Author Archive | Bob Williamson

40

8:25 pm
May 15, 2017
Print Friendly

Uptime: Engage the New Workforce

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

I’m worried that we’re not effectively engaging younger, newer employees in our reliability-improvement initiatives,” lamented a participant in one of my workshops. “How should we be working with them?”

That type of concern and question is becoming more common in today’s older industrial facilities—and for good reason. The ways we employed, trained, and engaged previous generations of employees won’t necessarily work going forward. Now is the time to re-tool our approaches. Here are some insights into those generations and how to engage their members in the workplace.

The divide

Think about the differences in your family, i.e., your grandparents, parents, yourself, and your children. Each generation is different, based on experiences with different technologies, socio-economic conditions, educational approaches, and politics, among other things. Let’s look at four generations and various factors that formed their lives:

• Matures (born before 1945): Strong family and community ties, WWII and Pearl Harbor, post-WWII economic boom, manned space flight.

• Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964): Cold War, Civil Rights movement, Vietnam War, political assassinations, feminist movement.

• Gen X (born between 1965 and 1977): Disintegrating families, unemployment, advent of personal computers and the Internet, Space Shuttle explosion, end of the Cold War, Berlin Wall destruction, Gulf Wars.

• Gen Y, aka “Millennials” (born between 1977 and 2000): Oklahoma City bombing, 9-11 terrorist attacks, growth of school violence, global warming, increasing divorce rates, advent of smart phones and other technologies, everybody gets a trophy.

Millennials learn, and in turn, approach work much differently than past generations.

Millennials learn, and in turn, approach work much differently than past generations.

The formative years

Major generational events combine with situations in an individual’s formative years to influence their behaviors, beliefs, expectations, and interests. During the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Dr. Morris Massey described three major life-shaping periods:

• Imprint Period (birth to 7 years of age): We absorb everything, accepting much of it as true, especially coming from our parents. The sense of right and wrong, good and bad is learned here.

• Modeling Period (between 8 and 13 years): We copy people, primarily our parents, and other people who impress us (community leaders and teachers, for example). We try different things to see how we feel about them.

• Socialization Period (between 13 and 21): We tend to look for ways to depart from our earlier programming and are significantly influenced by our peers. Media (social-media) messages, especially those that seem compatible with peer-group values, have a major influence.

The challenge in a workplace is how to effectively engage (and value) inherent generational differences, despite the diverse, life-shaping events and experiences of peoples’ formative years.

Focusing on Millennials

Get ready. Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, preceded by record departures of seasoned, skilled workers. The bad news is Millennials often lack the skills, knowledge, and experiences employers are seeking in replacements for their disappearing skilled personnel. While more people may make up the labor pool, it’s the skills shortages (skills gaps) that will prevent them from securing employment. According to a 2015 report titled “The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing: 2015 and Beyond,” from Deloitte (deloitte.com, New York) and The Manufacturing Institute (themanufacturinginstitute.org, Washington), in the next decade, nearly 3.5-million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled. Because of the skills gap, 2 million of those jobs are expected to remain open.

Knowledge transfer and reliable training processes are rapidly becoming a more-than-compelling need in many business sectors. The traditional training model, however, is mostly inefficient, ineffective, and inconsistent with how Millennials learn. Still, the task at hand involves more than training them—it’s engaging them.

Millennial expert Christine Hassler offers some pointers on how to work with and benefit from this generation. It starts with understanding that members of this group are typically over-parented, self-expressive, optimistic, globally oriented, and wanting to make a difference. They tend to be multi-taskers, entrepreneurial thinkers who value freedom and flexibility, but believe that organizations rarely make use of their skills. According to Hassler, prospective employers can leverage these characteristics by offering what these job seekers want most:

• diverse opportunities based on individuality and creativity
• fair compensation for work that has a purpose
• a great place to work, i.e., fun and ethical
• a sense of belonging and social engagement flexibility.

Attracting Millennials can be enhanced by employers that:

• invest in technology and social media
• have a story to tell, a brand
• leverage current Millennial employees in recruiting
• embrace social and environmentally conscious practices
• re-invent the workplace environment
• address how their goals can be achieved by working here.

Hiring Millennials may require employers to overhaul their practices and:

• recruit, hire, and train for skills mastery
• look for leaders, out-of-the box thinkers, and optimists
• deploy creative application and interview processes
• upgrade employee orientation and on-boarding programs
• include Millennials in interview and selection processes.

Retaining newly hired Millennial employees can be improved by employers that try to:

• make the first day unforgettable
• offer feedback, flexibility, and transparency
• create a fun workplace with a sense of purpose.

Managing Millennials must be accomplished by leveraging their expectations:

• provide frequent feedback
• provide clear expectations with accountability
• coach, rather than direct (see the following “Situational Leadership” model)
• challenge and empower them
• inspire them (be a strategic and aspirational thinker)
• add the human element
• be open and transparent
• show respect for all people at all levels
• get to know employees on a personal level
• conduct weekly check-in
• provide interpersonal training and personal development
• provide technology platforms for feedback sharing.

