Help your core team hit the maintenance bull's-eye

Stanton McGroarty says have a clear work description and a project operating plan for your problem assets.

By J. Stanton McGroarty, CMfgE, CMRP, senior technical editor

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Maintenance is truly driven by data when the data are guiding us to the most significant maintenance work we could be doing in our plant and showing us how to solve it. This is the third in a three-installment series — Ready, Aim, and Fire.

We set out at the beginning of this series to use data to guide us to a couple of the biggest, most costly recurring maintenance headaches in the plant. Further, we said in the first installment that we’ll be ready to solve these problems when we have identified them and quantified what they are costing the organization. In the second part, we convened a core team to perform a batch RCA on the failures experienced with one or more of the problem systems, and we identified the maintenance and other problems that were driving the failures. We characterized this step as taking aim.

Most RCA efforts stop with the aim step because the problem is understood and maintenance work orders have been issued. What else could possibly be required? Solving big perennial problems may call for changes in production, PdM, engineering, training, inspection or shop-floor procedures. Change management, senior-level support, and communication are needed, and sometimes input from marketing or customer-contact people may be helpful. A cross-functional team is required to execute this type of problem solving, so it will be necessary to add some participants to the core team. In doing so, the core team will grow into the cross-functional project team that will convert the problem assets into reliable production systems.

The core team will begin the process by meeting and reviewing the aim-phase report. A template for this report is available as a sidebar in the online version of the Aim part of this series. Core team members have already reviewed the list of problems and written maintenance orders for those that could be solved by the maintenance department. The core team must now identify new participants from elsewhere in the organization who can develop and execute work plans to solve the remaining failure causes that cannot be solved with maintenance work orders.

In many cases, core team members will have the skill to write the additional work requests for correction of training, process, and other needs, but they should not do so. It is essential that the people who will own these repairs be a part of the process of designing them. Instead the core team should identify the additional team members who will be needed and convene a meeting to explain the work that has been done so far and follow up with a meeting to discuss the work that still lies ahead. At this meeting core team members should extend an invitation to the representatives of other groups to join in the adventure. After all, everyone should be excited at the prospect of solving one or two of the largest, most persistent equipment problems in the plant.

Maintenance is truly driven by data when the data are guiding us to the most significant maintenance work we could be doing in our plant and showing us how to solve it.

It may take another meeting or two, along with some off-line sessions with individuals, to arrive at a shared understanding of the work that needs to be done. Setting all the items on the core team report to rights will demand this kind of shared understanding. When this agreement is reached and the new team members have agreed to own their respective pieces of the effort, the project team is finally born, and the work of fixing a huge, perennial problem can begin in earnest.

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