Category Archives: Environmental Health & Safety – Advice

Overcome Resistance to Change in the Maintenance Business – part 2

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This is part 2.  So if you need to catch up, here is part 1.

Disruptive Change in Maintenance at Jeffboat

When implementing a maintenance management strategy, a critical component to most certainly deal with every time is the inevitable resistance to change.  Whether it is the introduction of new software or a complete overhaul of the maintenance function, the process of change usually represents the involvement of disruptive technology.  A “thought-path” of least resistance might tell us that most changes are really just improvements on something old and, thus, the old paradigms can be used as a starting point.  However, there are often changes that organizations need to make (whether they do or not is another story) that serve to disrupt the dominant paradigm, rather than sustaining it.  These types of shifts usually involve disruptive technologies and make the old things less important or obsolete.  The problem with these disruptive changes is that people will still attempt to apply the old paradigms to the new realities.  This is a mistake, which leads to resistance. When this mistake is being made, the person feeling feeling and thus spreading the resistance are, in a sense, trying to understand the car as nothing more than a carriage without horses.

History of Jeffboat

Jeffboat is a manufacturing company with a very long history.  Originally named the Howard Steamboat Company, Jeffboat is America’s largest inland ship builder and has been manufacturing ships for over 100 years.  This iconic shipbuilding business manufactured such famous ships as the Mississippi Queen, the General Jackson showboat and the Casino Aztar riverboat casino.

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Like many old line manufacturers, Jeffboat has undergone a number of corporate/ownership changes.  Most recently, in 2010 the company was bought by Platinum Equity, which is a global acquisition firm.

As you can imagine, the Jeffboat yard is a large open space sprawling over one mile long, and loaded with manufacturing equipment and materials.  Typical for many old-line manufacturing firms, on the Jeffboat property, you can find manufacturing lines, made up of equipment and operated or maintained by employees who have been there for several decades.

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Because of the size of the shipyard and age of the equipment, without much change over the years, Jeffboat’s maintenance process had been a reactive culture since as far back as anyone could remember.  There was no CMMS software in place and equipment was tracked using spreadsheets.  Because of this technology gap, it was often hit or miss as to whether the right parts were in the stores room.  So here was the first pocket of improvement opportunity.  With hundreds of repair jobs happening, and most of them starting with a maintenance technician struggling to find the correct parts for the targeted equipment, this was an obvious sink hole where labor time, and production time, drained over and over. There was also no Scheduler/Planner, and thus maintenance procedures, or instructions, were handled informally and based on need at that particular moment.

Disruptive Change

Because of a number of issues within Jeffboat that related to maintenance over the past few years, a decision was made by senior management to transform Jeffboat from a reactive-based maintenance department to a more preventive culture.  The following changes were planned:

  • Formalize all maintenance procedures through work orders
  • Institute a computerized CMMS program to issue and track work orders and measure inventory levels
  • Work together with Production in a new way as a partner instead of an annoyance
  • Move one of the technicians into the role of Maintenance Scheduler/Planner
  • Institute procedures and technology for materials management to allow for continuous tracking of equipment and manage parts in an efficient, time-sensitive manner
  • Clearly define the roles and responsibilities for all maintenance and production personnel with regards to equipment

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All of these meant that disruptive change would have to take place both in the way people worked together but in many people’s jobs and in how things would be done.  However, recognizing the resistance that would occur, and having a plan to address that resistance was critical at this stage.  In other words, without shifting the mindset of the individuals affected and proactively creating ownership of the changes, all the improvements in technology and procedural changes would not be successful.  How do we address this resistance?  Can we proactively bring a wave of positive change through managing the mindset of a group to new, improved ideas and methods?

How to change mindset – moving from the horseless carriage to the car

 

modelofsustainableimprovement

Model for Sustainable Improvement

Common sense tells us that the first step for solving any problem is to analyze or assess.  This is no different for the model of sustainable improvement (above) needed to help achieve successful changes to improve Jeffboat maintenance.

Jeffboat brought in experts in maintenance process and maintenance change management, TRO Maintenance Solutions (TRO).  As the model (above) indicates, the foundation is analysis.  Richard Beer, representing TRO, conducted an assessment of the current overall maintenance process at Jeffboat.  This maintenance assessment served as the baseline analysis that would support any future initiative.  During the analysis stage, Richard Beer, having years of experience in maintenance best practices, identified and documented the main obstacles (already stated above) that were hurting the Jeffboat maintenance process.  TRO also recognized that, in order to be successful, the second part of this model was essential – the people most affected by the changes had to shift their thinking.  They needed to move from the ‘horseless carriage’ to the ‘car’, and take ownership of the changes.  It was from this analysis that Richard Beer created the strategy to implement change within the Jeffboat culture.  To help build that strategy, he brought in Mike Rosenberg, the developer of Flexible Thinker®.

