preventive maintenance program. However, the examination of repair history, cost assessment, or the need to comply with safety or regulatory matters are other sources of work identification. In turn, the work order system is used to convey newly identified work into the maintenance program where it is classified, planned, scheduled, assigned, controlled, completed, and measured.

• Classify work. Is the newly requested or identified work an emergency repair, work that should be planned, or is it not maintenance at all but, instead, construction? The maintenance program should define the various categories of work and spell out actions to be taken if the new work is nonmaintenance, an emergency, or work requiring planning, for example.

• Plan work. There should be criteria for determining which work will be planned and scheduled. Criteria ensure the most effective use of planners and, concurrently, define work that is the sole responsibility of maintenance field personnel. The program should spell out the planning steps and the use of the work order system in planning. In addition, the supporting roles of the warehouse and purchasing should be described. Planning details also should prescribe the use of standards to support periodic tasks such as component replacements or overhauls. Some organizations insist that all jobs go through the planner. In most instances, this arrangement has resulted from a population of supervisors reluctant to use the computer. Typically, an emergency repair funneled through the planner guarantees that the equipment will deteriorate further by the time the job reaches the crew who must make the repair. In virtually every instance of this practice, the planner becomes the work order administrator who is soon overcome with the volume of jobs for which he must prepare work orders. Soon little planning takes place. Alternately, clerks are designated as planners and consider work order administration as job security.

• Schedule work. Scheduling is a joint production-maintenance activity. Its objective is to negotiate the best future time for completing major planned jobs or static PM services to guarantee least interference with production and the best use of maintenance resources—especially labor. The approved schedule then becomes a contract between production to make the equipment available and maintenance to complete the work. Subsequently, schedule compliance should be reported up to plant manager level. The program should detail all of these steps.

• Assign work. Every craftsman should have a full shift of ready-to-be-performed, bona fide work. In the case of nonplanned work, a craftsman should be expected to obtain the necessary stock materials with the same skill level that he selects the right tool for the job. The procedure for making work assignments should be specified and the duties of the supervisor as well as the craftsman prescribed in completing work and reporting associated field data.

• Control work. Work can be controlled in a number of ways. For a large planned job involving numerous craftsmen, the presence of the supervisor at the job site contributes to the best control. Jobs performed by individuals are best controlled with frequent progress reports to the supervisor. Control is also exercised indirectly. Progress on a long-term job such as an overhaul may be monitored by observing current reports, for example. The end result of good work control is manifested by timely completion, work quality, high productivity, on-target costs and, in the long term, reliable equipment.

• Measure work. When major work has been completed, cost and performance should be measured. Individual job costs are summarized by work order and, in the case of planned work, actual costs are contrasted with job estimates. Job performance is measured in both single jobs as well as a multitude of jobs. With single planned jobs, timely completion, man-hour utilization, and work quality are important. With multiple jobs, schedule compliance, for example, is a very significant measure of performance.

• Evaluate (long term). A regular evaluation procedure is the best guarantee of continuous improvement. The first step of any improvement effort must be an evaluation to identify activities requiring improvement and prioritize their impact on improvement objectives. Not to evaluate before attempting an improvement project invites guesswork and frustration. A failed improvement effort is virtually guaranteed.

Program documentation

A maintenance program can be documented using several different techniques. However, the readability of the final product and how well it conveys the details of the program to the plant work force should be the criteria. A thick notebook filled with verbiage is unlikely to be read. A schematic diagram showing actual personnel as they perform program tasks with a legend explaining each action is more effective in explaining the program and as a reference while personnel work out any inconsistencies (Fig. 2). Definition must be good enough so that a person of equal qualifications of any incumbent can step in, follow the program, and achieve equally good results.

No program is final. A technique that allows easy modification is best. Program definition must establish that maintenance does what it says it will do.

Paul D. Tomlingson, author of the book Equipment Management–Breakthrough Maintenance Management Strategy for the 21st Century, is principal, Paul D. Tomlingson Associates, Inc., Management Consultants, 1905 Glencoe Street, Denver, CO 80220; (303) 377-5585


Typically, a well-defined and effective maintenance program spells out the interaction of all departments as they request or identify work, classify it to determine the best reaction, plan selected work to ensure it is accomplished efficiently, and schedule the work to ensure it is performed at the best time with the most effective use of resources. In addition, the maintenance program specifies how work is assigned to personnel in a way that assures each person has a full shift of bona-fide work. Then, as work is performed, the program establishes work control procedures to ensure quality work, completed on time. In addition, the program specifies how completed work is measured to ensure timely completion, under budget with quality results. The maintenance program also should prescribe a means of periodic evaluations to identify and prioritize improvement needs.

The following standards can be used to evaluate a maintenance program.

1. Maintenance has a well-defined program.

2. The program prescribes effective ways to identify new work using preventive or predictive maintenance services, analysis of repair history, costs, etc.

3. Clear procedures are prescribed for requesting new work.

4. The maintenance program specifies how nonmaintenance work such as construction, new equipment installation, or major equipment modifications will be submitted, assessed, funded, and carried out.

5. The program has defined what “maintenance” consists of to eliminate any confusion with other work it might do such as construction.

6. As part of its program definition, maintenance has defined everyday terminology. It has, for example, explained the difference between a rebuild and an overhaul or between corrective maintenance and modification.

7. Within the program, maintenance has carefully defined the workload. Workload elements such as emergency repairs, preventive maintenance services, or planned/scheduled maintenance have been defined, agreed upon, and published.

8. There are criteria for determining which work will be planned and scheduled. Criteria ensure the most effective use of planners and, concurrently, define work that is the sole responsibility of maintenance field personnel.

9. Procedures for scheduling are prescribed.

10. The maintenance program prescribes how work will be assigned to maintenance personnel and states clear objectives. A typical objective might be, for example, to ensure that each maintenance person has a full shift of realistic, bona fide, ready-to-work jobs assigned to him or her.

