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Six Pillars Spell Success

Michelle Segrest | November 15, 2016

Marc Cote

Reliability professional empowers champions to build a successful maintenance program.

Marc Cote believes that the key to effective reliability is to start with the end in mind.

“Performing a task is nothing special, but to stay on track with the rules of the game within the maintenance organization is usually one of the biggest challenges,” the 25-year veteran of spearheading effective reliability and maintenance programs said.

As he explained, “You must always check to see what is being done, per the rules of the game—the processes you have created. The biggest challenge is being in line with the maintenance processes and making yourself and your team accountable in doing what you say you are going to do.”

For the past three years, Cote has implemented this philosophy as the director of maintenance and engineering at C.B. Fleet Laboratories in Lynchburg, VA. C.B. Fleet was founded in 1869 with the opening of a pharmacy in Lynchburg. It is now a large manufacturer of personal-care and over-the-counter products, specializing in feminine hygiene, gastrointestinal aids, and infant care.

Cote leads a team of 25 maintenance and engineering professionals who work three shifts maintaining water systems, boilers, chillers, HVAC systems, air compressors, tanks, process-piping pumps, heat exchangers, valves, and other processing equipment. The facility also has robotics and other automation systems that require specialty skills.

He said that, when maintaining a facility’s equipment, it’s important to set goals and always keep the primary objective at the front of the process. He begins by asking a few critical questions:

• What does maintenance look like?
• What data or reports would make your life easier?
• What information does your boss consistently ask you to provide?
• What is your predictive-maintenance:corrective-maintenance (PM:CM) ratio?
• What type of PM:CM ratio does your business need?
• What are your current maintenance budget busters?
• What is your on-time PM performance or compliance?

“The hard stuff is rarely ever the soft stuff,” he explained. “You must have a check and balance for every process.”

1116voicebox1Pillars of success

Cote has built his reliability and maintenance program on six pillars of success. Each pillar contains processes within that category. Each discipline has a champion who is empowered to lead those processes and is accountable to measure the results.

People—You can learn something new every day, and it’s important to constantly measure results. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

• Goal: Improve communication and skill sets throughout the operation.
• The Measure: Labor hours for each standard shift should be less than 7.5 hr., and all work orders should be reviewed for sharing task learning.

Materials Management—Buy only what you need, when you need it. Make sure you know who is minding the store.

• Goal: Achieve storeroom excellence by providing parts quickly when needed, at a minimal cost.
• The Measure: All parts of each transaction should be assigned to a work order.

Workload Management—“Determine who is pulling the wagon and measure what is in your pipeline.”

• Goal: 75% of maintenance activities (hours) should be planned and scheduled.
• The Measure: Actual hours required to schedule the work completion.

Basic Care—“The best maintenance strategy is to find the problem before it impacts the operation. Do what you say you are going to do.”

• Goal: Improve and maintain the equipment and facility conditions and have clear job plans.
• The Measure: Record work-request feedback after each work order is performed.

Asset Reliability—Choose your battle wisely and go after it. Find out how to get to the root of the problem.

• Goal: Implement an asset reliability approach within the organization.
• The Measure: Event review selection and problem-cause-remedy.

Support System—Technology makes life easier.

• Goal: Bring information to your fingertips.
• The Measure: Use of mobile devices, software, and visual reporting.

Cote said that the key to successfully implementing these pillars of success is to appoint a champion for each one.

“Each of these pillars has multiple processes within them,” Cote explained. “There are more than 47 individual processes, and each of them have key performance indicators that we use to measure and track the success. The pillar champions are responsible for carrying out the goals and measuring the results. They are each empowered to make decisions and perform the functions of the pillars.”

1116voicebox2Maintenance philosophy

Cote said he starts each day by “staying in shape.” This means that he walks through the plant and makes sure he is in touch with what is happening with the equipment and the people.

“It’s important to stay connected,” he said. “You should be in touch with the manufacturing world and some level of the details. I spend the first part of every day with a plant tour and speaking to the people running the machines so I can get insight from them. I then review at least 100 of our average 150 daily work orders.”

After this process, Cote leads an operations meeting in which activitis in the past 24 hours are reviewed. Then there is a shift into specific topics and quality events, and management of any capital-expenditure projects. Each Wednesday, a meeting is conducted to review the pillar processes with the pillar champions to track progress.

“Throughout each day, the big challenge within the maintenance organization is always to stay on track and be aligned with the maintenance processes,” he said.

Preventive maintenance plays an important role in the overall reliability goals.

“Preventive maintenance is roughly 25% of what we do, but we are shifting with the goal to not do any work that is reactive work or unplanned,” he explained. “We hope to accomplish this by first having a game plan and an overall predictive-maintenance strategy. The pillar champions play a big part in this effort. This also rolls into our continuous-improvement efforts. We want to control our own destiny, and the key to this, in the grand scheme of things, is to plan and schedule and try not to be reactive.”

1116voicebox3Lessons learned

Learning from your own mistakes is often the best teaching tool, Cote said.

“You don’t learn too much when things go well. After 25 years, I still learn the most from my mistakes,” he commented. “I read a lot, and I try to become a subject-matter expert in concepts. I have had a lot of exposure to applying these concepts. Some people may be an expert, but applying the knowledge is what makes you proficient. If you know and test the concepts and make them a part of the value of the organization, this can enable you to deal with various culture issues, and it certainly makes you better in the process.”

Cote said he learned early that implementing a strong CMMS system can help solve many problems. After one year of using Emaint, the company’s current CMMS system (eMaint, Marlton, NJ), Cote said the organization has been able to track more than 2,000 work orders each month with 75 site users. The company uses the software to track its 1,500 assets and more than 6,500 parts. It also organizes the schedules for 25 mechanics and engineers and can create more than 700 different kinds of reports.

“Getting to know your CMMS system is vital because it can make your job so much easier,” Cote said. “I’m a little obsessive about it and try to push every tab and every section to its limits. It can help you manage work orders, materials, purchasing, condition monitoring, and downtime.”

Strong roots

Cote believes strongly in the never-ending quest to learn new things. A native of predominately French-speaking Quebec, he learned to speak English when he was 15. His company transferred him to the United States eight years ago.

Cote’s father worked on an assembly line for a furniture-manufacturing facility so Cote was exposed to the fields of maintenance and engineering all his life.

“I always liked the engineering aspect of the job because it is very tangible,” he said. “I could not envision sitting behind a desk all day. One thing I love about manufacturing is that you get to interact with people and equipment.”

Cote is married and has two children, but his parents grew up in much larger families. His mother was raised on a French-Canadian farm with 17 siblings, while his father was one of 13 children. The influence of his hard-working parents was passed down to Cote and his three sisters.

“We grew up with strong family values,” he said. “It’s interesting because the family was so large, if they had a party or family gathering, they had to rent a building. My mother worked hard on the farm and was very driven in terms of raising her family. In those days, the women basically had no education. If you were a girl, you were either a nurse, a teacher, or a nun. She is now 84 and I value the lessons of hard work and determination that she taught me.”

Cote used these values to excel as a college basketball player. He graduated from a university in Quebec in 1988 and then returned to school 20 years later to earn his Master of Business Administration.

“I believe it’s important to always be curious,” he said. “Never stop reading and learning. There is so much material and theory available to us. You just need to grab it. In the work environment, it’s easy to get complacent and stop learning new things, but you should force yourself to read all the time and stay aware of what’s going on. This is the best advice I could ever give: to be able to refresh and reset so you can have some agility within the work environment.”

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Michelle Segrest

Michelle Segrest

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