Developing Millennials into leaders must go beyond traditional programs and begin early in their employment through:

• cross-functional expertise and rotational learning
• apprenticeship models with assigned mentors
• involvement with “high-ranking” executives
• intrapreneurship (defined as workplace innovation)
• ongoing training and personal development
• formal knowledge-transfer processes
• connection to the bigger “why” (beyond “what” and “how”).

Engagement is ‘situational’

Leading and empowering Millennials is where the proven principles of Ken Blanchard’s “Situational Leadership” framework for employee development can come into play. Adapting our leadership styles to fit individual employee needs will be one of the most important methods you can use to engage Millennial employees.

According to Blanchard, the four sequential leadership styles in the Situational Leadership model include directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. These leadership styles are aligned with four sequential stages of individual employee development:

• low competence/high commitment
• some competence/low commitment
• higher competence and/or variable commitment
• high competence/high commitment.

Efforts to empower and engage employees, especially Millennials, must build on what motivates them. How we lead them to be productive members of an organization is an integral part of that motivation.  MT

References:

Dr. Morris Massey, What You Are is Where You Were When, 1986 video program, Enterprise Media, MorrisMassey.com.

Christine Hassler, “Bridging the Generational Divide Attracting, Engaging, and Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce” (keynote), millennialexpert.com.

“Situational Leadership” training program, The Ken Blanchard Companies, KenBlanchard.com.

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the “people side” of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at  RobertMW2@cs.com.

202

8:19 pm
April 13, 2017
Print Friendly

Uptime: Aligning ‘Our’ Goals With Business Goals

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Cut expenses. Boost performance. Those are among the goals of many businesses. Frequently, though—too frequently, in fact—maintenance managers find themselves between a rock and a hard place: improving maintenance while reducing costs.

By its very nature, the maintenance function is a business expense. As an extreme, we could eliminate the entire maintenance budget as a cost-cutting measure. Having done that, the business would suffer under significantly more expensive run-to-failure equipment-management practices, leading to increased costs of repair and lost revenues from unpredictable/unplanned equipment and facilities downtime.

Maintenance can be defined as “actions for sustaining a desired level of equipment performance.” From a maintenance professional’s perspective, the big picture is more about sustaining desired levels of business performance.

Let’s be clear, we could be discussing the maintenance department as we explore the principles of aligning maintenance with business goals. But, when reviewing the scope of maintenance work, we must think and look well beyond the maintenance department and consider the maintenance function, regardless of the organization(s) performing the work. This is a crucial distinction when it comes to the alignment of goals.

Typically, the maintenance department is perceived as the party that’s responsible for the health and well being of equipment and facilities. Yet, many (if not most) of the causes of unhealthy and poorly performing equipment and facilities go well beyond the scope of the maintenance department. As a result, maintenance basically gets to address the symptoms, not the true causes, of problems.

Efficiency vs. effectiveness

The noted business-management consultant, author, and educator Peter Drucker defined efficiency and effectiveness this way:

• Efficiency: Doing things right—able to accomplish something with the least waste of time and effort. (Focuses on process).

• Effectiveness: Doing the right things—producing the intended or expected result. (Focuses on results, outcomes, throughput).

Just because maintenance is performed efficiently does not necessarily mean that it is effective.

NASCAR race-team pit crews offer an excellent example. An efficient pit stop can be performed in record time. The pit crew’s work processes are highly efficient. But, if they always change four tires while only two tires are showing signs of performance-handling wear, pit stops are ineffective.

In the business context of auto racing and pit stops, it’s not the responsibility of the pit crew (let’s call it the “maintenance crew”) to determine how many tires to change. The crew chief (let’s call him or her the “maintenance manager”) reviews previous tire-performance data, compared with vehicle handling, as reported by the driver, and determines the tire-changing tasks to be completed during each pit stop.

After all, the goal of a race is not only flawless work execution (efficiency) by the pit crew, but also performance of pit stops in a manner that ensures the business goal of winning the race is a top priority (effectiveness).

All too often, we focus primarily on measuring and improving maintenance efficiency, including, among other things, preventive-maintenance (PM)-schedule compliance, mean time to repair, actual hours/planned hours, planning variance, and preventive/predictive-maintenance (PM/PdM) yield. While activities (or actions) associated with these measurements and improvements lead to excellent maintenance practices, they must be balanced with maintenance effectiveness.

Aligning maintenance functions with business goals assures maintenance effectiveness. Maintenance actions then contribute to the goals of the business.

This business line of sight reflects alignments from the upper-most purposes of an enterprise, down to plant-floor work execution.

This business line of sight reflects alignments from the upper-most purposes of an enterprise, down to plant-floor work execution.