11. Information required to carry out the maintenance program and control work properly is prescribed by the maintenance program. For example, the use of repair history or cost reports is prescribed to help identify new work. Similarly, the program might specify how the backlog is used to help determine whether maintenance is keeping up with the generation of new work.

12. Methods of controlling on-going work are prescribed by the maintenance program. For example, on-site work control by supervisors, team leaders, lead men, or others is prescribed. In addition, field reporting procedures are prescribed for personnel working on their own or working in a team environment.

13. The program prescribes how completed work will be measured to ensure timely finish, within budget, against standards with quality results.

14. The maintenance program includes procedures whereby maintenance performance can be evaluated to identify improvement needs, prioritize them, and carry out improvement actions.

15. The maintenance program has been explained to all plant personnel to enable them to support it effectively.

16. The maintenance program has been sufficiently well-documented so that a person of equal qualifications to any incumbent can follow the program details and deliver performance equal to the incumbent.

17. Implementation of maintenance strategies such as total productive maintenance (TPM) or reliability centered maintenance (RCM) is preceded by verification that maintenance fundamentals and use of information are effective.

Maintenance performance standards for 13 other maintenance activities can be downloaded from the author’s Web site

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Fig. 1. The plant manager’s operating plan derives from the company’s mission. In turn, the operating plan specifies objectives for each department and amplifies them with pertinent policies. From these policies, individual departments establish procedures on how they provide or receive services. Then, the procedures are arranged into a program spelling out who does what, how, when, and why; an information system is added to provide control; and the best organization is determined and implemented.

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Fig. 2. Process diagram depicts the preventive maintenance portion of the maintenance program. Elements of the process: 1. Scheduling of preventive maintenance services is determined by the information system. 2. Services on equipment due are either static (require shutdown) or dynamic (done while running). 3. Static services are integrated into the weekly schedule and operations advised of the approved, scheduled shutdown times. 4. Dynamic services are done at the discretion of the maintenance supervisor. 5. The maintenance supervisor assigns services to individual crew members. 6. Services are performed by crew members. 7. Crew members confer with operators to learn about actual equipment condition. 8. Operators assist according to checklist instructions. 9. Operations supervisors are advised of new deficiencies by the crew member. 10. Deficiencies are then reviewed by the maintenance supervisor and the crew member and converted into work as follows: 11. Emergency repairs—Supervisor assigns at first opportunity. 12. Work to be planned—Supervisor forwards to planner. 13. Unscheduled repairs—Crew member enters in work order system as new work.

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6:00 am
February 1, 2005
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Sensor Reduces Costs at Chemical Plant

0205summitcontrolsSensors support reliable and safe operation, provide regulatory monitoring and validation, and ensure quality control, process efficiency, and optimization. And they must do so with accuracy, stability, and fast response time. Eastman Chemical Co. turned to the Foxboro DolpHin Series pH sensor line from Invensys, Foxboro, MA, to address these issues at a gas scrubber at the company’s Longview, TX, manufacturing complex. The new sensors contributed to significant cost savings in maintenance and equipment by reducing cleaning, calibrating, and replacement requirements, as well as manufacturing supply costs.

Eastman’s Texas Operations manufactures more than 60 major chemical and plastic products for sale to customers worldwide. Its gas scrubber uses water and caustic in a 20 percent sodium hydroxide solution to remove hydrochloric acid from a flue gas stream to meet Eastman’s environmental quality standards and to comply with Federal Resource and Conservation Recovery Act (RECRA) requirements.

To monitor the pH levels, the scrubber uses a two-probe redundant system to ensure continuous operation in the event of a single sensor failure. The probes are tied to an automatic shutdown system that aborts the scrubbing operation if the pH is outside acceptable limits.

Due to severe conditions in the scrubber (185 F and pH of up to 10.5), sensors had to be replaced frequently—often within 2 weeks of installation and even as frequently as three times per week. Because the sensors could not withstand the environment, readings were not accurate, which caused operators to have to add caustic, resulting in higher pH values. The higher pH values, in turn, would etch the glass on the sensors, resulting in inaccurate performance and faster rates of failure. The end result of this snowball effect was unacceptably high manufacturing and maintenance costs.

“Frequent sensor failure caused unreliable pH measurements which required additional samples to be analyzed by the control room operators,” said Wyatt Partney, senior control systems technician at Eastman’s Longview facility. “That resulted in increased loads on downstream processes.

“With the Foxboro DolpHin pH sensors, Eastman’s equipment and maintenance costs were eight times lower than with the previous sensors, and the efficiency of our scrubber operation was optimized,” Partney noted. The new sensors’ pH glass formulation provides greater measurement stability and accuracy and longer service life, up to 6 months, a significant improvement from the previous products that were operating properly for 3 to 4 weeks at best. And the new sensors have resulted in a 50 percent decrease in the amount of caustic used as a result of inaccurate pH level measurement that caused operators to continuously add the sodium hydroxide scrubbing solution.

Information provided by Paul Aloia, instrumentation applications engineer, Summit Controls, Inc., Plano, TX 75074; (972) 422-4388;

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6:00 am
February 1, 2005
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Preparing the Organization for Reliability Based Maintenance

Addressing the soft side results in hard dollars

Most of our organizations have operated in a highly reactive mode for as long as anyone can remember. Most of us would say, “That’s the way it’s always been.” When we live in a world of reactive maintenance, we naturally develop a work culture that supports the reactive model. Everything about the work culture has been developed, or has evolved, to support the reactive model. A value system also has evolved to support the reactive model. Let’s look at the culture and values of the maintenance and operations organizations before the introduction of a reliability based maintenance model.

Typical operations
Maintenance supervision. A look at our maintenance supervisors will reveal some interesting insights about the work culture we have created. In our reactive model, one of the supervisor’s primary responsibilities is the immediate correction of an equipment breakdown. How many of your supervisors carry radios? Why? In general, the answer will be, “So they can respond to an emergency faster.”

