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Rod O’Connor. Mast. MM Posted 1st June 2009.

We have all heard how people say that planned work is safer than working reactively. If we were to explore this scenario by role-playing a day in the life of two organisations; one that is planned and in control versus the other that is a highly reactive business.

But first, when we say “reactive”, what does this really mean? In short, reactive maintenance is characterised by practices such as running the equipment until it fails and very little preventative maintenance performed. The maintenance department predominantly works on breakdowns and are usually in emergency crisis for the majority of their time. Its common characteristics are that it is unplanned and urgent. A more stringent view of reactive maintenance is work you didn't plan to do on a Monday morning, but had to do before the next Monday.

Let us visualise the scenario of a Monday morning in the life of the two organisations, one planned and the other reactive. The organisation that is planned will have a fair proportion, around 80% (if they are very good), of their week’s work planned and scheduled. They know that they have a fairly hazardous job to complete on a specific day of the week, which involves the use of contractors working at heights and in a confined space. The planner, who is trained in the procedures of confined space work and has planned many a confined space job, has all the necessary steps prepared, including an agreed off-line duration with production. The isolation has been planned, the risks associated with the job have been assessed and control measures put in place. All the necessary labour, materials and equipment are ready – i.e. gas monitors (to monitor the atmosphere), safety and rescue gear (bottled air, harnesses, davits, etc). He has pre-organised the relevant safety personnel to be on standby for the job – i.e. a safety person trained in first aid, the company’s rescue people have been notified of the pending job, etc. Everyone is fairly confident as to the safe execution of the job.
By contrast, the reactive organisation will not know what work will surface during the course of the week. As bad luck would have it, they are off to a bad start already with several breakdowns consuming all of their labour. Just when they thought things could not get any worse, they get a call to tell them that the plant has stopped due to a major breakdown in which repairs are required within a confined space. Most of their fitters are trained in confined space procedures, be it no one tradesman utilises their skills regularly. They have to improvise and shuffle a couple of jobs around to tackle this higher priority job. Nothing is prepared so they set about organising the job, all the time whilst the plant should be running, so they are under a fair bit of pressure to get things on-line again.

The second scenario may seem a little dramatic, but in reality, this is what actually happens in reactive organisations. Inefficiencies aside, if there were to be an accident within one of the above scenarios, it is a fair bet that it would be in the organisation that is reactive.

A recent survey Reliability and Maintenance II: Safety and Reactive Maintenance (n.d.), supports the above statement in that it claims 66% of all respondents from various organisations estimated that more than 60% of incidents occurred when a maintenance job is executed reactively.

So if you are passionate about improving the reliability within your business and having trouble convincing upper management as to the benefits, then make sure that you articulate the ties to safety and reliability. A safe business is a reliable business is a profitable business. You cannot have one without the others.

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Rod O’Connor Mast. MM. Posted June 1st 2009

The following should be considered when developing and deploying asset maintenance plans.

Firstly, establish a flow diagram of the asset or process, at the unit level, and arrange the diagram in order of process flow. From here the units should be grouped into a hierarchical library – refer to an example in Figure 1. The importance of this step cannot be overstated with the benefits enabling the following to be established during the maintenance plan development stage:

  • Criticality ranking of the units (within the process) in terms of the effects of failures from a downtime, product quality, safety, environment, etc perspective.
  • Identify the maintenance needing items and hence the different failure modes (to which the maintenance actions can be prescribed).
  • Provide an understanding of the way in which the units operate within the process hence enable the setting of availability / uptime targets.
  • Through the above dot point, understand the scheduling characteristics as to when maintenance can be performed (on-line or off-line).

From a longer term perspective, the benefits of establishing the hierarchical library will include; a template for downloading into the Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) whereby all costs and history will reside, the establishment of manufacturer’s data (through Bills of Materials (BOM’s)), to name just a few.

Maintenance plan development should also factor spare part requirements. Factors that influence what spares need to be carried include; predictability of failures, criticality of the equipment, lead times for spares, costs, Mean Time to Repair (MTTR), to name just a few. As an example, an electronic item (failure not predictable) that can stop a whole process (critical failure due to loss of production) and the part has a long lead-time. In this instance lets us assume that a spare should be carried.