Line of sight

I’ve discussed asset-management standards and the importance of aligning an organization’s work processes with their goals in numerous Maintenance Technology columns over the years. Both the PAS-55:2008 Asset Management Specification and ISO55000: 2014 Asset Management Standard refer to the importance of aligning asset-management practices to the goals of the business. PAS-55 referred to this alignment as a “line of sight” designed to assure the effectiveness of such practices.

Let’s use the chart on p. 6 to drill down through a typical line of sight, from the upper-most purposes of an enterprise, all the way to work execution on the plant floor. Since business terminology varies widely, here are my clarifications and some examples for this diagram:

• Business Opportunity (our market/customers/requirements)

• Shareholder/Owner Expectations (return on the investment)

• Organization’s Mission-Vision (who we are and where we want to be)

• Strategic Themes, Policy Statements (guiding principles)

• Strategic Business Plan (what and why)

• Business Goals (what we want to accomplish)

• Key Performance Indicators (measuring what is critical: financial, customer, process, people, and/or regulatory)

• Objectives/Strategic Initiatives (what and how)

• Organizational Structures (our divisions/cost centers/departments/shifts/crews)

• Job Roles & Responsibilities, Job Requirements (who, what, where, when)

• Work Processes, Methods, Procedures, Systems (how work should/shall be performed)

• Work Execution (performance management—how well).

Top-down/bottom-up

There are two ways to approach line-of-sight alignment. Most organizations view it from a top-down perspective to define their respective business models and what they should measure to determine whether they’re on a successful path. Their KPIs (key performance indicators) often provide necessary measures of success.

From a bottom-up perspective, we see Work Execution reflecting the fundamental actions required to meet the Business Goals as measured by the KPIs. The two paths (top-down and bottom-up) meet in the middle—aligned toward the same KPIs.

Connecting and aligning Work Execution to the KPIs are some of the most critical links in the process. The KPIs can be made actionable by linking to the appropriate Equipment Utilization Losses (see Uptime, March 2017).

Specific Objectives or Initiatives are determined from the KPIs; Organizational Structures are defined; specific Job Roles & Responsibilities (in various departments) are defined; and Work Processes are developed to define how work is to be performed. All of this leads to the flawless Work Execution that’s necessary to achieve the Business Goals (as in the pit crew example).

Seeking alignment

Aligning the work culture (an organization’s behaviors) with a line of sight to the organization’s business goals begins by communicating the Business Opportunity and how the organization needs to pull in the same direction to take full advantage of it.

Linking maintenance to business goals is only one of many alignments that must exist in successful enterprises. Thus, we must remember that a maintenance department alone cannot effectively maintain equipment and facilities. More and more, we’re learning that the maintenance function is a team sport that requires multiple disciplines (players) brought in at different stages in the life cycle of a physical asset.

Paying attention to maintenance-work processes and efficiency are good things to measure. It’s when we align the outcomes of those processes and efficiencies with business goals that maintenance truly becomes effective in a business model. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the “people side” of world-class maintenance and reliability. Contact him at RobertMW2@cs.com.

27

6:46 pm
April 13, 2017
Print Friendly

Guide Helps Measure Asset-Management Maturity

The ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard could play a major role in industry in the coming years. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this Standard at maintenancetechnology.com/iso55k.

The ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard could play a major role in industry in the coming years. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this Standard at maintenancetechnology.com/iso55k.

By Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

The asset-management journey is rich with ideas, opinions, and recommendations. As organizations focus on life-cycle asset management, many performance breakthroughs have been achieved. It’s wise to continue to learn from these asset-management examples and tools as they become available.

A quick read of the ISO 55001-2014 Asset Management Standard offers detailed descriptions of minimum requirements for an effective asset-management system, rather than a comprehensive checklist. Plant leaders, though, could benefit from a more practical guide to asset-management excellence.

The Institute of Asset Management (IAM, London, theiam.org) has compiled an insightful document that helps readers understand the subjects relating to an asset-management system, as codified in ISO 55001, and to the overall asset-management discipline. Titled Asset Management Maturity Scale and Guidance, it can serve as a progress guidance tool in an organization’s asset-management journey.

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 1.41.00 PM

At the heart of the IAM publication is the “Asset Management Landscape” (2nd Edition). Assembled by the Global Forum on Maintenance and Asset Management (GFMAM, Zurich, gfmam.org), it provides a broad overview of the asset-management discipline and a structured body of knowledge spread across 39 different, yet related, subjects, organized into six groups:

• Strategy & Planning
Asset Management Decision Making
Lifecycle Delivery
Asset information
Organization & People
Risk & Review

The Asset Management Maturity publication aligns the 39 asset-management subjects with a six-level maturity scale. An invaluable tool for assessing an organization’s asset-management progress, the document also offers specific recommendations for improvement. The accompanying table summarizes this maturity scale. It can be used as a template with each of the 39 subjects.

Each subject spans two pages in the Asset-Management Maturity publication. The first page is organized with the six maturity levels (0 to 5), shown in the summary table here, with additional maturity definitions.