Our expectation is that supervisors respond to emergencies. We have taught them that failure to respond to the emergency is unacceptable. Have you ever had a supervisor stand up at a meeting so that you could publicly recognize him or her for “saving the day” by rushing out to fix pump such and such? What were the things you remembered that went into the supervisor’s last performance appraisal? To meet the demands of the reactive maintenance environment, we expect, we promote, and we reward reactive behavior. Supervisors who do not “race into the fire” are often by-passed for promotion as personnel who do not have the right spirit.

Maintenance technicians. Our craft technicians are not immune from the reactive mentality. Listen to the war stories told around the bench or at the local watering hole. Most have the common theme of how they ran out to save the day. Here again, the rewards system has been established to recognize the “firefighter” rather than the individual who plans the work. Since most of us have grown up in an environment where equipment is expected to fail, it makes sense that we reward those who save the day with a quick fix to the problem.

Operations supervision. Is it any wonder that our operations organizations have the same mind set toward reactive maintenance as our maintenance personnel? There has always been that rivalry between operations and maintenance. Why? Simply stated, when equipment breaks down, all the operator cares about is how soon it will be restored. How much more reactive can you get? All discussions about how it broke, why it broke, or who is responsible for it breaking take a back seat to the discussion of how soon it will be fixed.

Very often it is operations personnel who are the ones pushing, pushing, pushing for equipment to be returned to service and encouraging the bubble gum and bailing wire fix that leads to a repeat failure. Of course, if it fails again, shame on maintenance.

This is a logical attitude for the operations supervisor to take. After all, the experience has been that equipment fails and maintenance “just can’t seem to get it fixed.” And all the time the equipment is down is impacting production, whether real or perceived. When production goals are not met, the first one to feel the sting is the operations personnel. Whether the equipment is vital to plant operations is not important. To operations supervision, generally, all equipment is critical. The question is always, “How soon will we get it back?”

Operations personnel. When production goals are not met, who feels the heat? Usually the first to feel it are the operators. From plant management down through operations management, the questions and criticism are heaped on the operator. From the operator’s perspective, every minute that maintenance has the machine down is an extra minute of heat from management. Whether an operator drove a forklift into the machine or maintenance failed to fix a routine problem, the operator now perceives the problem to be a “maintenance problem.” Once the problem is out of their control, operators claim not to be responsible. And in many organizations, rightly so.

As we move toward a more proactive maintenance philosophy, the culture we start with is firmly entrenched in a reactive mode. The expectations, attitudes, and even the rewards system have evolved to support the reactive world we have grown up with. How will we change? What can we do to change the mindset we have worked so hard to create?

Reactions to change
For most people, change is bad. They may not openly state that change is bad, but there is an aversion to change nevertheless. We are all creatures of habit. We are comfortable when we can predict how a situation will play out. We feel secure in familiar surroundings. As leaders of our organizations, we must recognize and acknowledge these facts. And more than that, we must be prepared to deal with them.

Maintenance supervisors. Let’s face it. Working in the truly proactive work place can be pretty boring. Especially if your whole working life has been filled with the challenge and excitement of fighting fires—and winning. The other reality of the transition to a proactive maintenance environment is that it generally starts with the equipment in relatively poor condition.

When now confronted with an organizational change to a proactive work environment, the usual reaction of supervisors who have generally been on the forefront of the fire fighting is “it’ll never work.” The supervisors actually are key personnel as to whether the change from reactive to proactive maintenance will work.

After a proactive model has been started, the first thing the supervisor typically sees is an increase in the amount of work on his or her plate. The scheduler does a great job in building the schedule for all hours available for each supervisor, just like the book says. However, the material condition of the equipment results in continued breakdowns that must be addressed by the supervisor. Since for most proactive models planners have been told that they do not get involved with reactive work, the supervisor can no longer count on help from his or her buddies in planning and he is on his own to “put out the fire.” The supervisor may not even know how to actually order parts since that task was likely something the planner had been performing.

Since a proactive model has been instituted, there are probably metrics established around such items as schedule compliance and/or percentage of hours on scheduled work. With the supervisor still fighting fires and often spending more time doing it due to lack of help from planners, the level of frustration quickly rises. The cry of “it’ll never work” quickly becomes, “I told you it wouldn’t work.” If this is uttered in front of the wrong audience (craft or operators), it could quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Maintenance technicians. The reaction by craft technicians to a change to proactive maintenance practices is slightly different. In our reactive world, craft technicians were often the ones “planning” the job—planning in the sense that they needed to visit the work site, determine how the work should be done, identify parts and tools required, etc. To be honest, this was often the only way a task could be planned. If the equipment had been allowed to run to hard failure, it was necessary to open and inspect the equipment to determine what parts were required. In our proactive world, with detailed planning and scheduling, the craft/technicians are given work orders that contain parts lists and tool lists and work execution instructions.

One of the common reactions we hear is, “Why are they giving me this? I know how to do my job!” Another common reaction is, “How does the planner know what needs to be done?” There is a measure of truth to both reactions. Even if we are identifying work earlier in our proactive model and not waiting for hard failure to initiate repair, there may be some collateral damage to the equipment and the parts identified on a planned work order may not be complete. And our technicians generally do know their jobs but do not consider the inefficiency that the “open and inspect” approach contains.

The craft technicians also may react to what they perceive as disorganization. If they are being assigned to scheduled work and routinely pulled off that work to address reactive problems, they are likely to see this as disorganization on the part of maintenance management. If their supervisors are also crying “I told you it would never work” then the perception of disorganization is reinforced.

Operations personnel. The reaction to the proactive model by operations personnel is generally the same, whether they are supervisors or operators. Their reaction is based on the “training” and expectations we have set for them in the past. As stated earlier, operations has been accustomed to maintenance rushing out to fight the fire. Whatever the problem, no matter what piece of equipment, maintenance would respond to the urgent requests.

