Asset Productivity Articles
Our expert staff is well known throughout the industry for its breadth of knowledge gained through years of practical experience. The following articles, written by members of our staff, have been published in industry journals and Web sites.
Most organizations have a significant financial investment in spare parts Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) storeroom inventory. Yet only about 8-10% of this investment is commonly used on an annual basis. The remaining 90 to 92% of the inventory consists of critical spares and slow-moving, excess, or obsolete parts. Let’s first examine what makes up the 90-92% portion of inventory and then consider some strategies that can reduce the overall investment required to keep production operating without unnecessary downtime.
Let’s assume you have the necessary sponsorship and formal approvals to invest in improving reliability. Remembering Stephen Covey’s second habit (begin with the end in mind), how can you measure if your reliability improvement project is delivering results that align with business objectives?
The original 12-Step Recovery Program was developed in the 1930’s and incorporated by Alcoholics Anonymous to help people deal with their "powerlessness" to stop drinking. Since then the 12-step model has been adopted by many other groups dealing with an array of issues that all have one thing in common: a desire to stop.
Rewarding individual operators, and operations as a group, means recognizing them for their performance and acknowledging their contributions to their organization's goals. Group recognition is typically tied to lagging metrics, i.e. asset reliability.
Obsolete. Everyone who has ever purchased a computer knows what that means. It describes your computer within a month or so of your purchase.
Venom…ill will…backstabbing…vindictiveness…mistrust…betrayal. These are some of the most negative aspects of human interaction. And they are present in nearly every manufacturing organization I’ve gotten to know well.
Ten thousand steps a day is quickly becoming the gold standard for maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. Getting steps in has transformed the image of exercise from an uncomfortable and uninviting activity to something very achievable for many people who want to improve their health.
A good shift gone bad…
Eddie pulled into the parking lot at the plant ready to go back to work. As a shift supervisor, he was looking forward to a smooth, drama-free shift. All his best employees were at the plant this rotation and he could count on them to do a great job. As he parked his car, he saw Pete, the shift supervisor he was relieving, drive past him in a hurry.
I have found that the most valuable weapon in any production facility’s business improvement arsenal is an effective loss measurement system. Every lost opportunity to make a pound of product or a box of widgets should be captured. And if the loss event is above a threshold value (which should decline annually), must have an origination point (an asset or a processing step), and some searchable categorization (such as equipment downtime, lack of materials, etc.) attributed to it. Note that these are not root causes, just the readily observable origin and effect. Root cause comes later.
Partnership agreements are contracts between functional areas of the plant which have an effect on overall reliability. Developing, fostering and committing to plant partnership agreements is an important element in successful reliability improvement initiatives.
By Wally Wilson, CMRP, CPIM
You can’t get too much of a good thing. However, taking the 5S methodology to the highest level possible might be an exception. The 5Ss (Sort, Simplify, Shine, Standardize and Sustain) are the basis for creating a workspace of visual management and lean operation. When attempting to implement a Visual Management system, most companies accomplish the painful sorting to identify and dispose of obsolete or unneeded items, organizing the needed items into some type of a defined order, and scrubbing the workspace until it shines. The last two steps in the process become the challenge: how to maintain the standards on a daily basis and the discipline to sustain the transformation long term.
By Jeffrey S. Nevenhoven, Senior Consultant, Life Cycle Engineering
Alignment is a critical factor in the world of rotating equipment and one of the most common causes for machinery malfunction. Without precision alignment, stationary and rotating components begin to wear under the stresses produced by misalignment. Accelerated component wear, reduced service life, excessive energy consumption, and poor quality are some of the results of misaligned equipment, all of which drive increased spending and lost productivity. Maintenance and engineering professionals conduct thorough evaluations of operating conditions, apply sound installation practices along with the use of precision alignment devices, and conduct ongoing condition monitoring to mitigate misalignment.
By Anil Agrawalla, CMRP, Life Cycle Engineering
Your clean steam generator system stops and alarms. Production halts; operations quickly calls maintenance. Maintenance jumps into action and determines that the bearing seized in the feed water pump. A bearing order is expedited through procurement, maintenance efficiently makes the repair the next morning, and the production team runs tests before putting the system back into operation. Corrective actions are created to ensure that the bearing is stocked in the MRO storeroom, and to double frequency of the pump’s preventive maintenance. The senior leadership team is satisfied with the response and corrective actions, and praises the team for limiting the production delay to just 24 hours.
By Wally Wilson, CMRP, CPIM, Life Cycle Engineering
Many current storerooms are not designed to address the needs of the maintenance efforts they are intended to support. Regardless of the organization’s size, most storerooms are operating as they did when the plant first opened. These storerooms still have the light duty metal shelving that wastes much of the vertical storage space, and heavy-duty pallet racking with extra wide aisles for larger and heavier components which require more space. For many organizations, changes to make their Maintenance, Repair and Operational (MRO) maintenance storerooms more efficient are long overdue. Here are some recommendations for bringing your operation up to date, from location and layout to work processes and technology.
Keith Mobley, Principal SME, Life Cycle Engineering
In late May, Terrence O’Hanlon posted on LinkedIn that attendance at maintenance conferences has dropped significantly. Responses to his post offered plausible reasons including budget constraints, lack of or recurring content, and total saturation. While these are no doubt contributors, I hope that there is one more, growing reason for this decline: more and more organizations are finally recognizing that maintenance is not the source of their competitive or financial problems. When I commented that this realization might be the reason, Terry—who has been a friend longer than either of us will admit—challenged me to prove my point. Here is the proof.
By Catherine Marshall, Director, Life Cycle Engineering
The first step most organizations take in their continuous improvement journey is to undertake an assessment that will capture the current state of their operations and compare it to best practices.
By Catherine Marshall, Director, Life Cycle Engineering
When we’re about to take a trip, one of the first things we do is figure out where we are going, what it looks like and what we will need to take along. We may just need clothes and a few essentials. But if we’re planning a big adventure trip, chances are we do some research ahead of time to figure out what we’ll need – and what we might need to acquire before we leave. What kind of fishing gear will we need? Will it snow or do we just need bug spray for the mosquitos? Do we need a fishing license? Maybe it would be a good idea to take those fly-fishing lessons before we get to Montana.
Keith Mobley, CMRP, Life Cycle Engineering
In 1980 Philip Crosby introduced a book titled, Quality is Free, the Art of Making Quality Certain. His message was straightforward: if you are consistently and effectively doing all of the basics there is no additional or incremental cost of quality—it is inherent to the organization. Today, 36 years later, we are fixated on the cost of reliability and how much of an investment must be paid to achieve it. We struggle to build a business case to justify implementation of one or more programs that purport to create reliability. If your organization is already consistently doing everything from strategic planning to maintenance effectively, the cost of reliability is zero—it is already a part of its DNA and there really is no reason to build a business case.
Keith Mobley, CMRP, Life Cycle Engineering
Many people think the concept of using small groups or work teams was developed by Toyota, but in truth they were in use in America long before Dr. Edwards Deming, Philip Crosby and others introduced the concept in Japan. Unfortunately, in the late 1960s we began to move away from using them and today few organizations recognize the power and benefits that these teams could provide.
As I reflect back on my engineering career, I realize that my father taught me a lot about reliability engineering long before I thought about being an engineer. A lot of people, especially those that we work with on a daily basis in plants, don’t understand what reliability engineering is. They tend to think it’s something complex that doesn’t involve them. I hope these lessons my father taught me will make this subject easier to understand.