Friday, March 31, 2017

PdM is Not Precision Maintenance (Coaches Corner)

Another great Coaches Corner post from Allen Canaday:
During a recent discussion with a student he asked me why the failure rate at their facility wasn’t improving.  Over the last two years they had invested in the purchase of various PdM (Predictive Maintenance) technologies and trained personnel on their use and application.  The facility had conducted a criticality analysis and SFMECA (Simplified Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analysis) to determine their critical failure modes.  For the most part, they had purchased and trained on the PdM technologies that would best detect the early onset of the failure modes identified in their SFMECA.  Why were assets continuing to run to failure even though failure modes are being identified? Why aren’t the PdM technologies preventing failures in our facility, he asked?
The answer in two-fold. This wasn’t the first time I fielded this question.  When I asked the student about the precision maintenance techniques utilized in their facility, he asked, “What do you mean by precision techniques”?  This was exactly the answer I was expecting! PdM technologies are diagnostic tools designed to find the early onset of failure modes, these tools don’t make the repair for you, they just help you determine what needs to be repaired.  These tools can’t tell you exactly how long you have prior to functional or catastrophic failure, the data acquired from these tools only tell you your asset has a failure mode and if no action is taken, it will eventually fail.
Precision techniques and instruments, along with the proper training on their use, increases the probability that when the repair is made, failure modes aren’t introduced into the asset resulting from the corrective work.  Precision techniques include job plans that consists of proper task-step sequences and performance standards that convey proper tolerances and measures to the technician performing the corrective work.
Next, I asked the student to explain their backlog prioritization for planned work.  Again, he asked “What do you mean by backlog prioritization”? I explained that no matter what PdM technologies you utilize, the findings must be converted to a work order to be planned and scheduled.  Even the PdM generated work orders become part of the total backlog and must be scheduled based on their severity or risk to the organization.   Poor work order prioritization practices can render your PdM efforts meaningless unless your work execution practices are robust enough to effectively prioritize work orders in your backlog.
PdM is not precision maintenance!  The two complement each other.  However, without the implementation of precision maintenance in your work execution process, expect to continue making repetitive repairs on many of your assets, even on the assets you’re utilizing PdM technologies to detect the early on-set of failure modes.

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?