Do The Right Work To Decrease Downtime And Improve Morale At Your Plant

Do the right work to decrease downtime and improve morale at your plant

April 13, 2023
Thomas Wilk says be the effective force multiplier you wish to see on the plant floor.

What work is the “right work”? And, are you doing it? 

These are questions that many plant teams ask themselves, especially when struggling with unplanned downtime or low morale. They’re often followed by a few other questions: “Is everyone having the same trouble we are? What are we doing wrong?”

Many of the articles that appear in Plant Services examine what work is the right work, but seldom have contributors tackled these questions head-on like they do in this issue.

Taking center stage is Joe Anderson, whose cover story outlines 15 foundational processes that must exist within a maintenance system in order for teams to be effective at doing the right work. As he points out, effective is not the same as efficient; you can do a lot of the wrong work quickly or you can do less of it slowly, but it will still be ineffective work.

Furthermore, Anderson outlines a sequence on how you should phase in each of those processes. Unlike this year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, you can’t do everything everywhere all at once. The foundation of a strong process-based maintenance culture starts with elements like 5S and an asset criticality analysis, moving gradually toward predictive and precision maintenance programs as well as PM optimization efforts.

Speaking of PMs, Lee McClish weighs in this month on another facet of the “right work”—complete and accurate work orders. “People skip important parts of a work order or leave them blank to speed up the process,” he writes, “and this can lead to major gaps in their maintenance documentation, eroding data integrity and making it difficult to pinpoint problems later on down the line.”

With this issue, Plant Services also welcomes our new leadership columnist, Joe Kuhn! In his first installment of Leadership In Action, he focuses on adding observation to the data set of the leader, with the goal of cultivating what he terms a “go and see” culture. In this case, doing the right work involves supporting every proposed change to a process, people, structure, and material with “at least 16 hours of direct observation on the shop floor at the appropriate spot” by team leaders. 

Through observation, Kuhn argues, actions to take will become obvious, and significant results will be sustainable, scalable, and rapidly achieved: “If your team is stuck debating actions to take to drive reliability, there’s an excellent chance you do not have observation as part of your data set.”

Jeff Shiver also contributes an eye opener of a column this month. This month’s edition of From The Plant Floor gets personal, as Shiver leads with this question: “From a purely business perspective, what should your contribution be in terms of real money?”

Should that contribution be the value of your paycheck or salary, or more? With or without additional benefits and compensation? If more, how much more? Viewed in this context, doing the “right work” becomes a force multiplier for you and your plant, driving positive value instead of negative and enhancing the reliability and safety throughout the facility.

About the Author

Thomas Wilk | editor in chief

Thomas Wilk joined Plant Services as editor in chief in 2014. Previously, Wilk was content strategist / mobile media manager at Panduit. Prior to Panduit, Tom was lead editor for Battelle Memorial Institute's Environmental Restoration team, and taught business and technical writing at Ohio State University for eight years. Tom holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from Ohio State University

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