Archive | Management


9:49 pm
January 13, 2017
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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


9:45 pm
January 13, 2017
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Use Catalog Profiles, Failure Codes to Analyze Assets

By Kristina Gordon, DuPont

randmDetermining why an asset failed during production is a critical function, not only for general reporting, but to measure asset costs and make informed decisions about future use. The SAP system provides an effective means of documenting the key aspects of damages, causes, tasks, and activities. Catalog profiles are used to group attributes together and allow maintenance personnel to document asset failure in the maintenance notification.

Q: What defect codes exist in the SAP catalog profile and how do you turn them on?

A :  Catalog profiles are created based on a company’s general business practices. Each company will have its own standards and naming convention and they should be followed in this setup to maintain consistency and avoid confusion.

The SAP catalog structure goes from catalog to code group to code. Each of these must be set up in the IMG (implementation guide), which is a SAP configuration. A catalog profile should be created such that it describes the equipment at a level that helps identify the possible failures associated with its particular equipment group.

Once the catalog and failure codes are configured, they are assigned to equipment masters. This will connect a catalog profile and corresponding damage or failure code to a specific equipment type, and then allow the proper failure code to be selected and added to the notification for that asset, as seen in the example below.


As shown in the equipment-master screen (next column), the equipment description is R/V, with some identifying characteristics (identification number 531503, in this case). The catalog profile (bottom of the screen) states the profile number with the description “Valve, Safety Relief.”


In the work-order notification generated for the equipment above, the object part goes into a more granular description of the catalog profile, “Disk”.


Finally, the failure code for the damage can be selected. In this example, the inspection produced a “Worn” result.

SAP includes the following key transactions for viewing failure-analysis results:

• MCI5: Damages, based on damage, cause, and activity

• IW67: List of tasks completed for the damages

• IW69: List of items with damage, cause, and other catalog details

• IW65: List of activities with damage, cause, and other catalog details.

Knowing the failure rate can optimize PM intervals and improve failure response and work practices. MT

Kristina Gordon is SAP Program Consultant at the DuPont, Sabine River Works plant in West Orange, TX. If you have SAP questions, send them to and we’ll forward them to Kristina.


9:35 pm
January 13, 2017
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Ramp Up Your Network Security

Industrial-control-system networks may seem secure, but there are opportunities for unwanted access at just about any level and component.

Industrial-control-system networks may seem secure, but there are opportunities for unwanted access at just about any level and component.

It’s inevitable that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will continue to grow, with more and more devices connected to networks by the minute. Achieving operational efficiency of those networks, however, is not without problems—including cyber-security threats. Such threats are raising serious concerns throughout industrial operations. What are the best ways to deal with them? Yiwei Chen of Moxa Inc. (, Brea, CA) points to the IEC62443 Standard as a good place to start.

IEC62443 is constantly evolving to provide up-to-date security guidelines and a list of best practices for different parts of a network. It also includes information for those with different network responsibilities. The ultimate goal of the standard is to help improve network safety and enhance industrial-automation and control-settings security. According to Chen, to protect their networks from internal and external threats, it’s paramount for operators to understand IEC62443. This understanding will help them deploy devices with adequate security features to protect networks from internal and external threats.

Just what types of cyber threats can arise, and what options do your operations have for combating them? Chen provided several tips.

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Prevent intrusions and attacks.
The first step in preventing unauthorized access to devices on a network is to implement a password policy. Remember, however, that while password policies are effective to some degree, as the number of users and devices on a network increases, so does the possibility of the network being breached.

Protect sensitive data.
All devices on a network must support and enforce data encryption when data are transmitted. This will virtually eliminate the risk of data being stolen during transmission. The reason data integrity is so important is because it guarantees data accuracy and that information can be processed and retrieved reliably and securely when needed.

randmAudit security events.
Networks must constantly be monitored, and every event that takes place on them should be recorded for possible analysis later. Although several security precautions can be taken to prevent cyber attacks, in the event one were successful, detecting it in real time would be difficult.

Visualize network security status.
Software that visualizes network security status allows operators to monitor any abnormal or potentially damaging activity. This type of software can also help network operators prevent problems before they arise, by allowing personnel, with a quick glance, to verify the correct settings are applied to each device. The security features that are typically covered can include password policies, encryption, log-in credentials, and data integrity.