The second page offers important insights into achieving excellence in the asset-management journey. Each subject is put into context with criticality, scale, and complexity to help define Level 5 maturity. Related subjects from the list are also referenced. Notes and illustrations from the developers also are included to help you on the journey to asset-management excellence. MT

robertmw2@cs.com

References

ISO 55001-2014 Asset Management Standard, (1st Edition), Jan. 2014. The International Organization for Standardization (iso.org)

Asset Management Maturity Scale and Guidance, (Version 1.1), June 2016. Institute for Asset Management (theIAM.org)

“Asset Management Landscape,” (2nd Edition), Mar. 2014. Global Forum on Maintenance and Asset Management (GFMAM.org)

204

3:23 pm
March 13, 2017
Print Friendly

Uptime: Improve Equipment Effectiveness

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Equipment or, for that matter, any physical asset in our plants and facilities is generally expected to be efficient and effective. In other words, it’s expected to do what it was designed to do under defined operating conditions for specified periods of time. It doesn’t seem like we’re asking too much: RCM (reliability-centered maintenance) focused on improving equipment maintenance with a generally accepted definition of efficiency and effectiveness.

Another, broader perspective of equipment  efficiency and effectiveness, however, also deserves our consideration. This concept was introduced in the 1980s with the concept of    Total Productive Maintenance (TPM).

When TPM hit U.S. shores in the mid to late ‘80s, it was supposed to help us develop organization-wide work cultures for improving equipment effectiveness. The five basic, interdependent “Pillars of TPM” defined principles that made the process work. Coupled with the Theory of Constraints, those principles should have launched a paradigm shift in equipment-performance improvement. In fact, in 1990, I was constantly insisting that TPM would become the predominant equipment-effectiveness strategy of the 21st century. Little did I realize it could become so de-constructed that it would no   longer represent an effective business-improvement process.

Unintended consequences

What changed? TPM’s intent of improving equipment effectiveness devolved into the widespread practice of “operator care.” [Specifically, the Autonomous Maintenance (AM) model for training turned into yet another spin on operator care as being synonymous with TPM.]

As guided by the first Pillar of TPM, the “focused-improvement” principle morphed into a calculated metric of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). In turn, OEE launched itself into a mega-metric, well beyond its intended use to compare a machine to itself over a period of time.

Of the original five principles (Pillars) of TPM, two were widely embraced by many implementations: operator care/autonomous maintenance and OEE-percentage. Much to my dismay, this reality debunked my previously mentioned “predominant equipment-effectiveness strategy” prediction. Unfortunately, operator care and OEE do not define true TPM.

But it’s not too late to learn from TPM. Given industry’s skilled-worker shortages, demand for significantly improved equipment performance and reliability, and dependence on rapidly growing new technologies, true TPM will be the answer, whether labeled “TPM” or not.

Consider TPM’s expressed aim to improve equipment effectiveness by engaging the entire organization. The first Pillar, “improving equipment effectiveness by eliminating the (six) major losses,” led to a growing list of such losses (or causes of poor performance). The bottom line is that the starting point for TPM-based improvements is the identification of the problems to be eliminated.

Let’s explore those two foundational principles: eliminating the major losses and engaging the entire organization. Improving equipment effectiveness begins and ends with them (and all remaining Pillars of TPM rely on them.)

This diagram helped plant personnel recognize fundamental metrics and measurements for improving bottom-line business performance, as well as deploy plant-floor business-oriented metrics in critical bottleneck areas.

This diagram helped plant personnel recognize fundamental metrics and measurements for improving bottom-line business performance, as well as deploy plant-floor business-oriented metrics in critical bottleneck areas.

What gets measured gets done

Building on the original TPM teachings of the Six Major Losses, let’s jump into what I refer to as “actual equipment losses.” Identifying them is central to improving equipment effectiveness, as well as to getting organizational buy-in and ownership of root causes and sustainable corrective actions.

The accompanying diagram was developed for a client organization to help personnel recognize metrics and measurements that must exist as a foundation for improving bottom-line business performance, as well as help in deploying plant-floor business-oriented metrics in critical bottleneck areas.

Equipment capacity losses

Because the plant-improvement project focused primarily on improving production flow through the manufacturing processes, it was important to understand Equipment Capacity. A fundamental re-definition was necessary since the site had historically linked the concept to standard production rates. Downtime was treated separately, and in very general terms.

Basic equipment capacity was ultimately defined as the design capacity or historical best. Capacity Utilization losses occur when plant leadership makes a conscious decision to not run the equipment. Consider these losses “Planned,” as shown in the diagram.

Equipment utilization losses

Losses occurring when equipment is scheduled to run are categorized in the diagram as Equipment Utilization losses. As shown, some of them, i.e., Unplanned Downtime, Efficiency, and Yield losses, are straightforward. Setup/Changeover losses, though, can be planned or unplanned.

Setup/Changeover losses occur as Planned when those actions are accomplished properly, in the designated timeframe. When setups/changeovers are not completed within the planned timeframe and/or not performed properly, they should be categorized as Unplanned Downtime losses.

