Why doesn’t a great maintenance process equal great results? - Part 1

Becht has made an interesting observation after working in several facilities: some of the best results come from organisations with poor maintenance work processes and some organisations with a great work process have poor results.

Charles Maier

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Article Summary

Why is this?
The reason is that maintenance results or maintenance value is dependent on more than the work process itself. You can be the best car mechanic in the world, making the highest quality repairs at the lowest price, but it’s going to be expensive to keep a car going if the driver repeatedly gets into accidents or if the car was designed with too small of an oil pan. A site that has great results and a poor process is like a highly experienced and skilled auto mechanic who magically diagnoses any problem and fixes it without needing any repair manuals.

There are some fundamental questions that you should ask yourself before embarking on a journey to improve maintenance value:

1.    Do we understand why previous efforts to improve maintenance had limited results?
Becht has analysed the results of benchmarking of multiple sites and found that there are three main drivers of maintenance value — Demand, Cost, and Efficiency. Efficiency includes items like the maintenance work process and productivity of the technician. These are areas that most organisations have spent energy improving and they are foundational. However, based on benchmarking, the Efficiency driver only accounts for about 10-20% of the maintenance value. That means that for most sites, the majority of improvement efforts have been focused on the driver of maintenance with the smallest impact.

2.    Does our organisation understand the link between reliability and maintenance?
Again, looking at the information from benchmarking, Demand accounts for about 60% of maintenance value. If the car never fails, then there’s no need to spend money to fix it. You only spend money on scheduled maintenance and operating costs such as gasoline. Benchmarking confirms that the sites with the highest reliability are also the sites with the lowest maintenance cost. However, you don’t get high reliability from cutting maintenance spend; you have to achieve high reliability first so that you can then lower maintenance spend.

3.    Are we willing to engage the entire organisation to make this change?
When you look at the drivers of maintenance value, they involve a significant portion of the organisation. Demand is impacted by how the equipment is designed, how the equipment is operated, and how it is maintained. That falls to the operations department, the engineering and reliability department, and the maintenance department. Cost is driven by the site contracting and material strategies. We’ve now included the Contracting and Procurement department, the warehousing team, and the QA/QC team. Efficiency is primarily the responsibility of the execution teams which are typically composed of contractors and site personnel. Improving maintenance means working with all of these groups, which is an organisation-wide effort.

4.    Do we know where to start?
The first step is understanding where you are compared to where you could be. An assessment of your current performance in the key elements of the maintenance drivers allows you to identify opportunities. Once the opportunities are identified, you can then develop tactics to implement the opportunities and close gaps. A key to successfully implementing tactics is to ensure that they align with other site initiatives and the overall site strategy. If you have trouble envisioning how to get started, Becht can help with assessment, tactic development, and implementation. Contact us for more information: https://becht.com/plant-services/turn-around.

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