Ensure correct configuration.
Human error can cause a wide range of problems, including improperly functioning networks, lost data, and creation of significant network vulnerabilities for attackers to exploit. Networks with incorrect configurations can be manipulated by internal staff or outside forces that have gained unauthorized access. Note: Cyber attacks resulting from human error are the most common way that networks are compromised. MT

To learn more about network security and Moxa’s wide range of solutions for ensuring it, visit


9:30 pm
January 13, 2017
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On The Floor: 2016 Regrets, 2017 Hopes

This month, the MT reader panelists share their 2016 regrets and the plans they have for 2017 success.

This month, the MT reader panelists share their 2016 regrets and the plans they have for 2017 success.

It’s that time again, when most of us make an effort to seriously consider what we didn’t get done in the past year and what we’re bound and determined to get done in the new one.  That also includes mulling over regrets and hopes in our work lives—which is what we wanted our MT Panelists to do this month. We asked them two questions:

• What were their (or their clients’/customers’) biggest work-related regrets of 2016 and why?

• What were their (or their clients’/customers’) greatest work-related hopes for 2017 and why?

Here, edited for brevity and clarity, are the responses we received.

Plant Engineer, Institutional Facilities, Midwest…

REGRETS: A major project that began in 2015 was halted with less than half of the work done, causing many problems in the first few months of 2016. The project was restarted, then stopped again before completion, leading to problems in the entire building as a result of cold, rainy, and hot weather conditions.

Most of our key problems stem from [issues with] the state budget. As a result, training is only done in house, with employees as instructors, and parts are ordered only as needed. We try our best to make repairs and perform maintenance with what we have on hand. Although we’ve been under a hiring freeze for more than a year, we still lose employees, making us even more shorthanded.

HOPES: Fixing the state budget would, hopefully, start getting us back to normal, but that could take years. Other hopes for 2017 include solving problems we’ve put on hold due to lack of funds; making upgrades so we can operate better if something goes wrong with the budget again; getting breakdown maintenance back to a more preventive type; entering all of our main equipment into a computerized management system; and having trend logs to help monitor problems and reduce energy use campus wide.

We’re also hoping our past problems will help management understand the importance of only starting totally funded projects and that dividing large projects into two or three phases could keep from leaving a building at risk. This approach alone would have saved all the money we spent on damage done by completing only part of a project.

Maintenance Leader, Discrete Mfg., Midwest…

REGRETS: I really can’t think of any regrets. The main reason being that, despite having struggled with our PMs in the past, our preventive maintenance and reliability projects are showing improvements. The numbers associated with proactive versus reactive work are starting to flip flop (definitely trending in the right direction). The team bought into a new that approach management offered and finally took ownership.

Our maintenance team has been together for a couple years and members work well with each other and are sharing knowledge. Training has also been occurring more than in the past.

HOPES: My hope for 2017 is to keep the system that we now have in place. It’s working well and showing improvements.

Industry Consultant, West…

REGRETS: Among my clients, the biggest regret seems to be PM/PdM (preventive/predictive-maintenance) compliance: not doing what they planned to do to prevent breakdowns. Measuring and publicizing the shortcomings have not corrected the issue. The PMs/PdMs have not been elevated enough on the radar to make them a priority.  Frequently, the Root Cause Analysis of repeat failures points back to incomplete or ignored preventive maintenance.

HOPES: My largest client is hopeful about a maintenance-worker-effectiveness study that it’s undertaking to help understand why productivity is dropping year after year. Although the organization has increased training and invested in maintenance employees, the returns haven’t been realized.

Technical Supervisor, Public Utility, West…

REGRETS: No real regrets. Staff training was very successful for 2016, and there were no issues with any other CBM (condition-based maintenance] projects. We filled a vacancy and purchased new handheld vibration equipment. We’re also in the process of upgrading our main GSU transformer partial-discharge, bushing-monitoring system with new acoustic monitors.

HOPES: [We hope to] continue technical and operations training for new staff. Changing dynamics in our state’s power industry, due to the ongoing addition of residential-, commercial- and utility-grade renewable-energy (wind and solar) projects, is depressing prices paid for power generation.