While the literature is rich with standard terms for equipment-related losses, there’s a significant advantage in leveraging terminology that is commonly used at a site. The diagram shows a combination of traditional definitions used around the client’s operations, with the addition of new loss descriptions: No or Defective Material, No Operator, and the granularity of three Yield losses.

Material: All bottleneck equipment in the plant depended on material flow to the machine. Unplanned Downtime should be captured whenever material is not available or when it’s damaged or incapable of being run at acceptable rates.

No Operator: Occasionally, some of the plant’s most critical equipment couldn’t be operated due to the absence of a skilled operator. Regardless of the reason, these incidents are logged as a type of Unplanned Downtime: No Operator.

Yield & Waste: Yield losses have a negative impact on planned flow through the equipment and the rest of the plant. The site is now tracking three types of them as part of its flow-improvement project and a separate waste-reduction initiative.

Product Rework losses have a triple impact on the business, i.e., waste of materials, unproductive machine time, and the cost of committing additional labor and machine time to rework the defects or sort the good items from   the bad items.

Despite the amount of actual material waste being created, the plant didn’t historically capture materials lost due to equipment Startups and/or Setups (including Adjustments). This type of loss also contributed to inaccurate inventory downstream, leading to additional small lot re-runs.

Tapping the hidden factory

Plant-floor employees and senior management, and all those in between, should be able to understand the impact of equipment-related losses that have a direct line-of-sight to business goals and objectives.

Tracking Equipment Effectiveness losses and then focusing on eliminating the impact of the “critical few” depends on a collaborative effort that begins with equipment operators. Engaging them and the Operations leadership team in loss-elimination efforts is not only a key component of TPM, it’s an essential element of any reliability-improvement initiative. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM and member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the “people side” of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at RobertMW2@cs.com.

223

8:11 pm
February 10, 2017
Print Friendly

Uptime: Problem Solving — A New Competitive Challenge

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

What do robots, integrated automation systems, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), ISO 55000 Asset Management Standard, TPM, RCM, Lean Manufacturing, and re-shoring of jobs have in common? Yes, they’re here, now, and defy many traditional ways of managing a business. But there’s more. The rapid implementation of these performance-improvement technologies and solutions has also accelerated the demand for systematic problem solving.

In my opinion, problem solving is the new competitive challenge thrust upon us by global competition, shortened product cycles, and the explosive adoption rate of integrated and interdependent technologies. The big question, with regard to remaining competitive, is how do we develop a problem-solving workplace?

Let’s start with the definition of a “problem.” According to businessdictionary.com, the word means “a perceived gap between the existing state and a desired state, or a deviation from a norm, standard, or status quo.” Based on that definition, for a problem to be a “problem,” there must be a standard from which we can determine if there is a problem, i.e. something defining the normal condition. This is where standard work (a defined way for performing a task) comes in. The same goes for reliability standards (equipment doing what it’s supposed to do), quality standards (defect-free products), and safety standards (injury-free workplaces). Given the fact that problems are deviations from expectations, identifying and solving them without standards can fuel guessing games of chasing false problems.

Determining, then implementing, the correct solution and proving its success, is the end goal.

Determining, then implementing, the correct solution and proving its success, is the end goal.

Before we can even begin thinking about problem-solving tools, however, we must consider the human side of the issue: Does a person have a problem-solving aptitude and, if so, what type? Here are several styles you might have encountered:

“Ostrich” approach. Some view problems as negatives, as opposed to opportunities for improvement. They tend to avoid considering solutions: “We can live with this problem, if we just . . . ”

“Denial” approach. Some people routinely fail to recognize or admit that the problem exists: “That’s not a problem. It happens all the time.”

“Always did it that way” approach. For some people, problem solving is more intuitive than systematic and structured. Past practices tend to frame their solutions to a problem: “Let’s try what we did the last time something like this happened.”

“Remove and replace” approach. Some specialize in the trial-and-error method (some solutions work, others don’t): “I’ve replaced most of the parts in the unit and it finally started working.”

“Yes, but” approach.  Someone will miss the problem entirely, yet already be working on a solution: “I hear what you’re saying, but here’s what we need to do.”

“Work around” approach. Some people will look for ways to work around the problem rather than look for the cause: “I know it quit working, so we just put in a by-pass circuit to keep it running.”

“What do we know” approach. The most successful problem solvers take time to better understand the problem before beginning a systematic process of identifying options to pursue: “What happened? Was anything changed here before the problem occurred? Who was there at the time?”

Problem solving is more than RCA

Analyzing problems to determine their causes is a scientific discipline, of which there are a variety of proven processes. One key point here is “discipline.”

Root-cause analysis (RCA) not only requires a proven step-by-step process, it also depends on the human-performance discipline to adhere to that type of process—a standardized problem-solving approach embraced by the organization.