Now in a proactive world, where equipment has been ranked according to its criticality to operations, maintenance, environment, safety, and quality, operations may be told that it has to wait while maintenance addresses a more critical piece of equipment that is exhibiting signs of an impending failure. Remember, to most operations personnel, the most critical piece of equipment is the one that is bothering them right now. Having to wait while maintenance works on a piece of equipment that is not even broken yet is unthinkable.

The other typical reaction for operations personnel involves the reluctance to lock out/tag out equipment for maintenance when the equipment is still available for production. After so many years of reacting to the equipment when it dictates maintenance activity, it is a difficult transition to responding to maintenance requests when the equipment is not broken. To most operations personnel, the idea of voluntarily shutting down production equipment is foreign to everything they believe. Besides, the last time maintenance told them the machine would be down for an hour, it was more like 4 hours. No matter how convincing the arguments for the benefits of proactive maintenance, the operations mindset is likely more influenced by its past experience. This is especially true if the culture at the site held operations responsible for production downtime, no matter what the cause.

Senior management. The reaction of more senior plant officials is sometimes the most confusing. After all, it is likely that these are the individuals who have driven the change to a proactive maintenance strategy. It is their budget dollars that are fueling the change. However, these are the individuals who very often have the largest negative impact on the success of the move to proactive maintenance.

While the business case for proactive maintenance is clear and compelling to most senior managers, they are still products of the reactive model that has always existed. Many of them probably climbed the organizational ladder on the strength of their ability to manage in the crisis or be the successful firefighter. Their cultural compass is no different than the employees who report to them.

The bad news here is that senior managers may have the greatest impact, even negative impact, on the success of the transition to proactive maintenance. Even when the senior managers have intellectually accepted the benefits of the change to proactive maintenance, they may still react to equipment failures with the knee jerk reaction they have operated on for years. When subordinates see this kind of behavior, they may easily jump to the conclusion that the move to proactive maintenance is merely the latest attempted program, the program de jour. Further attempts by senior management to persuade site personnel on the benefits of proactive maintenance will just be a waste of breath.

Preparing for change
When most organizations begin the process of moving to a proactive maintenance model, time is initially spent on very tangible acts, such as upgrading the CMMS, improving maintenance processes and procedures, rewriting preventive maintenance tasks, etc. These are the tasks that are easily defined, can be estimated and scheduled, and generally produce a very concrete result. These are the exciting new ideas and concepts that brought the organization to proactive maintenance in the first place. As these tangible tasks are completed and implementation is attempted, they are implemented into the culture we have already discussed.

Now comes the hard part. And it is the hard part because most of us would rather deal with the tangible tasks, the hard deliverables, rather than venture into the softer side of the problem.

It is imperative that when an organization embarks on the transition to proactive maintenance that the intangible soft side tasks be addressed from the very beginning of the project. Even when an organization acknowledges that there is a soft side to the process, the tendency is generally to begin with the concrete deliverables and leave the softer issues to later. In far too many instances, later never arrives.

As good project managers, we all recognize the need to develop a logical and reasonable project plan before the project begins. Moving toward a proactive maintenance model should be addressed like any other project in this regard. Included in your project plan should be the time and necessary budget to address the soft side issues of implementation. These line items in the project plan should receive the same level of importance and the same attention to detail that any other task in the project plan receives.

Placing the soft side items in the project plan and schedule allows you to “see” their role in the overall implementation strategy. It also helps to keep them in front of you. As stated previously, these types of tasks are easy to push off. They are pushed off not because they are viewed as unimportant but because they are often the more difficult to deal with.

Start with the vision
Moving from the reactive environment that has existed in our plants to a proactive maintenance strategy represents such a dramatic change in how we do business that it takes a strong commitment by the entire organization. A deep understanding of what that commitment means must exist across the whole organization.

One of the most important actions senior management can take at the beginning of the change to proactive maintenance (or any large cultural change, for that matter) is to create a vision for the organization. Create a vision of how the organization will look, behave, and interact at the end of the process. The vision also should tell the organization how it will feel to live and work in the new place. A strong vision becomes the target. The vision is the object on which the organization can focus as it moves, sometimes with faltering steps, toward the goal.

Think about the role of a clear vision. Having a clear vision brings many benefits to an organization. I am sure that many of your organizations have gone through the exercise in the past several years to revise vision statements or mission statements. But how many of these initiatives resulted in measurable benefits? All too often the answer is very few. Why is that? Our experience has shown that a vision cannot move an organization unless the organization truly believes in the vision, believes that the vision is achievable, and that there is reward to each and every individual within the organization when the vision is achieved. And remember that there should be rewards all along the way. We need not wait until the vision is achieved.

So now the question becomes, “Do you believe 100 percent in the benefits of the change to a proactive maintenance model?” If you cannot answer a resounding “yes” to that question, the road ahead may be bumpier than it needs to be.

If you answered “yes,” it is time to get started with creating the vision. Experience has shown that a multi-level team from within the organization can best perform the creation of a vision. Here multi-level means across all organizational levels from the top to the bottom. Consultants may be used to help in facilitation. But in defining the vision, the consultant’s role should be limited to facilitation so the vision does not appear as merely another product from the outside pushed on the organization.

Review the rewards system
As stated earlier, the culture in most of our organizations has rewarded success in the reactive world. This includes the tangible financial rewards including salary increases, bonuses, opportunity for promotion, etc. But it also includes some less tangible and less formal rewards systems. Was the special parking space up front reserved for the employee of the month given to the individual who found a problem before the equipment failed or to the individual who ran out and fixed it fast? Is there informal competition among the craft as to who can fix the broken whatever the fastest? Do you recognize the firefighter at staff meetings?