Strategy

  1. Give stakeholders the tools for change and have them develop ideas for implementing change through a 1 day workshop;
  2. Review the ideas with management and then take the team’s ideas and management input and work with all of the stakeholders to turn the ideas into key performance indicators (KPIs) for review by management;
  3. Take the KPIs and work with the stakeholders to turn them into internal service level agreements (SLAs) that clearly define the roles and deliverables that each person or group is responsible for in order to implement the ideas.
  4. Take the SLAs and create a series of standard operating procedures (SOPs) which would form the basis of the new maintenance handbook and create the infrastructure needed to implement the procedure and technology changes.

Flexible Thinker®

In order to accomplish the goal of paradigm shift, TRO used the Flexible Thinker® learning program to help institute the change. The purpose of this approach was to achieve the following:

  • Create a paradigm shift about how people view both the issues they are facing and their jobs
  • Use language to create a culture where ideas flow and people are held accountable for helping to create solutions instead of act as an obstacle to them
  • Push people out of their comfort zone and expand their thinking
  • Create the ‘ahas’ that are necessary for sustainable change
  • Turn ideas into action by creating ‘quick hits’ or successes for people to buy-in to the changes and incorporate the learning into their daily work lives

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Key Measurement Opportunities – Is this project showing signs of success?

The ultimate goal of both the Flexible Thinker® program and the sustainable change model is to create the ownership and paradigm shift that is necessary to uphold implementation of new initiatives.  This was measured by the following milestones:

  • Once the SLAs were completed, was their going to be resistance to signing the agreements and/or execution of the agreements?
  • Would people perform well in their new positions or change the way they were working in their current positions to help execute the SLAs and achieve the KPIs?
  • The KPIs were the ultimate goal of the entire program.  Was the maintenance department moving toward hitting the KPIs?

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Implementing the learning strategy

An important element of creating sustainable change is to allow stakeholders to both learn and apply new knowledge and practices into the workplace.  Using a blended learning approach that utilized both formal (classroom) and informal (coaching and mentoring) learning modalities.  The role of the consultants was both to facilitate creation of the infrastructure that would allow for change, including creation of documentation and providing onsite support for coaching and mentoring as well as helping implement the changes.  Instead of executing the changes themselves, TRO acted more as a facilitator and allowed the stakeholders opportunities to implement the changes themselves.  By providing the coaching and follow up necessary, the structural changes needed to be made were implemented by the people who would have to “live” with them.

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Flexible Thinker® tools in the workplace

During the course of the consulting, the consultants asked stakeholders if they had applied the Flexible Thinker® tools in their work environment.  One stakeholder indicated that he was using the ‘clap focus’ game as a way to get his team engaged at the beginning of the shift and then was utilizing it to get them to ‘move faster’ during the day.  Another stakeholder indicated that he had taught his kids to ‘orange’ it and was using it with his guys when they came to him with a problem to engage them to help create solutions.  It was through this anecdotal evidence that we were able to see that the training was having the desired effect.

Lessons learned

In implementing the model, there were a number of lessons learned.

The Innovative Change/Ownership stage is critical to support implementation of any change

Most organizations try to skip this part of the model and move directly from analysis to implementation.  Usually this is done either totally by external consultants or through directives of senior management.  The problem with this approach is that the people actually responsible for implementation often times either do not understand the reason for the change, buy-in to the change or feel that the change is a direct threat to them and their job.  What happens in these conditions is that the implementation is either undermined or people simply wait until the next ‘flavor of the month’ is over so they can return to doing things the way they used to do them.  This means that the changes that are necessary to become more productive are undermined at the lower levels of the organization and the implementation eventually fails.

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Senior management must buy-in on the changes and the model

Senior management must buy into both the changes that are taking place and the process of allowing the stakeholders to drive the process of change.  Jeffboat provided excellent senior management support and leadership.  Because of that leadership, the stakeholders felt that they owned the changes and supported the execution of the ideas.  At every step, senior management was part of the process and reviewed the ideas created.  If they did not approve of them, a reason was given and brought back to the stakeholders with the necessary justification about why the idea could not be implemented.  This allowed for continuous communication between front-line staff and senior management and a sense of collaboration.  If senior management had undermined the process by imposing their ideas arbitrarily without explanation over the ideas generated by the stakeholders, the entire process would have been subverted because lower-level staff would feel that it was all a waste of their time and morale and productivity would have suffered significantly.

In addition, it is important for senior management to understand that there is always lower productivity in change.  This is best demonstrated by the Satir model for change:

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With any change, there is resistance and then chaos which creates lower productivity.  It only as people start to work through the changes that performance rises above the status quo before plateauing.  All change takes time and there is now shortcut.  It is essential that during that time of lower productivity, senior management does not undermine the process to go back to the old status quo.  They must provide stakeholders with support to work through the changes, learn them and incorporate them into their daily routine in order to achieve a higher level of performance in the long-term.  It needs to be understood by senior management that people will want to revert to ‘what they know’ as growth is created by confusion.  There will be times when people revert to old habits and they need to be coached and rewarded for implementing new changes that lead to long-term gain for the organization.

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Coaching is essential

As discussed earlier, with change come resistance and chaos which can easily lead to frustration.  The fact is the very essence of change is to take people out of their comfort zones.  Coaching sessions are essential in helping people to work through the changes and shorten the learning curve which in turns saves the organization money.  By providing coaching, people can work through their issues until they are comfortable enough to take over the new roles and responsibilities that come with implementation of the change.

