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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Is The MTTR Metric Killing Your Reliability?

Metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are a force for good when they are used at the right time and with the right complementary or supporting elements. But, when they are used at the wrong point in a facilities maturity they can have unintentional consequences, or even worse they can drive the wrong behaviors.
An example that I continue to see causing more issues than it is solving, is the use of the KPI known as Mean Time To Repair (MTTR). When this metric is used alone, in immature organizations, or without an understanding of the unintentional consequences it can drive your organization in the opposite direction of world class performance. If your organization is immature from a reliability cultural standpoint and you choose MTTR as your focus then you set yourself up to become very reactive by being very quick to respond to failures. The facts are:
  • Reactive response is at least 5 times more expensive than planned and scheduled work . 
  • Operations will beat on you to get faster and faster at responding so that you lower MTTR. 
  • Rushed repairs are less reliable.
  • Reactive response requires more expensive spare parts stock.
  • Repetitive failures and repairs increase the chances of the introduction of infant mortality failures. 
  • You will find yourself with high skilled maintenance technicians just standing on the manufacturing floor doing nothing while waiting on a failure to occur. 
  • Pressure to make the repair as quickly as possible can lead to taking elevated safety risks either intentional or unintentional. 
Many of the sites that choose MTTR as a primary metric early in their reliability journey create a brigade of firefighters on the ready with crash carts and mounds of spare parts. What we really want is to prevent the failures from happening to start with or at least reduce the frequency. For that we might use other metrics like Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) early on and then deploy MTTR, after we increase the reliability of our systems. This later use of MTTR will allow us to address the issues we can't prevent and to understand any training gaps and other issues that might be affecting repair times.
Picture it this way: If MTTR is all you have then your organization will create tools like crash carts and quick response teams instead of using tools like Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to understand and eliminate the reoccurring problem. From the real world, I have seen bearing quick change carts developed to speed up re-occurring failures repairs where it they had just tensioned the belts properly the failures would have been eliminated.  Five really fast 2 hour bearing replacements is still much worse that bearings that don't need repairs at all. This site needed to understand better not respond quicker.
Are your metrics driving the wrong behaviors? Are you using them at the right time?
Tell us what metrics have not worked for you and why in the comments below. 




Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Not Running From the Saber Tooth Tiger: Reactive to Proactive Leadership in 3 Steps.


Life pushes us to be reactive and we learn it from an early age. When we are young, we stick a fork in a power outlet or touch a hot stove and then we react. That becomes the predominant learning style as we grow. It is how we learn the concept of cause and effect. But later in life we are told that proactive is better but, this goes contrary to what has shaped us up to this point. Why would I want to be proactive? Why should I change? That is not what my past has reinforced.
So lets answer those questions first, and then talk about how we can become a more proactive leader moving forward. While reactivity allowed or ancestors to run from the saber tooth tiger, proactivity would have allowed them to not run into the saber tooth tiger in the first place or at the very least show up with spears for protection. Proactivity lessens the chances of needing reactivity which has been scientifically proven to lower the blood pressure in people like me (Cake loving non-athletes). High blood pressure is mostly bad so, we want that metric to trend down to a point. Why stir up the chemicals and hormones of stress if you can identify the risk early and address them before they attack you like a saber tooth tiger.
So how do we do it? No matter what project or task you want to manage or lead proactively you can get started with three steps.
First, decide what success would look like for the task or project. What are the goals? How do you know you have won? Knowing these elements first helps with the follow on activities.
Second, ask yourself what could go wrong that could jeopardize your goals or success with the task or project. List out each of these risk. Some will involve people. Some will involve resources. Be a real Negative Nancy and list as many as possible (get out you inner project negativity). Once you have the risk listed then prioritize them. I use a simple 1(low risk) -10 (high risk) scale with three categories multiplied together to rank the risk list. The categories are: severity, likelihood of occurrence, and ability to proactively detect. Once this is complete you can move onto step three.
Third, you create a plan to address the high risk items early before they occur. Many of the steps to address the risk will be communication action items that will need to be drafted in advance to explain that an issue is expected and that this is what we are doing about it proactively.
We could spend the rest of the day discussing the intricacies of proactive project and task leadership and management but these are the three overarching steps you should be taking to keep from being eaten by the saber tooth tiger you are trying to manage.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Reliability Begins with Effective Job Plans: A guest post from Coach Allen Canaday

