Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two Things Engineers Consistently Get Wrong

As I think back over the years of site assessments, reliability implementation, and coaching of facilities and engineers globally there are two concepts that consistently show up as weak areas with engineers in manufacturing environments.
The first is true in-depth "root causes" problem solving (this is different than the "engineers jumping to conclusions process" that many employ) and the second is relying on technical solutions rather than culture change to solve problems. They both go hand in hand but are only completed at a precursory level by many.
Let's first look at "root causes" problem solving. (There are more post on this topic here) I have put the quotation marks around it to say that I don't believe that all problems need to be addressed at lowest root causes levels but the problem should be understood to that level so that the engineer truly comprehends the systemic and latent roots or drivers of the problem. These base roots many time rest in the culture of the facility and must be known to truly lower risk of reoccurrence. Secondly there is never just one root cause as there are multiple things that must have existed and instantaneously happen to allow unwanted events to occur hence the "s" on causes. This is why five why and fish bones, which are great for creating a culture of problem solving, are not the tools of serious engineering problem solving. You need to be able to see all of the causal factors that came together to create the event and determine all the possible ways the problem could be addressed to insure a solution is selected that lowers the risk of re-occurrence, creates the best business case, and is sustainable in the long term. Many times engineers go after technical solutions like redesign when the best business case is in changing the culture or behaviors that led to the event.
This brings us to the cultural change piece that is so often ignored as an option. We as engineers are trained to think about technical solutions and therefor many times ignore the people or cultural solutions. Some examples of these technical solutions are replacing a lubricated bearing with a sealed bearing to prevent lubrication based failures or changing adjustable components to fixed designs to prevent operator set up issues. These may be good solutions at the micro level but when the problem is macro and you have 100s of assets and components with these issues and the cost to implement can increase significantly. In these cases educating the work force on lubrication practices and set up requirements, and the included systems and processes can be lower total cost solutions. Behavior change is hard and can take much time and focus but the quantity of defects that can be eliminated or prevented is extensive. So as an example if a bearing failed due to over lubrication and we replace it with a sealed bearing and remove the fitting, a very technical solution, we have eliminated that one failure point but if we tackle lubrication and and the cultural issue of precision maintenance as a whole we can correct lubrication issues more broadly and solve many thousands of over lubrication issues across the facility. We can still bring in technical solutions like UE Systems Grease Caddy to help ease the cultural change process but now we are focusing on causes that lie lower in the casual chain and more greatly reducing risk to the facility as a whole.
So in conclusion, if you are thinking about your personal development plan or that of your engineers you may want to consider developing a strong problem solving methodology that looks both deep into the problem and broadly into the contributing factors. It should have business case thinking weaved through out. It also needs a solid process for execution and follow up. It does not have to be complicated but you will need to provide the training required and ensure that your engineers can execute. And, they must consider the behavior or cultural change solutions with the technical solutions to the problems your facility faces. This will have substantial returns on your effort if you stay the course. Reach out to me if you want to hear the success stories others are having in this area.
shon@reliabilitynow.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Introducing our New Sustaining Skills Video Series: Having fun with education and delivering a return on your training dollar

Having Fun with Education!
 Boring is Not Better!
You can laugh about Reliability!


Click here to learn more about this on demand training offering on the Eruditio website and see the full demo

If you like education that is relevant, innovative, and available when you need it...

Leave behind education that does not fit your culture and get a customized solution for your sites

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What is a flipped classroom?

The flipped classroom is a what is known in education as a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home or work before the face to face class session, while in-class time is devoted to application exercises, projects work, or group discussions.
The video lecture or elearning is often seen as the key ingredient in the flipped approach.
These lectures being either created by the instructor and posted online or selected from an online repository like our Sustaining Skills Video Series.
The notion of a flipped classroom draws on such concepts as active learning, student engagement, hybrid course design, and of course podcasting. The value of a flipped class is in the repurposing of class time into a workshop where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge, and interact with one another in hands-on activities. During class sessions, instructors function as coaches or advisers, encouraging students
in individual inquiry and collaborative effort.
In our situation we have seen where it lowers student frustration associated with first time application of knowledge and improves the ability of the student to apply concepts into their "real world" and specific situation thanks to in session face to face dialogue with the coach/instructor. This tool is used in both our Applied Learning Curriculum and Inspired Blended Learning Maintenance and Reliability Core Skills offerings.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Understanding Asset Related Criticality: Managing asset by criticality (Part 3)

 Darrin Wikoff shares the final installment in his three part series on Asset Criticality.

MANAGING ASSETS BY CRITICALITY

Once we understand the meaning behind the number, the criticality analysis model becomes a tool used to develop the asset management plans.  For those assets that are within the top 20%, reliability specialists will typically proceed with a Failure Modes Effects Analysis (FMEA) to assess the risk priority associated with each type of failure, and to determine the appropriate corrective actions.  But we again must consider the critical characteristics that are common throughout the organization, across all assets, critical or not.  In doing so, asset management becomes a plant wide process.  If “Mission Impact” is commonly critical, than Engineering may need to considered equipment redundancy plans.  For those organizations that find “Spares Lead Time” particularly critical, a Materials Management improvement program should be initiated.  Those organizations that struggle to manage the cost of “Corrective Maintenance History”, Maintenance should evaluate existing preventive maintenance effectiveness or examine the methods by which work is executed.
When managing asset-related risks, we only have a few fundamental decisions we can make, control it, eliminate it, or accept the risk. Understanding how non-conformances impact your organization’s ability to meet strategic objectives is the first step towards establishing an economical asset management system. To learn more about Asset Criticality Analysis or Asset Management Planning, please contact me at DWikoff@eruditiollc.com or visit us at www.eruditiollc.com.