On Results and Change the Culture Along the Way
Two - Change
Part Three - Change
By Robert M. Williamson,
president of Strategic Work Systems Inc.
The “breakthrough strategy” discussed here in June really works. (Click
here to read Breakthrough
Strategy for Changing Behaviors.) Equipment becomes more reliable,
costs go down, and behaviors change along the way. The key is focusing on
results—the kind of results that will get people’s attention on the plant
floor as well as in the key decision makers’ offices. Select the equipment
that, if it ran better and was more reliable, would generate sizeable savings.
But more importantly, choose equipment that would generate more throughput and
revenue. Focus on that equipment and virtually pull out all the stops. Put the
applicable “best practices in place” only on that equipment and help
everyone understand why.
But beware! The biggest mistake I have seen companies make is that they begin
with a “focus on results” approach. Then somewhere just a short distance
into the mission, they default to the same old thing—implementing a program on
a broad scale—and they lose sight of what they set out to do: improve the
reliability of a selected piece of equipment. It’s fairly easy to become
enamored with setting up a new program to improve broad scale performance.
It’s fairly easy to get a small group of people rallied around a maintenance
improvement project. The problem with this “activity-based” approach is that
the enthusiasm typically runs out before the sustainable results are realized.
How many times have we heard about successfully installing a CMMS, or a
preventive maintenance program, or a training program but then we haven’t been
able to show the top decision makers a return on investment? Or perhaps
short–term improvements just were not sustained.
Here is the key: Stay focused on results. If the goal is to improve
performance, be specific. Focus on the desired results, and measure the progress
every step of the way. If it doesn’t improve, try something else. Engage the
people who work in, on, and around the equipment in the improvement activities
every step of the way if you hope to change, or at least influence, the way they
operate and maintain the equipment.
For example, one of our clients had a lube oil problem. In a recent
three-month period, they spent more than $70,000 on lube oils for rotating
equipment (compressors, engines, pumps, etc.). This was excessive and had to be
attacked. When focusing on improving the performance of four pieces of rather
large critical equipment, we repeatedly stressed the need to not just stop oil
leaks but seek to eliminate the causes. Two reasons were discussed. One was
easy: By stopping leaks, we will reduce the cost of lube oils. The second
reason, which was not as obvious, was also easy: Leaking lube oil means that a
component that depends on regular lubrication is probably not getting it. And
this type of leak will result in premature equipment failure.
After spending a day on the equipment with the operators and maintenance
mechanics discussing the woes of leaking lube oil, the oil consumption was
reduced from an average of 12 to 14 gallons per day down to four gallons. The
workplace and the equipment looked cleaner because the leaks were eliminated,
and it definitely was easier to work there without getting dirty and oily.
The next step was to address contamination found in the lube oil that
contributes to premature failure since these four large machines have each
experienced a catastrophic failure within the past 12 months and signs of
lubrication problems were discovered. The same work group found at least four
sources of water and sand getting into the oil:
The bulk oil tank had a screw cap (bung) in the top, and it was stored outside.
The rubber oil transfer lines were draped over the handrail, also outside.
The fittings and hoses from the bulk oil tank to the day tank and from the day
tank to the equipment were designed for compressed air, not liquids.
The pump used to transfer oil to the equipment was stored on the floor with its
inlet and outlet ports uncovered.
We also found that oil sampling and analysis was done on an intermittent
basis and never on the new oil from the bulk tank.
The good news is that they have begun hard piping the oil lines, storing the
bulk tank under cover, and have developed a procedure for regularly sampling oil
from the bulk tank and the equipment.
I tell this story because it is an example of focusing on results. Our client
could have lost focus and implemented a massive lube oil cost– cutting program
by stopping leaks. In their work culture, it is commonly believed that
“Equipment is designed to leak” and “Leak containment is what we need to
do.” Results were achieved and new practices were learned by involving the
workgroup in a focus on four specific machines. There was a clear business case
to improve performance and reduce costs. The benefits of this short session were
seen not only by the workgroup but also by the management and leadership at many
levels in the organization. The next step is to build on this success and target
other reliability and work culture issues on the same equipment.
Thank you Strategic
Work Systems, Inc. for donating this change management article.
Two - Change
Part Three - Change