Why you need to measure more than reliability

David Berger wants to know if you are looking at all of the metrics you should be looking at to gauge success.

By David Berger

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Unquestionably, one of the most popular topics for webinars, conferences, and CMMS user-group meetings is performance measurement, with the focus typically on the reliability of physical assets. This focus stems from the increased cost and complexity of today’s smarter assets and the amount of data available for analysis through modern data collection systems.

Not that equipment reliability is a bad choice for targeting, but with new tools to manipulate massive amounts of data, surely we can exploit improvement opportunities that extend beyond reliability. The best way management can make this happen is to first define clearly what success looks like, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Second, top management must ensure that human behavior – and not just technology – changes. One of the simplest means of defining success and spurring behavioral change on the shop floor is through the use of performance measures and targets.

Maintenance, operations, and even engineering departments tend to be very reactive. This is because operations, with all of its influence, typically focuses on keeping the machines moving product out the door. When the equipment inevitably breaks down, operations expects maintenance to get the product moving again as quickly as possible. This is the short-term thinking we have come to expect in North American operations, and we have built a maintenance support structure around it.

There is not as much value in carefully measuring and analyzing performance data if maintenance is allowed to spend money only reacting to a breakdown. Analysis of performance data has more significant value in supporting a planned maintenance environment, where equipment is repaired or replaced long before a costly disruption in operations can occur. In turn, more-sophisticated planning leads to greater equipment reliability and a more satisfied and productive workforce. However, this constitutes a significant behavioral shift for many companies.

The most likely starting point for making such a shift is the formulation of an asset management strategy that brings together maintenance, operations, and engineering to define success. The strategy states the vision, mission, values, goals and objectives for achieving a more-planned environment in light of the overall business strategy. Once a strategy is in place, operating principles and performance measures/targets can be established as described below.

Operating principles

To operationalize the ambitious goals of the asset management strategy, you need a set of guiding principles. These are qualitative statements that describe the desired environment. The following are examples of operating principles:

Partner satisfaction

  • Improve communication and information flow
  • Minimize disruption to planned schedules
  • Minimize time to respond to requests, especially during peak periods
  • All requests are handled with a single point of contact well known to partners
  • Increase operators’ knowledge level in the care and handling of equipment

Employee satisfaction

  • Empower employees to make decisions within an established framework
  • Empower employees to recommend changes
  • Performance standards and skill requirements must be clearly defined for all jobs
  • Employees must receive adequate, accurate, and timely information to do their work
  • Employees must be given adequate training in a manner that fits their style and pace of learning.

Operational capability

  • Maximize equipment availability
  • Maintain high-quality service levels
  • Eliminate duplication and rework
  • Align similar functions across business units
  • Maximize opportunities for operators to “self-serve”
  • Encourage automated collection, processing, storage, and retrieval of information with minimal paper use
  • Encourage employees to capture the right information to maintain a meaningful equipment history

Performance measures

Performance measures and targets are operating principles’ quantitative cousins. Together they provide a powerful guide for meeting strategic goals when redesigning processes and/or purchasing a new CMMS. The following are examples of possible measures and targets (for year one):

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