Reliability Journey 633b2291addf8

Sustain your reliability journey with consistency and auditing

Oct. 3, 2022
Jeff Shiver says consistency comes from a combination of measures and auditing the actions to sustain the momentum.

Recent calls from personnel on the plant floor echoed frustration with the current state within their respective organizations.

In one site, the long-fought-for changes in improving the reliability program have run off the rails. After years of progress, management’s focus has shifted. In another location, the planner position was eliminated in a downsizing move, and the duties were handed off to the maintenance supervisor. Be assured that is not a best practice approach.

In a third organization, the lone planner does little planning due to the large number of personnel they are asked to schedule work for. Using typical spans of control, that organization should have three to four planners, not one.

Yet all is not lost. Leaders are challenged with bringing change. I’m reminded of many reliability journeys born from similar frustrations, including mine. There must be a desire for change. In the last case above, that planner has passion. While overwhelming, the planner knows there is a better way. The individual is using every means to paint the vision of what it can be, the ideal state. He is leveraging education for himself and others in the organization. He reminds management of the direction when needed.

Another difference in the three cases is that the individual’s desire has led to momentum in the last case. Momentum becomes the tipping point. But how do we sustain that momentum and eliminate the flavor of the month that often accompanies change efforts?

It was John C. Maxwell that stated that “desire is the seed of every great accomplishment. If you have the desire, you have planted a tree in your garden. If the desire is the seed, then consistency is the fruit of that seed. Desire and consistency are the keys to that journey.” In the first case, the organization lost its way. Over time, some management changed, the vision was lost, and the sustaining audits were cast aside as lacking value. Paraphrasing Maxwell, desire puts you into the game, yet consistency comes from showing up every day to someday become good at the game.

In our world, consistency comes from a combination of measures and auditing the actions to sustain the momentum. Think about the planner role. We build graphical workflows, determine roles and responsibilities, create corrective job plans, and improve them with technician feedback. We must get out from behind our management and supervisory desks and inspect to maintain consistent results. We audit, and we keep score in the game too.

Consider taking three completed work orders and walking them down with the team involved in the processes. Take the technician, the planner, the storeroom clerk, the supervisor, and occasionally, the plant manager. Also, notice that I utilized the “team” instead of individually performing the audit. Several views are much more effective over a single set of eyes, plus it’s a training opportunity.

Ideally, an audit template highlights specific areas of focus related to the work. Each section is scored, and a total score is tallied. In short, determine if the established processes are utilized. Was the housekeeping complete, and rebuildable items returned to the staging location? Were the right parts specified and kitted? Was the estimated job time accurate? Was the feedback form completed for job improvement?

Separately, specific functions can be audited. For auditing maintenance planning and scheduling, consider these questions. How many detailed corrective job plans were built this week? How many plans were followed without changes? How many feedback forms or comments for improvement were received? Were there exceptions to the schedule, and why? Were these business processes or partner issues?

For the MRO storeroom, are cycle count variances being reduced? If not, is that due to a lack of adequate storeroom controls or processes? Do the SKU part names match the standard (typically smaller plants without a centralized name gatekeeper)? Is the storeroom housekeeping acceptable (no parts on the floor, bins and shelves tidy, and no misplaced parts filling the wrong bin location as examples)? Are parts reserved, kits created, and work order statuses changed with the kit is complete?

Remember that the auditing process is not specifically about individuals, but determining if the expected processes and procedures are followed. I have found that people overall want to do the right thing for the business, which may mean working outside the process when barriers exist. To that end, when exceptions are identified, work to understand why. If necessary, correct the process to address the workarounds.

This story originally appeared in the October 2022 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.

About the Author: Jeff Shiver

Jeff Shiver CMRP is a founder and managing principal at People and Processes, Inc. Jeff guides people to achieve success in maintenance and reliability practices using common sense approaches. Visit or email [email protected].

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