When establishing maintenance plans, select a methodology that best suits the needs of the business, be it Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM), Business Centred Maintenance (BCM), PM Optimisation (PMO), etc given that each have their own advantages and disadvantages. The key is that the maintenance plans need to be developed via a standardised process. If done correctly the benefits will include:
Consistency of the analysis methodology.
·A documented and auditable trail of the decision logic.
·Plans not developed by “risk averse” tradespeople.

Compile the maintenance plans into a schedule and spread the load as evenly as possible across the 52 weeks of the year.

Once the maintenance plans have been established, set a targeted “leading” maintenance measure of 95% schedule compliance and then measure and communicate progress regularly. Further “lagging” measures can also be measured and communicated, such as; plant / process uptime / availability / downtime, amount of reactive work / call-ins / overtime, maintenance costs, etc so as to measure the effectiveness of the maintenance plans.
When selecting the appropriate maintenance actions, the following guiding principles should always be followed:

  • Operate to Failure:
    Requires process redundancy (determined through a formal criticality analysis process) – i.e. if “it” stops, there will be no adverse impact on manufacturing in terms of safety, environment, quality, production and maintenance.
    Sound process for verifying back-up items, protective devices, etc.
  • Fixed Time (Preventive) Repairs / Replacements:
    Selected only when failure is routine and predictable – for example cumulative outputs, number of cycles, tonnes, etc. Unless this is the case then fixed time is not cost effective nor will it guarantee improved reliability.
  • Predictive / Condition Based:
    Nonintrusive is the preferred choice.
    Supported by a sound condition monitoring program and correctly set parameter limits.


Of all industrial failure modes, 33% require “detective” maintenance (check if it has failed - protective devices, etc), 25% require predictive maintenance (check if it is failing), 5% require preventive maintenance (time based restoration and/or replacement), 33% can be allowed to run to failure with no business consequences and only 4% require re-design. In summary, 58% require some form of condition monitoring or inspection.

Maintenance plans are live and dynamic and should be continually revised for improvement (under controlled conditions) to reflect changes resulting from:

  • Learning as an outcome of Root Cause Failure Elimination investigations.
  • Feedback from personnel.
  • Changes due to modifications – i.e. changes to operating policies, equipment modifications, etc.
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) recommendations

Finally, maintenance plans should be reviewed periodically in whole. Suggest each two years.
The above guiding principles have been compiled into a continuous improvement map see
Figure 2.

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Keep an eye open for my next article which will focus on “Understanding your plants reliability”


How do Continuous Improvement Management Philosophies relate to the Maintenance function?

Mark Brunner. Mast.M.M. Posted 2nd May 2009

Most of us have heard terms such Lean Manufacturing, the 80/20 rule, TQM, TPS, Kaizen, 5S and TPM. They are all management philosophies that can be applied to the practical aspects of a business including the maintenance function, but quite often maintenance becomes a passenger in a businesses effort to apply new philosophies. This paper breifly explains some of the more common continuous improvement management philosophies and describes how they can be related to the maintenance function.

PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle)
The Plan Do Check Act cycle is the basis of many management philosophies and was a model conceived by Walter Shewhart in the 1930s and then promoted by W. Edwards Deming in the 1950’s. It was originally applied to business processes but can be used to implement continuous improvement in almost any process. In relation to maintenance engineering it can be applied to improving maintenance systems, equipment reliability, equipment design, work practices, employee capability, safety and environmental issues related to maintenance practices. The six sigmaspc Website (2006) refers to this cycle as  “work smarter not harder”.

The Stages of PDCA
To plan is to develop a method or process. In a manufacturing environment the planning process may be to decide on what problem needs resolving or process needs improving. The main criteria for deciding what this model should be applied too, is that there should be a significant improvement gained from implementing the plan. The plan should define activities and expected improvement outcomes.
To do is to execute or complete. The ideas and methods or processes in the plan must now be put into place. This may include changes to production processes, maintenance strategies, implementing training or changing work practices.

To check is to examine the accuracy of.  If a plan does not deliver a significant outcome, the effort is wasted. Data such as production output, machine availability and safety statistics must be measured against the projected outcomes detailed in the plan.
After reviewing the data in the “Check” process. A decision must be made to Act by either:
1.Dropping the activity, as there are no gains to be made.
2.Modify the plan to improve the outcome. (Go back to the “Plan” stage.)
3.Look to improve the outcomes further.
This leads us back into the planning stage. We should ask the question. What’s next?