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Clarity and specifics on expectations and measurement create empowerment

It is important to take the ideas and measurements and create very specific SMART plans and SLAs that detail what are the expectations and measurements of each area/person.  By having a say in the creation of the document (see Lessons Learned a), people need to know what they are expected to do and the signposts that outline how they will know if they are moving toward success.  By having input in the SLAs/SMART plan process, all stakeholders now have a clear idea what is expected of them and an objective measurement of how they are doing so that they can execute the plans.  This allows each stakeholder to become empowered to help meet the goals and measurements laid out in the agreements.

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Nothing is written in stone – set up review dates

Change is now the norm.  The idea of any agreement is that it will be reviewed and updated based on a number of factors – new technology, kinks that develop on the way and change in corporate direction.  It should be emphasized that nothing that is created within the new initiative is written in stone and that changes will be made to deal with new situations that arise.  This also gives people the opportunity feel more at ease about the agreements as they will be periodically reviewed.  As part of this, it should be put directly into the SLA/SMART plan a review date where the documents and processes will be reviewed to determine what changes (if any) need to be made.

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Conclusion

A number of changes have happened at Jeffboat.  Maintenance is being scheduled more regularly and there has started to be a shift from a ‘reactive’ maintenance culture to a more preventative one.  There is a clearer understanding of roles and responsibilities for both maintenance and production which has led to a more collaborative relationship with regards to maintenance.  Everything now has a work order attached and there has been a significant mindset shift in stores as people can no longer just try to ‘find’ the parts they need and all materials have work orders attached so that proper inventory levels are maintained and there is a significantly shorter lead time required to get the rights parts.

There is a now a more comprehensive maintenance strategy in place with ownership of the process by both maintenance and production supervisors and managers who created the change themselves.

The collaboration between maintenance and production has led to a comprehensive maintenance handbook and SOPs which means that overall the maintenance at Jeffboat has made significant and measurable strides forward and has become significantly more productive and preventative instead of reactive which means greater profitability for the company as equipment downtime decreases.

All change is ongoing and Jeffboat has begun to lay the foundation to move it towards the elusive goal of excellence as it introduces new software and continues to refine it process and procedures.

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This quote from Terry Wireman best sums up the new attitude that is developing at Jeffboat:

Yesterday’s excellence is today’s standard and tomorrow’s mediocrity.

Resistance to CHANGE in the maintenance business – part 1

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This is a two part success story about how an iconic American ship builder chose to take the courageous step into CHANGE.  This first part lays the foundation of why a ship builder would need to change, plus gives insight into the challenges associated with such a decision.  Part two will give more details on that change process experienced by the ship builder, and help relate their success to how other maintenance or engineering professionals can achieve the same success.

But first the ship building icon…

After many years in business, the maintenance management team realized they needed to change.  Why?  Because, although the ships were still being built as strong and true as ever, the maintenance process they were using to maintain the manufacturing infrastructure was sinking, so to speak.

Fast forward to the current day, and we know now that all it took for this to be a success story was some flexible thinking among it’s dedicated staff, and a little help from their friends at TRO Maintenance Solutions.

So why does it take so much courage to commit to change?  Well the answer is simple.  All of us have tried change something in the past.  Usually the first thing we encounter is resistance.  Whether that resistance comes from within us, or around us, it is the number one killer of change.

When implementing a maintenance management strategy, a critical component to most certainly deal with every time is the inevitable resistance to change.  Whether it is the introduction of new software or a complete overhaul of the maintenance function, the process of change usually represents the involvement of disruptive technology.  A “thought-path” of least resistance might tell us that most changes are really just improvements on something old and, thus, the old paradigms can be used as a starting point.  However, there are often changes that organizations need to make (whether they do or not is another story) that serve to disrupt the dominant paradigm, rather than sustaining it.  These types of shifts usually involve disruptive technologies and make the old things less important or obsolete.  The problem with these disruptive changes is that people will still attempt to apply the old paradigms to the new realities.  This is a mistake, which leads to resistance. When this mistake is being made, the person feeling feeling and thus spreading the resistance are, in a sense, trying to understand the car as nothing more than a carriage without horses.

In part 2 of this story, we will learn how the following elements played out at the ship building business in manner that resulted in a very successful change for the better:

  • Disruptive Change
  • How to change mindset – moving from the horseless carriage to the car
    • Model for Sustainable Improvement
  • Using the Flexible Thinker®
  • Implementing the learning strategy
  • Lessons learned

The Future of CMMS and Virtual Reality

Virtual reality and CMMS

If you are like me, you have been awaiting the rise of virtual reality (or VR) for a very long time. Thanks to recent advances in technologies such as 360-degree photography, the long wait is finally over and we can now leave our old humdrum, boring world in the dust as we dive head-first into digital realms unknown! But not all is fun and games when it comes to VR. In fact, the technology serves many purposes outside of entertainment. One area is in the workplace, which begs the question, how will future computer maintenance management systems (CMMS) adapt to this new tool?