Are you still using a job plan that doesn’t contain performance standards for proper work execution?  You know, performance standards, the technical information the job plan conveys to the technicians performing the task. This is the specific knowledge required in order to ensure the step is completed without introducing an error or failure.  I’m talking about such “trivial” information as torque specifications, belt tension, alignment tolerances and pressure settings to name a few.  Oh, you don’t need it?  You have a very experienced and talented work force who is overflowing with tribal knowledge? Why spend the time and money to research the correct performance standards?  After all, I don’t want to insult my technicians by implying their knowledge and skills are no longer adequate.  We’ve done it this way for years.
OK, so you don’t have performance standards in your job plans and don’t really see the value of taking the time to research and document them in the job plans.  Your current technicians understand what is required when they read statements such as “replace as necessary”, “adjust as needed” or “inspect for normal wear”.  You’re in great shape as long as most of them remain healthy, content, well-paid or never retire.  Have you considered these possibilities?  Oh, don’t forget about the new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility opening across town next year.  A new facility, modern equipment in an ultra-clean environment with salary ranges far beyond anything your facility can counter-offer.  Are you still confident with your tribal knowledge database?
The status quo will change, bet on it!  “Build it and they will come” was the famous quote from Field of Dreams.  There is tremendous competition in today’s marketplace for skilled technicians.  When the new facilities are built, and they will be, they will recruit the best of the best.  Some of those best will be yours!  The color of loyalty today is “green”.  If you are unable to compete in the salary and benefit arena, you will lose tribal knowledge!  How will you prepare for the “loss of knowledge” while there is still time?  In many cases this loss of tribal knowledge can be compared to your CMMS crashing and there is no back-up data. 
Invest in your job plan library without delay!  Why?  Because it’s the right thing to do.  Accurate job plans not only help capture tribal knowledge, but will force you to research many facets of your asset base that haven’t been explored.  The development of good job plans require research utilizing OEM documents and the inclusion of tried and true methods your technicians have developed over the years.  Other benefits of updating job plans include time estimate accuracy for each step of the plan, proper sequencing of the tasks, updating warnings and cautions as safety procedures may have changed and a review of the BOM’s. 
Your workforce’s skills and experience are dynamic.  As experienced employees leave they are generally replaced with less experienced employees, certainly less experienced in your facility.  Keep this fact in mind as job plans are reviewed and developed, the job plans have to be written to the level of understanding, training and skills of your workforce.  As the number of more senior employees leave the company the level of detail in the job plans may certainly have to increase to ensure continued or even improved performance can be attained.  Are you sure you can’t make a plan to update your job plans?

Monday, April 11, 2016

If it is Not Working Stop it! A Look at Best Practices for Storage of Spare Parts in the Maintenance Storeroom

Want better reliability? Don't abuse your spare parts. Here is a list of things to stop doing in your storeroom and satellite storage areas. We sprinkled in a few things you should be doing as well. The "Why's" for each of these will cost extra and you will have to reach out to us for that one. If you want to add some of your best practices in the comments below, we would be be excited to share them.
Suppliers should be your first source for many of the needs of their parts. Suppliers should provide instructions for ensuring that items will be reliable after long-term storage. This includes actions that must be taken to ensure proper functionality, such as turning shafts on motors ¼ every 30 days, protective coatings requirements for corrosive sensitive items that would impact performance, and temperature control requirements.
Storeroom personnel should establishes reviews of these items and performs the required PMs.
Reliability personnel should performs audit of critical items to ensure that practices will achieve the desired reliability level. So what do we see that needs to stop as we work with sites? Let's look at a few parts by category:
Let's start with bearings:
  • Don't store bearings out of the grease paper or packaging.
  • Don't touch bearings with bare hands prior to installation. 
  • Don't store bearings on a wall or floor that vibrates without isolators or vibration dampeners. 
  • Of course they need to be dry and clean.
Then there are belts:
  • Don't hang belts on nails or pegs.
  • Don't hang belts where they are exposed to sunlight or extreme heat. 
  • Don't crimp or twist them to fit them in a storage area.
  • Do use first in first out as a stocking and disbursement strategy.
Next, there are hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders:
  • Cylinders should be stored vertically
  • Don't remove the caps and plugs
  • Keep the hoses that lead to the cylinders plugged and clean. 
Lastly, stuff that rotates needs to be rotated:
  • Motors should be rotated on a set schedule
  • Gearboxes should be rotated too
These simple examples are only the start. Lets look at other storage needs:
Items that have expiry or require long term storage prior to anticipated use requires documentation from suppliers stating the needs during storage and the life of the item while in storage.
Items that did not have anticipated long term storage at time of purchase but end up in storage for long periods of time, must be reviewed internally for reliability at pre-defined intervals. Suppliers should be contacted for all questionable situations for confirmation of reliability.

Suppliers’ General Requirements (depending on the item):
  • Items are to be kept in their original packaging. If repackaging required, the supplier should be consulted for acceptable materials.
  • All protective attachments are kept intact: seals, plastic covers, etc.
  • Protective coatings are maintained at their original level, from time of receipt.
  • Fluid leaks or other obvious issues are addressed immediately. The supplier should be notified to either have item repaired, if within warranty, or provide the proper instructions for fluid replacement, for example, after internal repair performed.
  • Dust free environment.
  • Vibration free environment.
  • Labels exist and are legible.
  • Climate controlled and dry
  • Storeroom personnel are trained on the proper handling of the items.
  • Repair and Return items require all of the protective requirements of the OEM as well.


Hope these help as you think about how you set up and maintain a your storeroom in a way that will support reliability and up time in your facility. As we talked about earlier, please feel free to add your "do's and don'ts" in the comment section.