Don't drop the ball with kitting and staging

Question: Hi, Jeff. I read your post yesterday about your reflections on McDonald's and maintenance processes. Are you noting a rise in people using more standard kitting for common maintenance tasks? For both construction assembly and at maintenance stages, there seem to be many processes that have a huge waste of activities involved.

Sam, manager, U.K.

Answer: Hello, Sam. Yes, I do find that more organizations are kitting and staging materials. That said, I don’t often find that organizations are doing it well.

As you note, there are lots of wastes from a lean perspective with the lack of kitting and staging or improperly performing the effort. If we are trying to improve the efficiency of the crafts regardless of construction or maintenance activities, then we must determine processes that eliminate waiting, travel times, time lost hunting materials in the storeroom because of ineffective storeroom processes, and so on. That is a primary focus of the entire work management process.

Here are some key components that are necessary for success:

  • A secure area to kit and stage to include lay-down yards for construction/shutdown activities.
  • Processes that include the necessary communication handshakes, such as CMMS statuses, along with documentation of the location of kits or other materials on the work order.
  • Partnerships among the various stakeholders, such as storeroom, planning and scheduling personnel along with supervisors and craftspeople.
  • A process to address the removal of parts from a kit on an emergency basis and restocking the kit prior to subsequent use.
  • A process to return unused parts to the storeroom.
  • In some cases, the ability to deliver to and stage parts at the actual job location (i.e., at the physical asset to be worked on).

It’s interesting what you find when you assess sites from a kitting and staging perspective. At one large site, I found the kitting area: It was a folding table located in the main shop area. There was a sign above that declared it as the “kitting area." Paper sacks of materials littered the table and the ground with WO numbers on them. There was a paper roster attached to the fence to which the table butted up. The roster listing of work-order numbers and dates the kit was placed there ended in February of that year. It was May when I viewed it. So, my inquiring mind asked if the site was still using the kitting process. I was told "no." The work had been completed and the kits remained. It was only put in place so that the site could demonstrate for corporate auditors that the kitting and staging process existed. That item, coupled with all of the other facades, allowed the site to win “best plant" recognition from a maintenance and reliability perspective that year. Oh my, the games we play. This is not the way to effectively kit and stage materials. This effort violated most of the items that I have bulleted above. Sadly, I’ll also share that more than 50% of the storeroom parts were obsolete and no longer used at the site. Couple that with the fact the site paid a third-party company to manage the storeroom, and you have some idea of the scope of issues the site was facing.

Kitting and staging materials is a great way to ensure that the right materials are on hand prior to starting the job and to drive improved wrench times. That said, it is important that you take the time to put processes and partnerships in place to make sure everything is working correctly. What insights would you add?

Send me an email at the address below and I will respond or place your questions with my answers here.

Talk soon,
Jeff Shiver, CMRP

If you have problems in the fields of maintenance, reliability, planning and scheduling, MRO storerooms, or leadership as examples, please contact Jeff Shiver with your question(s) here.