Are you slow boiling your frogs?

If you place a frog in boiling water, it will jump out. If you put it in cool water and  gradually heat it up, the frog won’t notice and will boil to death. In the same way, gradual, harmful changes in production operations are difficult to spot. Typically significant deterioration occurs before it’s noticed. Spotting the trend and acting on it offers big wins; lower costs, increased revenues, less variability in production output, and more… 

Operators can’t meet their targets when equipment breaks down. And stressed equipment  simply can’t accommodate the speeds operators need to catch up. Breakdowns are caused by: – equipment and systems’ design (out of the operators’ control), – how it’s operated (controllable if they know how) and , – how the equipment is maintained (also controllable, but not by operators alone).

These issues develop over time, like slowly heating water. All equipment deteriorates despite repeated maintenance and repairs, as it isn’t returned to an “as new state”.  To keep pace, the maintenance process itself also deteriorates naturally. And your operators and maintainers, no matter how well trained initially, over time learn shortcuts and habits that add to the deterioration.

Companies are good at “steady state” operations. KPIs focus on outputs (production) and inputs (costs) but seldom detect gradual signs of deterioration. Companies are not set up to reset back to “best” practices as they too  change over time. So by the time it’s needed, the “reset” is substantial.

All of those problems grow, until eventually, a reset is needed to examine how the processes interact with each other, and assess the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of those who are doing the work. Overlook any element and you’ll get, at best, a partial reset.

In addition, few companies employ people with the right combination of skills and knowledge to lead a reset, which if completed with expertise, enhances profitability substantially, and with little investment. If you want to explore this, contact us. In an initial discussion we can determine if the opportunities are much bigger, and the costs to realize them much smaller, than you expect.

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