Focus on Reliability

Planning for Failure Checklist

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If you want to ensure equipment reliability at the lowest possible cost, you have to plan for it. With any asset, you need to address the following questions:

Filling Up the Glass

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I wonder how many don’t have Planner Schedulers? Even a better question is if the Planner exists, whether they are actually planning and scheduling or simply being project managers or shagging parts for today’s work?

If you have Planner Schedulers who are doing the intended job, then I don’t need to tell you about the benefits. If you don’t have them, and you have more than 10 or so wrench turners, then you really need to understand the benefits of Maintenance Planning and Scheduling can bring to your organization. Send me an email and I’ll help you learn why you need to invest in this position.

If you have Planner Schedulers that are new to the role, you need to get them educated. While we offer great training in this and other areas, there are lots of competent providers out there in addition to People and Processes. If your Planner Scheduler is not new to the role and has not been educated, there is no better time that now to do this to help recoup your investment. This is the first step in filling the glass halfway.

Now, on to the meat of this post … Once you have sent your Planner Schedulers off to training, recognize that is only half of the requirement to reap the benefits of Planning and Scheduling. In many cases, the Planner Scheduler returns to the site, all pumped up; ready to plan and schedule work. They begin the process only to have the Maintenance Supervisor who they report to pulling them off to chase some parts needed for today. Or they begin their day by attending the morning Production meeting where issues from the last 24 hours are discussed. While they wanted to plan and schedule work, the issues of the last day dictate dealing with those issues. Maintenance Planning and Scheduling work for the future is thrown out to deal with today (a tactical focus).

Remember the focus of the Planner Scheduler is strategic, focused on the future, meaning next week. To fill the glass to the top, you need to ensure education for the rest of the organization on the roles and responsibilities of the Planner Schedulers, and the Maintenance Supervisors or Team Leaders. Specifically focus on those individuals who interact with the Planning and Scheduling function to include Production/ Operations and other management. On a parallel path, couple this with coaching and mentoring for the Planner Schedulers where a knowledgeable consultant comes and “walks a mile in their moccasins” to identify obstacles that are preventing effective Planning and Scheduling. The consultant will help ensure the Planner Schedulers are performing in the role, such as doing job research, creating job plans with estimates, crafts required, and materials needed as a minimum, and scheduling the work. In addition, the consultant will identify the obstacles in the business processes around work management and interactions. As a manager, your job is to remove those obstacles and rework the processes to gain the benefits. Only then will you have filled the glass with respect to true Maintenance Planning and Scheduling.

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Destination: Where?


Where do you want to go today? Along those lines, I was recently headed to the airport to fly off to a client site on the west coast where I was to provide Planner coaching services. On the interstate, I passed a tractor-trailer rig headed south. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught some lettering across the rear of the sleeper section of the cab which read “Destination: Excellence “. What a neat concept!

This was not a huge corporation providing a vision. This was an owner-operator (at most a 2 person driving team) that had enough foresight to challenge themselves and proudly display their personal vision to improve their business. How many of you have personal goals like this?

When I step into many organizations, there is no road-map. Every day brings a new destination, from being led down the path of reactive chaos. Change can begin with you and within your span of control. Even small changes build toward the greater good.

Separately, I was in another site a week later. The manager asked me to help them develop a document detailing what the end state or vision should look like for that particular organization regarding their implementation of the Best Practices. He was basically asking, “What is the destination?” so that he could sell the organization on the end game. What is yours? What is your organization’s regarding the Best Practices for Maintenance, Operations, or Reliability?

Once you understand where you want to go, the end game; then you must determine the gaps that are preventing you from getting there. In our world, you might recognize that as an assessment and gap analysis. Many groups already have done this. If you haven’t and need help, send me an email. However recognize the real answer is having a Plan of Improvement or strategic road-map to help you reach the destination mile by mile, month by month. This is where most consulting and corporate reliability groups let you down when you perform an assessment and gap analysis. You already know many gaps or distances to cover yourself. What you don’t know is how to get to the destination. That’s where a strategic road-map comes into play. I see tons of groups with assessments and NO plan.