Virtual reality and the reliability industry, believe it or not, are a perfect match for one another. If you own a pair of VR goggles, such as the ones offered by Samsung or even the cardboard offerings from Google, then you know that the possibilities are nearly limitless. And while there may not be thousands of apps for these devices yet, with the pending launch of Sony’s virtual reality system for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Neo, you can expect a huge explosion in the marketplace.

One cool feature that VR can bring to an industrial or warehouse setting is interactive education. Already, there are software programs that allow you to practice certain skill sets, such as public speaking (I highly recommend this particular option, by the way, especially for managers or management hopefuls) and even surgery, though hopefully any doctor you encounter has worked on real-life humans as well!

Picture a piece of maintenance management software that allowed you to do something as simple as read a digital training manual or, better yet, let you practice performing maintenance on a virtual copy of a machine. Imagine the time and money that would save when training employees, especially if the equipment you needed to train on was in a far-away location.

Now, take that a step further. Perhaps a machine breaks down and you can’t quite figure out how to replace a part; the manuals are full of heavy techno-jargon and are poorly written, offering no clear instructions on how to fix the machine. Enter virtual reality. Pop on your headset and get a tour of the machine from the inside out, click on the spare part you need to replace, and then watch a video of it being replaced. What could be easier?

Another great tool that VR can bring to the reliability industry is document storage. Just like regular CMMSes today, a VR CMMS could hold all of your important documents, which you could flip through as though you had them right in front of you. And if you have a portable VR system, all the better!

Add to the list the possibility of remote workshops, conferences, live customer support, and virtual stores that you could browse as though you were there in person and you can easily see how virtual reality (and augmented reality as well) are set to be a major part of our industry in the not-too-distant future.

Now, if only they could make those VR goggles look a little less nerdy …

Not Just for Maintenance: How CMMS Benefits Other Functions, Part I

It’s true that CMMS is typically designed for maintenance operations. With the advancement of cloud-based CMMS/EAM today, however, well-designed platforms have become an essential system for other departments within, and outside of, the organization. A Spend Matters interview with Michael Croasdale, senior project manager at Source One Management Services, relays that MRO service providers should be lock-step in line with client companies, to the degree that they’re sharing “specific data to benchmark pricing, [ensuring] service levels exceed industry standard and [helping] to institute industry best practices.” One way to maintain this alignment, of course, is through supplier access to the client’s CMMS. Internally, functions such as Human Resources, EH&S, QA/QC, Engineering, Operations, Supply Chain, and Finance also stand to benefit from regular usage of CMMS. As Part I of this series, we’ll look at how Engineering and Quality can experience improvements in their respective business processes through their CMMS roles and maintenance collaboration.

The Scenario

Let’s set the scene: while performing calibrations recently, your Quality Manager found unsatisfactory deviations in feed rates from a volumetric feeder, according to the Asset Trend Analysis generated by your CMMS. An automatic e-mail notification is generated by the CMMS, based on the equipment’s condition, to an Engineer to troubleshoot the issue.

The Action

volumetric feeder

By including your Quality and Engineering teams as roles within your CMMS, QA can automatically monitor and trend equipment data while Engineering can define the PMs to address deviations.

Your Engineer then creates a PM work order, defining the appropriate tasks or steps in the correct order and references the necessary documentation, associating parts, estimated hours, and assigning the PM based on skill qualification. She checks the PM procedures against Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), but finds a PM task is incorrect when returning the equipment back to service, however. The PM procedure is then revised with added verification steps, including a series of work order status approvals, and uploaded “visual aids” when setting load cells.

The assigned PM work order is routed through your Maintenance Planner for actual Technician assignment, which is confirmed after checking your CMMS’ PM Planner to avoid scheduling conflicts and unnecessary overtime. The assigned Tech receives an automatic e-mail notification of the PM work order, and also sees the new PM listed on his CMMS Dashboard. He performs the work as requested, following the outlined steps, and indicates the material used and records his labor through the CMMS’ mobile app labor timer on his iPhone. The Tech adds a few comments about the feeder and his signature to complete the work order.

The Resolution

Your Maintenance Supervisor receives an automatic e-mail notifying her of the completed work order, which requires her signature approval. After reviewing the work, the Supervisor is satisfied and signs off on the work order. The Quality Manager receives notification of this approved, completed work order via an automatic e-mail. He can go about other tasks, as he knows that the feeder issue has been addressed successfully.

The Catch

But what if your Maintenance Supervisor isn’t satisfied with the Tech’s work or the current status of the feeder? She can reject the work order, re-routing it back to the Maintenance Planner and the Tech. The work order can be re-opened for continued work by the same Tech or re-assigned by the Planner as needed.

This is just one sample CMMS business process workflow out of many different variations that may include multi-layered approval processes, routing, and notification setups. But by incorporating your Quality and Engineering teams into an advanced CMMS, you can enable better communication, increased productivity, and improved efficiency across your enterprise.

Famous Operations: What can we learn?

Facility Maintenance

Let’s face it: Not every facility is the same. While the concept of preventive maintenance may seem pretty cut-and-dried for the layman, in reality, it can be pretty complex and open to interpretation based upon the type of facility you are in charge of. With that in mind, sometimes, it is a good idea to tour other factories and buildings to get a sense of what other companies are doing and maybe take a few of their tricks back to your department. You never know: You may just learn a thing or two!

