Many maintenance groups are too focused on short-term pains and not enough on long-term gains. It’s easy to stay reactive and lose sight of what the future can hold. External problems create internal ones too. You need a plan, a strategic roadmap to execute to overcome the chaos. A step-by-step plan in bite-sized chunks.
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Use Excel or MS Project to document the roadmap with tasks, start and end dates, and resources identified. To develop one, it’s not unlike building a house; start with the foundation. Consider an internal or external resource to provide a level of assessment. If little structure exists and roles are missing or ineffective, a deep dive assessment of multiple weeks is overkill and can quickly overwhelm the organization. Typically, a lot of low-hanging fruit can be harvested first. From the assessment, develop the roadmap to address the gaps. Some items on the foundational side include:
- gaining executive and plant management support
- communication plan that paints the vision of the future state
- involvement at the lowest levels
- charter that describes the interim end goals and the support required
- potential return-on-investment benefits
- mission and vision for people to rally around
- steering team that effectively actions the next steps and removes the obstacles to success.
Next, consider the business processes. Is everything tribal knowledge or does a formal playbook exist? Does every technician know where to find the playbook and is it followed? If not, don’t get wrapped up in documenting every process. Start with the daily work. Are the organizational roles and responsibilities defined? The processes help define the roles required along with the responsibilities. As the processes are defined, add them to the playbook.
For the next roadmap section, align the organization based on the business processes. Does the maintenance planner role exist? First-level supervision on the plant floor? The roles and job descriptions developed from the playbook processes and responsibilities should be considered for this alignment section, as well as the required positions staffed at the correct spans of control. The less mature the organization, the lower the ratio of personnel supported.
For example, a typical ratio for a planner is 15-30 technicians. However, in the early stages, consider 6-10 technicians per planner if processes are not developed and executed. Training and coaching for each role should be considered next. Attending a course is one-half the education; the remainder is coaching to develop a strong competency level for success. Finally, individual performance metrics are developed to help individuals know if they are succeeding. These metrics should cascade up to departmental goals.
Other sections to consider when forming and prioritizing the roadmap include:
- engineering—capital projects designed for reliability, proper installation procedures, acceptance testing, handoffs to maintenance and operations before commissioning
- maintenance strategy development—reliability-centered maintenance (RCM2), failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), PM optimization, or as a minimum, OEM recommendations at a precision task level
- work execution—work identification, planning, materials acquisition, scheduling, a feedback loop with the planner planning and developing reusable corrective job plans and the first-level supervisor scheduling the work
- storeroom improvements—inventory control, security, bill of materials, master data management, and purchasing processes
- reliability engineering—predictive tools, failure analysis, defect elimination, lubrication practices, apprenticeship, and precision approaches
- operator-driven reliability—instill equipment ownership at the operator level, with them doing minor maintenance tasks and changeovers, where they can be the first line of defense to help detect the onset of equipment failure.
Don’t fall into the trap of analysis paralysis. A perfect roadmap to start is not required. A start is required, however, and prioritize the actions based on the bang for the effort.
This story originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.