Rapid Efficiency - 13 steps to value in 3 months.

Over the next few weeks I am going to be pushing as much value as I can do into this column. Like you I have watched as mining companies, auto manufacturers, plastics manufacturers and others have announced labor cut backs.

Even OPEC is screaming for international help stabilize the oil price.

This is not just commentary. A company my father works for is one of those that has been hit by this crisis so I am feeling this also.

It is a frightening time to be in capital intensive industries. When faced with situations like this, filled with uncertainty the best advice is always to change what you can, and to try not to worry about those things you cannot change.

The near term choice is clear – improve efficiency or die. What I can do, and what I think all leaders in the field should be doing, is helping you by providing you with practical tips and techniques to rapidly increase efficiency.

I hope you can get them implemented and let me know how it goes.

The truth about change is that it actually doesn’t take a long time. Any chance, the decision and commitment to make a change, happens in a split second. You have the motivation now, turn it into immediate action.

Here are thirteen quick tips that you should / could be doing right now!

1) Start identifying bad actors rapidly. Now is not the time to get lost in semantics about criticality, identify where the value is through recording production, recording unplanned outages, identifying their causes and rapidly acting to fix them.

2) Get as many people as possible trained in problem solving techniques. Right away! Immediately!

3) Make sure everyone is aware of the sense of urgency. This is not the time for games like “So I’m trained now what?” Now what is – if you don’t use that knowledge to make things better right now, there may not be a paycheck next month.

4) Implement capacity scheduling. Don’t look for software; use a spreadsheet if you have to. Don’t get wrapped up in the details, just start to schedule your time and work to schedule. The impacts will be huge.

5) Record work delay times right now! You want to be in a position to review these and to start applying problem solving techniques to these within 2 – 10 days.

6) Rehearse the big jobs. Yes that’s right – rehearse it. Just like a parachutist rehearses his jumps, just like a theatre rehearses their activities, get the time to dry run through all the activities that are going to happen in the next turnaround; and analyze where inefficiency can be cut from.

7) Start analyzing your really bad actors using RCM (or RCA) right now; today! RCM should not take more than 4 – 5 days to get from Operating context through to packaged and grouped strategies. If it is taking longer than this your facilitators are not experienced enough for what you need today – replace them.

8) Get a hold of all the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and run it through Analytical Hierarchical process. This is the foremost decision making method for large quantity and high complexity decisions – do not waste time – do it now. This is how billions and billions of Pounds Sterling are focused throughout the UK rail and water industries. (To name a few)

9) Where possible, at least until you can analyze properly with RCM at a later date, start to replace time based maintenance with predictive maintenance. Train your people, buy the equipment and get moving. Reduced downtime for any reason will give you up to 10x the value that any reductions in costs will.

10) Should you do RCM? Undoubtedly! Should you do it now? Maybe not. Get a very good, very experienced, and very knowledgeable analyst to start looking over the 20% of assets that cost the 80% of maintenance costs. And get them to do a first pass run through at optimizing these strategies.

11) Rapid fire inventory analysis is not a complex or difficult task these days. And it is something that can be done, as a first pass approach, on a spreadsheet using available data.

12) Look, really look, at any options you have for vendor held stock. Any costs you can cut by pushing risk onto vendors helps a lot.

13) Visit the DOE site, download and work out how to use PSAT and their other energy efficiency systems that are free. Get trained if you have to, and start applying this. Energy efficiency is a great area of direct cost reduction because it is normally larger than you think, and it is able to come straight off OPEX somewhere.

These are just ten quick tips to get started. The primary driver for you, however, should be the following: You have 3 months to value! 3 months! Start now and squeeze as much out of the operations as possible, as quick as possible.

Remember, always remember, the goal here is rapid increases of efficiency. You will need to go back and do RCM, you will need to go back and look over the inventory levels, and you will need to go back and look at some of the deeper issues like CAPEX spending optimization.

Good luck!