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.

Headeer

  • How to Prevent “A Good Shift Gone Bad…"

    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.

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  • The Value of Loss Measurement Systems

    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.

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  • How Do You Create Partnership Agreements?

    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.

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  • 5S Gone Wild…how far is too far?

    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.

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  • The Power of Alignment: Connecting Individuals to Organizational Objectives

    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. 

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  • Establishing a Root Cause Failure Analysis Program at a Pharmaceutical Facility

    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.

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  • How Can I Make My MRO Maintenance Storeroom More Efficient?

    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.

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  • Maintenance Really is Really Not the Problem

    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.

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  • Seven Pitfalls to Avoid in Your Upcoming Assessment

    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.

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  • Don’t Leave Home Without Them: Why Assessments are Important to Your Continuous Improvement Journey

    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.

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  • Building a Business Case for Reliability

    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.

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  • Natural Work Teams, the Untapped Resource

    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.

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  • Life Lessons My Father Taught Me About Reliability

    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. 

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  • Break Down Barriers With a One Plant, One Team Approach

    By Johnny Brown, Life Cycle Engineering

    In a manufacturing environment, the many barriers between operations, maintenance, management and non-management personnel can be a real challenge.

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  • Reliability: Fact and Fiction

    Keith Mobley, CMRP, Life Cycle Engineering

    Conditioned by recent marketing efforts, here’s what comes to mind when one hears the term reliability: physical assets, reliability engineering terms such as mean-time-between-failure, and maintenance. But does the reliability of an organization rely solely on reliable physical assets? Granted, asset reliability is essential, but is it really a maintenance issue and is it the only factor required for acceptable plant performance?

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  • What NASCAR Can Teach Your Operators and the Maintenance Department

    By Robert Glancy, Asset Management Technician, Life Cycle Engineering

    One of the greatest tools any maintenance person can rely on is the equipment operator. As an asset management technician, I create equipment maintenance plans based on FMEAs. I can look at the possible failures of a piece of equipment and tell if we need to create predictive maintenance (PdM) or inspection tasks to prolong its life cycle.

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  • Creating Maintenance Training Programs for Operators

    Although some maintenance activities require formal classroom training, many routine tasks can be taught to equipment operators internally using manufacturers’ instruction manuals and in-house subject matter expertise.

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  • Effective Tracking of Operations, Maintenance and Reliability Improvement

    Keith Mobley, CMRP, Life Cycle Engineering

    Believe it or not, tracking organizational performance is not as simple as it might sound. Many of us struggle with this dilemma and few have determined an effective way to measure it. Our dilemma begins because the criteria that define performance vary depending on the level within the organization. For example, the organization level controls asset utilization—how the installed capacity will be used, and to a large degree, reliability. At the production-maintenance level, performance is measured as compliance to the business plan and its production schedule. Therefore, criteria used to measure performance must vary, but at the same time be consistent, so that measurements at the floor level can be rolled up to meet the criteria at the organizational level and conversely cascade down from organizational to floor-level measures. Once this is understood, there are two other issues to be resolved.

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  • The Best Changeover is No Changeover

    In a perfect manufacturing world, one would be able to dedicate production assets to one product, run that product continuously, and never, ever be forced to change to another product. If one could do so, this mode of operation would yield true world-class performance. Think of it–no constant struggle to reduce the losses that invariably occur as part of the changeover process.

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  • Involve Your Operators in Every Daily Maintenance Plan

    In any manufacturing organization, who spends the most time and knows the equipment better than anyone else? Is it Maintenance? Engineering? Area leaders? If you ask me I would say the operators that run that particular piece of equipment. They are around the equipment 24/7, 365 days a year. Operators know how the equipment runs so they know when something isn’t quite right. They will know if there is a different noise, smell, or maybe an unusual vibration. They may not know exactly what is causing it or how to fix it, but they do know that it isn’t normal for that equipment. And if it isn’t normal for the equipment, chances are good that it is affecting one or more of the following: safety, quality, delivery, or cos

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