TPS. The Toyota Production system.
In 2004 Toyota was the third largest Automobile manufacturer in the world and by far the most profitable (Liker. J.K., 2004). Toyota is extremely successful due to their company philosophy, which is now known as the Toyota Production System. The TPS became the basis for the LEAN and Six Sigma manufacturing philosophies that have been prevalent in industry since the early 90’s. The TPS includes 14 management principles that can be correlated into four principal Categories of Philosophy, Process, People and Partners and Problem solving (Fig 1).  The TPS philosophy on Assets is “Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and processes”(Liker. J.K. 2004). Toyota builds reliability into its equipment as the “one piece flow” arrangements depend on this reliability and the application of rigorous standards being applied to all areas of maintenance management. The overall effect of the TPS on maintenance is that it drives the pursuit of “best practice”.


Fig 1 The Toyota production System model. (Liker. J.K. 2004.)

LEAN Manufacturing.
Lean is a philosophy that is based around the reduction of waste in all aspects of a business, including customer relationships, product design, supplier networks, production flow, maintenance, engineering, quality assurance and factory management.  The term “Lean” came as a result of a research group led by James.P Womack that had set about analysing and defining the Toyota Production system in the 80’s (Smith & Hawkins 2004).  Although the major theme of Lean is the reduction of waste, it includes a package of manufacturing philosophies and tools as depicted in Fig 2. The key to success of a Lean implementation is to provide an infrastructure for Kaizen or “Continuous improvement”.

Fig 2.Lean Tools.

Lean and the Maintenance function.
Five of the key guiding principles of Lean are:
·Challenge. Don’t accept waste, encourage innovative ideas, remove the “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” mentality, reduce the fear of asking dumb questions.
·Go and See. (Genchi Genbutsu) If there is an issue YOU go and look at it, don’t just talk about it. Assess what you see against Lean principles. Go with the team to review areas of concern.
·Continuous improvement. (Kaisen) Encourage simple cheap improvements, reward individuals who develop continuous improvement ideas.
·Respect the operator. Each individual has a role to play, respect it. Remove the emotion by using the facts. Use a situational leadership approach.
·Teamwork. Understand individual’s strengths and weaknesses, train your team, work together on projects, and create Pride in the team.

The Lean Manufacturing seven categories of waste (WORMPIT)
 Bruce Hawkins (2005) highlights how the seven categories of waste can be associated with the maintenance function, and that “Lean Maintenance” can be achieved by addressing the following:
·Waiting. This can be waiting for a job to be handed out, waiting for production to stop the machine, waiting at the store for parts. Waiting generally occurs because of poor planning.
·Over Production in maintenance refers to doing unnecessary work, and is related to incorrect maintenance strategies or poor work management.
·Repair/ Rework/ Rejects generally occurs because of poor workmanship, lack of training or incorrect procedures.
·Motion losses can be generated by poor workshop or stores setup. This can lead to significantly more movements being required to complete a task.
·Processing waste can occur when maintenance systems and processors are inefficient by having unrequired steps or duplication inbuilt.
·Inventory waste occurs with the development of “Squirrel” stores, incorrect master data in the materials management system and the inability to identify obsolete parts, which continue to be stored.
·Transportation waste is related to the time it takes to travel to a job.
Generally there will be many areas in all workplaces where waste is evident. Within the maintenance function the following actions are recommended:
·Remove non-value adding inspections from the PM system and improve the detail in value adding tasks.
·Move to on-line condition based maintenance wherever possible.
·Have a clearly documented and understood Work Flow System.
·Clean up workshops and ensure tools and equipment have nominated storage areas.
Generally, Lean processes will have a positive effect on the maintenance function, but initially the introduction of the 7-day, 5-why problem solving process (Kaizen) may put maintenance into a very reactive mode. To counteract this workflow procedures must be documented and continue to be followed during the Lean implementation.

