The word “enabler” often has a negative connotation because it is commonly used to describe someone who helps another person travel a destructive path. However, enablers are not limited to negative influences. In fact, an enabler can facilitate positive results. Part of the cure for people on destructive paths is to distance themselves from negative influences and surround themselves with those who enable positive change. This concept is also true in business. By surrounding projects and initiatives with positive enablers, organisations can strengthen their abilities to succeed and, in some cases, transform negative situations into positive ones.
Five key underlying maintenance and reliability based enablers that can have significant impact on plant performance are:
- Eliminating catastrophic failures
- Minimising functional failures
- Eliminating self-induced failures
- Minimising all shutdowns
- Relying on data-driven decision making
Each of these enablers is dependent on the others, with the earliest steps creating a foundation for the others. By examining and implementing these key enablers, organizations can take the steps necessary to significantly improve plant reliability and performance.
1. Catastrophic failures are predictable & preventable
Although it may often feel like it, catastrophic failures rarely come out of the blue. The reality is that most manufacturing equipment generally fails in predictable ways with significant early warning if one knows how to look for it. Leading indicators that occur early in the failure cycle can typically be used to avoid catastrophic failure altogether. Unfortunately, if the indicators of these events languish unnoticed in the organisation’s data historian or programmable logic controller (PLC) or in someone’s log book or spreadsheet and have not been turned into maintenance work orders, they will remain unnoticed and unused until a catastrophic failure/breakdown occurs that can result in safety issues and loss of productivity.
2. Recurring failures are more than just an annoyance
It is a mistake to assume that small, recurring problems in equipment will never amount to any significant downtime and are not worth tracking. These functional failures, the point at which an asset no longer performs its intended function at the intended level, may not ever result in downtime, but even so, the collective impact on production can result in losses that are significant over time.
3. When we are the problem
Among all the practices that stand in the way of operational success, self-induced failure can be the most difficult to eradicate. It is easy to get used to substandard maintenance practices that sneak in to day-to-day operation under the guise of getting things done as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, unplanned and ill-prepared maintenance often causes more problems than it solve.
4. Shutting down means wasting time
At the heart of tracking down and eliminating all points of failure in a manufacturing plant lies one goal: minimising all shutdowns. Shutdowns can eat up 1 percent to 10 percent of available production time, resulting in nonproductive hours that cannot be recovered. As a result, organisations try to schedule necessary shutdowns to maintain control over production.
What organisations often fail to realise is that scheduling a shutdown should still be a data-driven decision. Calendar-based downtime with the intention of mitigating failure does not truly provide value because equipment does not fail on a predetermined schedule. Instead of planning shutdowns, maintenance teams must use data to create work orders that will allow technicians to perform quality repairs that avoid functional and catastrophic failures.
5. Letting data drive
Organisations that focus on managing by data development can measure and track trends and performance, which can be key tools to operational success. To accomplish this, however, quality data must be collected at every level, which means fostering buy-in to data collection at all levels of the organisation.
Everyone has a role in data management. When a planner writes a work order, it should be written to the right piece of equipment. In addition, the planner has a responsibility to ensure that the work order is accurate and thorough, with the right parts, tolerances and procedures clearly spelled out. When the organisation makes an equipment change, it is essential that the master equipment list is updated.