Maintenance On The Floor Reliability

Playing the Blame Game: What Wastes Your Time?

Jane Alexander | September 20, 2017


Who among us isn’t as efficient in our personal and work lives as we would like? Who can’t identify any number of things that, whether they are within our control or otherwise, are eating into our efficiency?

That’s what we asked our Reader Panelists to discuss this month. What are those pesky work-related time wasters that prevent them and/or their teams (or their client/customers’ teams) from accomplishing more important things? We received several responses, some of which called out the usual suspects, i.e., meetings, and some that pointed to other culprits. Some Panelists went into far more detail than we are able to include in these pages. Here’s what we asked:

Q: What aspect or factor directly or indirectly associated with Reliability or Maintenance wasted their time and/or the time of others at their site (i.e., interfered with the ability to accomplish, in a timely manner, other, more-important things)?

The answers on these pages have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Plant Engineer, Institutional Facilities, Midwest…

Our institution has had a budget problem for a several years. Our maintenance-related time-wasting issues stem mainly from not being allowed to obtain parts until they’re needed. For example, if we plan to change a building’s air filters, we’re supposed to order what we need two weeks before we start. If the lead time is longer than two weeks or the cost exceeds the purchase cap, we can be delayed another two weeks or longer.

The same can be said about almost all other maintenance parts. Our only other option is if we can get someone to approve purchase orders that would let us go straight to a vendor and pick up needed items as soon as possible. But there’s no guarantee that we can get that type of approval. It depends on what needs to be done.

Industry Supplier, Southeast…

As a supplier of predictive-maintenance (PdM) services, we find that the majority of our customers, driven from a management standpoint, are focused entirely on the bottom line. That means routine PdM activities are often shelved due to production demands. Supply and demand dictate how management views PdM activities, and, frequently, even planned outages are postponed so facilities can meet their goals.

[In my opinion] this problem will always
haunt maintenance personnel and, all too often, will result in emergency repairs and lost production. Discussions, with an attempt to educate upper management, typically fall on deaf ears, and even catastrophic failures have short-lived impacts. This is a conundrum that likely will never go away since, in most manufacturing facilities, management does not see preventive/predictive maintenance as a cost-savings mechanism, but rather as time and money lost.

Industry Consultant, International…

From what I see with my clients, much time and effort seems to be wasted in ‘over-kill’ maintenance due to not conducting condition-based activities.” Instead, they take simple time- or calendar-based approaches for preventive maintenance (PM), inspections, even overhauls. As s consultant now, and previously as a maintenance manager, I set up condition-based monitoring programs to not only enhance reliability, but to reduce “over-kill” wasted time. Sometimes even Run- to- Failure might be the most efficient/economical option.

On a related “time-wasting” note, I also see companies and/or management overdo meetings, scheduling them too often, for too long, without organized agendas, and then allowing attendees (some of whom can’t or don’t contribute to the discussions) to leave those meetings without firm objectives.

Well-planned meetings are a valuable organizational and communications medium. Unfortunately, management frequently wastes everybody’s time by holding poorly planned meetings, when one-on-one discussions or a few phone calls would suffice.

Maintenance Leader, Discrete Mfg, Midwest…

Our biggest problem is twofold. Due to the demand for our product at times, we often are not able to have machinery released from production to work on it. This can put the rotation out of sync with the preventive-maintenance schedules. Eventually thework is completed with delays. Breakdowns at times do occur.

Unfortunately the preventive maintenance that was not completed on time sometimes leads to a deeper repair. This problem will continue as long as our numbers [demaind for product] remain strong. That really is a good/bad thing.

College Electrical Lab Mgr/Instructor/Consultant, West…

As I reviewed our Reliability Plan and compared the results of our efforts, I found many “pot holes” that chew up our maintenance time. Among them:

Example 1: The time spent logging all our preventive-maintenance (PM) data in the system is taking about 30 hours per week, for all three shifts in an operation that operates 24 hours a day, six days a week. (We are evaluating a bar-code scanning system that seems to reduce input time about 55% as a possible solution).

Example 2: Downtime emergencies take maintenance staff away from reliability projects. This time loss puts us behind.

Example 3: Reliable staffing is a problem. “No shows” lead to the worst time loss. The organization gives employees a generous leave-time bonus. Many people save up eight hours and then take it off.

Example 4: One of the most irritating problems is the new “Honey Do” list [that we receive] from upper management/engineering every week. Plus, we’re expected to work miracles in completing this list. MT




Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander

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