All around the globe, factories and warehouses are brimming with reliability professionals, all after the same goal: keeping their business up and running and trying to make their department a profit center instead of a resource drain. Companies can live and die based on their preventative and proactive maintenance plans; production errors, too much downtime, and workplace injuries can be more disastrous to a company than bad PR or a poor sales quarter.

Fortunately, there are industry leaders to look at and study worldwide to see what their maintenance managers are doing to help keep things on track. For instance, food facilities have to put an extra focus on handling and preparation procedures as well as food safety protocols, whereas a chemical manufacturer may emphasize work safety and spill prevention.

In reality, all facilities need to worry about core issues: reducing downtime, keeping grounds safe for workers and customers, increasing production, properly managing assets, and efficiently managing machine or equipment maintenance.

Hershey is a great example of a large company that you can learn a thing or two from in terms of managing a facility. One of the largest chocolate providers in the world, Hershey produces a large array of edible goods, each requiring its own set of custom molds and production processes. Chocolate goes through heating and cooling steps to ensure that your candy bar arrives not only delicious but with a certain consistency and appearance as well. Because of this, keeping the assembly line flowing is pivotal; any shutdown can result in ruined batches of candy and a significant loss of profits.

Cross-contamination is another concern for food manufacturers. Chocolate producers, such as Cadbury, whose main production facility lies in Bournville, England, must be careful to ensure that plain chocolate products do not accidentally take on peanut dust during manufacture, as consumers with nut allergies could be negatively affected. Strict quality standards must be in place to ensure that this delicious but hazardous breach does not occur!

Boeing may not be in the food business, but they can certainly teach us a thing or two about the importance of eliminating downtime or, at the very least, responding to emergencies rapidly. Across the globe, thousands of airplanes are preparing to take off at any moment. Some carry passengers, while others carry cargo, but at the end of the day, any delay in operation can cost a business thousands of dollars per minute. With that in mind, Boeing not only needs to produce quality parts and machinery but respond rapidly when a vendor needs an emergency part to get their plane up and running again. Having a supply network in place to handle incidents such as this is crucial to a company like Boeing and possibly to your own business as well.

Meanwhile, Dow Chemical is a producer of many household products that we use in the home and office everyday. By the very nature of their business, their employees must deal with potentially hazardous chemicals night and day (the word is even in their name, folks). When spills happen, it isn’t just a matter of lost profit, but it can be a safety hazard as well. Having procedures in place and training employees on proper materials handling and cleanup is of utmost importance to a company like Dow. Managing safety gear and keeping up to date with the latest compliance standards are equally important, and you can bet your last dollar that Dow Chemical maintenance pros have a top-notch system in place to keep track of these things.

So next time you are visiting a new city or are away on travel, consider taking a tour of a local factory or manufacturer. Let the company know you are “in the biz” and maybe they will give you a behind-the-scenes peek at how they keep their organization in tip-top shape. Maybe you can bring something back to your own facility to make your maintenance processes even better!

Taking on Root Cause Analysis with Preventive Maintenance Software

Preventive Maintenance Software Analysis

Whenever an organization has a major failure of any sort, the top priority is to recover from the immediate damage or problems. From there, the next step is to keep it from ever happening again. Root cause analysis is a vital corrective step, allowing you to identify where losses are taking place and how they can be mitigated to improve equipment reliability and performance.

Root cause analysis is a maintenance troubleshooting method that helps organizations identify and control the systemic causes of a maintenance problem. When you experience a problem, you have to start by asking why the problem occurred. You repeat this process until you uncover the underlying cause. Toyota made the “5 Whys” method of root cause analysis famous. This method involves asking, “Why did this happen?” repeatedly until the cause is determined. Then you can come up with a long-term corrective action that will fix the underlying issue.

It’s important to go beyond the lowest level root cause because you could experience similar breakdowns again in the future. A string of failures usually leads to the problem, so it’s necessary to find a solution at each level of a root cause analysis.

Data is the Key

In order to conduct an effective root cause analysis, data is vital. Indeed, the more data that is available from an unbiased source, the better the chances of identifying the appropriate root cause of any failure. Unfortunately, finding an unbiased source of data can be problematic, as all people are by definition biased from their experiences and perspective.

In the context of asset failure, this is where preventive maintenance software becomes invaluable. All the relevant data for a given asset or class of assets is an ad hoc report away. If it has been utilized properly, the preventive maintenance software will contain a complete history of the asset, as well as detail the maintenance that should have been completed on the asset, according to both industry standards and/or manufacturer suggestions. The information contained in a CMMS system can be leveraged to carry out a root cause analysis. The solution that results can then form part of the equipment knowledge base.

Providing a Platform for Informed Decision Making

The end goal of any root cause analysis is to identify the changes that need to be made. These changes generally flow into one or more of the following categories: people, processes, and technology.

