Maintaining reliable plant, minimising production interruption, maximising availability and uptime matter in all industries, even marine. Why then do engineers only get a sense of achievement when they fix something and get it going again? No praise without failures, is that really true?
As maintainers, engineering personal are constantly challenged and asked why they are requesting access to machinery for maintenance, this is an area of conflict recognised universally.
This is internal friction and wherever there is friction there will be losses.
24/7 Uptime – 100% QA compliance – zero rework
Ideally, machinery would operate as required, 24/7 without issue, for the life of the plant. Production should yield 100% of planned output with zero quality issues or rework. We know we can achieve this, but we chose to shave cost out of the equation in order to improve profitability for shareholders. We do this because if we didn’t do this, our competitors would and we would eventually be out of business. This is simply the way to is and we accept this.
What we should not accept is when cutting starts to impact out ability to meet other stakeholder needs, like safety and environmental performance. We have certain types of legislation to help us maintain a minimum standard i.e. health and safety and ship classification standards against which we will be measured and we also often add assurance by insuring our business against unforeseen issues letting the assurance tool take the risk.
What we don’t do is look at the way that the structure of our business creates internal conflict, friction and the resultant added costs of doing business in such an environment.
Internal friction creates losses – £££
The view of professionals in the Asset Management and Condition Based Maintenance domain, is that we should look across the whole business to see where costs can be optimised by seeking the lowest through-life cost of the operation, one that meets all stakeholder needs. A good example being saving money buying grey market spares but then seeing a comparable increase in maintenance costs because the item is being changed-out more regularly that it would otherwise need to. Each department meets its goals but he business suffers additional cost.
Working to an annual budget only looks at a headline financial performance in the short term and does not look at the medium to long term profitability of the business. Yes, regular financial management is critical and helps to observe emerging trends and as an aid to planning for external effects that may impact the business, but once you become a slave to it you may only ever really manage your end of year returns and not see any further improvement.
I was once told by a very senior manager in a high value holiday company that he gets frustrated to the point of apoplexy when he is asked to shave points of the maintenance budget all year round and then is told at the end of the year to spend what he has saved or face losing it next year.
The effect this has on the good men and woman of the engineering departments around the world is significant as it means their skills, hard work and efforts are wholly undervalued, they may say “What’s the point”?
Professionals enjoy doing a great job!
You see, unlike for example when there’s a machinery failure and your engineers work day and night to fix it, they will get praised and enjoy the satisfaction that they have done a good job, but the engineer that prevents failures, by diligent low scale maintenance activities and a strategy based upon continuous optimisation and delivered significant uptime without issue, is told that he/she is simply doing there job.
To summarise, we need to change the culture of reliability to see all failures as avoidable, but avoidable when and only when, all stakeholders align to achieve the same goals and where they also recognise the contribution of the strategists and technicians and also recognise that failure avoidance is actually more useful to a business than failure finding or fixing failures.
Strategic Maintenance Management – Frictionless, top-down AND bottom-up.