Welcome to the The Asset Reliability Roadmap Blog. Our goal is to provide free useful information to maintenance professionals that will simplify the journey to asset management excellence and improved reliability.
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gaining support for Asset Management Improvements

Back in the good old days which wasn't all that long ago our management only saw maintenance as a cost and didn't understand the reasons behind poor reliability of their processes. To gain management support the reliability issues had to be put in their face; meaning take them to where the problem was occuring and explain what we should be doing. Acting on issues led to belief that a difference could made. A great example was an automated cleaning line process that was consistantly having major breakdowns in excess of 8 hours. The control system was also unreliable with regular short stoppages that drove operators crazy. Data was gathered to highlight where the issues were, and actions were put in place to improve the maintenance startegies and upgrade the redundant control system. To help gain team support most of the activities involved the team from reviewing startegies to having input into control system upgrades.

The out come was the reduction of significant breakdowns from around once a month to once a year. The chnages to the control system reduced stoppages that require operator intervention by over 80%. The effect on R and M costs were that the cost per tonne dropped by 30% over a 5 year period.

Support from Mangement and the team had been earned. The problem now is that people have short memories so you have to continually work at it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Following the Asset Reliability Roadmap

Acknowledge your reality. Are you always working reactively and rarely have enough time to resolve issues so they do not reoccur? do you have maintenance planners and how well are you using them? Do you manage spares? Is a work management process in place? Use the asset reliability road map’s Benchmarking tool to understand your reality. The findings from this tool will allow you to build a Vision for the future. Go to asset management benchmarking tool.

Develop a Vision. Do you believe your equipment will be more reliable in 12 months time if you do nothing different? The reality is “if you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you have always got”. No matter where you are in your asset reliability journey, you need to develop a vision of where you want to be in 2 to 3 years time. This vision becomes your business plan, of which the detail will become part of a submission to management and your workgroup. Use the asset reliability road map’s vision development tool to help to build your vision. Go to the Vision development tool.

Gain Management support and Gain Team support. These sections of the journey to improved asset reliability are the biggest roadblocks, and they will make or break your efforts from here on in. Without management and work team support your best efforts will never be embedded and are doomed to fail.

The key to gaining support from management is to present your Vision and Business plan convincingly, and this must be supported by evidence that what you are recommending will lead to improved asset reliability and hence more output for less cost.

To gain support from your own team they must have been involved in the development of the vision and business plan as this will promote ownership of them. Don’t expect support if you develop a vision and then tell your people that this is what we are now doing.

So you now have a Vision and the support of management and your team. What do you need to do first?

Build or review the equipment register. The equipment register is the backbone of your reliability journey. All of your PM inspections, work instructions, maintenance history and costs will be linked to this register. Setting this up correctly is critically important, as it will help in building up accurate history of events and costs. Improvements in reliability are dependent on having accurate data complied against your equipment register.

Understand asset criticality. Your reliability improvement journey must be started on your most critical assets. An assessment of criticality should include how reliability effects the cost of lost production, the cost to repair, the effect on safety, and the effect on the environment. Generally your long standing employees will have a reasonable understanding of plant criticality, and this can be backed up by the used of a criticality assessment tool.

Work management system. Even smaller manufacturing facilities can have hundreds of work requests per month. Do you have a defined method as to how they should be handled? Does he who shout the loudest get the most attention even if the work request is a low priority? A work management model must be designed for your business. This model must define who does what, it must have a prioritisation system and a closeout system that capture history and improvement.

Develop PM’s. As you now have a work management process in place you can start to develop new, or review your existing tasklists for scheduled PM’s. Start on your most critical equipment as determined by your earlier assessment. If you have failure data, analyse it and determine your most recurring and expensive failures. Use a tool such as FMEA, RCM or PMO to determine possible failure modes. Use the collated data to build your tasks lists. This is a lot of work and needs to be effectively resourced but it will payoff in the long run.

Preventative, Predictive, Proactive? You need to focus as many of your PM tasks as possible on Predictive and Proactive Maintenance. Use technologies such as Thermography, Ultrasonic detection, Vibration Analysis or just simple visual inspections. Unless you have a well understood failure rate or there is a statutory requirements, time based overhauls need to be avoided wherever possible. Do you asses your failure data regularly? These predictive and proactive maintenance practices should feedback into your work management system so they are acted on in an appropriate manner and reasonable time frame.

Lubrication. For those of you with rotating equipment; if there was one thing you need to get right, this is it. It is obvious to state that machines break when they are not lubricated correctly, but how often is poor lubrication the cause of unplanned downtime in your business? A well-managed lubrication strategy is the place to start developing PM’s for.

Organisation structure. Does your maintenance structure meet the business needs? Most manufacturing businesses have a level of reactive maintenance. How is this managed in your workplace? Do you constantly miss doing planned work because of breakdowns? Often it makes sense to have a dedicated crew for what I call “Front line Maintenance” . This group should be sized to meet plant reactive demand. The rest of your crew are now dedicated to planned and scheduled work. Are your mix or trades correct for the business. Are you carrying other tradesman that would not be considered critical in a manufacturing environment. Often they are more cost effectively controlled as contractors. Ideally your structure should be sized to meet the base workload of your business. Extra labor requirements related to shutdowns and other special maintenance events can often be more cost effectively covered by contract labor.

