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Why culture trumps technology when it comes to continuous improvement

June 4, 2018
David Berger says shiny new tech won’t fix your process problems – but here's how your CMMS can help you address them more effectively.

No matter how much you think new technology will improve your ability to manage your physical assets, try to fight the impulse to buy. The hard work begins long before you purchase new software or hardware. This is true for any number of popular technology solutions, such as a CMMS, industrial internet of things (IIoT)-ready tools, or an asset tracking system.

Quality. For some companies, the biggest opportunity for improving processes is to “do it right the first time.” A CMMS can be used to highlight recurring problems, which, through root-cause analysis, can lead to significant improvement. For example, suppose recurring downtime on a piece of equipment is traced to improper lubrication. A process could be put in place to conduct a simple PM routine to lubricate the machine each day during setup.

Root-cause analysis of CMMS data could also highlight areas where further training is required for the operator and/or maintenance staff. Sometimes quality problems suggest the need for use of more-experienced maintenance personnel, contract specialists, or reliability engineers.

Cost. The third key driver of a continuous improvement program is cost reductions through productivity gains. The CMMS can report on areas of high cost and drill down to the supporting cost detail, especially if activity-based costing is employed. New processes can then be established to cut high-cost areas.

Examples of possible cost-cutting improvements include reducing inventory levels through better control of obsolete inventory; identifying bad-actor assets through downtime analysis; and training equipment operators to perform simple PM routines, setups, changeovers, and minor adjustments. Once the changes have been implemented, the CMMS can be used to monitor whether expected benefits are achieved.

About the Author

David Berger | P.Eng. (AB), MBA, president of The Lamus Group Inc.

David Berger, P.Eng. (AB), MBA, is president of The Lamus Group Inc., a consulting firm that provides advice and training to extract maximum performance, quality and value from your physical assets, processes, information systems and organizational design. Based in Toronto, Berger has held senior positions in industry, including for two large manufacturers, and senior roles in consulting. He has written more than 450 articles on a variety of topics such as asset management, operations management, information technology, e-commerce, organizational design, and strategy. Contact him at [email protected].