IMC/CMMS-2006 puts emphasis on management


By Paul Studebaker

Jan 11, 2007

From the life lessons expressed in the first keynote speech by Paul Campbell, retired, Alcoa, to the attendees’ closing-session public statements of their plans to implement their learnings when they return to their facilities, the combined 21st International Maintenance Conference and Computerized Maintenance Management Summit (IMC/CMMS-2006) December 5 to 8, 2006 in Daytona Beach, Fla., focused on management’s role in uncovering and reaping the financial benefits of efficient, proactive maintenance.

Campbell described in detail the management tools and culture change methods Alcoa used to increase production at its Mt. Holly, S.C. plant from 180,000 tons to 227,000 tons per year without expanding the facility. Investing in reliability improvements instead of capital equipment increased capacity 26% at one-tenth the cost.

That’s an impressive result, but just the tip of the iceberg, according to Campbell. The key is to define the plant’s maximum, or ideal, capacity and understand each of the factors that reduce it (see figure). As each of those factors is addressed, not only will capacity increase, but also quality and performance to schedule, and costs will go down. With lower costs and higher quality, sales will increase, absorbing the increased capacity. Without them, sales languish and the plant dies.

“What’s it really worth?” Campbell asks. “Competitive advantage in a commodity industry. Profit and cash flow, even with high energy costs. Survival in the U.S. against foreign cost and structural advantages. Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

In six parallel tracks, the conference’s 48 “Learning Zone” sessions dug into specific areas of maintenance and asset management, supporting best-practice principles with quantitative instructions and examples from the presenters’ own experiences. For example, “Planning and Scheduling Made Simple,” by Jerry Smith, FutureFuel Chemical Co., and consultant Ricky Smith, CMRP, described how the objectives of maximizing use of resources and minimizing downtime, infant mortality and reactive work all depend on effective planning and scheduling. They described the qualifications and personality characteristics of a good scheduler, and how it can be done in any size organization. “With as few as three maintenance people, pick one to be a planner,” Smith says.

“Asset Performance Management,” by Dr. Peter Martin, Invensys, described CEOs’ perceptions of maintenance as revealed in a series of high-level focus groups. In essence, they totally lack the real-time feedback in financial terms they need to understand and support proactive maintenance.

The event included two full-audience interactive sessions. In the first, maintenance experts facilitated group discussion to solve participant problems ranging from “supervisors who tell you what you want to hear but stop as soon as you leave the room” (“More training, but you might have the wrong people on the bus.”) and doing more with fewer labor dollars (“Don’t cut out predictive. Convert preventive to predictive.”) to defining key performance indicators (KPIs) – “The lowest cost per ton may well have the highest cost of maintenance.”

In the second group session, the audience was invited to make public their plans for implementing what they learned when they return to their facilities. After an awkward silence, participants promised, among other things, to communicate to management in financial terms, develop criticality priorities, audit their progress through quantitative measures, formally train maintenance managers (not just technicians), convert intrusive to non-intrusive PMs and eliminate non-value-add activities based on failure mode analysis, and even to allow operations to set maintenance priorities (“But not ad-hoc – they must participate in planning.”)

The conference was preceded and followed by full-day workshops and accompanied by exhibits of several hundred vendors, opportunities to gain Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP) certification, a plant tour of Seminole Electric and a full set of social networking activities.

The next similar event planned by ReliabilityWeb is the co-located Reliability Centered Maintenance Manager’s Forum and Enterprise Asset Management Summit (RCM/EAM-2007) April 3 to 6. In a combined effort to increase participation by upper-level management (bring your boss), raise the profile of the profession, and make the event more accessible to participants from Australia and Asia, it is being held on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, a choice for which maintenance journalists such as myself will be eternally grateful.

But don’t just come for the terrific venue – instead, be there to take advantage of the opportunity to improve your plant reliability and asset management. In the words of Gary, a reliability superintendent in a small aluminum company, spoken at the first group session,

“The game we play is a life-and-death issue for ourselves, our families and the communities in which we live. Who wants to go into bankruptcy? We have to prove the value we add. We get confused, unfocused, undisciplined – discipline will work in our organization if we take the time to make the sell. If we focus together, we can’t be beat.”
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