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Uptime – Essentials: you need these

In the first edition, the second tier of the pyramid was called “control”. Of course the harder we try to control something, the more complex we make things, and the more likely they will go awry. If you have teenage children you can see that very clearly! You want them to learn and mature, but if you try to control how they do it, you will have trouble. Less control, while providing guidelines and advice, and letting them make their choices will work far better. In “Uptime” the emphasis is on successful practice, not control. Control is exercised in how you decide to implement the practices. The practices remain “essential” to your success no matter how you deploy them. The subjects covered in this level of the pyramid have remained much the same throughout all three editions of Uptime but they’ve grown richer in detail, providing more insight, and with emphasis on how tightly integrated they really need to be with each other.

Work Management:

The tools of our trade don’t change much and machinery doesn’t know if it is being maintained by a baby-boomer or a millennial. Both maintainers will need good plans, availability of tools, parts, and or support. The work needs to be scheduled when it makes the most sense to do the work. When done, both maintainers need to provide feedback on what they found. Good computerized systems and even hand-held devices in the field may help to make some of this easier and more efficient, but the basics of work management haven’t changed. What has changed is the emphasis on the role of work management and how to execute it more effectively. To reflect that in this revised edition of Uptime, Richard (Doc) Palmer, arguably the world’s leading expert on planning and scheduling, took on the task of editing this chapter. His approach to the subject is a bit different than my own used to be – he taught me valuable lessons along the way and helped me become more effective. He has managed to make work management more human. It is my hope that you too will benefit from Doc’s editing and contributions.

Materials Management:

Again, the processes and software we use to manage parts and materials don’t change much. The software may get more technically sophisticated and in some cases more user-friendly, but we still need parts and materials before we can schedule our workforce to turn the wrenches. In the third edition of Uptime, I have attempted to emphasize the importance of a tight integration between maintenance planning and scheduling, and materials management in this one. In particular, there is a far better need for maintenance to forecast material demands so that your supply chain managers can provide what you need in a timely manner. The book isn’t about materials management, that’s far too broad and deep a subject to cover here, but the important message is that the two groups – maintenance and materials must work together collaboratively towards achieving the same goals. I even go so far as to suggest they should each share similar KPIs.

Basic Care:

This section was added in the 2nd edition. The first edition spoke to TPM (total productive maintenance) – at the time of publishing, TPM was becoming quite popular here in North America. But it didn’t really catch on as well as it might. In subsequent editions, some TPM elements were emphasized, rather than the whole approach. Basic Care reminds us of the need to meet regulatory requirements which seem to keep growing. It helps us to keep out of trouble as we are being held to more stringent standards and more responsible for accidents and other consequences of our failure to do the right things. Basic Care also means taking care of basics like simple preventive actions and condition monitoring by operators and maintainers. There were elements of TPM, RCM and other concepts blended into one, admittedly confusing, chapter.

In the 3rd edition, a lot of that confusion is cleared up. Since 1995, TPM is something we hear less and less about here in North America. I’m convinced that the need for teamwork is somewhat counter-culture here. We still have “lean” but TPM has not lived up to its expectations in many western operations, despite its resounding success elsewhere and in some industries. TPM, like RCM, was a bit of a buzzword for a while. Many organizations claim to have TPM but most have only scratched its surface.

Basic care still covers keeping out of trouble with respect to following regulations and paying heed to the fact that today you can be charged, convicted, fined, and jailed if you don’t do your job properly. The proactive maintenance parts of the chapter have been consolidated into a chapter on Reliability. What’s new here is added emphasis on one of the more valuable TPM tools – 5S + 1. 5S stands for the 5 Japanese terms that loosely translated into English become: sort, set-in-order, shine, standardize and sustain. + 1 refers to the more recent addition of safety to the mix. With a bit of discipline (helped by teamwork), 5S + 1 can provide substantial benefits.

Given his extensive work in lean manufacturing and his experience with 5S, Uri Wittenberg again contributed to this edition with the addition of 5S. Although not acknowledged as a contributing author, another friend and highly experienced colleague, Mick O’Sullivan, who was reviewing the early drafts of the book, encouraged the addition of safety to the mix.