  • People: It is possible that the appropriate processes were established to prevent this type of failure, and that the technology was correctly identifying steps to prevent the failure, but that one or more individuals did not follow through on the correct actions.
  • Processes: Conversely, the data provided from the preventive maintenance software could point out a flaw in the processes associated with preventive maintenance. For example, the software could exclude the maintenance profiles for certain asset classes, or maintenance technicians may be instructed to only follow the maintenance processes identified by the software instead of also applying their expertise.
  • Technology: While any CMMS software is only as good as the data entered into it, it is also possible that the preventive maintenance software was not functioning properly. Perhaps integration across the various systems was incorrectly applied, or your organization has simply outgrown the software.

The effectiveness of root cause analysis largely depends on the amount of time spent preparing for it by carrying out a thorough investigation, collecting sufficient evidence, identifying the correct team members, and properly planning a root cause analysis meeting with the right people involved. It is of utmost importance to gather and analyze all relevant data in order to determine which of these factors played a part in the failure.

Perform Root Cause Analysis with the Help of Preventive Maintenance Software

If you are looking to implement maintenance software in your organization, DPSI can help. We have been in the industry for nearly 30 years and have over 50,000 satisfied users in 50 countries.

CMMS 101: 12 Maintenance Software Terms You Should Know

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This article was written by Hippo CMMS and appeared on their blog. We are sharing it because we think the content can benefit people new to computerized maintenance management systems and more experienced users.
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If you are new to the computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) world, you’re likely being inundated with acronyms and terms that are unfamiliar to you. To clear the confusion, we’ve developed a CMMS software cheat sheet outlining 12 common maintenance software terms that are likely to appear during your software search. We hope this list gives you a broader understanding of what’s to come as you get more involved with your CMMS software.


Term #1: CMMS, Computerized Maintenance Management System

CMMS is a database that streamlines and tracks all aspects of an organization’s maintenance operations.  As operations become larger and more complex, the need for a centralized database and access to key information increases. CMMS software assists maintenance managers and workers to perform their day-to-day jobs more effectively by providing real-time data on machine and equipment downtime, inventory levels, upcoming scheduled and preventive maintenance, work order status and more.


Term #2: EAM, Enterprise Asset Management

Although the terms CMMS and facility management are commonly used in place of EAM, enterprise asset management is a much broader term.  It refers to software that enables managers to view and control a company’s assets holistically, while optimizing the efficiencies of the entire operation, not just maintenance and facilities management.


Term #3: CAFM, Computer Aided Facility Management

This is software designed to help facility managers optimized the utilization of space and facilities, plan preventive maintenance, better manage reactive maintenance, and improve facility’s management processes. CAFM is a term used more outside of North America.


Term #4: FMS, Facility Management Software Systems

North Americans often use Facility Management Software (FMS) as opposed to CAFM. Both of these terms, however, describe an almost identical system. Facility management software systems come equipped with maintenance management, space management, utilities tracking, inventory management and other tools.


Term #5: MMS, Maintenance Management System

Maintenance management systems refer to manual methods for tracking maintenance operations as opposed to computerized methods. 20 years ago when CMMS was not as common, MMS was a frequently used term. Its use is declining with more companies adopting maintenance management software.


Term #6: PM, Planned Maintenance

Planned maintenance is pretty straight forward. It refers to maintenance activities that have been planned or scheduled in advance. Most often planned maintenance involves routine preventive maintenance tasks or inspections.


Term #7: PPM, Planned Preventive Maintenance

This is just another term for preventive maintenance or planned maintenance. Some call it PPM, so we thought we’d include it in the list. Planned preventive maintenance refers to regular and routine inspection, detection and correction of equipment and facilities in order to prevent breakdown and failure and extend asset life.


Term #8: PdM, Predictive Maintenance

CMMS can help you predict when maintenance will be required. Predictive maintenance forecasts when equipment failure will occur, and allows you to intervene by taking preventive measures. Having a predictive maintenance strategy allows companies to save on maintenance costs, cut costs on parts and supplies and reduce equipment downtime.


Term #9: KPI, Key Performance Indicator

Key performance indicators are metrics used by managers to help them evaluate the performance within the company. CMMS software, if configured and used properly can allow managers and other users to view real-time KPIs on dashboards and reports. Some of these include equipment downtime, labor utilization, work orders completed on time, maintenance costs, and a few more complicated ones listed below.


Term #10: MTBF, Mean time between failures

This is a metric that shows the projected time between failures of equipment or a machine. For example, if a machine broke down after 200 hrs., and the next at 250 hrs., and then at 300 hrs., the MTBF is 250 hrs. Knowing the mean time between failures will help you predict future maintenance. Basically, the higher the MTBF, the better!


Term #11: MTBR, Mean time between repairs

This is very similar to MTBF and often causes some confusion. The MBTR calculation seems to be counting the necessary instances of repairs during a period of time and dividing the latter number by the former. Mean time between repairs differs from MTBF in that MTBF typically counts only how long a machine operates before failure, whereas MTBR includes the time spent on repair, which can have a significant effect on the results.


Term #12: MTTR, Mean time to repair

As you get deeper into your CMMS software you can extract metrics like Mean Time to Repair. It represents the average time to repair equipment. To calculate MTTR take the total unplanned or corrective maintenance time of failures and divide it by the total number of corrective or unplanned maintenance work orders. As you start extracting MTTR you should be aiming to achieve lower figures.


