I am not a Wall Street wizard who regularly follows public
companies looking for the best investments.
If you are like me, we wonder where to invest our money? The conventional wisdom seems to be investing
in products and services that you find yourself using. If you like it, and you see others liking it,
then it is probably a good investment. I
followed this advice a couple of weeks ago, when I found myself drawn to a
coffee chain that I had not particularly noticed. After a few months of including this stop on
my route to work a couple of days a week, I observed that it was more crowded
inside, and there were long lines at the drive-thru. Some mornings I had to bypass it because the
wait would cause me to be late to work. Then
it dawned on me – I’m not the only one who has developed an affinity for this
place, so the business must be doing something right. I bought some stock. It is up $2.43 in the 2 weeks since I
purchased it. While admittedly not a
rapid ascension to the top, it is at least up in value.
So what in the world does this have to do with maintenance? The answer is common sense. Things that usually
make sense tend to be reasonable things to do.
The trends towards predictive maintenance and asset performance
management (APM) make sense, particularly in the age of IIoT (Industrial
Internet of Things.) It simply makes
sense to use accurate data that easily gathered about any machine to inform and
manage its status. We’re already seeing
the Internet of Things in our homes. We
have security cameras around our home for protection. Our cars alert us when an oil change is
needed. Our lights and thermostats are
linked to our smartphones so we can make adjustments to conserve energy. So why not apply the same concept in
commercial facilities? Why wouldn’t we
let a motor tell us when it’s running hot?
Why wouldn’t we let a pump tell us that it is experiencing excessive vibrations? Why wouldn’t we let an oven tell us that its
internal temperatures have been varying outside of normal tolerances over the
last hour? Let’s not forget the human factor.
Why wouldn’t we enable an operator to easily alert maintenance in the CMMS/EAM
system that they notice an anomaly in an asset?
These things make sense in equipment maintenance, and the
technology to reveal and take advantage of this previously unused information
is becoming more accessible and thus ubiquitous in manufacturing. And it just makes sense to get started with using these
technologies now. You don’t have to tackle
the entire plant floor at once. Begin
with just one line. Learn how to put
your common sense to work to achieve real business value in your maintenance
operations. The same maintenance
strategies don’t have to be applied to all of your assets. You need a toolkit of various strategies to
be applied appropriately. Look at where
IIoT fits into that toolkit, and how it can be applied to the appropriate asset
issues. It makes sense to empower your
maintenance organization with a complete set of technology tools that they can
apply to the right situations. It makes
sense to invest where others are also finding good coffee drinks ….I mean finding
good maintenance management solutions.
According to industry analysts, there are many facets of
asset maintenance that can be articulated and quantified as characteristic of
best-in-class companies. There are also many consulting companies who can
help you achieve improvements in your business. However you can make progress
yourself by applying just three elements – persistence, focus, and data. While
this premise sounds simple, its execution is not; otherwise there would be no
unplanned downtime in manufacturing operations.
Imagine being a maintenance expert, working only 9 to 5, with no
midnight calls that the equipment has shut down operations. While that scenario may not be realistic any
time soon, there is no doubt that it can become more so with these three principles.
Remember that progress seldom is easy, though is certainly
worthwhile. Persistence is the hardest of the three disciplines, yet the most
important one. Focus allows you to avoid
distractions that can allay your initiative. Good tools are essential in supporting
your persistence, once you push your initiative uphill.
Your persistence and focus in executing depends on obtaining,
analyzing, and acting on good data. Data, and its analysis with clear
visualizations, is vital to supporting any initiative you undertake. Without
it, you do not know where you are, where you are going, or where any
improvements are being made. Without
that information, your desire to persist will wane, and with it, your
initiative. You will then be resigned to a tale of “well, we tried that
We all have so many initiatives that we wish we could
tackle, but none will happen with just thoughts and wishes. You can only
achieve success one step at a time. So consider your most important initiatives
and apply these three disciplines to impact your current results. I suggest
starting with an initiative that has a high impact, and a high chance of
success, so that you can see positive results quickly and feel encouraged to
tackle the next one. If one asset in
your facility quickly comes to mind as one you would like to throw out of the
window because it causes you so much trouble, then consider focusing on
improvements to it. Just that one asset. Remember that a high-impact initiative does
not have to be a broad one; it only has to positively affect your work
environment in one small way. Once you
see success there, you will be energized and more confident in tackling the
Mark Twain said that “the secret to getting ahead is getting
started.” Decide to tackle one
asset. Decide to organize and control
one small area of the storeroom. Own it.
See results. Sell your success to your
colleagues and management. And watch it
grow. And then brag to me about your success, because I would truly enjoy
hearing about it.