More Preventive is Not Necessarily the Answer

More is not necessarily better when it comes to preventive maintenance you have to find the right amount done right with the right tools.

Leadership, Fast Cars, and Road Blocks: Three things leaders need to know about project roadblock removal.

Leadership is about road block removal. Your team may be the best in the world at what they do but certain issues can stop them cold every time. They may be like a garage full of incredibly fast sports cars eager to get the job done, but someone has to open the garage door to get them started and remove the roadblocks along the way that prevent them from demonstrating their full potential. In the picture I show a 505 horsepower Viper stuck behind the cross bar of a train crossing. The way it sits in this picture it could as well be a 185 horsepower Pontiac Aztec as their would be no difference in performance until someone removes the barrier or plans a way around it. So what do leaders need to do? Leaders must take the time to do theses three things to ensure that their fast cars go fast. 

First, identify as many of thebarriers in advance. Get with the team and think about what could go wrong on the way to the goal. What are you are currently doing to prevent or mitigate it and what might you want to do differently in a proactively attempt to lower the potential of occurrence or significance of the impact? 

So is it a Planner, a Scheduler, or is it a Planner/Scheduler?

Recently, I had an interesting conversation about staffing the maintenance planner and scheduler roles with in a facility. The question was centered on whether a site should have the two disciplines split or if they should be combined. The answer in my mind is… it depends.

Here are my thoughts on criteria that affect the planner/scheduler organizational structure:

Size of the maintenance workforce:

If you are in a small facility it becomes very hard to support standalone schedulers. For that matter, it is hard to get one person dedicated solely to planning and scheduling. To put some numbers to it I would suggest that in an average maturity facility you will need one planner for every ten to fifteen crafts and one scheduler for every fifty crafts. The number of planners you need may drop as you mature and the job plan library is populated and refined but the scheduler will stay at a fixed level.

Reliability maturity of the facility:

More mature organizations can pool more of the crafts and share across multiple areas for maximum resource efficiency and utilization. If you share resources across multiple areas then that can be a good reason to have a standalone scheduler who devotes his time to working with all of the effected parties and creating a schedule that they can all support.

So if you consider both of these factors than it becomes a bit easier to design your organizational structure but you must keep in mind that as these size and maturity change your structure may have to change as well. 

What are your thoughts?

iBL Graduate of the Month: September 2017

We have a new iBL Graduate of the Month. Congratulations Timothy Sagraves from Weyerhaeuser for a job well done on your iBL Maintenance Manager curriculum.

Five Why "Nots": 5 Reasons Why Reliability Engineers Should Use More Than 5 Whys for Root Cause Analysis

First of all let's talk about what Five Whys is before we mention what it is not. It is a problem solving tool used in many facilities and is commonly associated with Lean, Six Sigma and Kaizen implementations. The technique was originally developed by Sakichi Toyoda and was used within the Toyota Motor Corporation during the evolution of its manufacturing methodologies. The method is quite simple really and involves asking "why" multiple times until the individual believes that they have reached the process cause of the problem. This sometimes (but not always) means you will stop at the fifth "why" hence the name.

While I like five whys as an "on the floor" problem solving tool I cringe when people call it root cause for five reasons:

Transitional Root Cause Analysis

When I discuss RCA I use a method called Transitional Root Cause Analysis or TRCA for short.

It is made up of 10 tools that can be explained and understood in a very short period of time.

In the next few minutes I will demonstrate both the simplicity and rules for use for 3 of the 10 and explain why we consider them transitional in nature.

In this blog we will use what I categorize as the tree methods. These are three tools that build out into a tree root like structure. So let's take a look: the first one is called the "5 why"  method. It is very common in industry today and is a very basic root cause tool. It is created simply by asking the question why multiple times to create one causal chain. It creates a simple main tap root to build off of.

Now, if we take the 5 why diagram and branch it out by adding more elements at each level then we get a better representation of all of the causes that come together to create an effect. This transition of the 5 why is known as a fault tree. This method allows us to easily see all factors that led to a failure, but sometimes we need to show a bit more information to make the graphic more meaningful. 

If for instance an effect can only occur when all of its causes exist at the same place and in the same moment in time then we use the word "and" at that junction of the roots. If we eliminate either one of the cause then we can eliminate the effect. On the flip side if either of the causes could precipitate the effect then the word "or" would be placed at the junction. This would be read as this or that could cause the effect above. This allows you to see that both possibilities must be addressed to prevent the cause.