Another phase of problem solving is arriving at and establishing solutions that prevent a problem or its effects from recurring (or continuing). Arriving at a solution can also be an iterative process of trying potential solutions and analyzing the outcomes until a sustainable and affordable solution is determined.

RCA is more than problem solving

Whenever I think about problem solving, I’m reminded of my conversation with auto-racing’s Ray Evernham nearly 20 years ago. At the time, he was still serving as crew chief for Jeff Gordon, who, late in the 1992 Winston Cup season, had begun driving for Hendrick Motorsports, a top-level NASCAR race team.

As a consultant to the organization, I was focusing on Hendrick’s use of root-cause failure analysis in its problem-solving process (a very robust and rapid one). How delighted I was when Evernham explained that the team also performed root-cause “success” analyses, i.e., analyzing what went unexpectedly right, whether it was a win, an ultra-fast pit stop, or a zero-failure race. Wow.

A root-cause success analysis can turn the tables—from eliminating problems to repeating successes. Seeking answers to “what can we do consistently better,” which is a critical success factor in motorsports, can be just as valuable in plant and facility operations.

Troubleshooting is not necessarily solving problems

In the world of industrial and facilities maintenance, troubleshooting varies widely. At times the troubleshooting process involves removing and replacing parts one at a time until the defective one is located. (Not too scientific, but a common practice.)

Scientific troubleshooting requires a troubleshooter to truly understand the inner working of a device that is harboring the fault. That includes understanding components, systems, circuits, hardware, software, and firmware.

Again, the more the technician understands the device the more efficient and effective the troubleshooting process becomes.

But troubleshooting is only half the battle. Determining, then implementing, the correct solution and proving its success, is the end goal.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: For some troubleshooting tips, see this month’s feature “Boost Troubleshooting Skills at Your Site.”)

Problem-solving mindsets

The ability to troubleshoot, perform root-cause analyses, and solve problems (or improve performance) requires disciplined human performance, i.e., adherence to proven processes.

Furthermore, those doing the problem solving must have the aptitude and ability to think through the variables in the problem-solving process and the associated equipment conditions. They must be able to understand what a pre-fault (or normal) conditions are and must be able to recognize fault conditions.

In my generation, we grew up taking things apart. Fixing things. Building things. We had access to tools and looked for things to do with them.

Shop classes and working on cars and other things around the house or farm helped build our confidence and respect for how “stuff” worked. Sometimes we got hurt (nothing serious); sometimes we damaged things. But that’s how we learned many of our skills.

Over time, many of us developed mechanical aptitudes along with a variety of abilities to put them to work. A solid mechanical aptitude and an understanding of basic cause-and-effect relationships are central to problem solving.

Sadly today, we’re witnessing the impact of exposing two generations to few, if any, shop classes. Individuals entering the workplace without problem-solving aptitudes and abilities are at a severe disadvantage. So are our industries. Growing effective problem solvers is becoming increasingly difficult in today’s plants and facilities.

Building a problem-solving mindset (or paradigm) in your organization takes people with the right skills and lots of practice. It also calls for a consistent and systematic approach to solving problems.

And, one more thing: A problem-solving mindset must be set from top management as a way of doing business. In the meantime, try testing your own skills with Mind Tools’ “How Good is Your Problem Solving?” online assessment. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM and member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the “people side” of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at RobertMW2@cs.com.

42

8:43 pm
February 9, 2017
Print Friendly

Establish a Problem-Solving Organization

By Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

The ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard could play a major role in industry in the coming years. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this Standard at maintenancetechnology.com/iso55k.

The ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard could play a major role in industry in the coming years. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this Standard at maintenancetechnology.com/iso55k.

Asset management, as defined in the ISO 55000:2014 Standard, spans the entire lifecycle of an asset. While this standard applies to many asset forms, from our perspective as reliability and maintenance professionals, the main emphasis relates to the physical assets of a business.

In ISO 55000, an asset is defined as “. . . an item, thing, or entity that has potential or actual value to an organization.” I’ve made the case in past columns, however, that highly skilled employees (such as maintenance technicians) should also be considered assets because they represent potential and actual value through developed and deployed skill sets.

There’s also a lifecycle element in the development of a qualified maintenance technician, beginning with aptitude and core-job competence. At some point, due to aging out, retiring, or the inability to perform specified work, technicians’ value-adding qualities fade.

That holds true for any highly skilled decision maker, including engineers, buyers, chief executives, and project managers. They all reflect potential or actual value to the organization. Thus, their lifecycle skill sets must be honed to contribute to achieving asset-management goals and, by extension, organization goals. Problem solving is one of those skill sets. In fact, it’s a primary and pervasive requirement in an asset-management system.

According to ISO 55000, “The management system elements include the organization’s structure, roles and responsibilities, planning, operation, etc.”

One of the major characteristics of an asset-management system is that it must assure the ability of the organization’s key stakeholders at various levels to identify and solve problems when an asset deviates from the normal or expected performance. Problem solving must then be a key responsibility of specific roles. In turn, a problem-solving mindset is essential within an asset-management system to identify risks that could affect the organization’s goals.

