Tag Archives: maintenance industry best practices

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.

Asset Criticality and Risk Ranking – Recorded Webinar

Wouldn’t it be useful to know precisely how much time and resource should be applied to each of your assets?  With Asset Criticality, organizations are able to rate assets to determine how critical each piece of equipment is to areas such as safety, product quality, customer issues, environmental issues, and production.

During this 40 minute recorded session, guest speaker Terry Harris from Reliable Process Solutions LLC provides an overview of Asset Criticality and Risk Ranking and discusses how to:

  1. Derive the criticality rating for each piece of equipment
  2. Understand which equipment is important and critical to the process
  3. Assign resources and time based on equipment criticality value

Can Maintenance People be "Happy"?

I’ve been working in the maintenance industry for the past 22 years.  My first foray into this mechanized world of grease, wrenches, and safety shutoffs happened immediately after graduating as a mechanical engineer in the late 1980’s.

Since then I have migrated into the world of maintenance management consulting.  This journey succeeded due to my learning maintenance software early on (DOS, remember that?), applying its power to my real world surroundings, and showing results to upper management with pretty pie charts and numbers that made them smile.

So when the creators of this CMMS blog asked me for advice on how it should look, I advised them to somehow show people that maintenance professionals can also smile, and be  happy, just like those upper management people who are easily dazzled by pie charts and excellent numbers.

So they took my advice and made the first blog branding logo a “dancing maintenance guy”.

You can watch this happy dude dancing all day long at the top right corner of this blog.  Sure, it can be puzzling to see him rockin’ that tool belt.  Does such a creature actually exist?  Is there anything besides the lunch buzzer or breaking away from work that really makes a maintenance technician happy?  And what about their supervisors and managers?  Ever see them smile (let alone dance)?

By our nature, maintenance people are motivated by a challenge to solve technical, mechanical, electrical issues.  Fix things.  And fix them well.

Motivation, of course, is to feel that rush of accomplishment (which can lead to a smile, and when it happens repeatedly, will certainly lead to a quick jig).

Here is how it can work:

The maintenance team will many times need to troubleshoot an issue to find the root cause.  Other times, the cause is pretty obvious.  In either case, the maintenance team will only need a few simple things to achieve  that goal to “fix it well”.

  • We need spare parts.
  • We need authority to make decisions that help speed the process.
  • We need efficient access to information to help define the problem clearly (equipment specifications, repair history, backup plans, safety plans, troubleshooting guides).

So, I hate to state the obvious, but knowing that all we need are these (and possibly a few other simple items) to help us stay on track and be motivated, wouldn’t you think that the answer is yes, happiness can be achieved, and maintained.  All we need is a simple process that is understood and followed by the whole team.

However, companies tend to under-support their maintenance staff, which is not only a problem with less dancing, but also lower productivity overall.

  1. Start with looking at managing all your maintenance data with a maintenance software system.
  2. Next, go through every single minute of a typical day and determine how you can reach the perfect world of all issues getting fixed, and less issues coming up (preventive maintenance).
  3. Then give the technicians the chance to take ownership of success and failure.

Next time you see a frowning maintenance person, realize that turning that frown upside down, and possibly even seeing them dance, is achievable and probably desirable.  Find out what’s missing.

If you feel that seeing your people dance is unachievable, here is another place to learn about resources available to you: EAM University

Reducing Wasted Energy

You and I feel it at the gas pump and in our heating bills. The skyrocketing costs of fuel and energy have all of us looking for ways to cut back on these expenses. And it’s hitting industry just as hard as it is our families.

Many organizations are starting to take measures to reduce their energy consumption, but in many cases these attempts are often limited in what they can achieve. Most companies start by looking at a utility bill and setting objectives to reduce the total figure at the bottom. While this “energy-bill-down” approach might sound like a logical place to start, that figure represents only a crude measure. It doesn’t include the detailed energy consumption patterns of individual plant assets that can identify when and where most waste occurs. Without this detail, there’s no way of knowing how much of the energy consumed is being wasted, and therefore what can be eliminated without impacting the running of day-to-day operations.

So where do you start? You can’t achieve any objective to reduce energy waste by just measuring the energy usage by a commodity; you must focus on how that commodity is consuming energy.

To find ways to reduce energy bills, you can start by answering the following questions:

  1. How committed are we to improving energy consumption?
  2. Where is most of our energy being consumed?
  3. How much energy should we be consuming?
  4. How much waste is involved?

The level of information provided by asset management systems can facilitate the action required to remove inefficient processes, parts, and machines that are disproportionately energy-hungry, and the life cycle of an asset can often be extended through evaluation of its running costs against efficiency levels.

With the exception of (1), can you answer the other three questions?

I’d be interested in your feedback. Please leave a comment to this post with your thoughts.

 

Posted by Rod Ellsworth, Vice President of Global Asset Sustainability, Infor

Six Ways to Educate Your CFO on Energy Management Benefits

What person is responsible for managing the costs and communications associated with your company’s energy consumption? Most likely it’s a number of departments: purchasing, responsible for securing energy and initiating tax rebates; HR, which manages internal communications to current and new employees; and investor relations, involved in CO2 emissions disclosers to investors and other external organizations.

It’s also very likely that all of these departments report to your company’s CFO. But a current survey conducted by Groom Energy is finding that most CFOs don’t consider energy management a priority in controlling costs or setting budget. If you’re involved in energy management, this could be a prime opportunity for you to pitch the cost savings and strategic benefits of efficient energy management and sustainability. But where do you start?

Read this article, “Energy Management Not a Priority for Many CFOs” (Paul Baier, Energy Groom on GreenBiz.com, December 22, 2010) to learn six ways to educate your CFO and bring him/her into the sustainability camp through realizing cost benefits, improved competitiveness, and environmental accountability.

What steps are you taking to justify an energy management program? I’d like to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please leave a comment to this post.


Posted by
Rod Ellsworth, Vice President of Global Asset Sustainability, Infor 

Maintenance KPI’s – An easy way to define yours

I’ve worked in the plant maintenance industry for years.  How did KPI’s look in those days? Here is an example KPI in 1988: “Keep the machines running”.

Fresh out of engineering school and thrown into the corporate engine, my life was all about keeping the conveyor belts running.  That was the priority (and still is, but said differently) at United Parcel Service so that little Jimmy would get his red wagon in time for Christmas.   Although we had no clue that they had a name (KPIs), here was our mission during the UPS days:

  • Keep the belts running
  • Get your PM’s done
  • Anything stopped for 15 minutes was a breakdown
  • Make sure mechanics knew how to make a repair the UPS way
  • That is..because every action that a mechanic took was measured using a DOS program built by UPS (called PEMMS)

Now UPS was way ahead of their time with work measurement, starting, of course, among the fleet delivery drivers.  They moved that successful approach to every aspect of the business, including maintenance.

Now the world is catching up to such great role models like UPS.  However, the aspect of defining KPI’s has still been somewhat behind the curve.  KPIs can be a mystery unless you happen to be a maintenance professional with enough hours available in the day for reading all the great maintenance measurement books available.  Show me one of those people and I will immediately tell you that that person is a consultant.  (No offense to the great consultants.  I am guilty as charged)

Once again the Internet is bailing us out by saving a ton of time and making KPI definitions easier to grasp and define (without having to read a novel then construct a maintenance business plan, etc).

Here is example KPI where you can see the industry baseline then work your own numbers by taking a survey: Preventative maintenance hours as a percentage of total maintenance hours