Being able to ramp up and down to back up the renewables is quite valuable. The depressed pricing is making gas-fired-combustion turbine plants un-cost-effective.

Maintenance & Reliability Specialist,
Engineering Services, South…

REGRETS: We had more to be grateful for than we had regrets, but we did need training on an upgrade to one of our software programs that we weren’t able to obtain. This means we will be behind the learning curve when the new upgrade is implemented, which, of course, means it will take us longer to get the most out of the software.

HOPES: One of our biggest hopes for 2017 is the potential to share our on-line CBM (condition-based-monitoring) program with other groups across the enterprise. We want to leverage our enterprise-level packages and lessons learned with several other groups in an effort to cost share and allow consistency across the core.

Industry Consultant, Northeast…

REGRETS: With regard to my clients, one of my biggest 2016 regrets was the same as the year before. Specifically, I’ve been working with a medium-sized company that has slowly been going downhill. It’s basically selling a commodity item and, since I don’t work with the sales side of the organization, I can’t comment on that aspect of its operations.

What I do see, however, is the manufacturing side of the organization, where, regrettably, capital expenditures and skilled personnel are continuing to be cut under the direction of a president who is a great cheerleader, but never seems to get out of his office.   

HOPES: I’m quite hopeful, though, for another client: a successful manufacturing organization, about the same size as the first, where the president actually has an office on the manufacturing floor. This business is growing, partly because of an aggressive sales organization that, like my other client, is selling a commodity item, but also because the company has been able to separate itself from the pack by emphasizing quality at a competitive cost. Trying to keep that momentum going, this client has recently been working on a product-reliability improvement program involving just about everyone in the plant, including engineering, customer relations, the production group leaders, etc.

Sr. Facilities Engineer, Discrete Mfg., Southeast…

REGRETS: My biggest disappointment of 2016 is the lack of initiative toward new projects of products.  Status quo will get us nowhere.

HOPES: My biggest hope for the coming year is for success in our TPM initiatives and a successful migration into our new CMMS system.  Both are going to take a lot of cooperation from multiple groups.

The impact of politics

It’s worth noting that only one Panelist pointed to the possible impact that the recent election could have had on regrets and hopes of reliability and maintenance professionals. An industry supplier from the Midwest, he suggested that the development of many 2017 plant budgets might have been put off until the results were in. 

“There’s a ‘buzz’ in the air,” he wrote, “as people are optimistic about 2017 and beyond, right now, but waiting for the presidential switch. Many plants that were idled are coming online, and we’re seeing monies being spent to bring equipment back from [the effects of] lackluster maintenance budgeting or operations that were being run by spreadsheets and not by reliability requirements.”

“Seems like a positive movement,” he opined, “but time will tell once we see January hit.” As he explained, he’s not seen a lot of changes or new implementations of late, “but more just trying to take equipment in dire need of upgrades or maintenance and finally allocating funds for those repairs.” MT

(EDITOR’s NOTE: This post is a slightly  expanded version of the Dec. 2016 print version of “On the Floor.”)

About the MT Reader Panel

The Maintenance Technology Reader Panel includes approximately 100 working industrial-maintenance practitioners and consultants who have volunteered to answer monthly questions prepared by our editorial staff. Panelist identities are not revealed and their responses are not necessarily projectable. Note that our panel welcomes new members. To be considered, email your name and contact information to with “Reader Panel” in the subject line. All panelists are automatically included in an annual cash-prize drawing after one year of active participation.


9:14 pm
January 13, 2017
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My Take: The Case for Change


By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

How did you spend the past holiday season? I took some time to read and ponder a recent series of related articles and posts about the impact of automation on the human workforce by Claire Cain Miller, in “The Upshot” section of The New York Times. But that material was just the tip of an iceberg.

I also read most of the reader comments associated with those articles and posts, including (as of Tuesday, Jan. 3), the 550 regarding Miller’s feature published on Dec. 21, 2016. Titled “The Long-Term Jobs Killer is Not China. It’s Automation,” the piece seemed to have touched a lot of nerves. In it, among other things, the writer described the situations of two individuals, who, after losing their jobs to automation, have been unable to find new work in industry.