Master these 12 common terms and you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect maintenance software for your organization. For more information on CMMS software and successful implementation strategies, be sure to check out our CMMS Expert Series or contact a Software Specialist.

4 Ways Mobile Improves Maintenance Management

Workers are on the move today. Literally.

Entrepreneur magazine reported on an updated forecast from International Data Corporation that “the global mobile workforce grew from one billion in 2010 to an estimated 1.3 billion in 2015.” Technology has played a role in that mobility, and continues to transform the way people work with availability across a wide range of devices.

The maintenance sector has been affected in particular. What once required paper logs or terminal access can now be managed on the shop floor, on the road, at an offsite location – or while on vacation. Today’s modern mobile CMMS is helping pave the way for maintenance professionals to operate even more efficiently and more effectively.

“Technology…continues to transform the way people work.”

Four of the most important ways mobile CMMS can improve maintenance management include:

  1. So Long, Paper

    You may be well aware of colleagues with large stacks of paper work orders (or you may have such a stack of your own!), despite the time-consuming and laborious effort associated with maintaining these documents. Mobile CMMS access can enable you to reduce or altogether remove your reliance on printing and filing paperwork, thereby eliminating the operational barriers it creates.

  2. MRO Inventory On-the-Go

    Check in/out your spare parts easily through bar code technology. Physical count quantities may be updated using your smartphone or tablet, as well as the addition of new parts or tracking availability on the fly. This data can then be used for CMMS parts inventory reports on usage, costs, valuation, and more.

  3. Asset Management Mobility

    As you’re well aware, being a stickler for asset and equipment updates as conditions change is imperative for well-organized maintenance operations. Whether you need to update locations, a criticality status or another field, getting the right data into your system at the right time is critical. With a smartphone or tablet,  you can get directly to the asset detail page and make the updates quickly when you’re nearby or when it’s simply top of mind. Scan your tagged machines, view related maintenance requests or open work orders, or even the asset’s entire work order history. Perhaps the job requires more labor or extra parts to complete – with mobile, you can append the work order to add these items and more at any point.

  4. Maintenance Requests When You Need Them

    The need for maintenance activity can strike at any moment. Now you don’t need to go back to a desk, terminal, or even call personnel to report a broken machine or leaky pipe. Make a request for maintenance activity whenever – and wherever – you are through the convenience of your mobile device. Any requestor user can log his/her request, attach an image or associated file, and follow up on the status of their request at any given time. This means less time fielding requests and more time spent working on maintenance priorities.

While these four points highlight the top benefits users can see with mobile maintenance, how else has your operations been impacted through the use of modern, mobile CMMS?

Watch your step! Common preventive maintenance pitfalls and how to avoid them.

pitfallPreventive maintenance, otherwise known as scheduled maintenance, is arguably one of the most important features that a CMMS provides its users. Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to maintenance management, ensuring that assets and equipment are routinely inspected to avoid downtime and increase their reliability. With all the benefits of a PM system, it’s surprising to learn how many pitfalls await account admin’s and system users both before account setup and after. What’s even more surprising is the amount of clients we see who fall into one or more of these common pitfalls and who become complacent with system inefficiency.

That’s why our team of Hippo experts wants to give you the facts about PM. Read on to learn more about common PM pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Pitfall #1: Your database is overwhelmed.

THE CHALLENGE: “Cluttered” and “chaotic” are two words that you never want to use when describing your database. Unfortunately many of us fall into this category by being too ambitious, either scheduling way too many PMs or scheduling them much too frequently. We also overwhelm our database by not utilizing simple features built into the system to alleviate this very issue.Talk about system overload!

TIP #1: Work as a team, select the right equipment/ assets

We recommend getting all organizational stakeholders, from maintenance techs to healthcare workers, involved in determining the equipment or processes that should receive routine maintenance checkups and extra care. With advice from multiple team members, you can create a robust system that works on multiple levels and covers all processes.

TIP #2: Schedule thoughtfully

It’s important to schedule each PM at the right frequency level. Work with your staff to understand the timelines of each task and assign reasonable frequencies to each. It’s great to strive for ambitious goals, but a dose of reality can really help a system stay on track and give accurate information. If you’re still unclear about the correct frequency of a task, a more standardized approach may be needed. In large organizations such as hospitals and manufacturing complex’s, one of those approaches is to utilize a risk ranking system. The system assigns a risk score to each piece of equipment based on a specific criteria set. In healthcare this set usually includes equipment function, failure risk and past maintenance history. Take time to determine your own additional criteria so that you have an accurate risk score. Equipment with higher scores will be scheduled more frequently (daily or weekly), while equipment with lower scores will be scheduled less frequently (monthly or semiannually).

TIP #3: Make it easy on yourself, close it out!

Make sure your team is closing out their work orders when completed. We often find the biggest reason why clients have copious amounts of overdue PMs is not that their staff hasn’t done the work, but because they have forgotten to tell the system the task is completed. Make sure each person who interacts with the system is properly trained and comfortable with the CMMS. A little knowledge can go a long way in maintaining an accurate system.

