7. Inadequate Scope for the
Maintenance Change Project
In considering a Maintenance Change project, it is vital, if significant organizational
improvement is to be achieved, to have a clear understanding
of what is meant by the word "Maintenance".
The Oxford dictionary defines "maintain" to mean "to cause to continue".
In the context of plant and equipment maintenance, we could therefore define
maintenance to mean "to cause plant and equipment maintenance to continue
to perform its intended functions", or in plain English, "to make sure
that equipment continues to do what its users want it to do".
It follows then, that any activity which is performed which fulfils this
criteria is part of the maintenance process, regardless of who performs
it. Activities such as adjusting pump glands, detecting whether equipment
is running unusually noisily or rough, notifying maintenance of equipment
defects, routine equipment cleaning, and so on, are all part of the maintenance
process, even though, in many plants, these activities are actually performed
by the equipment operators.
Any Maintenance Change project which does not deliberately include within
its scope the potential for changes in those maintenance activities that
are performed by production operators and others within the organization is, therefore, destined to be less effective. The key thing to
realize here is that Maintenance is a process, not a function or a Department.
The most effective changes to this process will be those that address those
issues that inevitably arise when processes cross departmental boundaries.
Without exception, those Maintenance change efforts that we have been involved
in that have been less effective than we would have liked, have been those
in which Production managers, supervisors and operators have had minimal
involvement in the change process. The challenge is in building a case
for change that motivates them to become involved, and in constantly communicating
with them the vision for the future and how that will benefit them.
Determining and revising the routine maintenance activities to be performed
on a regular basis is also a vital part of the maintenance process. The
maintenance process can be visualized in the following diagram.
The loop on the right hand side of this diagram could be considered to
be the short-term control loop. It is the loop that most traditional Maintenance
Change exercises focus on. This loop primarily deals with Maintenance
Efficiency, in the sense that, by closing this loop, you will ensure
that the most productive time is spent by tradesmen, with less time being
spent waiting for parts, for equipment to be made available, and so on.
The loop on the left hand side, in contrast, can be considered the Continuous
Improvement loop. This loop focuses primarily on Maintenance Effectiveness,
in the sense that in this loop, Maintenance activities are being analyzed to determine whether the routine Maintenance activities being performed
are optimal for the current operating context of the equipment. This loop
is frequently ignored in many Maintenance Change programs, yet for many organizations, this loop represents their greatest opportunity for improvement.
Few organizations have in place effective, proactive processes for analyzing their Maintenance activities and
optimizing their routine maintenance activities.
Indeed, a recent study tour to Best Practice Maintenance organizations in Hong Kong, the USA and Canada came to the conclusion that the prime
difference between those organizations and the others was that these organizations
did have these processes in place and under control.
A further possible refinement is to include in your Maintenance Change
project those activities and processes relating to Maintenance Engineering
- modifying plant and equipment to make it easier to maintain, or to design
out the causes of repetitive failures. Effective systems and procedures
for prioritizing the many opportunities that abound in this area are essential
to ensure that full value for money is obtained from these scarce engineering