Kaizen is a philosophy that promotes continuous gradual improvements and translated from Japanese means “change to become good.” Kaizen is a philosophy on its own but is included as an important factor within the Lean production system.  The 5 foundation elements of Kaizen are:
2.Personal discipline
3.Improved morale
4.Quality Circles
5.Suggestions for improvement.
(Value Based 2008. pg 1 of 1)
Much of Kaizen is related to changing the culture of an organisation by encouraging employees to be willingly involved in improvement processes.
If Kaizen was effectively applied to the Maintenance strategy review process, you would see all team members voluntarily feeding improvements back into maintenance task lists at regular intervals, E.g. The quality of job instructions and estimated hours to complete tasks.

80/20 rule (Pareto Principle).
The 80/20 rule, sometimes known as the Pareto principle is a philosophy that highlights that some things are more important than others (Latino and Latino, 2006). The rule can be considered both an operating philosophy as well as a prioritisation tool. In relation to maintenance, an example of the rule could state: “80% of plant downtime applies to 20% of the installed equipment”.  The significance of the 80/20 rule is that if the top 20% of losses can be identified and then eliminated improvements will be made in the shortest timeframe. Fig 3. is an example of how the 80/20 philosophy can be applied to maintenance delays. The top graph shows that Machine 9 is the one that suffers the most downtime. Assuming this is critical plant, this machine becomes the focus of the effort. At the next level down we will assume that the two biggest issues have to be handled by Operations so we focus on the 3.5% associated with Mechanical and Electrical issues. The third graph breaks down the downtime to actual problems, and in this instance the focus will be applied to Issue 1 and 2 as elimination of these issues will give the most significant improvement.

Fig 3. The 80/20 (Pareto Principle) in use.

Applying the 80/20 philosophy to the maintenance function  in this manner will lead you on the path of continuous improvement in reliability of your assets.

TQM. (Total Quality Management)
Total Quality Management is a management approach that encourages all employees to become involved in the continuous improvement of the production of goods and services, the aim being to have “No defects”. The presumption is that a culture of continuous improvement will deliver a quality outcome that will satisfy the customer’s needs.

TQM has eight key elements that are the building materials of the philosophy. The foundation of TQM is based on ethics, integrity and trust between all levels of the organisation. The Bricks laid on the foundations are training, teamwork and leadership that has an inspiring vision. Communication is the mortar that binds TQM together and the success of the philosophy is dependant on communication occurring effectively between all levels of the organisation. The roof of the structure is Recognition of all suggestions and achievements for teams and individuals.  (Padhi, 2008., pg1of 1)
If TQM were applied to failure analysis processes employees at all levels would be interacting positively with a common goal of achieving the required understanding of chronic and sporadic losses, and then collectively coming to conclusions. Effective TQM would improve Teamwork, ownership and relationships between maintenance and other functions.

5 S.
The 5 S philosophy is aimed at organizing a workplace to create an environment that will achieve optimum output. Generally 5S is associated with housekeeping and shadow boards, but Smith and Mobley (2008) suggest that 5S can be applied to maintenance and reliability in the other ways.
·Sort. Sort all assets based on risk, so all effort can be focused in the correct area.
·Set in order. Have an excellent work management system that sets priorities based on criticality. Have appropriate asset strategies.
·Shine. Take pride in asset reliability. Be able to understand the health of an asset to repair it before it breaks.
·Standardize. Have as many standard tasks as practical.
·Sustain. Keep to standards and have a controlled change management process for these standards.
5-S is another integral part of the LEAN production system and applying this to maintenance will lead to more organised and hence productive maintenance workgroups.

