Reliability is more than maintenance

Facilitated self assessments involve plant personnel from all disciplines.

By Glenn Delaney and Bill Schlegel, Novelis

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In brief:

  • Novelis’ Facilitated Self Assessment is used to evaluate where a plant ranks with respect to its reliability maturity. The assessment is conducted by plant personnel and facilitated by resources provide throughout the assessment process.
  • Novelis uses 14 reliability elements to create its performance pyramid. They include goals and targets, reliability plan, organizational culture, reliability network, document control, preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, work management, materials management, lubrication, procurement, root cause analysis, equipment and process design, and TPM.
  • The individuals who benefited most from the assessment process were the corporate reliability team, which was grounded on the diverse aspects of reliability and built their credibility with the plant personnel.

Novelis is an organization specializing in aluminum rolled products and aluminum can recycling. The company operates in 11 countries, has nearly 11,000 employees and reported revenue of $10.6 billion in fiscal year 2011. Novelis supplies premium aluminum sheet and foil products to automotive, transportation, packaging, construction, industrial, electronics and printing markets.

The Novelis Facilitated Self Assessment is a tool to evaluate where a specific plant ranks with respect to its reliability maturity. The assessment is conducted by the plant personnel themselves, and it’s facilitated with the assistance that corporate resources provide throughout the assessment process.

Assessment philosophy

The Facilitated Self Assessment is, first and foremost, a learning tool, designed to help plant personnel understand reliability concepts and the plant culture. The assessment belongs to the plant, not to the enterprise. It is expected that, by the end of the process, the plants arrive at a good understanding of their existing level of performance; identify any gaps between that performance and the ideal; and develop a roadmap to bridge those gaps.

A commitment is made to each plant manager that the results of the assessments will not be shared with anyone without their consent. Novelis wants to ensure the plants assess themselves honestly, and the best way of doing that is to ensure the assessment results aren’t used out of context for the purposes of comparison among plants. And, based on the results of the first round of assessments, honesty was obviously not a problem.

The Assessment

In its current form, the assessment is made up of about 400 questions. In turn, each question offers a rating system for answers ranging a regressive or reactive organization to world-class activities.

The combination of questions with a range of answers serves two purposes: assess the plant and provide an endless number of learning opportunities. The assessment is designed to be a mix of education, guidance to known best practice and buy-in to the results. The facilitation was done to make sure the plants understood the tool and held everyone to a common understanding of the scoring. The self assessment was to create plant buy-in to the results.

Figure 1. The facilitated self assessments are based on the 14 elements that Novelis has identified.
Figure 1. The facilitated self assessments are based on the 14 elements that Novelis has identified.

The foundation for the assessment was built around the 14 Novelis Reliability Elements (Figure 1). Each element has a corresponding tab in an Excel spreadsheet. The bottom of the element pyramid consists of the reliability foundations: goals and targets, reliability plan, organizational culture, reliability network and document control. Reliability foundations are the softer issues that greatly affect how reliable a plant truly is. Having a world class preventive maintenance/predictive maintenance (PM/PdM) program will only get you so far if your organizational culture can’t or is unwilling to support it in the long term. It’s at this level that it’s taught and reinforced that reliability is not just maintenance. Reliability programs that are led by maintenance can only progress so far. Programs that are led by operations and fully supported by maintenance have the potential to move to the highest levels of reliability maturity.

Document control is one of the foundational elements. The corporate reliability team felt document control, which includes drawings, manuals and PLC programs, was fundamental to properly maintaining a safe and reliable facility.

The next level up the pyramid contains the reliability processes: work management, materials management, preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance and lubrication. This is essentially the meat and potatoes of most reliability programs that outlines how equipment is cared for, how work gets done and how spare parts (MRO) are managed. Although a lot of work can readily be initiated to improve these processes, failing to address the foundational elements could limit the overall returns.

Proceeding up the pyramid, the next level contains the elements for maintenance prevention. These are the activities that generally lead to reducing the need to do maintenance. Root cause analysis and equipment and process design have direct links to eliminating maintenance tasks and affecting the inherent reliability of a process or an asset. The link between procurement and maintenance prevention is not as obvious until you consider the impact that procurement practices have on the reliability of an asset. The proper selection of vendors, setting min/max levels, process for substitution and adherence to specifications can greatly affect how well your equipment runs.

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