Shortcuts don’t cut it
I just finished reading your article, “The ultimate cost of convenience,” [September, p.11] and I thank you for this powerful reminder of how a simple act to save time or money on maintenance can lead to a disaster. We live in a world where every day we are under pressure to cut costs or time on maintenance. Yet too little thought is given to the ultimate consequence. Thank you for this reminder about how important our jobs are and why saving money and/or time better not be our top priority. Please keep the great articles coming.
Rick Loughlin, lead mechanic
Abramson Center for Jewish Life, North Wales, Pa.
Technology stanches loss of knowledge
I recently read Birth of a maintenance evangelist.
Generally, the article is spot-on. A couple of things may minimize the quoted deficit impact. But there is no substitute for real-world experience.
At ISO 9000-certified manufacturers, the knowledge drain is not nearly as big a hit as it was, say, 15 years ago. Many of the key processes and procedures are now captured and documented. And, due to periodic review cycles inherent in the ISO process, these procedures are regularly audited and updated to match current business rules.
Most large firms use some form of CMMS software. The advanced companies have used the history within these systems to do failure analysis and have instituted PM schedules to minimize outages. Thus, maintenance staffing levels can be lowered because peak manpower usage is needed to minimize the impact of unplanned outages. This can be measured by tracking “wrench time” as a function of total maintenance manpower. Fewer maintenance workers are actually being more productive in terms of “wrench time” while simultaneously reducing unplanned outages.
Rick Tuttle, project manager
Sasol North America Inc., Houston
Had it with management
I agree with your recent article, “Averting the maintenance crisis,” [November, p. 17]. I have been in paper industry maintenance since 1974 and have seen a steady deterioration of sound maintenance principles. The people who are put in positions of leadership in maintenance organizations have very little practical knowledge or leadership skills (a degree does not constitute capability). We have too many leaders who do not know how to empower or reward people, or make them accountable. When I started in the paper industry back in 1967 as a pulp mill worker, leaders were professional and held people accountable. That has all changed for the most part.
You are exactly correct about training. It is the first thing to go. Even safety training is done in a big rush. There is the old rule that someone learns about 80% of what someone shows them (in the very best of circumstances). Can you imagine what happens to the third one and on down the line?
Companies spend $1 million on a maintenance management system only to minimize the training necessary to support the system. We only use a small portion of what the software is capable of doing. You can have the best system in the world, but if you don’t have good practices, the system will not be fully effective.
Our maintenance storerooms are being depleted to save inventory carrying costs. But on a daily basis we are “expediting” things into the plant that should have been in stores. Accountants have managed to gain total control over this and the plants suffer as a result. Those who are in leadership positions refuse to look at this result. We need to establish and promote a standard for “world-class” maintenance leadership. No smoke and mirrors. An organization is merely a reflection of its leaders. It would include skill level, leadership qualities, things the leader is doing to empower his/her direct reports, accountability to the organization and his/her performance goals, and exemplary professional conduct. Companies should establish manpower for the business that will truly facilitate world-class maintenance by setting a standard for more effective supervisor/worker relationships. They should also set a standard for conduct/behavior for all levels. Disrespect and vulgarities are common in the workplace today and leaders allow this to continue.
How many skilled people will it take to maintain, sustain and improve equipment reliability? Someone once said, “Increased reliability equals increased capacity.” So this is a positive way of looking at maintenance other than as a cost center.
As long as people in leadership positions are awarded bonuses for the bottom line and things on a day-to-day basis and the intangibles such as respect, order, empowering, accountability, etc., are ignored, the facility will continue to deteriorate.
I just turned 55 and am weary of the unnecessary work and effort it takes to deal with this declining atmosphere.When things are in disarray, those of us who have to make things happen have to expend extra effort to compensate for these shortfalls. My peers feel the same way. We are no longer respected, but merely tolerated.Yes, we make tolerable salaries, but if you ask any of these folks if they would trade salary for respect and the opportunity to come to work where they are appreciated, they would all agree to do so.
My heart and soul have been put into this business. When I leave the industry, I will miss my peers, and especially the opportunity to make a difference. I think we all want to contribute, but it is getting more difficult each day.
Marshall Brewer, paper machine/H2F mechanical maintenance planner
I read your article with some interest, but my mind went down a different track [“Rub some elbows,” December, p. 9]. Years ago I was in charge of maintenance for a medium-size steel-producing facility. Most of the managers (and my bosses) wanted data on breakdowns and repairs. This was before computers were available, so collecting data was tedious and mostly manual. That said, I'm sure you recognize that the data came after the fact, as most of it does. The solution to discovering which equipment was troublesome was to rub the right elbows. By chatting with the mechanics, electricians, fitters and machine operators, I knew where the problems were long before the data told
us where to look.
John Marshall, senior plant engineer
Henkel Technologies,Warren, Mich.
Joel I appreciate your article regarding "A Maintenance Postmortem." To help others with my personal experience along the same lines I would like to suggest that everyone, if they are not doing it, write a monthly report. I know. I can hear it now...one more !@%#?+ report to write.
It's the content that I suggest that interests most upper managers. If you are running a CMMS system you may have most of the data available to you.
1 CURRENT MONTH MAJOR ACTIVITIES
2 NEXT MONTH'S MAJOR ACTIVITIES
3 PROBLEMS AND CONCERNS
4 BUDGET STATEMENT - Current Month ACTUAL compared to Current Month
VARIANCE and compared to YTD BUDGET 5 PM ACTIVITY - Show # of scheduled PMs for the MONTH indicate #of ACTUAL PMs performed for the MONTH Also indicate your PM performance ie. %of PM Schedule Attainment MONTH and YEAR to DATE 6 PDM ACTIVITY 7 # OF WORK ORDERS COMPLETED AND REMAINING OPEN 8 CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT $'S OR COST AVOIDANCE $'S SAVINGS FOR THE MONTH AND YEAR TO DATE 9 TPM ACCOMPLISHMENTS FOR THE MONTH 10 SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS
Now here is the real tickler, track the MAINTENANCE COST PER EARNED HOUR. Take the production earned hour $'s for the month and calculate your maintenance cost per production EH. You can also show this calculation as monthly, and yearly costs. Show this in a graph form in Excel. You can also calculate the Facilities $s cost per sq.ft. in the same manner using other factors such as utility costs, janitorial, etc.
Hope this helps.
Maintenance Manager - York International UPG - Wichita