Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How many maintenance technicians does it take to change a light bulb?

What is Maintenance?

Author: Victor Lough, Product Manager, Asset Management

In our March 11th blog posting, Avantis discussed how alignment with maintenance best practises could actually reduce energy costs. In this posting we shall take a step back to consider the question “What is Maintenance for?” This is a question that should have a focus on the “customer” and not simply an actuarial question of cutting costs. It has been reported (13th March 14, The Daily Telegraph) that it took more than 40 workers at Cambridge City Council (UK) three years to change a street light, which then failed two weeks later. Months after the repeat failure the resident is still waiting for this to be rectified. A spokesman for Cambridge City council said they were investigating the problem.
Perhaps a way through this impasse would be to consider what is maintenance for? This is a question that is at the heart of any transformation process. Standards provide a framework, but what works for one organisation and business process within it has only limited relevance to another. For example, a city council may have infrastructure deterioration as their primary maintenance focus, whereas a snack producer would expect that their maintenance focus is to ensure that there are enough potato chips to go around for the Super Bowl.

Asking the question “What is Maintenance for?” should align leadership, finance and operations to a strategic business plan with a vision and a set of goal directed actions where maintenance is at the heart of the transformation process. The goal directed plan inherently acts as the Asset Management Strategy. A useful set of actions which drive the change to meet the customer focus challenge could be as follows.

Only emergency work or operationally urgent work merits a response within the current shift. All other work is planned to optimise people, parts and operational requirements. This ensures that all requests for work are documented and the job is reviewed before work begins. This has the benefit that planned work eliminates expedited parts and effective wrench time is reportedly transformed from < 30% to >80%.

Preventative Maintenance work is “interactive” i.e. part of a continuous improvement process driven through collaboration of leadership, finance and operations. As part of the action plan PM’s are completed as a first priority, repeat failures are identified and the root cause of failure eliminated.

And finally to reward the behaviour change where recognition is based on “Who did not get paged” rather than “who fixed it fastest” or even in the example cited “who eventually managed to fix the light.”

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