14 points to better asset management

David Berger says apply Deming’s classic vision using newer technologies to drive improved reliability.

By David Berger

For close to thirty years after World War II, W. Edwards Deming worked to raise the level of technology in Japan through improved quality and productivity. Deming believed that the cause of inefficiency and poor quality is the system, not the employees. Furthermore, he emphasized that it is the responsibility of management to correct the system to satisfy goals and objectives. This is accomplished by following Deming’s 14 points as adapted below from his book “Quality, Productivity, and Competitive Position.”

As you read through Deming’s points, think about how your asset management function can play a key role in supporting the underlying principles.

1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service with a plan to become competitive and stay in business. Deming’s first point emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement. This is not a flavor-of-the-month or six-month project. A CMMS can be used to continually plan, track, and correct in support of improved quality and productivity.

2. We can no longer live with commonly accepted levels of delays, mistakes, defective materials, and defective workmanship. Maintenance and engineering can help on two fronts. First of all, better planning on your CMMS, control systems using AI, and communication/integration tools through the IIoT can reduce delays and mistakes for design engineers and maintainers. Secondly, these technology tools can assist operations in improving the quality of output and productivity of line operators through, for example, improved equipment reliability management.

3. Cease dependence on mass inspection. Require, instead, statistical evidence that quality is built in. Prevent defects rather than detect defects. This point is the essence of the argument for favoring predictive maintenance (PdM) over preventive maintenance over reactive maintenance. Condition monitoring data from a CMMS can feed PdM software using the IIoT, which, in turn, uses statistical analysis and AI to prevent equipment failure (a “defect”) rather than detect that failure has occurred.

4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Eliminate suppliers that cannot qualify with statistical evidence of quality. The supplier history feature available on almost all CMMS packages can track statistics on the quality of products and service for each vendor. Measures such as the number of damaged goods shipments, late shipments, substitutions, and under-shipments can be tracked and discussed with each vendor. AI can be used to build correlations among equipment parts quality, vendors, and equipment reliability.

5. Find problems. There is no better tool available to maintenance for finding, troubleshooting, and tracking problems than a CMMS with advanced features such as reliability-centered maintenance and condition monitoring/control using AI, to help management “improve the system” referred to by Deming.

6. Institute modern methods of training on the job. Over the years, we have done a superb job of modernizing our approach to training off-the-job. However, there is still no better supplement to the theory learned in the classroom, on a video, using computer-based training, or by running a computer simulation, than on-the-job training well-supported by management.

7. Management must prepare to take immediate action on reports from supervisors concerning barriers such as inherited defects, machines not maintained, poor tools, and fuzzy operational definitions. It is critical to work with operations to determine how much money should be spent on what resources and which activities to identify and remove the barriers to which Deming refers. A CMMS provides helpful information such as equipment history, especially when it is fully integrated through the IIoT and fine-tuned using AI.

8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company. A participatory approach to managing major changes goes a lot farther than management through fear and intimidation.

9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team. If only Deming had included maintainers in his list of people who must work as a team. Then perhaps the partnership among the production, engineering, and maintenance departments would have formed more quickly and deeply.

10. Eliminate numerical goals, posters, and slogans for the workforce, asking for new levels of productivity without providing methods. We must be fair to our workers by not just setting aggressive goals, objectives, and performance targets, but also by providing the means for tracking and achieving these. To this end, we need methodologies such as Lean and RCM, as well as technology tools such as AI, the IIoT, mobile devices, and your CMMS for identifying improvement opportunities.

11. Eliminate work standards that prescribe numerical quotas. Work standards can be loaded onto any CMMS for any reactive or preventive maintenance work order. Deming is rightly concerned that management that is driven primarily by quotas may encourage workers to focus on meeting the labor work standard at the expense of quality.

12. Remove barriers that stand between the hourly worker and his or her right to pride of workmanship. Deming would say, for example, that when maintainers are pushed to meet numerical quotas at the expense of quality, they are less likely to feel the pride of workmanship that comes from doing a quality job.

13. Institute a vigorous program of education and retraining. To establish and sustain a continuous improvement program in maintenance, engineering or operations, new skills are required for changes in techniques, equipment, tools, and so on.

14. Create a structure in top management that will push every day on the above 13 points. This is time well spent, for example, setting up teams that target different areas for improvement. Moreover, senior management must recognize the contribution that high-quality asset management can make within any new structure, especially by elevating the level of technology.

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