Three Waves to Reliability Excellence®
Three Waves to Reliability Excellence (Rx) is a proven methodology for implementing a global improvement strategy in large multinational manufacturing organizations. Integrating maintenance, reliability, and manufacturing fundamentals, planned and implemented in local organization, it provides the stability that allows sound lean manufacturing processes to succeed.
In this methodology, operations own reliability, and maintenance is an equal partner dedicated to providing timely and effective methods, skills, expertise, and support. As Charles Bailey, V.P. Operations, Eastman Chemicals noted: “Reliability cannot be driven by the maintenance organization. It must be driven by the operating units…and led from the top.”
Like three very powerful ocean wavers, this methodology delivers extraordinary results. Do not attempt to implement it unless you are convinced that your existing system is broken and you are completely committed to changing the processes and systems you currently employ.
Wave 1 has two parts (1) development of a high-level corporate or business unit financial business case for reliability improvement based upon achieving reasonable business and performance improvements; and (2) conducting Rx education on core concepts and implementation strategies. Preliminary education consists of workshops for combined groups of executive-level management, plant management and supervision, operators, maintenance personnel, engineering, and other support functions such as purchasing and finance. These activities will identify tactical improvement opportunities and create cross-functional teams that immediately begin resolving issues and capturing short-term gains that can fund Wave 2.
The high-level business case must be prepared and shared with executive management to gain sponsorship. Executive management must provide the sponsorship and demonstrated commitment required to move the initiative forward. This executive sponsorship, and only this executive-level sponsorship, will provide the entire organization a compelling reason to change. The business case is especially effective when it stresses the competitive environment and external threats to business. It must be supported by a strategy that focuses the entire company on the reliability and technological issues related to business and communicated throughout the organization.
The second step provides education throughout the organization, making it clear that reliability, like safety, is everyone’s responsibility, and creating the expectation that everyone will participate in the process. Consideration must be given to initiatives that are currently underway, i.e., TPM, 5S, RCM, Lean Manufacturing, etc., and connections to these processes must be made. It is critical that the reliability improvement initiative not be perceived as a new stand-alone effort, but rather as an enabler or foundation to the current improvement process. The entire process must be defined and communicated in Wave 1, confirming that management is committed, has explicit expectations and intends to follow through. This will help dispel any perception that this initiative is a flavor of the month or program of the day. Wave 1 workshops identify the obvious reliability issues and the financial impact that they have on the operation. Cross-functional teams are then formed to resolve these issues and measure the progress and savings. These teams are tactical in nature and should not get involved in systemic or organizational issues (those issues will be dealt with in Wave 2 and possibly Wave 3).
The next step is an assessment of current conditions at a specific location, financial analysis that results in an estimate of the value in closing the gaps to Rx compared to the cost of implementation presented as a return on investment (ROI) calculation, and the development of a preliminary master plan outlining those gap-closing processes and methodologies. The gaps are simply current conditions, processes, and practices compared to reasonable targets of best practices within a specific industry or in general industry. The assessment is a highly participative process that leads to enhanced levels of awareness and discovery that again contributes to the continuation of the cultural change that must take place to set the stage for Wave 3, or implementation.
The overall assessment of the operation measures current status of 21 specific elements of reliability. The composite score allows us to identify the gaps in the current process and structure. These scores also give a visual comparison with others either from within a specific industry or from industry as a whole. With this information, a master plan can be developed. This is an outline of actions that, when completed, will close the gaps to ‘excellent’. At the conclusion of Wave 2, the master plan is not completely detailed, but it outlines the elements that will be addressed and fully detailed in Wave 3.
Return on Investment
An ROI can now be developed by determining the financial impact that closing the gaps will have on the operation, compared to the cost of executing the master plan. IN most instances, the ROI is in excess of 10:1 – in a few cases, it has exceeded 30:1. Savings or cost avoidances generally come from similar areas in most plants, i.e., loss of product due to availability, rate and quality; maintenance spending, overtime, inventory investment, work process, etc. Typically gains from operating improvements range from 1.5 to 6 times more than gains from maintenance.
Wave 3 is implementation of the master plan. It includes education/workshops on proper techniques, coaching/mentoring on correct execution and establishment of defined processes and effectiveness measures of progress. Again, there is a focus on organizational change management, through a Leadership Team and Implementation Teams, as well as education to ensure that all process and structural changes are sustainable.