To her credit, the woman Miller quoted (who had actually lost two jobs as a result of automation) eventually enrolled in a computer class at Goodwill to improve her job prospects. For some reason, her strategy didn’t work. As she explained, “The 20- and 30-year-olds are more up to date on that stuff than we are because we didn’t have that when we were growing up.” She’s now on disability and living in a housing project.

The gentleman that Miller referenced, a former supervisor at an aluminum-extrusion operation (for a decade), lost his job to a robot about five years ago. Since then, he’s been scraping by with odd jobs. Unfortunately, as the article noted, despite the fact that many new factory jobs require technical skills, this person doesn’t own a computer and doesn’t want to.

These stories with their element of hopelessness and giving up touched my heart — greatly. Been there. Done that. Or, at least, fell into a similar, uncomfortable hole, from which I had to dig myself out. Twice. Thus, I line up with “Oscar,” another reader of Miller’s job-killer article, who posted the following comment: “The world changes. You change with it or get left behind. This has been true since long before we had robots and computers to worry about.”

Automation is changing the world and we should be prepared to change, too.

Automation is changing the world and we should be prepared to change, too.

Which gets me to thinking about something else I did during the holidays: I spent time on ordering copies of the book Frugal Innovation, by Navi Radjou and Jaideep Prabhus (2016, Economist Books, London), for several of my loved ones (old and not so old). I hope it gets them thinking as well — outside the box and elsewhere.

This 2016 CIM Management Book of the Year is full of insight, backed by case studies from developing countries on how, when resources are limited, businesses and individuals can turn adversity into success by tapping into the most abundant of all resources: human ingenuity. (In his Ted Talk on creative problem solving in the face of extreme limits, author Navi Radjou likens this ability to alchemy, i.e., turning something of little or no value into something of great value. And what’s not to like about that?)

Congratulations if you’ve received or read this book and/or if your own organization is already leveraging the management technique of frugal innovation (or “jugaad,” the Hindi term for an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness). To paraphrase “Oscar,” the commenter on the previously referenced article from The New York Times, the world changes. We can change with it or be left behind.

I look forward to hearing about the experiences (make that successes) of all you never-give-up alchemists out there. MT


6:20 pm
January 13, 2017
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Win Management Support For Your Efforts

Plant profitability, on which the future of many a plant manager hangs, requires harmonious interaction among all departments.

Plant profitability, on which the future of many a plant manager hangs, requires harmonious interaction among all departments.

Establishing and sustaining successful reliability and maintenance programs is a give-and-take proposition that requires adjusting the means by which plant departments interact.

By Paul D. Tomlingson

The most important factors for successful industrial reliability and maintenance (R&M) are establishing effective programs and full support and cooperation of all other plant departments. The single ingredient that guarantees these circumstances is plant-manager leadership. Achieving these circumstances, however, calls for a give-and-take approach to overcome the reality that the performance of a site’s reliability-and-maintenance workforce can be affected by many critical activities of other departments, over which R&M personnel have no control.

This article focuses specifically on developing an effective maintenance program that ensures reliable equipment and processes—one that meshes well with management’s interest in plant profitability.

First, let’s consider some complaints from real-world operations. They may sound familiar:

• Operations didn’t release Unit 16 for scheduled repair. It failed six hours later.

• Overhaul work stopped when purchasing couldn’t deliver the transmission on time.

• The rebuild was rescheduled as the warehouse could only supply four of eight couplings.

• The insisted-upon information-system accounting is useless for work control.

• Parts seldom arrive on time because warehousing won’t attend our scheduling meetings.

• Shops insist on fabricating bearings, and we now have 55 that don’t fit anything.

• Failure to arrange capital funding for pump installations destroyed the maintenance budget.

Eliminating these unfortunate events is the domain of the plant manager. The corrections, though, must be made while preserving the assigned responsibilities of various department managers, such as purchasing agents or warehouse managers. The mission for professionals in their own disciplines is to provide quality service and effective support to plant functions such as maintenance. That service and support is only possible when the providing department, say warehousing, understands the needs of the recipient department (in this case, maintenance). The solution is to adjust the means by which departments interact. It begins by ensuring that all departments understand the operating activities of all other departments and, thus, cooperate with each other and provide desired support. In other words, if you need help, you must first tell people how they can help.

