There are two things you must do in a successful maintenance program: be good at doing your work and make sure that you only do the right work. Both are needed to deliver asset reliability – the cornerstone of sustainable, safe and quality production levels. In chasing reliability many turn to programs for defining the right work such as Reliability Centered Maintenance and many of those efforts will fail. Why? Poor or ineffective planning.
Failure of reliability improvement programs can be from poor execution of the methodology but more often those failures are a result of something more basic. Maintenance and production culture was mired in a “break-then-fix” mentality. Production runs hard until assets break, then maintenance, acting like a fire department, comes to the rescue. Permission to maintain really means permission to repair only when those assets fail. Production egos often dominate the management agenda and maintainers are their servants. This culture will under perform, failing to achieve world-class levels of performance and desired results.
A different culture is prevalent where you find high performance. Operations and maintenance work together in joint ownership of the challenge. Maintenance sustains productive capacity; it does not just restore it after failures. Sustaining requires preventing and predicting failures as well as repairing. Prevention and prediction are the dominant philosophies with repairs undertaken in a way that entails the least disruption to productivity.
Operations allows maintenance the leeway to execute proactive strategies. It trusts that minor duration outages for preventative work will results in longer run times overall. It trusts that predictive techniques truly reveal problems in their infancy so that the consequences of pending failures can be mitigated cooperatively. This implies that identifying the “right work” should come first and many would agree, but putting it into practice often requires and indirect approach.
A great deal of operations trust in maintenance is needed and usually that trust must be earned. In a “break-then-fix” environment, that trust is almost always absent. Maintainers must demonstrates that they can deliver on promises. Minor shutdowns and repairs must be completed on time. Finishing late reveals a lack of planning. Any preventative repairs that are followed closely by start up failures (infant mortality) will undermine credibility. All too often, maintainers set themselves up for failure and struggle to gain the needed trust.
While doing the right work is important and identifying it is what RCM does, RCM will fail without the ability to deliver work on schedule. It requires the same on-schedule performance that builds credibility and trust with production. Good planning and scheduling enables work to be completed efficiently and frees up maintainers’ time. In a break-then-fix environment, there is never enough maintenance capacity for all the work.
Planning defines “what” work will be done and the resources needed to do it along with a forecast of how long the work will take. Good planners are experienced tradespersons who know what is required to execute the work. Scheduling is done using work priorities and the estimated durations of the planned jobs – it is all about “when” the work is done. Scheduling does not require the same trade skills, but it does require organizational skill to ensure that only reasonably achievable schedules are produced given the availability of trades’ resources.
Job plans do not need to be perfect. Striving for perfection is the single biggest killer on initiatives such as this. Expect the plans to be flawed and consider that even an 80 per cent correct plan, created in a relatively short time, is far more effective than having no plan at all. Whatever is missing from the plan or in error can be added using information provided by the trades after they’ve completed the job. That revised plan, now much better, is saved until the next time the job is required.
Schedules need flexibility. Estimates won’t be 100 per cent accurate and job plan flaws will result in delays. In the early days switching from break-then-fix, there will still be many breakdowns and “emergencies.” It will take time for good planning and scheduling practices to take hold but not as long as you might think. Reasonable scheduling (with a minimal amount of planning) demonstrating “on time” delivery, will help calm jittery production managers and reduce pressure for urgent action on everything. Credibility will grow and results will accumulate as you demonstrate “schedule success.”
Once these practices are firmly in place and a sense of calm is restored, efforts such as RCM will stand a good chance of raising the bar and can deliver even higher levels of safe, productive capacity and profitable performance.UPTIME Training