In the reactive work place, many of our rewards exist only because equipment fails. All of these are part of what individuals would consider the “overall” rewards package. As we transition to the proactive maintenance process, it would not be appropriate to remove all such rewards. However, there should be new rewards created that recognize outstanding performance in the area of failure prevention.

In the beginning of the process, it is well worth the time to review the organization’s formal and informal rewards system and assess how it will be perceived in the proactive environment. It may be a good time to check your personnel reward system. How do you treat the firefighter vs the individual who did something less flashy behind the scenes and prevented a failure?

It may even be appropriate to include some new rewards in the vision statement.

Communicating the vision
Our experience has shown that many proactive maintenance processes fail not because of poor implementation tools but because of the lack of a good communication plan. Simply put, no one believes that we are going to get to the vision. Success in the implementation of a proactive maintenance program is much more dependent on a good communication plan than on an effective implementation model. Your staff needs to know what you are planning to do before you announce that you are doing it. This is particularly true in bargaining unit situations. The basic rule of thumb is no surprises here.

Assuming that your vision was developed by a cross-functional team, communication of the vision to the organization should proceed fairly simply. Communications strategy may be as simple as town meetings with all personnel invited. To facilitate ownership and commitment to the vision a strategy of having teams of senior staff deliver the message to their respective departments may be employed. Whatever method is employed, a formal communication strategy should be developed and agreed to by the organization. The main purpose of being so formal with a communication strategy is to assure a consistent message is delivered to all personnel.

It cannot be understated that consistency of the message is a key element to success. So it pays to take a few minutes to look at what must be done to keep the message pure. There is no simple answer here and this may be the single most difficult part in assuring the success of your endeavors. As Jim Collins stated so well in his best-selling book “Good to Great,” you must get the right people in the right seats on your bus.

As you build your vision and as you discuss that vision with your senior staff, you must look, listen, and feel for any telltale sign that the members of your staff are not on the bus with you. You may have to go outside your staff meetings and more formal interfaces with your staff and test to see if they are saying the same things to their peers and subordinates as they are saying in front of you. We have experienced many situations where someone who is a cheerleader in front of the senior staff is a detractor outside that inner circle. This mixed message can be devastating to the success of the process.

Some of your better employees may staunchly refuse to embrace the new model of proactive maintenance. Some will voice their beliefs that the change is unnecessary or that it will not work. Some will say nothing but passively resist change. Their resistance can be as subtle as negative body language in meetings or rolling of the eyes. Whatever form the resistance takes, open or passive, it cannot be tolerated if the organization is to succeed as a whole. Using another transportation metaphor, if these detractors do not want to get on the train with you, you may have to ask them to get out of your station.

As hard as it is to say (and even harder to do), detractors may need to be coached, moved to an area of less influence, and in the extreme case removed from the organization. In most cases, the cost of moving to a proactive maintenance approach is a very expensive one for the organization. You must ask yourself if you can afford to have even a single detractor delay or even derail the process.

Listening is an important part of the communication plan you initiate. Your employees will have fears and concerns about how they are going to act in the new proactive world. With no experience to draw upon, they may not understand what will be expected of them. It is important to listen carefully to their concerns and address them.

Most employees will not be interested in the business case for the change to proactive maintenance (not that you should not share that with them). What will be of concern is what they will see each day, what their work day will consist of, how they will recognize success. You may not know the answers to some of their questions. After all, you probably have not lived in the new proactive world either. It is OK to admit that you do not have all the answers, but do not dismiss the employee concerns.

Training and mentoring
Providing training to the entire organization should be a significant part of any implementation strategy in the transition to proactive maintenance. Of course you will provide training on any of the new tools (the hard stuff) that have been developed. You will provide training on any new or revised processes and procedures that will be used in implementing proactive maintenance. This training is the way you will be communicating the organization’s expectations for behavior in the new proactive maintenance model.

But before the training on the nuts and bolts of the new model is presented, all of your employees will need to see presentations on your vision. Presenting your vision should include information on the proactive maintenance model. It is an excellent opportunity to discuss the business case for the new model and the steps that you will be taking to move toward your vision. But do not just focus on the business case.

Use the presentation to inform employees as to what they will see as you move toward the vision. Discuss any changes that you expect in organization structure and responsibilities. One of the most common misconceptions about changing to a proactive model is that it is management’s way to reduce work force size. Be prepared to address this concern.

While the training for the nuts and bolts of the new processes should be targeted to individual user group needs, the material on the vision and the business case for the new model should be consistently delivered to all employees. As stated earlier, consistency of the message is a vital element to successful implementation. This presentation is likely the first time many of the employees are learning about the new vision and the new way they will be performing their jobs. It is important that you begin with a consistent message. Who presents the message also can be important. You may elect to have your primary team share the duties of making this presentation or you may have one or two individuals make the presentation.

Whatever approach you choose, it is important that a large segment of senior management be present at each session. It is recommended that attendance at these presentations not be done in isolated work groups. A town meeting style of meeting with a broad spectrum of the organization present usually works best for two reasons. First, this method will need fewer presentations, which will aid in keeping the message consistent. Second, it gives your team an opportunity to show solidarity and support of the initiative to a larger segment of the organization, dispelling the belief that this is a maintenance initiative or this is driven down from corporate.

Since it may be difficult for employees to “see” the benefits of the proactive maintenance model, it is highly recommended that one of the available simulations be used to show the employees the benefits of the proactive model.

There can be no more powerful training tool than mentoring when trying to change an organization’s culture. Because our individual behavior is driven by the culture of our organization, individuals, when asked to change their behavior, cannot recognize that their behavior continues to model the old culture.

Mentoring allows the mentor the opportunity to coach, explain, and train by example how the new desired behavior will look. The mentored is provided with a ready ear to ask questions or just to vent frustration. Since this is likely a cultural change for both the mentor and the mentored, through the mentoring process the mentor has an opportunity to strengthen their beliefs and behaviors.