Corporate guidelines direct development of the plant manager’s production strategy. In turn, his/her objectives specify departmental responsibilities while policies prescribe the what, who, how, and why of internal and interdepartmental actions. Departments then organize procedures into programs that are implemented, tested, and verified as contributing to improvements in overall plant performance.

Corporate guidelines direct development of the plant manager’s production strategy. In turn, his/her objectives specify departmental responsibilities while policies prescribe the what, who, how, and why of internal and interdepartmental actions. Departments then organize procedures into programs that are implemented, tested, and verified as contributing to improvements in overall plant performance.

Embark on the program

Maintenance is not a stand-alone activity that can single-handedly deliver reliable equipment and processes. Help from every other plant department, coupled with strong management reinforcement, is mandatory. For example, while maintenance is responsible for planning, its success depends on support from the warehouse for material and cooperation by operations in making equipment available for scheduled work. Therefore, a quality maintenance program must clearly depict realistic, accurate, and complete interdepartmental interactions, making it a plant-maintenance program.

Most plant managers have backgrounds in operations or engineering, not maintenance. Thus, maintenance is better qualified to begin developing the initial program to ensure its practicality and accurately depict the essential support and cooperation required from other plant departments. The plant manager can then confidently align other plant departments to match assistance required by maintenance. As this process is carried out, joint input from other departments is actively sought so that the final program definition reflects an accurate portrayal of departmental interactions in support of the plant-maintenance program. The end result enables all departments to understand maintenance operations, with emphasis on the accurate details of their support for and cooperation with maintenance.

Define the program

The plant-maintenance program should depict the interaction of the total plant population, as that population requests or identifies work, and classify it to determine the best reaction. The maintenance department plans, schedules, assigns, controls, and measures the resulting work, and, finally, assesses overall accomplishment against goals such as performance standards and budgets. The program should spell out who does what, how, when, and why in which the maintenance “who,” for example, is the maintenance planner interacting with the warehouse “who.” This clearly defines the duties, roles, and responsibilities of individuals, thereby eliminating confusion, uncertainty, or duplication.

Plant-manager role

Provided with a well-defined plant-maintenance program, the plant manager can align the organization’s business plan or production strategy to assure harmonious interaction between departments to yield quality product and ensure plant profitability.

The production strategy is the plant manager’s plan for achieving profitability. It assigns objectives (responsibilities) to all departments. These include performing basic tasks such as warehouse inventory control or maintenance PM (preventive maintenance) services. But objectives also specify the quality of service to maintenance. Mutual support is emphasized. The strategy also includes policies to guide interdepartmental actions such as purchasing actions in controlling the component-rebuilding program for the warehouse.

Once objectives are assigned and policies understood, individual departments organize all of their internal and interdepartmental procedures into an operating program. The resulting programs are then implemented and tested, and performance verified.

After verification, the programs are documented and departments throughout the plant are educated on all program elements. Documentation is of sufficient quality so that, if experienced personnel were replaced with those of equal qualification, the new individuals could follow the program documentation and achieve results equal to that of the incumbents (see figure above).

Determine objectives

The objectives assigned to each department correspond to the aims of the plant manager’s production strategy. A typical maintenance objective might state, “The primary objective of maintenance is to keep production equipment in a safe, effective, as designed, operating condition so that production targets can be met on time and at least cost. A secondary objective of maintenance is to perform approved, properly engineered and correctly funded non-maintenance activities (for example, construction and equipment installation) to the extent that such work does not reduce the capability for carrying out the maintenance program. As appropriate, maintenance will monitor the satisfactory performance of contractor support when utilized to perform maintenance or capital work.”

The maintenance objective assigns specific responsibilities so that maintenance can organize properly to carry them out, guided by the previously developed program that, by this point, has been vetted by management and agreed to by all other departments. Maintenance customers are now made aware of maintenance capabilities and limitations and will request support accordingly.

Departmental objectives provide clarification of the exact responsibilities of each department to include internal operating tasks, i.e., warehouse inventory control, as well as interdepartmental actions, i.e., providing stock materials upon the request of maintenance planners. They emphasize mutual support and cooperation among all plant departments. By specifying these dual responsibilities with objectives, the plant manager is taking direct steps to establish the importance of mutual cooperation and support among all departments. In the case of maintenance, the underlying intent of these objectives is to make clear that successful maintenance is a total plant effort.

