Tag Archives: maintenance measurement

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.

The Hardhead of a Maintenance Man, by Guest Blogger Joel Levitt

eMaint invites guest speakers to present at our popular Best Practices webinars, so why not have them give their two cents on our blog as well. It is our hope to feature a guest blogger, whether it’s an industry professional or an eMaint employee, each month.

Feel free to suggest topics you’d like to have discussed or let us know how useful these blog posts are.

The Hardhead of a Maintenance Man

This may be challenging to you. But why on earth are maintenance folks so hardheaded?

Actually it turns out to be a smart trait. Maintenance folks are hardheaded because they are (sometimes) speaking into intentional (and potentially contagious) ignorance! When you have to do that day in and day out you get hardheaded. Just to do your job (preservation of asset capacity) you have to be hard headed.

What are the symptoms of working in a company suffering from intentional (and potentially contagious) ignorance? Some of the main symptoms concern consequences. What to look for is a wholesale lack of appreciation of consequences.

•When we run equipment beyond its limits there will be consequences.
•When we allow operators run machines without adequate training there will be consequences.
•When we refuse to shut down for a well-designed PM there will be consequences.
•When are stockroom is depleted of expensive critical spares because they have not been used there will be consequences.
•When we do a temporary repair and never get back to fix it right, there will be consequences
There is a dark side to hardheadedness- inability to admit a mistake. Hardheadedness works so often it is very hard to admit when the reality goes against us. It gives us a reputation of being hard to work with and allows us to get away with not listening.

The truth is that sometimes the business necessity trumps good maintenance practice. Boy is it tough to tell when it does. In fact the only way to tell is by listening to our comrades in arms (operations). But that is a whole different story.

To complete this story be aware that hardheadedness is a valuable trait. It is most powerful when it is tempered by the ability to really listen to people and always consider that we might really be wrong! Oh yes and get over ourselves!

About the Author: Joel Levitt President of Springfield Resources

Joel Levitt is a leading maintenance educator and has trained more than 15,000 maintenance leaders from 3,000 organizations in 20 countries. Since 1980 he has been president of Springfield Resources, a management/consulting firm that has developed solutions for clients with a wide range of maintenance issues. Joel is a frequent speaker at maintenance and engineering conferences, has written 10 popular books, and has published over 6 dozen articles on the subject.

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

CMMS Evaluation, Selection and Cost Justification Webinar

Evaluation, Selection and Justification of CMMS

Recently, eMaint Enterprises invited Ralph “Pete” Peters, President of Maintenance Excellence Institute, to deliver a Free Best Practices Webinar on evaluating and cost justifying a CMMS. Ralph drew from a real life case study that featured Argentina’s largest steel maker, SIDERAR, to document the CMMS evaluation/selection process as well as projected benefits and ROI.

Ralph began by outlining the overall strategy for gaining maximum value from a CMMS:

  1. Determine the true need for CMMS
  2. Determine maintenance best practices
  3. The CMMS evaluation and selection process
  4. Clearly defining CMMS functional requirements
  5. Commitment to maintenance Best Practice implementation
  6. Use the CMMS implementation process to measure your progress.

To evaluate and compare CMMS systems, each organization must consider 5 factors:

  • Functional Requirements
  • Technical Requirements
  • Software Costs
  • Implemenation/Support
  • Qualitative Factors

After the selection and evaluation process, it is vital to cost justify the implementation of a CMMS with four important measures:

  • Craft Productivity Improvement
  • MRO Inventory Reduction
  • Value of increased Uptime/Capactiy
  • Major Projects completed sooner

However, it is always important to remember that one can not simply install a CMMS and expect resuslts, best practices must also be implemented and followed company-wide.

To dig deeper into the evaluation, selection and justification of CMMS, click here to watch the recording of the above webinar.

To view other best practice webinars click here.

Take a Virtual Tour of Plant Efficiency

Companies are realizing that it’s no longer enough just to monitor assets. The time has come to proactively detect problems and drive corrective actions, as well as factor energy into maintenance plans, in order to stay competitive and grow. But how does an enterprise asset management (EAM) solution actually work on the shop floor to help reduce energy consumption and costs and keep your plant operating at its maximum efficiency?  

Take this interactive tour of Tricon Manufacturing, a virtual manufacturing plant, to see how EAM can help you:

  • Manage energy consumption.
  • Operate more efficiently.
  • Predict your assets’ health.

Once you’re in the plant, you’ll see six hotspots representing Infor EAM and Infor ERP solutions’ strengths. Click on +signs to open a pop-up box and access key EAM assets, including customer videos, demos, papers, case studies, and more.

How do you envision asset management working in your plant? Share your thoughts and ideas by leaving a comment to this post.

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