Where TQM is based around zero defects, Total Productive Maintenance is based around having zero breakdowns and production losses, and is one of the foundation stones of the Lean production system as can be seen in Fig 2. TPM evolved from suppliers to Toyota in Japan so they could meet the demands of the TPS (Kennedy, 2006. Pg 5 of 15).
TPM is a philosophy that does not just focus on the “Maintenance Department” although maintenance does have a large part to play. TPM addresses all the reasons for equipment losses. Losses can be categorised into 6 categories:
1. Breakdowns. E.g. Circuit breaker trip.
2. Setup and adjustment. E.g. Re tooling for a different product.
3. Idling and minor stoppages. E.g. Problem with raw material.
4. Reduced speed losses. E.g. Speed reduced because of feed quality.
5. Quality defects and rework. E.g. Variation in output quality. Repairs not completed effectively.
6. Start-up losses. E.g. Cold starts, inefficient start-up procedures.
The aim of TPM is to eliminate or minimise the losses from all of these items. TPM as it was presented to the Onesteel Rod and Bar Mills as a base and pillar model as shown in Figure 4.
Consistent standards are the basis of the structure and the pillars that hold up TPM are:
1. Autonomous Maintenance. This means that everyone owns maintenance and that everyone has a role related to maintaining equipment.
2. Effective Training. The TPM training is to be focussed on plant operators so they can detect abnormalities in equipment before a breakdown occurs.
3. OEE. The Overall Equipment Effectiveness of a machine is equal to the   %Runtime x %Yield x %Rate. OEE is the measurement of success of the TPM program.
4. The maintenance function must have a multi-functional workforce, effective and appropriate PM’s, well-defined KPI’s and an in built continuous improvement loop.
5. Early Equipment Management refers to ensuring equipment is fit for purpose before it is put in service. This includes making sound engineering decisions during the design process, ensuring the machine is operator friendly and understanding the preventitive maintenance requirements for the life of the equipment.
The TPM philosophy promotes training to understand potential breakdown causes, and the development of effective and efficient maintenance strategies that are continuously improved.

Fig 4 The Five Pillar model of TPM


In summary, virtually all continuous improvement philosophies and tools reviewed have some link back to the PLAN, DO, CHECK, ACT cycle, the Toyota Production system and hence LEAN manufacturing. Applying any of these philosophies to the maintenance function will have a positive effect if all stakeholders are involved in the deployment and effective Work Flow processes are maintained.

Hawkins, B. 2005. “The many faces of Lean Maintenance”.
ProQuest database. Plant Engineering. Barrington:
Sep 2005. Vol.59, Iss.9; pgs 63-65
Kennedy, Ross. “Examining the Process of RCM and TPM. What do they ultimately achieve and are the two approaches compatible?” Jan 2006. Viewed 8-3-2008.
Latino, R.J & Latino K.C. 2006,  “Root Cause Analysis, Improving Performance for Bottom-Line Results” Third edition. CRC Press, Taylor and Frances Group, FL, USA.
Liker, J.K 2004, “The Toyota Way. 14 management principles from the worlds greatest manufacturer.”   McGraw-Hill publishing, New York.
Padhi, N, 2008 “The eight elements of TQM” Viewed 13-5-2008.
Six Sigma SPC website. “PDCA- Plan Do Check Act”.  2006.
Viewed 14-5-2008.
Smith, R & B Hawkins, B 2004, “Lean Maintenance, Reduce Costs, Improve Quality and Increase Market Share.” Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, MA,USA.
Smith, R & Mobley, R .K  2008, “ Rules of thumb for Maintenance and Reliability Engineers.” Butterworth-Heinemann, MA, USA.
Value Based, 2008 “Kaizen philosophy and Kaizen method” Viewed 23-2-2008.

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Developing a Vision.

A Vision is where you want to be and how you will operate into the future and for a Maintenance department should be looking at around 3 years out. The vision can relate to physical issues such as, replacing redundant equipment, or it can be philosophy or cultural issues such as “We will follow the 80/20 principle”. The development of a vision will lead you into setting plans, objectives and measures which then becomes your business plan. If you don’t have this plan for the future then there will be no improvement. To remain competitive a culture of continuous improvement must be in place. What are the steps related to developing a vision and a business plan?

  1. Understand the Vision goals for the overall business. Your vision should be aligned to this.
  2. Review all of the components of maintenance management, understand your short fall in each area, and determine where you can make the largest improvements (Biggest bang for your buck). Be realistic about how much work you can take on over the life of the plan. Ensure your objectives can be met considering cost and labor constraints. Focus on improving systems as much as possible as often you get more gains by changing the way you do things. It’s also usually a lot cheaper.
  3. Tabulate your vision into categories related to your planned objectives, the strategies you are going to use to meet your objectives, who is responsible for each task and when you expect to have the task completed.
  4. Write specifications for the tasks you are planning to complete over the life of the plan.
  5. Review your plan regularly to make sure it is still relevant to your situation.

For help in developing your vision and business plan follow this link to the asset management tools page.

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