Establish policies

Policies clarify objectives assigned to each department. They prescribe the conduct of internal department activities, as well as the manner in which departments interact and preclude misunderstanding of roles and responsibilities. Consider the following examples.

Department responsibilities might include policy wording such as:

• Each department will develop and publish procedures by which other departments may obtain their services.

• Operations will be responsible for the effective utilization of maintenance services.

Preventive-maintenance policies might specify that:

• Maintenance will conduct a detection-oriented preventive-maintenance (PM) program. The program will include equipment inspection and condition-monitoring and testing to help uncover equipment deficiencies and avoid premature failure. The PM program will also provide lubrication services, cleaning, adjustments, and minor component replacement to help extend equipment life.

• PM will take precedence over every aspect of maintenance except bona-fide emergency work.

• No major repairs will be initiated until PM services have established the exact condition of the equipment and elements of the repair have been correctly prioritized.

• The overall preventive-maintenance program will be assessed annually. Assessors will ensure the program covers all equipment that requires services and that the most appropriate types of services are applied at the correct intervals. The performance of the PM program in reducing equipment failures and extending equipment life will be verified.

Planning and scheduling policies could require that:

• Planning and scheduling will be applied to comprehensive jobs, e.g., overhauls, major component replacements, to ensure that work is well organized in advance, properly scheduled, and completed productively and expeditiously.

• Criteria will be provided to help determine which work will be planned, and all major repairs will be subjected to planning procedures unless an emergency repair is indicated.

Information policies might specify that:

• Maintenance will develop and use information concerning the utilization of labor, the status of work, backlog, cost, and repair history to ensure effective control of its activities and related economic decisions such as equipment replacement.

• Performance indices will be used to evaluate short-term accomplishments and long-term trends.

Organization policies could direct that:

• The maintenance workload will be measured on a regular basis to help determine the proper size and craft composition of the work force.

• The productivity of maintenance will be measured on a regular, continuing basis to monitor progress in improving the control of labor.

• Every effort will be made to implement organizational and management techniques, such as teams or reliability-centered maintenance, to ensure the most productive use of maintenance personnel and the pro-active application of reliability strategies.

Other policies might apply to activities such as priority setting, maintenance engineering, material control, or the conducting of non-maintenance work, such as construction.

With objectives assigned and policies addressing internal and interdepartmental actions prescribed, departments can arrange their procedures into department programs. Programs will prescribe what each department member will do, how they will do it, when, and why they must perform it in a prescribed way. Program details will ensure coordination with other department members, as well as with other departments. When the resulting programs are implemented and operating properly, they will provide a reasonable guarantee of interdepartmental cooperation.

The final plant-maintenance program also yields several useful benefits. In the process of program development and documentation, who does what, how, when, and why have been debated and mutually agreed upon. Thus, the program becomes a guideline for selection of the best organization to carry it out and the criteria for selecting the best information system.

Management-support guarantee

Plant managers know that their job security and future careers will be judged on their ability to secure and sustain plant profitability. Profitability requires the harmonious interactions of all departments. Therefore, when a maintenance team demonstrates its ability to provide a quality plant-maintenance program, few plant managers will overlook the opportunity to align their production strategies, objectives, policies, and leadership with it to yield the desired profitability. The same holds true when a reliability team demonstrates its ability to provide a quality reliability program. Therein lies the best assurance for winning management support for reliability and maintenance efforts. MT

Paul D. Tomlingson has spent more than 45 years working as a maintenance-management consultant to industrial operations around the world. Based in Denver, he is the author of numerous technical articles and 11 books, including, most recently, Maintenance in Transition: The Journey to World-Class Maintenance  (2014, Independent Publishers, Chicago). Contact him directly at

learnmore2— “The Plant Manager as Change Agent, Parts 1 and 2

—  “Do We Know What We Are Talking About?”


5:07 pm
January 13, 2017
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Engage Millennials in Reliability, Maintainability


By Dr. Klaus M. Blache, Univ. of Tennessee Reliability & Maintainability Center

Since Millennials now make up the largest segment of the United States workforce, what are you doing to engage them in reliability and maintainability? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the generation numbered more than 83 million in 2015. A recent IBM study stated that, by 2020, Millennials will account for 50% of the U.S. workforce and, by 2030, that number will increase to 75% (“Myths, Exaggerations and Uncomfortable Truths,” IBM Institute for Business Value, Armonk, NY, Feb. 19, 2015).