These three tree methods transition from one to the next by adding one simple new feature as needed during the root cause process. First, we take a "5 why" and branch it to get the fault tree then we add in the "and and" or "or" to get logic tree. Three powerful tools that build on each other to get you to the lowest cost solution that mitigates the risk.The other Transitional tools work very much in the same way and allow us to use the right tool for the job instead of trying to use a screwdriver as a hammer.

If you would like to learn more about the Transitional method to RCA please send me an email and I will help you along.

Why do people do training? 7 reasons we have been told.

Why do people do training? What a great question to explore your teams motives as well as your own. Here are 7 reasons we have heard recently. Let's look at each one and what it says about the organization and what you might do to improve your training ROI.

Don’t Start Up In a Bad Way: Five Ways to Limit the Creation of a Reactive Culture in New Facility Startup.

New facilities by nature can be reactive. Reactive behavior when it comes to reliability and maintenance is expensive. Our goal should be to be proactive in identifying risk and mitigating or eliminating it before we have to react. When you bring a new plant online there are many things that can drive the culture to be reactive. I have listed a few below:

  • Poor start up planning and procedures
  • The presence of excessive amounts of infant mortality type failure modes
  • Equipment delivery delays
  • Stocking of incorrect spare parts
  • EPC contractor ineffectiveness
  • EPC contract language that does not insure correct function of the assets
  • No existing culture in the new facility while there is an influx of new employees from different cultures including other highly reactive companies.

With all of these reasons as well as others, it is no wonder that green field sites find themselves working to overcome a reactive culture, low production rates, and high cost. In order to limit the creation of this situation I have listed five way to turn the tide in favor of a proactive culture.

  1. Start early creating the business processes which will help to create the new culture. When you on board new associates being able to show them how work will be done and train them in the use of proactive tools is critical. This will allow them to change their existing paradigms where required and give you a head start on the culture that is required for maximum return on investment.
  2. Build the business processes based off of the best facilities in the world not just the best facilities in your division or company. Reach out with your early hire team and benchmark with an eye on being the best in the world within the constraints of your facilities business case.
  3. Create failure mode based maintenance strategies using the equipment vendors, EPC, associates as they are brought on board, the operating context specific to your facility, and tools like RAM, RCM, and FMEA. If this step is done correctly then it will reduce spare parts stocking levels, equipment failures, and poor procedures which will increase early production and profitability.
  4. Budget for new associates to visit sister plants if they exist. The goal here is to ensure that they can have open dialogue with others who live with the assets on a daily basis. They should be looking to get hands on training, learn common problems, identify changes that have been made since start-up of the assets as well as other tidbits that will facilitate their site producing record tonnage the first year.
  5. Fully populate your EAM or CMMS from the start with all of the assets, spare parts, drawings, and failure codes as provided by the vendors per your contractual request.

The Changing Face of Training: Education through Application

Whether it is quality, safety, leadership, asset management, or reliability training the expectations are changing. The days of training for training sake are quickly passing us by. As companies focus more on getting results and a return on investment from their training classes the industry leaders are not just using traditional face to face lecture based classes. To super-charge their education efforts they are combining multiple medias and delivery methods as well as raising the expectations for each students. Below are three areas you might consider making a part of your training efforts.
1. Mix it up: Do not just lecture.  Use video, student teach back, e-learning  (example here) and simulations  (example here)  to keep boredom from rearing its ugly head. If they are bored then the material retention will be very low but if they are engaged or even better yet teaching the material then retention will be substantially higher and so will the return on training. I have always said you do not know the material until you have taught it in front of a group of your peers.
2. Expect application : As part of the class set the expectation that the student has to go back and apply the core concepts to their area or plant. For example if they learn about risk analysis then we would expect them to submit a risk analysis template fully populated for the area they are focusing on.
3. Provide coaching and mentoring : If you are going to have the students submit the application of the concept then devote the resources to be there as coaches.  These coaches provide the students with single point lessons, corrections, and good feedback from someone who has been there and done it before. 
With these three additions alone the return on your training dollar will be increased and you will be more able to make the changes you want within your organization. We have been able to document 10X returns by using this methodology within our education programs. I hope you can do the same. Feel free to reach out to me at if you would like to discuss it more.

10 Quotes That Could Mean Your Maintenance Program is Not Quite Best Practice

The following are quotes I have heard over the years that might not speak well of your maintenance and reliability efforts or the culture that has been created. The question is have you heard any of these in your facility? What did you do?

"I don't need a vibration analyzer, I use a screw driver and my ear." 

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