Some of the same cautions we have noted throughout this discussion need to be considered in the mentoring process as well. When choosing mentors, they must be individuals who are fully committed to the change to the proactive model. If they are not 100 percent committed, there is a distinct danger that both the mentor and the mentored will become nay-sayers. As stated earlier, this cannot be tolerated if the shift to the proactive model is to succeed in a timely manner.

Training by example
While formal training on processes, procedures, and new technologies is important, it alone will never change the culture. One of the most effective tools in cultural shift is leading by example.

We talked earlier about the importance of having all leadership personnel presenting a united front regarding the move to the proactive maintenance model. But there is more that they can be doing. While they are “walking the walk” they should take every opportunity to teach, preach, or speak about the benefits of the proactive maintenance model. If plant leadership is not only modeling the appropriate behavior but taking the time to explain why that behavior is needed, the message spreads quicker and the staff gains a better understanding of the goal for the behavior.

This training by example can and should include some new rewards for the trainees. Remember to reward an act that models the new desired behavior. But more importantly, stop rewarding the old reactive behavior. As part of the planning model, the rewards we are talking about are not the monetary ones but the more subtle ones including the pat on the back, the nominal award or prize, and the public recognition of an act that demonstrates the benefit of the proactive model.

One of the hardest parts of training by example is to be able to stay the course when the going gets a little tough. When your pet project falls behind schedule, do not work around the priority system to get the project back on track. When the “suits” are coming down from corporate, do not put in an emergency work order to install the new flagpole. Changing the culture of an organization is very much like trying to change the course of a supertanker with a rowboat. The laws of physics dictate that it is possible. The reality is that it will take constant pressure on the oars. A momentary rest and the supertanker is back on the original course. So it is with a small slip in your behavior in your quest for the proactive maintenance model.

As part of any process reengineering effort, there are metrics established to monitor the success of the implementation. The cultural change is no different. Metrics can be established that will help you evaluate if the culture is changing.

Metrics around numbers of misclassified work order priority, percentage of PM/PdM work orders written as results work, numbers of root cause analyses completed, and many others can be used to determine if your staff is in the middle of a culture change. Generally, these types of metrics are not permanent. They are in place only for as long as necessary to demonstrate that the change is taking place or has taken place.

If you subscribe to the idea that the cultural change is a vital part of the move to proactive maintenance, then it follows that these types of metrics are important as well. In the early stages of a shift to the proactive maintenance model, there are so many issues to address and so many metrics

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6:00 am
February 1, 2005
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Teamwork on the Web

File transfer protocol (FTP) is one of the oldest applications on the Web. It allows easy file upload, storage, and transfer of almost any type of data from an Internet-connected computer.

Think about the problems you may have had sending large photos, slide presentations, and, as digital video cameras get more popular, video files over e-mail.

Many Internet service providers such as MSN or AOL place attachment file size limits (5 MB is the most common) to keep e-mail systems from clogging up due to large attachments. An FTP site is limited only by the hard drive space you rent each month.

You can think of an FTP site as if it were an additional hard drive on your computer. You create and edit files and folders just like you do in My Documents or on your Desktop. The icons look exactly the same. You can upload folders, zip files, video files, presentations, and any other file you can store on your PC. You also can use them to share vibration spectrums, infrared thermal images, and ultrasonic .wav files.

If you operate your own Web server, you can usually set up your own FTP site. If you do not have your own Web server, there are hundreds of Web-based FTP services available for a small monthly fee. Note: Beware of your budget as time goes by. I have booked dozens of different Web-based services with small monthly fees that individually are no big deal, but when my credit card statement arrives—yikes!

An FTP 101 tutorial is available from Ipswitch at if you want a guided tour.

Some FTP sites require a software client to transfer files between your PC and the remote site. These programs are very simple to use and include WS_FTP, Internet Neighborhood, and Fetch. They are relatively easy to use and act as the gateway between your PC and the FTP site.

If you do not want any of the technical headaches involved with maintaining your own FTP server you can “rent” one that is already set up. The fees range from $10-$100 per month depending on the storage space and disk transfer desired per month.

You can get FTP space from FTPKey, FTP Worldwide, and FTP Today. For more choices go to Google and type “FTP server” as your search term.

If all the people you wish to share files with are in-house, a more capable system may be Groove Virtual Office. Instead of setting a file system like FTP, Groove creates virtual workspaces on each member’s PC; there is no outside network. There are also no monthly fees although every collaborator must download (and purchase for about $200) the Groove Virtual Office application.

Groove also features a synchronization feature to make sure everyone is working on the latest version of a document or file. Groove includes a chat client to allow a real-time conversation with other group members as well as a calendar tool to keep your projects on track and team members in sync.

You also should look into Web-based group collaboration tools like or Basecamp. These services do have a monthly fee for use but are easy to use and have excellent add-on features such as Web conferencing and more. A new Wiki system for group collaboration (in Beta only) is available by request from JotSpot. As a new system, no monthly fees are set yet.

When it comes to group collaboration, e-mail is like using two cups with a string in between. The new group collaboration tools are like being transported on Star Trek. Get your group off the e-mail bandwagon and onto a better real-time system for collaborating and file sharing.

Terrence O’Hanlon, CMRP, is the publisher of He is the director of strategic alliances for the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP).

Internet Tip: search smartly

No one has the time to wade through pages of irrelevant results when searching for information on the Web. To narrow your results, stop searching on one-word terms in search engines such as Google. If you type in a term such as CMMS, you get hundreds of thousands of pages. Not only are there too many pages to search, the search engine cannot read your mind to know your real intent.

If you want to evaluate CMMS software, type “CMMS evaluation.” If you want to find a service company to help you install or implement a CMMS, type “CMMS implementation service.” If you want a CMMS that is Web based, type “Web-based CMMS.”