So what is a Millennial? Typically, we think of them as being between about 16 and 36 years of age (born between the early 1980s and early 2000s). You may know this demographic by other names:

• Generation Y

• Boomerang Kids (most likely to live longer with their parents)

• Trophy Kids (because they needed trophies for participation)

• Generation Me (out for themselves).

The IBM study (of 1,800 such individuals) refers to them as “Digital Natives.” I’ve also seen references to Generation Snowflake (perceived as more prone to taking offense and less resilient than previous generations).

Many sources have tagged Millennials as expecting high job satisfaction (passion over pay) and work-life balance. What they really seem to want, however, is steady career progress and related pay.

What Millennials really seem to want is steady career progress and related pay.

What Millennials really seem to want is steady career progress and related pay.

Millennials have grown up in a digital world, use extensive social networking and the Internet, and are probably more into working in teams. The IBM report has essentially debunked most of the generalizations about them. For example, it found that, when comparing Millennials to Gen X and Baby Boomers (two previous groups):

• Career goals and expectations were not that different.

• Being ethical and fair is more important than ongoing recognition.

• Their learning style is more physical (conference, classroom, by colleague on-the-job) than digital.

• They change jobs for the same reasons as other groups (quest for more money and a more-creative workplace).

• Millennials prefer more-frequent feedback.

In areas of reliability and maintainability (R&M), Millennials have the opportunity to do many things, including, but not limited to:

• Use new technologies to resolve reliability and maintainability challenges (use a drone to collect data, apply numerous apps to make work more efficient and effective, combine mobility and data access for new solutions).

• Be an integral part of the design, installation, and buy-off of assets or new-product launch (soon many Millennials will also be doing the maintaining).

• Work as a team/take a systems-based thinking approach (machinery, equipment, controls, processes, utilities, safety, environmental, and people) to ensure reliability.

• Develop algorithms on production and maintenance losses to improve throughput and reduce cost (reduce MTTR, increase MTBF, and improve availability).

• Perform reliability modeling to make trade-off decisions (what to implement).

• Understand the workings of the software reliability of programs and control systems and understand human reliability.

Workplaces and technologies have changed over time, though, as they will for Millennials. For example, remember when the old answer for cosine was adjacent over hypotenuse and values were looked up in a table? Today, we click on a calculator function. While digital tools save time, those savings should never come at the cost of understanding.

I see many Millennials completing R&M internships at companies and finding meaningful careers in, among others, the automotive, chemical, energy, aerospace, and medical sectors. Yes, work-life balance is of great importance to them. Other than that, they’re quite willing and able to take on industries’ toughest challenges—and get their hands dirty. MT

Based in Knoxville, Klaus M. Blache is director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee, and a research professor in the College of Engineering. Contact him at


4:44 pm
January 3, 2017
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White Paper | ROI and the Connected Enterprise

170103itcwp2016 is done and internal debates with manufacturers and OEMs point to building business cases for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives. IT and OT suppliers are partnering to provide more holistic solutions for manufacturers, but internal metrics have to be in place for these new IIoT initiatives to be successful.

A new white paper from ThingWorx, a PTC company, “Quantifying the Return on Investment (ROI),” provides starting points for manufacturers on what key metrics are needed for measuring these projects. The paper includes three case applications and a deep dive into the business entities within an enterprise, such as assets, engineering. operations, services and sales.

>> Related Content | Partnerships Emerge as Manufacturers Eye IIoT Strategies 

The paper emphasizes a holistic look at IIoT and how the above entities are connected. For example, the first customer success story reveals these metrics from disparate business units: reduced mean time to repair (MTTR), reduced travel time for calls and a look at service calls for each problem resolved remotely.

From the white paper:

ThingWorx has interviewed customers, analyzed results, and found top- and bottom-line impacts that executives need to understand. The following sections share these finding and discuss what they mean for the enterprise. You will find an overview of the business metrics for IoT and the description of a framework to quantify the return on investment.

>> Click here to download the white paper

1601Iot_logoFor more IIoT coverage in maintenance and operations, click here!