Uptime: A Visit from St. Nicholas (2012 Asset Management Version)

EP Editorial Staff | December 14, 2012

bob williamsonA Visit from St. Nicholas (2012 Asset Management Version)

With another year drawing to a close, I’ve updated my version of this holiday treasure by weaving in themes from my 2012 columns: Asset management, PAS-55, reliability, work instructions and training, to name a few. Keep in mind that the underlying story is a fantasy (despite many readers’ experiences with some of the incidents cited in it) and, as St. Nicholas points out in the end, that there’s hope for all of us.


Most readers will be familiar with the poem that begins ’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. This poem has been part of a holiday tradition for many of us over the years. But what if this most famous workshop of all had some of the same problems we see in our plants and facilities just a week before Christmas

1212uptimeTwas the week before Christmas and all through the place,
Not a person was loafing, one week to the race.
The boxes were moving down the conveyors to load,
While the elves all had visions of hitting the road.

The machines were all humming, to the max they could go,
With all parts and all motors producing the flow
Of goodies and toys and clothing and games,
All running and churning the presents with names.

When all of a sudden, there came a huge clatter
Announcing the schedule was ready to shatter.
Machines and the robots, the conveyors and all,
They clattered and sputtered and went into a stall.

The bearings and spindles all suffered from heat.
The worst folks imagined was
bout to be seen.
All loading was stopped, but the sleigh was not full.
All leaders and workers gave maintenance a call!

“Give maintenance a call!” was the cry from the shop.
“Give maintenance a call!” was spread from the top.
“Give maintenance a call!” was heard all around.
“Give maintenance a call!” Their feet hit the ground.

From their perches above, on rooftops and cranes
From their shops and their projects and work underway,
Came mechanics and technicians with bright shiny tools
And electricians and fitters from all the best schools.

They pounced on the motors, the valves and the seals
With their tools and their meters, were all startled to see
The machines were all shot. They were down for the count!
“Give maintenance a call!” was the solution to mount.

“Give maintenance a call!” was the fix all had seen.
But maintenance alone could not fix these machines.
The budget was planned for maintenance last year
With much less for the bearings, for spindles and gears.

The machines, robots and conveyors all ran
With little to none of a maintenance plan.
There was tightening and scrimping on every new part,
And cutbacks on time to check, lube and chart.

The numbers looked good. All the schedules were met.
The warehouse and shelves were filled with no debt.
But all is not lost
cause the sleigh has a load,
Albeit lots less than was planned for the road.

Some presents with names would surely be missed,
But bad news like this clearly could not persist.
Then back in the shop, the sleigh gave a groan.
Its load and its driver could now not be flown.

“Give maintenance a call! The sleigh fell apart.
The runners are rusted and loose from the cart!”
“Give maintenance a call!” was all that was heard.
“Give maintenance a call!” for what was deferred.

Soon after last year’s long late-night sortie,
The maintenance was cut to ten dollars forty.
So it sat there all year, while nothing was done,
Just rusting and failing. PM? There was none.

Now Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
And Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen
All heard the bad news from the shops over there.
Should jolly old St. Nick be told of the scare?

That presents with names were about to be stopped?
And children whose wishes were about to be chopped?
Oh, what would we do if our mission should fail
Or to deliver the gifts with the speed of a snail?

Then all of a sudden, St. Nicholas appears,
Aroused from his sleep by the shouts and the tears.
He looked at machines, the robots and all.
He looked at the bearings and things that had stalled.

“Give maintenance a call!” was all that he heard.
“Give maintenance a call!” for what was deferred.
He pondered destruction, the sorry state that he saw.
He wandered the mess: “This IS the last straw!”

His fears had come true. It had come down to the worst.
All the presents with names could not be disbursed.
The merry old soul grew sad and he cried,
Tis the season to be jolly,” he sneered at his ride.

The sleigh, it just sat there, rusted, tilted and broke
Then suddenly St. Nicholas really awoke!
The cobwebs of sleep and nightmares he knew
Were all a bad dream, one not to come true.

He got up and he dressed in his brightest new clothes,
Then he wandered the shops and the plant to disclose:
His bad dreams were a warning that all had to hear.
“Give maintenance a call. We’ll tell them right here.”

“We’ll give up machines each month for a check
To be sure that our plans don’t turn into a wreck.”
He told workers and leaders, “Tis not a wild dream!
We win this or lose this as one great big team.”

“Asset management’s our future and more than a fix
Every one of us commits to be part of the mix.
From the day we design them to the day they are done
Our machines will be flawless, we won’t be outdone.”

“So, look at your habits, your checklists, your plans.
Find new ways to stop machine failures and scams.
Beware of all parts that come from low bids,
Part quality that’s suspect we all must forbid.”

“Our elves they are working but greying with age,
So write what they know with great care on a page.
Instructions in detail are the way it should be
For training and qualifying each new trainee.”

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the shops
All lines should be humming. There’ll be no big flops.
PMs, they seem pricey but failures are worse.
Breakdowns stop flow and their cost’s a big curse.

A lesson was learned, even though in a dream
That maintenance is shared, and that’s a new scheme.
You plan all the work and work all you plan,
For reliability’s our goal, and we know you all can.

Deploy all new tasks, new lists and techniques.
Give your attention to noises, to rattles and leaks.
Assuring capacity is the name of our game,
For assets, our people, our customers, our name.

The next time you’ll see us, it’ll be a whole brand
new year! MT


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