The organization will only succeed in the implementation of meaningful change when management is fully committed to creating and environment that allows change to occur, and is dedicated to its successful completion. Leadership is the key and the prerequisite for sustained change.
Master planning is the roadmap that keeps us on the course as we implement the identified processes, systems, and structures; cross-functional participation is a crucial ingredient in successful implementation. People tend to own what they create, so in Wave 3, teams will fully detail and implement the elements of the master plan.
A Leadership Team provides the leadership structure for the overall change initiative and ensures compliance with company policies and practices. Multiple Implementation Teams, with dedicated leaders, develop detailed action plans for each specific element of the maters plan. This approach has proven to be an excellent vehicle in fostering participation and producing the desired results.
Coaches and subject-matter experts must be available to the Implementation Teams at appropriate times to guarantee that team members have technical resources for consultation and that effective technical transitions are made. Great care should be taken in selecting Focus Team leaders and members, and making sure that they have the proper training and coaching to carry out their mission. An Rx Facilitator also must be selected from the organization. He/she must be dedicated to this initiative for the duration to ensure its success – and to keep all activities on track.
The Leadership Team should include three to five participants representing a good cross-section of the local management team. They define the mission of the Implementation Teams, reconcile the investment and return for the overall initiative and collectively have the authority to make decisions that cause any barriers identified during the master plan and implementation. To assure appropriate sponsorship, an Executive Sponsor should be identified to ensure participation and input from executive management.
Implementation Teams should also be cross-functional, with no more than three to five participants and a dedicated leader who is responsible for all team activities. At specified intervals in the implementation phase, detailed action plans for each element of the master plan will be developed and reviewed with the Leadership Team. When the action plans are agreed upon with the Leadership Team, and coordinated with all Implementation Teams, execution of the master plan commences. Action plans will be identified, step-by-step, resources assigned to appropriate personnel (to include all plant personnel) and a completion time established for step.
The creation of a Support Team is an effective way of providing resources to the Implementation Teams on an as-required basis, i.e., external consultants and coaches, vendors, accounting, human relations, etc. Support Team members are not full-time participants, but are identified and available, when needed, for consulting with and providing information to the Leadership and Implementation Teams.
Dependent upon the size of the local organization, the number of Implementation Teams will heavily influence the duration of the change initiative. Time requirements during plan development and implementation range from 10 -15% for Leadership Team members, 20-25% for Implementation Team leaders, 15-20% for Implementation Team members, and 100% for the Rx Facilitator. New Implementation Teams are commissioned as existing ones complete their missions and until all elements of the master plan are completed.
The Right Medicine
While medicine may have the potential to cure, only its proper and complete use or application will produce the desired results. This is the issue with the flavor of the month or program of the day improvement programs. Routinely, the concepts are sound; however, their implementation and application are premature, incomplete or shortsighted.
In most manufacturing environments, two rules hold true:
- Production capacity of the plant and maintenance spending are the most significant controllable parameters in the success of the overall operation.
- Capacity is a function of equipment reliability and sustainability.
Simply put, when equipment is reliable, product is made. So how do we increase reliability? TPM? RCM? Six Sigma? Yes and no, these methods and processes all have proven results, but only when properly and completely applied! Applied to a stable operation with sustainable reliability, these concepts can produce tremendous results. They tend to fail miserably, though, when applied where fundamental work processes are not well-anchored or fully utilized and equipment reliability is not established.
In the Three Waves to Rx process, prescribing the medicine and ensuring its proper application are integrated. Outsiders do not develop prescriptions – it’s developed by the local organization in a participative discovery process with all justification predetermined and communicated up and down the organization. W. Edwards Deming had it right when he noted, “A system cannot know its self, it must be examined by outsiders, by invitation only.”
Who owns the reliability of your car – your mechanic or the dealer? Of course not, it rests with the driver. Operators are much like automobile drivers in that they live with plant equipment day-in and day-out. Good operators have an inherent feel for when their equipment performance begins to deteriorate. If a sense of ownership is created, in operations for equipment reliability, the desire to fix it before it breaks (or to avoid failure) increases. If maintenance is a true partner, then both operations and maintenance will have an increased desire to do what is best for the equipment, line, or plant, and fix it right or avoiding the failure, replaces fix it quick or hurry up and get it back on line.
Sustaining these changes is a matter of leadership and dedication. When proven work processes are developed and in place, systems are established to automate these processes, leadership and dedication to always do it the same way is instilled and rewards have been reaped, real change has occurred and reliability will be evident. Moreover, Rx will be the way you conduct your business.
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