An organization’s problem-solving mindset plays a key role throughout all phases of an asset’s lifecycle.

An organization’s problem-solving mindset plays a key role throughout all phases of an asset’s lifecycle.

The lifecycle perspective

The intent of ISO 55001 is to set the requirements for a system to manage selected assets throughout their lifecycle. Asset lifecycles begin in the design stage, and progress through engineering and procurement, installation and startup, and operations and maintenance, to decommissioning and disposal.

Each phase of an asset’s lifecycle involves people in a variety of roles and responsibilities, and differing disciplines and priorities. While the phases are sequential, they must remain highly interrelated and interdependent when it comes to assuring reliable performance of the asset. Requirements of the ISO 55001 Asset Management System assure that the organization’s goals will be met. For a functioning asset-management system, there must be an organization-wide problem-solving mindset that translates to problem identification and mitigation responsibilities within each lifecycle phase of the assets.

In the earliest phases, this problem-solving mindset must deal with anticipated and potential problems and their mitigation. Later, in the installation phases, the problem-solving mindset must deal with physical-asset damage and installation errors. During the operation and maintenance phases, the problem-solving mindset must deal with proactive problem prevention. Finally, in the decommissioning phase, the problem-solving mindset must deal with asset removal and disposal hazards.

Organizing for asset management clearly requires a problem-solving mindset within the organization. Consider this mindset a fundamental skill set to be deployed in a consistent and systematic manner. MT

Contact Bob Williamson at RobertMW2@cs.com.

153

9:49 pm
January 13, 2017
Print Friendly

Uptime: They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Why haven’t our continuous-improvement programs over the past 10 years given us sustainable improvements? We’ve focused on most of the top five ‘improvement tools’ with very little result. What are we missing?”

This question is being asked more and more these days. The good news is that it’s an excellent question. The better news is that someone in a leadership role is asking such a question. The not-so-good news is that there are far too many stalled continuous-improvement initiatives that should be similarly questioned.

What’s missing in too many continuous-improvement (CI) initiatives? The people? Leadership? Improvement tools? Overall purpose? Compelling need? In many cases, it’s all of the above.

Danger in the comfort zone

Frequently, the CI initiative itself drives the quest for improving business performance. Whether the initiative is TPM (total productive maintenance), RCM (reliability-centered maintenance), 5S, Lean, or something else from a long list of options, the intentions are almost always good. Each initiative requires a new perspective on how to get new things done to achieve new results. That, quite frankly, tends to be the fun part of rolling out new initiatives: new training on new tools to create a new mindset for solving old problems.

CI training and tools can be a pleasant departure from the run-of-the-mill problem solving—pleasant, that is, for some people. Others will choose not to be involved. They’re more comfortable with “the way we’ve always done things around here.” Change is not a priority. “We need stability, consistency, standard ways of doing things around here. Change is too risky.”

For many individuals in today’s workplace, there are comfort zones where routines prevail over the will to improve. This inertia of the past can be difficult to overcome. This, quite often, is where new CI initiatives come into play. “Let’s get everyone involved. That way they’ll see what can be improved and how they can pitch in to achieve new and higher levels of performance.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out as planned. Soon after the CI initiative rollout, things fall back into “the way-we’ve-always-done-things-here routine” (the comfort zone.) The situation reflects a culture defined by the past, i.e., “how we’ve done things that have made our business successful all these years.”

So, who’s pushing the CI rope uphill? Why isn’t everyone helping to pull it? Simply put, “They don’t know what they don’t know.” Consequently, all that CI training, multiple show-and-tell CI events, and countless measurements of CI deployment don’t seem to work. We must begin asking, “What don’t they know that they need to know?”

Some people in a plant will embrace captured data as a first step toward continuous improvement, while ‘informed naysayers’ will resist it.

Initiatives versus evidence

About eight years ago, leadership at a certain plant began deploying machine-data collection devices so everyone could see how critical equipment was performing. It was a great engineering project, one that was intended to set the foundation for numerous CI initiatives targeting specific business-improvement needs. The project spanned a good four years and, eventually, several data-collection tools and associated displays were deployed.

The displays communicated, in scoreboard style, how the machines were running and when they were down or in a changeover mode. Most important, though, was the fact that they all spelled out the reasons for unplanned downtime. A plus was that these displays also showed planned production rates versus actual rates, and flashed the information for all to see. (One area manager even had engineering program the displays to show breaks and lunch and the time remaining, which seemed like Big Brother informing workers when they could take a break or go to lunch and how much time remained until the machines needed to be up-and-running again. Some saw that as a positive side benefit of the downtime displays.)

This initiative was labeled a success. Not much else came of the project, however.

On the other hand, what became of all that data residing inside the display-unit memory systems? The plant’s engineering team realized the capabilities of the displays went well beyond what one could see. For the most part, the rest of the plant staff and management didn’t know what they didn’t know about the captured data. While runtime/downtime status was automatically logged—and operators sometimes logged the downtime reasons—there was no evidence of this information ever being looked at let alone put to use.

