6 Efficiency Tips From Leading Reliability and Maintenance Experts

From Utilities to Oil & Gas, Government to Manufacturing to Higher Education, Reliability and Maintenance professionals from every industry face similar challenges. Your task is to keep everything moving along with less downtime and fewer failures. Achieving that comes down to the efficiency you can create with people, processes and the tools at your disposal.  

To cut through the noise in the industry, we’ve gathered six tips from leading Reliability and Maintenance experts that can help you focus on the right things and make informed decisions.

Jeff Shiver

Jeff Shiver, CMRP, CPMM, CRL

You know him as: The Founder of People and Processes Inc., Jeff consults, coaches and educates Facilities, Government, Manufacturers, and Municipalities on implementing Maintenance & Reliability best practices.  He also shares his expertise as a columnist on PlantServices.com.

Jeff’s tip: Take advantage of downtime by scheduling proactive work.

“When a downtime window appears, there is often temptation to schedule corrective and project work, while deferring proactive PM tasks. While you may get away with this for a short period, it will come back to bite you in the rear end. It’s the PM tasks that prevent the reactive cycle of chaos.”

Instead, Jeff suggests that you should “Take advantage of unplanned downtime for proactive work.” To do this requires proper scheduling.

“When a line or process suddenly stops, there should be schedule ready work (planned, parts kitted, only waiting for downtime and the resources to do the work). It should be the responsibility of the Maintenance Supervisor to have a schedule ready job listing literally in their back pocket. When downtime appears, send a couple of responders if required, and then, focus the rest of the group on those schedule ready jobs of less or equal duration.”

Doc Palmer

Doc Palmer

You know him as: The managing partner of Richard Palmer & Associates and the author of the Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Handbook (McGraw-Hill 2012). You can get more of his great advice in his column on PlantServices.com.

Doc’s tip: Management must protect planners.

According to Doc, “Far too many plants establish planning by creating and filling planner positions, and then after declaring victory, they find the planners are not planning at all…. Planners often find themselves overwhelmed with too many other duties to fulfill their primary role of planning.”

They might find themselves performing tasks such as “safety, root cause analysis, and projects. Other tasks include helping people find CMMS data and collecting CMMS data for KPIs.”

When planners have time to plan, they can make workforces more efficient and plants can gain incredible value, “but plants gain this value only when the planners are planning, not fulfilling other duties.”

Matt Midas

Matt Midas

You know him as: The Director of Sales at Solufy, Matt is a Planning and Scheduling expert who has been in the Maintenance and Reliability industry for over 30 years.

Matt’s tip: Make the move from reactive to proactive maintenance.

Matt recommends these six maintenance scheduling principles and six maintenance planning principles that can help you move from “wasteful to efficient, from failing to succeeding.” In fact, implementing these principles can “increase wrench-on time from 35 percent to 65 percent”.

In an eight-hour day, that means a technician “will go from completing less than three hours of actual work to completing more than five hours of actual work.”

“Instead of running a reactive company where you only fix something after it fails, you’ll be running a maintenance center of excellence where everyone from the technicians to the supervisor shares the same vision of excellence; supply, operations and engineering are integrated; system performance is constantly improving; and organizational metrics are aligned.”

These principles help to make your planning and scheduling more efficient, meaning “you can quickly and easily reassign tasks based on availability, reschedule work that can be done later without impacting operations, better manage your work order backlog, and track schedule compliance.”

Ricky Smith, CRL, CMRP, CMRT

You know him as: A veteran Reliability and Maintenance Leadership Advisor and author of Rules of Thumb for Reliability and Maintenance Engineers. You can get more of his expert advice on by following @AskRickySmith on Twitter.

Ricky’s tip: Use a RACI chart so that everyone understands their role.
RACI Chart OpenSource

RACI Chart example. Source: Wikimedia.org

“In order to clearly define and execute any task it must be actionable, clear, and concise.” It’s also important that every member of the team has a clear understanding that answers the question, “What is my role and responsibility?” This ensures that “a specific task, such as Work Order Close Out, is completed the right way by everyone every time.”

That’s where the RACI chart comes in.  

RACI stands for “Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed”. It is a matrix to help team clarify roles and responsibilities, assign ownership and prevent confusion. The “Responsible” person performs the work. Consulted refers to those who should be part of the discussion before the work is completed. Finally, Informed denotes those who need to be kept in the loop that the work is complete.

James Kovacevic

James Kovacevic, MMP, CMRP, CAMA

You know him as: The founder of HP Reliability. A prolific SME, James shares his expertise on the HP Reliability blog and hosts the Rooted in Reliability podcast.

James’ tip: Get expert support to implement your CMMS.

“Most organizations only use 50% of their CMMS’s capabilities. This is for a variety of reasons, but one of the largest reasons, is that the CMMS was not setup, configured or implemented correctly. If the implementation of the CMMS was not done properly, the usability and information in the CMMS limits its potential.” A CMMS is only as good as the information put into it by your end-users.

If you want your team to use their CMMS properly and efficiently, they’ll need training. Evaluate “the support and training available from the vendor during the CMMS selection phase.” The support available should be one of the influencing factors to help you decide which CMMS is best for your organization. The same can be said of the software tools that enhance your CMMS. If your vendor offers support and training, don’t forget to make use of it.

Doug Pluknette

Doug Plunkette

You know him as: A World Wide RCM Consultant and a trainer at Allied Reliability Group and co-author of Clean, Green and Reliable.

Doug’s tip: Use data to prove your point.

Conversations with decision makers are far more effective if everyone is speaking the same language – and the language of numbers is one that everyone can understand. Doug says, “The best maintenance organizations understand that data drives the best business decisions. It’s no longer enough to say this pump or that machine is a piece of garbage, you need to prove it is.”

Doug suggests you gather data for several metrics, such as: “How often has it failed? How much have we spent on repairing the machine over the last two years? What were the product losses to the company in relation to the down time? If this machine really has issues with reliability, the data should clearly show this. Compare the reliability of this machine to similar assets.” No one can be expected to make effective, timely decisions without the right information. So bring the data to the table and let it do the talking.

Maintenance professionals and reliability engineers are always looking for ways to create more efficiency with their people and processes – and there are many ways to achieve that. From the perspective of our experts, it all comes down to:

  • Scheduling effectively
  • Leveraging people and technology to their fullest extents
  • Having clarity for those decision-making moment