More Google search tips:
+ will include common terms that are usually ignored by the search engine
– will exclude word (example, “bass – music” would return fish sites not guitar sites).
~ will include synonyms for your search term

Enclosing your multi-word search term in quotation marks will return results that feature all the words in your term (for example, “reliability centered maintenance”).

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6:00 am
February 1, 2005
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Implementing and Achieving Reliability Excellence

Change process built on leadership and focus teams.

The answer to the question “What is reliability excellence?” will be found in this article, but in short, reliability excellence is:

• Organizing and managing an efficient and effective maintenance program

• Organizing and managing efficient and effective operational practices

• Assuring capacity to an operation

• Getting active participation from all employees

• Receiving a commitment from top-level leadership

• Having an organizational culture that embraces accountability and continuous improvement

• Developing a cooperative partnership between maintenance and operations

A more comprehensive list can be found the section “Characteristics of Reliability Excellence.”


The first step toward realizing this goal is to figure out where you are presently. Determining the present baselines and gaps that exist in your processes and organization is best accomplished by performing a reliability assessment. This exercise will point out the areas within your business that need to be addressed from a reliability perspective. All facets of your organization must be analyzed. We have identified 21 key elements that, when integrated, provide the basis for reliability excellence (Fig. 1). Assessing the current state of each of these elements will identify the gaps that exist and provide the basis for a master plan of improvement.

Master plan

A master plan is the tool that tracks what must be done, who will do it, and in what time frame the task(s) will be completed.

The master plan should initially outline the process-launching activities. These activities include reviewing the master plan and initiating the improvement process, developing the return on investment, establishing a reliability excellence leadership team, and identifing focus teams and support resources.

The master plan should be illustrated in Gantt chart format showing the relationships between tasks. Some tasks identified for one focus team or member may not be able to start until a task is completed in another area. It is important to determine this up front to avoid frustration and/or lost time and effort. Each task should have a responsible individual or team assigned to it with estimated duration and completion dates. An updated master plan should be posted regularly in a conspicuous location so focus will be maintained by the team members; it also acts as a communication tool to the entire organization. This will allow others to see what progress is being made.

A typical master plan consists of several key areas where focus is generally needed, such as planning and scheduling, CMMS optimization, work control processes, PM/PdM programs, operational practices, and materials management (Fig. 2).

Return on investment

Whether it is outside consultant help or the cost of software upgrades, hardware, or additional resources, it is important to calculate the return on this investment in reliability excellence. In most cases, the assessment identifies significant opportunities available to the organization. Presenting this business case can be an important step in getting buy- in from not only upper management, but also all parties involved. Getting everyone to understand what this initiative is worth to the bottom line can help motivate people to make it happen. Typical opportunities are areas such as increased labor utilization, decreased overtime, reduced material costs, decreased downtime, and reduced inventory.

Savings in these areas can range from 25-40 percent when a transition from a reactive culture to a proactive one is realized. It is best to break down these savings into what will be annual increments over the life of the initiative and also project what the permanent savings will be each year. Improvements of this nature typically take between 18 months and 5 years, depending on the current state and size of your organization. Once the return on investment has been calculated and accepted favorably, it is time to organize for the change process.

The change process

Implementing reliability excellence is almost always a process of significant change to an organization. Changing the long-standing habits of management and the workforce can be extremely difficult. A successful approach is to use focus teams led by an executive sponsor, a leadership team, and a reliability excellence facilitator (Fig. 3).

Executive sponsor

The first step is to identify an executive sponsor for the initiative. The executive sponsor provides leadership and direction for the overall reliability excellence initiative. Getting an executive to provide sponsorship is key to showing the organization that there is commitment at the top level. This role ensures all corporate requirements are followed, and is a resource to the leadership team to assist in resolving issues and barriers. This individual also monitors and analyzes results and communicates the initiative’s status at the corporate level.

Leadership team

The leadership team provides leadership for the implementation initiative and is a learning leader to foster and establish a common understanding of the principles of reliability excellence. Team members should demonstrate and promote behavior that follows the governing principles and program mission of the improvement initiative.

They set the overall direction and priority of the initiative and ensure that all company policies and procedures are followed. They also participate in finalizing the proposed program mission, objectives, goals, targets, and milestones that define the initiative and ensure its success.

They review all proposed implementation plans to ensure stated mission, objectives, goals, milestones, and targets are met as well as provide required resources and funding for the identified tasks. In conjunction with the executive sponsor they monitor and analyze the initiative status and ensure that appropriate action is taken to eliminate any issues or barriers. This role typically requires approximately 10 percent of an individual’s time.

Focus teams

Each focus team must have an identified leader from within the organization who leads and facilitates all focus team activities and ensures that team meeting minutes are prepared and submitted to the reliability excellence facilitator at specified intervals. The teams should develop detailed action plans and present them to the leadership team for approval, at least every two weeks.

In large organizations, the focus teams will develop the processes or models that will be used throughout the site. It is important that they both measure and report progress on established milestones and targets to the reliability excellence facilitator on a regular basis. Being a focus team member requires approximately 15 percent of each individual’s time. Being a focus team leader requires approximately 25 percent of an individual’s time. A focus team should be made up of a cross section of the organization so that input and buy-in will be across the board throughout the site.

A typical team makeup would include representatives from operations, maintenance, planning, reliability, and stores.

Reliability excellence facilitator

The reliability excellence facilitator assists improvement initiative activities including implementation team meetings, interfaces, and support team requirements and activities. This person also coordinates and communicates all initiative activities with all levels of the organization ensuring that assignments resulting from focus team activities are carried out in a timely manner, while maintaining the overall master plan.

It is the responsibility of the facilitator to communicate the results of this effort in the form of a standard monthly report. This report should include the progress being made by each team as well as a “dashboard” of metrics and associated trend charts. The dashboard should graphically display the direction in which the overall initiative is headed, so that if any of the measurements are going in the wrong direction, corrections can be made to get it back on course. Someone assigned full time in this position is important in order to manage this initiative and ensure positive results.