Mining data for all to see

Were these CI-led equipment-downtime data-collection displays worth salvaging? Digging into just one of the critical machines, a constraint in the production flow proved quite revealing. “But, what can nearly 8,000 data entries from the past two months possibly tell us? Most downtime reasons are labeled ‘None’ anyway.” (They don’t know what they don’t know.)

But what if we were to take all that data, sorted out the “None” reasons for downtime, and tried to see what they were telling us?

The evidence pointed to a great many different downtime reasons over the two-month period. The operators really were capturing downtime reasons. A cursory analysis revealed the most-frequent reasons to the least-frequent reasons for a machine being down. (They don’t know what they don’t know.)

What is the value of knowing the downtime frequency for any reason if you don’t have the duration of downtime events? The downtime frequency without duration is what I affectionately call the “pain-in-the-butt factor.” All we know is how many times this thing happens. And the more it happens, the bigger the pain.

For machine-downtime data to be meaningful to the business, we need to understand not only the reason and frequency, but also the duration of the downtime. That’s when the true business impact of chronic downtime can be determined and specific countermeasures put in place to minimize, if not eliminate, the downtime cause.

Naysayers revealed

Confronting plant personnel with a treasure trove of captured data from machine-downtime display units can divide them into two camps: some will embrace the data as a first step in the CI journey; others will dispute the data’s validity and continue doing things the same way they’ve always been done. Let’s call the second group “informed naysayers.” They quickly remark: “We’ve tried to use those things in the past, and look where it got us. We shouldn’t trust the data because those operators are probably putting the wrong downtime reasons into the system.” (They don’t know what they don’t know.)

Continuous-improvement initiatives—regardless of their intent—must focus on meaningful business cases and compelling opportunities for improvement, and be built upon evidence rather than opinions from the comfort zone. There will be times in any CI journey when someone, i.e., from upper management or the plant floor, becomes vocal opposition. (They don’t know what they don’t know.)

Make sure that you use actual equipment data to define your CI activities and show significant improvement as measured by the information being collected, analyzed, and acted upon by people closest to the machines. Help the naysayer crowd at your site learn more about what they don’t know as a part of their culture-changing paradigm shift. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the “people side” of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at RobertMW2@cs.com.

61

10:03 pm
December 20, 2016
Print Friendly

Leadership is Part of Asset Management

Managing is about doing things right; leading is about doing the right things.

Managing is about doing things right; leading is about doing the right things.

By Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Leadership and commitment from all managerial levels is essential for successfully establishing, operating, and improving asset management within the organization.” (ISO 55000, 2.4.2). This statement sets the stage for leading, rather than managing, the asset-management journey. What does that mean?

Author Stephen Covey described the difference in these terms: “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

My take is that managing is about doing things right; leading is about doing the right things. In this month’s “Uptime” column, I noted that leadership skills are required to set a new direction, inspire and motivate people to achieve new results toward a new vision, and engage them as they create new work processes. Where does leadership specifically fit in ISO 55001? Let me explain.

The Standard requires a comprehensive, organization-wide system that spans the life-cycle phases of an asset. Fundamentally, this means much more than an organization having a single departmental unit or function that focuses on the asset-management system. Every part of an organization that has anything to do with assets that produce value will play a role in the management of those assets. For most organizations, this is new strategic alignment. It also calls for leadership: “Top management shall demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to the asset management system …” (ISO55001, 5.1 Leadership and commitment).

While top management typically focuses on “big picture” items, looking toward the future and inspiring and motivating people to achieve new results isn’t necessarily engrained in traditional management behavior. Thus, organizations face a paradigm shift as they conform to the standard. The definition of “management” is the catalyst.

Let’s recap what we know so far: Asset management is not maintenance management. True life-cycle asset management demands a major organizational culture change—something else that requires leadership.

Keep in mind that while top management may play a key role in leading people to achieve new goals, with regard to successful asset management, there’s a practical need for leaders at other critical organizational levels. Their new roles must be defined as part of an emerging asset-management system. Here are some tips for grooming leaders:

Top management must understand and demonstrate functional knowledge of asset management and the systems required to achieve the organization’s goals. Managers must also learn to lead their organization into the future of asset management.

Some managers within an organization may be ideal asset-management leaders; others struggle. As Jim Collins advised in his book Good to Great, “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

Successful asset management depends on leaders who have personal values that align with the organization’s vision and policy regarding these efforts and a responsibility to achieve the organization’s goals.

Note that organizational alignment, or line of sight, toward common asset-management goals is essential. In the end, the journey toward life-cycle asset management, whether it conforms with ISO 55001 or not, demands leadership habits cascading from the top of an organization down through every unit that affects asset performance and reliability.  MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and a member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the “people side” of world-class reliability and maintenance. Contact him at RobertMW2@cs.com.

Navigation