So, I’ll ask you again. What is your destination? How are you getting there? Where is your plan?


Need help developing a plan?  Join us at a Maintenance and Reliability for Managers: 4-Part Series public session or bring it onsite.

Creating Partnerships


One of the biggest challenges that I find most organizations struggling with is the creation of real partnerships with shared common goals as opposed to competing objectives. Most organizations function with the illusion of partnerships. A better term to use and one that most would recognize is "silos".  

When you hear maintenance people making comments like “I never have the materials, information, or time to do my job right.”, you should question if real partnerships exist. The same goes when an operator comments that “Maintenance never responds when we call" or In the last three hour changeover, maintenance was nowhere to be found. Why did they not use that time to do so PM's and corrective work?". 

Recognize that as Maintenance and Operations, together you control total roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of the site population. While a site leadership team exists to implement corporate strategy and other items, Maintenance and Operations need to partner to talk about how you run the day-to-day operations of the plant.

Create a team, meeting twice a month with Maintenance and Operations stakeholders. That gives each of you an opportunity to educate each other on each function's wants and needs as related to best practices. Engage people at the lowest levels on the plant floor to get buy-in. This is one more approach to end the blame game and move the total site reliability forward.

The One-Two Punch

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Realize that leading people is a contact sport. I recently participated in a podcast and was asked a question on how the company name of People and Processes came to be. Across multiple sites, I either directly or indirectly reported to an engineer that ultimately became a plant manager. Ken was very much a people person, and over the years, I learned a tremendous amount from him. He taught me the value of leading others and seeing things from their perspective. Ken used a phase called “ways of working” related to the business processes and roles. When things did not go as planned, he always went back to the process, the way of working. The business name fit the solutions that we provide. It is about the people and the processes.

Back to the contact sport statement, I visit organizations almost every week that struggle with the basics. While business processes may exist, people aren’t leveraging them for a lot of different reasons. It’s not uncommon to find duplication of efforts. It seems every day is a new day as the struggles repeat themselves. Most sites don’t audit their processes to see what is not working and to determine improvements. Getting your processes right is the first step, the first impact. To do that, you need to involve people as they buy-in to what they help create.

The second punch is defining your people’s roles and responsibilities. These duties come from business processes. When determining the roles, there are specific spans of control or ratios. For example, a planner scheduler may plan for 20-30 technicians depending on the maturity of the processes in action. These roles, combined with the spans of control, determine the organizational structure.

Once you get people in the roles, don’t forget the training aspect. Funny how some people believe that if you train people, they might leave. I always like to counter with “what if they stay?”. Coaching people in their role is the next logical step in their development, beginning about thirty days after the initial training. It typically takes two to three coaching sessions to demonstrate a level of competency. In our coaching activities, we have developed competency evaluation forms for each position, and we review those with the people being coached. I find that most people are eager to improve their knowledge and abilities. Each coaching visit enables the opportunity for increased understanding and more importantly, ownership and pride. Accountability brings clarity.

Don’t allow every day to be a new day. Employ the one-two punch to bring that clarity.

Need help? All of these concepts and much more are integrated into our award-winning Maintenance and Reliability for Managers 4-Part Series. Get started soon, either at a public course or bring it onsite.

Feed Your Mind to Drive Creativity

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When I visit organizations, I often ask people what they are doing with respect to continuous improvement.  Depending on the organization and the level of the person I ask, the answers vary widely.  Since the idea of continuous improvement has long been pushed for managers and others as buzz words, they are quick to provide the answer they think I want to hear.  Smiling, they are smug in thinking they have pulled the wool over my eyes only to be confronted with more probing questions.  The deeper the questions, the more truthful the answers become.

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Fundamentals of Leadership

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Having Leadership and Supervision issues at your site?  Want to make a change ? Let us bring our Maintenance Leadership and Supervision Course to you.   

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