Pitfall #2: Your processes aren’t as efficient as they could be.

THE CHALLENGE: A good CMMS has some simple features that, when utilized, become huge time savers for both the administrators who set up the system and the maintenance techs who complete the work. We often see inefficiencies such as an uneven distribution of workload and too much time spent on creating multiple PMs. Prevent your system from becoming more of a burden than a blessing by following the tips below.

TIP #1: Know your software, utilize basic PM functions

For starters, the “generate multiple” feature has several nifty functions to make a system more efficient. If you have hundreds of pieces of the same type of equipment, they probably need to be serviced the exact same way.  It would be tedious and a waste of valuable administrative time to create a separate PM for each piece of the same equipment, as each would contain the exact same task checklist and parts associated with the particular model. If you use the “generate multiple” feature, you need only create one PM associated with all equipment. This robust feature also lets you track all equipment information separately, such as maintenance history, work order progress, additional comments, etc., allowing you to leverage the time-saving benefits without compromising detailed tracking and accurate reporting.

So as not to overwhelm one resource while under utilizing another, “generate multiple” lets you reassign each piece of equipment to a different maintenance tech. This is particularly helpful if the equipment is multifaceted and requires different vendors to service its different components.

“Floating” or “shadowing” is a feature that prevents another PM from generating before the first one is completed. Without it, there are huge implications if a PM is set to generate each day but hasn’t been closed out in a long time. Make sure to check off these boxes to easily gain the benefits of these simple tools.

Pitfall #3: Your data analysis falls short.

THE CHALLENGE: Once you get over the initial hurdles of generating timely and efficient PM schedules, the next step is to ensure adequate tracking of information and accurate data reporting. One of the main reasons large-scale organizations implement a CMMS in the first place is to gain detailed analytical insight into their operations. Although you would be hard-pressed to find a manager who doesn’t believe in the benefits of data reporting, you might be surprised how many do not report on the right data.

TIP #1: Reporting is key, but targeted reports are better

Since a CMMS can report on all of your asset information, it is important to use a targeted approach to provide you with an in-depth analysis instead of a general overview. To do this, one must first set measurable objectives — things the organization wishes to achieve or better understand about its processes. It is important to work with key players in different departments to determine goal priorities. From this point, determine your key performance indicators to track these objectives and run your reports accordingly. Monitoring the progress of your objectives is critical in achieving success. It can also highlight potential pitfalls, allowing you to correct a process before it becomes an issue.

When we spoke with one of our clients, Armtec Infrastructure Inc, they told us about the importance of their PM system. Leo Logashov, the National Operations Excellence Manager at Armtec during this process, explained, “Seeing if something is overdue gets management’s attention. We run current work order reports to see open PM’s, overdue PM’s and how many days overdue they are. It tells us what each plant is doing, which is what management really cares about.” To learn more about Armtec’s client success story, click here!

TIP #2: All good things take time, so give it some

Finally, it is important to leave enough time to perform thoughtful analysis and gather the right data. Administrators can be so busy fulfilling their maintenance responsibilities that higher-level performance analysis is left behind. Make sure that you carve out adequate time to analyze data and pull good information from your CMMS. To make this a little easier, utilize the scheduling function that automatically generates and sends reports at a predetermined frequency. You’ll definitely get brownie points from management when they open their emails on Monday morning to find a simple PM report on last week’s activities.

With any sophisticated software, potential pitfalls may exist that make your work routine more difficult than it has to be. By giving a little love to your system during the setup process, utilizing helpful features to organize your PM scheduling and creating objectives ahead of time to analyze the right data, you can not only avoid these pitfalls but also optimize your system and truly increase maintenance efficiency.

To learn more about Hippo CMMS and how we can improve your preventive maintenance program click here .

Is Your Property Management Business Mobile Friendly?

Mobile Capabilities Of Property Management Businesses

Renters are becoming more and more mobile, and swapping out their desktop computer for smartphones and tablets. If your property management business is not able to stay up with these new technology trends, you will not be able to attract a large portion of renter’s to your business. Make sure that your property management business includes these top mobile capabilities.

  • Mobile website – not all websites are optimized for mobile viewing, which can make it very bothersome and hard to meet the needs of renters on the go. Make sure that your website is properly optimized for mobile viewing.
  • Online applications – give potential renters the ability to apply for a home on their phone with a mobile application process. This will also help your renters upload any important documents on their phone.
  • Online payment options – give your renters the option to pay their rent online, as well as pay for any application fees. Credit card payments and eCheck payment options allow your business to get paid while making it very easy and convenient for renters.
  • Web-based workflow software – keeping your workflow software online helps to make sure that all employees know exactly what needs to be done by simply looking at their phone, which means that they can work from anywhere.
  • Online maintenance request – if something goes wrong, an online maintenance request can help to ensure that you find out about it as soon as possible. It is also a much easier and cheaper way to keep track of what gets done.
  • Mobile inspections – choosing a property management software that allows for mobile inspection capabilities can help you easily document any damage with pictures, labels, and files for all onsite inspections.