Support resources

It is also important to identify support resources to assist as needed throughout the initiative. Typical resources that should be identified include safety, quality, finance, human resources, bargaining unit, CMMS vendor, production, information technology, equipment suppliers, and consulting and technical resources.

The support resources must be informed of their role and that they may be called on by the teams to attend meetings as needed, to support the initiative. The names and contact information for these individuals must be made known to the focus teams.

The key benefit of this approach is that it establishes a leadership structure, and participation and buy-in at all levels of the organization. The finished product produced by these teams stands a much better chance of becoming institutionalized and sustained within an organization, than by a corporate edict to make improvements.

Work processes

Once the teams have been formed, the real work can begin. Current process flows must first be developed that identify how work is done today (Fig. 4). This often-painful effort is necessary so that the existing gaps can be identified.

These identified gaps can be closed when mapping out the new target processes. Along with work control processes, there are typically many other processes that must be developed or reviewed, such as material management processes, equipment maintenance plans (EMP) development processes, planning and scheduling processes, and configuration management processes.

Best practice must be at the forefront when mapping the new processes to prevent the team from going off in the wrong direction. A common pitfall is to design a process that may be readily accepted by the masses but fails to be a process that will achieve reliability excellence. This initiative must be about going from what may be good to what is great. Once these new processes have been developed, it is time to look at the organizational structures that will be needed to support them.


A critical factor in achieving reliability excellence is the manner in which the entire organization is structured. Best practice span-of-control ratios must be used to ensure that the processes can be accurately supported. As an example, without the proper ratios of planners and supervisors to craftspeople, frustration will set in across the organization.

Roles and responsibilities must be defined and adhered to by everyone. These responsibilities should be identified for each block of your process flows by developing a RASI chart that identifies who is Responsible, Accountable, Supports, and Informed for each part of the process. This takes a significant amount of discipline, but if followed it will create long-term sustainability.

Many parts of the organization may require restructuring in order to achieve best practice span-of-control figures that will support the business processes. In maintenance, for example, the structure must address the three types of typical maintenance activities—routine, backlog, and emergency.

The first step is to determine the number of full-time equivalents required to achieve full compliance to the PM program. Secondly, the number of resources required for emergent operational support must be determined. This will allow you to more accurately calculate your corrective backlog based on the remaining labor hours. This data will provide the basis for management decisions such as overtime requirements to reduce backlog or achieving PM compliance, temporary contracting out or hiring, until the reactive situation is brought under control.

Organizationally addressing these types of work, in a dedicated fashion, will position the organization for the transition from a reactive culture to a proactive one.

Implementation rollout

Once the teams have defined the processes and developed the solutions to close the gaps, an implementation rollout plan must be developed. This plan includes where, how, and when these changes will take effect. It may include what physical items must be put in place as well as what type of training will be required for each role in the organization. Footprint type checklists should be used to monitor the progress and completion of each element of the plan. Only when all the criteria are satisfied should implementation begin. Once implementation has begun, regular audits must be performed to identify if what we say we are doing is really happening, and if not, these broken processes must be repaired and then sustained.

Measure success

It is important in any initiative to measure performance. The leadership team should choose metrics to track the organization’s performance throughout this effort and going forward. Several key metrics should be selected that indicate the effect on the bottom line (lagging indicators), as well as organizational effectiveness measures (leading indicators).

Make sure people know the score. These metrics should be shared throughout the organization with monthly reports going to the executive level of the company as well as to the floor level.

Performance dashboards should be prominently displayed within the facility. Action must be taken if the expected results are not achieved. These measurements must be utilized as a tool that indicates where improvement is needed not be just meaningless numbers. These measurements must become just as important to upper management as safety, quality, and output goals.

Achieving reliability excellence can be a daunting task, but a very rewarding one. Culture change can be very difficult and the fear of failing, or fear of confrontation, is why some organizations choose not to try. An organization must focus on what it can do, not what it cannot do. Putting the right processes and structures in place, with the right focus and vision, have been proven to achieve extraordinary organizational effectiveness and bottom line results.

Randy Heisler, Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP), is a consultant for Life Cycle Engineering, 4360 Corporate Rd., Ste. 100, North Charleston, SC 29405-7445; telephone (843) 744-7110


1. A set of shared beliefs is apparent:
• The organizational focus is on reliability excellence
• A maintenance mission statement is prominently displayed
• A master plan for maintenance improvement exists
• Maintenance is recognized as a contributing resource center

2. A fully functional CMMS is in place

3. An equipment configuration control system is in place

4. Cost distribution to work orders is complete

5. Resources are balanced with work load

6. An effective organizational structure is established

 7. Job descriptions and responsibilities are clearly defined

 8. Critical maintenance measures are defined

 9. Quantified goals with interim targets are established

10. Work is performed efficiently

11. Well-defined job plans are developed and utilized

12. Weekly schedules by crew, day, individual, and job are used

13. Equipment uptime is improving due to a reliable PM program with reliability engineering support

14. Equipment history is meaningful and effectively used

15. Job estimates are continually refined

16. Effective control of the maintenance budget is evident

17. An effective maintenance skills training program is in place

18. Production, maintenance, and quality Improvement processes are integrated

19. Trend charts of progress relative to goals and targets are in place:
• Maintenance costs (labor and material)
• Schedule compliance, performance, and effectiveness
• PM schedule compliance
• Crew efficiency

20. Advanced technologies are applied where applicable

0205heislerfig11back to article

Fig. 1. The author’s company illustrates reliability excellence with an arch made up of 21 elements.

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Fig. 2. A Gantt chart can be used to show task relationships within the master plan.

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Fig. 3. The change process begins with leadership support and produces required process transition and enterprise-wide buy-in.

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process flow diagram


Fig. 4. Current process flows should be mapped to facilitate the identification of performance gaps.

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