Planning and scheduling. The best Maintenance organisitions plan and schedule 80% of there work, while on the other hand many industries still don’t understand the the value of planning and scheduling. Any site with more than a handful of tradesmen will benefit from having a planner. If done well improvements in reliability and costs will be realised without adding any additional labor. How can this be the case you may ask? It is widely quoted that planned work can be up to five times more cost effective than fixing things when they break. When you consider the extra costs associated with procuring equipment in a hurry, significant overtime and the loss of output when equipment is down, it isn’t to difficult to work it out.

Spares management. How often has a piece of equipment been down for an extend period because a spare part was not immediately available? Ideally all spares for your plant should be cataloged and listed in bills of materials in your CMMS. Spares deemed as critical should be kept in your local store if you have one. Alternately you should ensure your vendor can look after you in quickly in times of need. “Squirrel stores” or personal stashes of equipment is not the way to manage your spares. You are then relying on individuals to ensure they always have the parts available, and how does anyone else know is available? The other issue is that often multiple people will keep the same spare which becomes an expense the business didn’t have to incur. On the other hand how much redundant equipment is sitting on shelves and no-one can remember what it is for? “We cant throw it away, just incase we need it”. Spares are often the forgotten component of Asset management, but they are critical if you want to become one of the best.

Workforce Capability. Tradesmen/Craftsmen must be able to support the needs of the business. Do they have the skills required to effectively maintain your plant. Develop a skills matrix that details what you require from your people, then assess the abilities of the crew against the matrix to determine what needs to be done so the skill level meets the requirements. Sometimes this may be external training but more often than not, the skills can be learnt with the help of senior tradesmen or by following detailed work procedures.

Root cause analysis. So far we have been building the foundation of your Asset Management improvement journey. How can you take it to the next level? Root cause analysis processes will help you address the causes behind expensive failures or resolve those nagging issues that just wont go away. Although the concepts of RCA are fairly simple, it is a good idea to have formal training. Here in Australia Sirf have a really excellent system, and the other worth recommending is Apollo RCA. If you want a free tool go to the tools page on this web site.

Continuous improvement. If you accept your current reality, you will get what you have always got. If you decide it is time to improve then follow the Asset Reliability Roadmap as described. If you want to continue to improve you have to apply a continuous improvement philosophies to all of the above elements. Generally we are all good at implementing things but to often we don’t check how well the changes have worked. Constantly review the outcomes from your initiatives and make changes for the better. A few examples:

  • review your skills matrix on a 6 monthly basis to see if you are better meeting the business needs.
  • Get your tradesmen/Craftsmen involved in feeding back on the quality of the work instructions. (Make sure you can take some criticism about this)
  • Ensure all follow up work from inspections are entered into the CMMS.

Keep in mind that the roadmap is a guide in which detours are allowed. There may only be some of these areas that you need to work on. Also many of the steps can be completed in parallel which may shorten the journey. I cannot hide the fact that this is a tough road to follow, but if you want to help your business to survive it can only be of benefit.

Mark Brunner. Master Maint Man.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Assessing the criticality of your assets.

It seems fairly obvious that if you were going to improve the management of your assets that you would start on your most critical equipment. So do you know what is the most critical equipment on your site? Are there specific machines that are more critical than others and why? Are there specific components that will stop critical plant if they fail? Can the unplanned failure of your plant lead to an environmental or safety issue?

Some will say that criticality assessments are often a waste of time and that this information is in the heads of experienced plant personnel. In many cases this is true, as you only have to ask a production planning about demand and production managers where the biggest margins are. Then there are the obvious plant services such as Power systems, Water supply, Gas supply, Boilers, Cranes etc. Often the loss of any of these services will stop a whole plant, so in most cases these will be considered critical assets. The other areas where criticality if often well understood is where failures lead to significant cost to repair , environmental or safety issues.

The above statements indicate that the assessment of criticality is a piece of cake, so do you need to do it and if so how do you go about it? Often statutory requirements mean that records must be kept from this type of assessment. If statutory requirements do not effect your industry it is still a good idea to complete an assessment and document your logic behind the assessment. This takes the emotion out of deciding where asset management improvement should be focussed on. Using a simple tool in Excel or Access will help expedite the process and provide a convenient place to store the data. A simple tool for criticality assessment can be found at the following link:
Criticality tool

This tool leads you through a table of questions related to lost production, environmental and safety issues. The outcome is a score from 1 to 10. A 10 indicates the asset is the most critical and a 1 the least. If the assessment is completed at an equipment level it doesn’t take much time to complete when you involve experienced plant personnel.

You can now review your findings and start building your vision for improvement.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Developing a Vision for Maintenance Management

A Vision is where you want to be and how you will operate into the future and for a Maintenance department should be looking at around 3 years out. The vision can relate to physical issues such as, replacing redundant equipment, or it can be philosophy or cultural issues such as “We will follow the 80/20 principle”. The development of a vision will lead you into setting plans, objectives and measures which then becomes your business plan. If you don’t have this plan for the future then there will be no improvement. To remain competitive a culture of continuous improvement must be in place. What are the steps related to developing a vision and a business plan?

1. Understand the Vision goals for the overall business. Your vision should be aligned to this.
2. Review all of the components of maintenance management, understand your short fall in each area, and determine where you can make the largest improvements (Biggest bang for your buck). Be realistic about how much work you can take on over the life of the plan. Ensure your objectives can be met considering cost and labor constraints. Focus on improving systems as much as possible as often you get more gains by changing the way you do things. It’s also usually a lot cheaper.
3. Tabulate your vision into categories related to your planned objectives, the strategies you are going to use to meet your objectives, who is responsible for each task and when you expect to have the task completed.
4. Write specifications for the tasks you are planning to complete over the life of the plan.
5. Review your plan regularly to make sure it is still relevant to your situation.