Truly high performing operations are easy to spot. How the plant or other assets look speaks volumes about the care put into maintenance and operator attentiveness. 5S + 1 takes any organization a long way down that path.

Performance Management:

This began in the first edition as a chapter on measuring and benchmarking. It was expanded in the 2nd edition and again here. Hoshin Kanri, if used properly will help a great deal in defining KPIs that are essential to achieving corporate strategic objectives. They’ll also be KPIs that encourage cross-functional collaboration – something that is often missing in most performance management schemes. All too often, managers have performance contracts with KPIs that impact their bonuses. Sadly, those KPIs for one department often encourage (inadvertently) actions that will defeat the objectives of managers in other departments. Little or no thought is usually given to the cross-functional impacts that occur naturally because of the inherently integrated nature of our business operations. Reducing inventory of parts may help the supply chain manager achieve a cost reduction goal but the unavailability of parts it creates leads to long waits for maintenance, greater backlogs, and lower productive uptime (availability). An important flash of the obvious that I had missed was brought to my attention by Doc Palmer – thank you Doc. Parts in a storeroom are far cheaper than the downtime you incur if you don’t have them.

KPIs across functional departments must be integrated with each other. Hoshin Kanri helps achieve that. For instance, the supply chain should probably share responsibility (and KPIs) for maintenance costs and operational availability with maintenance and production departments. Likewise those two should share responsibility for inventory levels and overall cost of delivering parts for work that must be done. Much like a play on-stage, each of these actors (departments) has a part to play or the whole doesn’t work out very well at all. We still deal with many random events and some will be missed. Improvisation will always have its place, but it should not be the rule. KPIs are a powerful tool when used well within an integrated Performance Management system, to encourage the collaboration needed to achieve our business objectives. After all, departments exist like parts in a machine – all intended to contribute to one output.

Support Systems:

Information technology has evolved a long way since the first edition of Uptime. Indeed, it has been one of the driving reasons behind the 2nd and 3rd editions. Interestingly though, the way we implement our support systems – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), Computerized Maintenance Management (CMM) systems haven’t changed all that much. Perhaps it should though!

I met Larry Johnson a few years ago, we share a common Naval background (albeit in two different Navy’s) and we share a passion for excellence. In addition to other strengths, Larry has a strong information technology background and he brought that to bear in the editing of this chapter.

Our support systems have grown very complex and we’ve seen a shift from specialized “best of breed” solutions to more general “enterprise” management systems covering almost all of the business functions. Some evolved from maintenance systems into EAMs. Some CMMS’s were simply renamed EAM. Others evolved from production ERPs and a few commercially successful solutions evolved from the world of finance and accounting. As each grew to encompass broader functionality they grew more complex. Integration among the various functional “modules” became (and remains) difficult to implement well because a change in one area can impact many others. Our functionally focused teams that are often used to implement don’t often appreciate the impacts their decisions can have. Another result of this growth has been a tendency towards terminology that reflects the systems’ original roots. One such system tends to use financial terminology with a decidedly European flavor in other functional areas which can be very confusing to maintainers.

Big corporations seem to feel that bigger is better and so they grow. With them so too do their systems. Acquisitions lead to the implementation of the chosen corporate “solution” across the acquired. Change is constant and disruptive. Few companies ever truly stabilize when it comes to information technology/management (IT / IM). To lend stability they try to control it more tightly – something I fundamentally disagree with. IT / IM departments tend to control their realms tightly and in doing so, impose their will and ways on the rest of the corporations they are intended to serve. I would argue that many companies have this wrong!

IT / IM is there to serve, not dictate. Information and the data it arises from, belong to the users – the creators and consumers of that information. Implementation of these big corporate systems should begin with the users specifying what they want the system to do for them and then turning it over to IT / IM to find the right tools. Imposing an enterprise-wide system on users, especially in the realm of maintenance, has seldom worked out well.

In our little world of maintenance and asset management, I know I share concerns with many. To some extent, I preach to the converted, but where there is smoke there is fire. Where there is unrest, the revolution will follow. In the realm of IT / IM, where there are many spreadsheets – a new solution must be found.

This is one area where I truly hope to see a lot of maturing – it is needed!

Get your copy of Uptime: Strategies for Excellence in Maintenance Management, Third Edition, today.

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