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What Is It Going To Take?

Klaus M. Blache | February 20, 2019

Some companies are doing better than others at implementing reliability and maintainability (R&M).

More specifically, select individual plants have made great strides. Yet, on average, North American reactive maintenance as a percentage of total maintenance has not improved much since 2008. Actually, in the past three years, it appears to have stalled. This isn’t surprising, when viewing what’s happening in daily plant practices:

• Less than half of the needed predictive maintenance PMs are being performed on assets.

• More than 25% of the critical equipment is not receiving necessary predictive/condition-based monitoring.

• Culture is still a major issue.

• Roles and responsibilities are either unclear or not being followed.

• Key performance indicators often look better than observed practices (indicating cost cutting).

• Many of the basics, such as planning and scheduling, root-cause analysis, backlog management, and PM optimization are not being performed well or at all.

So, what is it going to take to make the next significant reduction in reactive maintenance? The initial answer is an improved culture operating with reliability and maintenance (R&M) best practices. In the long run, you need a management person to help support and sustain a comprehensive R&M process. Who can implement and start a pathway to best practices? Just about anyone. Simply because your management may not give you sufficient resources doesn’t mean that you should give up. Once a person understands the fundamentals of the areas that they are trying to improve, it’s more about building a repeatable process, establishing clear roles and responsibilities that are followed, and lots of tenacity. The notable here is that one person can make a difference.

The demonstrated results from efforts in moving reactive-maintenance practices to reliability-oriented, predictive programs has leveled off in the past three years.

At some point, that initial effort will need to integrate with other departments and plant-wide processes, since it’s all related at the plant level. At that time you should be getting some level of management support. Successful efforts (driven by corporate or local) usually have a passionate in-plant champion.

To make any process take hold, people need to not only understand, but to experience the difference. Use Dr. John Kotter’s long-standing eight stages for creating change, updated in 2014 to be more action/implementation focused. Some of the wording changes are shown in parentheses.

• Establish (create) a sense of urgency, if it doesn’t already exist.

• Form (build) a strong coalition, a team capable of guiding the change.

• Create (form) a clear vision.

• Communicate the new vision and strategy (enlist a volunteer army).

• Empower team members to act on the vision (enable action).

• Create (generate) short-term wins to grow support.

• Consolidate improvements and use the momentum to continue on with more and/or larger changes. (sustain acceleration)

• Institutionalize (institute) the change.

Get more information here.

Most have heard of the boiled-frog phenomenon, where the frog won’t jump out of a pot that is gradually heating up because it doesn’t sense the need for change. Don’t be the frog. EP

Based in Knoxville, Klaus M. Blache is director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee, and a research professor in the College of Engineering. Contact him at kblache@utk.edu.

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