Mike Asquini, CRMP
Senior Consultant, T.A. Cook Consultants, Inc.
In order for an organization to be successful, it must be aligned as to how and why it will accomplish its goals. Without target alignment, a company is likely to have different expectations and beliefs, especially surrounding the performance of routine maintenance. This affects all areas of the organization: operations, maintenance, safety, quality assurance, mechanical integrity, reliability, process engineering, finance, and production and economics.
All disciplines need to understand why maintenance is performed on the organization’s assets so that quality standards and safety and environmental regulations are met consistently. A well run maintenance process is built upon the foundation of planned, scheduled, and coordinated work which controls costs, meets budgetary obligations, and keeps the organization competitive in the marketplace.
How does an organization align to planned, scheduled, and coordinated maintenance? Firstly, planned, scheduled, and coordinated maintenance must be defined in detail by the stakeholders. This should be meaningful and easily understood. The criticality of equipment must be ranked, asset strategies set for equipment types, a work order priority system must be defined, and a process to handle emergency work needs to be mapped. Once the definition is complete, all stakeholders must agree that this is the way that they will conduct their business each and every day.
After the stakeholders have settled on the definition of planned, scheduled, and coordinated maintenance, all processes – from the identification of work to the close out of work – also need to be specified. These processes include but are not limited to work identification, work approval, planning and costing of work, setting delegations of authority, work selection, scheduling of work, preparation of assets for work to be performed, field execution, field completion, validation of work, and work close out.
Roles and responsibilities
Each of the above belong to the normal sequence of work progression at a facility and are key to defining both the actions required and the people within the organization that are responsible for them. Without clear roles and responsibilities, both anyone and no one is accountable and work likely won´t get done.
In addition to normal sequencing, procedures must exist to handle deviations to normalcy. It is of the utmost importance that there is a clearly defined process with the same level of detail for work that is not planned and scheduled – such as break-in work – which must be coordinated. For the actions required in this process, once again, the roles and responsibilities must be clearly outlined so that problems are resolved as soon as possible. This must then be supported by training in how the process should be operated, after which trainees must be able to demonstrate their comprehension for alignment to be effective.
Coaching is followed by the most difficult piece of the aligning process: implementation. This is often made difficult because most people do not welcome change – whether due to fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or simply being placed outside their comfort zone.
However, the discipline to follow the process each and every day, to fulfill the responsibilities that their position and the process requires is necessary. This discipline must be sustained during implementation and continuously supported by stakeholders in transition to the way the business runs. Barriers to success and improvement opportunities must be investigated and actively addressed to further enhance the process, prevent complacency and degradation.
Alignment alone cannot guarantee the success of routine maintenance processes, but it can set the foundations. In order for routine maintenance processes to work, alignment must be supported by training within the organization and the discipline to follow the process during implementation and beyond. Only then can the foundations laid enable maintenance to support a truly prosperous organization.