By Rich Adams, Regional Account Director TabWare EAM
Do you write Work Orders or do you have a Work Order Systems?
In meetings and conversations about Maintenance Operations over
the years, the subject always seems to revolve around subject of the Work Order. Whether it is in the implementation or sales
process, it is always interesting in how customers consider the value of a Work
Order and its importance in their organizations.
Whenever these discussions occur, my first comment is always
a piece of wisdom that I learned from experience I’ve gained over these years: “There is no intrinsic value of a Work Order
in of itself; it is what is done with the information contained on the Work
Order that adds the value.”
What is the significance of this insight? Many customers become overly focused on the writing
and distributing Work Orders that the reality is the information is
disregarded. The Work Order, completed
manually or electronically, may as well be shoved in a box, and the technician
hopes that no one asks them to retrieve that Work Order at a later date.
For a Work Order system to provide value back to an
organization, the system, whether it be produced electronically or manually, must
be based on a defined process, with standard data collection that can be
aggregated to make better operations decisions and observations. Some high
level questions and observations that the system should answer or enable are
Should the PMs we execute today continue?
Should we modify our Work Procedures?
Do we need to buy or replace equipment?
Do I have the right parts and materials to
complete my Work Procedures?
Are we getting better over the last measurable
Is Asset Availability getting better as a result
of this process?
Take a step back and ask yourself, are we just writing Work
Orders, or we providing a value added process to Operations?
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.
In 2016 the world was surprised by the passing of Brexit and
Trump winning the US Presidential election. Looking to 2017 from a global trade
perspective, these events make one prediction certain: trade barriers in the
Western Hemisphere will not be lowered.
To what extent there will be an increase in tariff and non-tariff
barriers is unclear, but there is no time like the present to speculate a
An interesting year is ahead, and it’s being kicked off on
January 1 with the 2017 Harmonized System (HS) Nomenclature overhaul per the
latest World Customs Organization (WCO) directions. These changes to the HS Nomenclature will be
one of the largest in recent years, with more than half of the changes
impacting codes in the agricultural and chemical sectors. In total, there will be 233 sets of amendment
revisions. These revisions are meant to address growing global concern around
environmental and social issues as well as the importance of collecting HC
With customs professionals expressing a growing concern about their supply chain compliance/Global Trade Management (GTM) challenges,
the recent political events in the UK and US have led to increasing uncertainty
in the industry. Be prepared for an exciting 2017!
The average global rates have decreased over the years, yet the
question is whether 2017 will buck that trend.
Will the USA walk away from bilateral or multi-lateral Free Trade
Agreements (FTAs), ban countries from General System of Preference (GSP), or increase
duty rates for certain countries of origin to protect domestic manufacturing? Will
Brexit have an effect on the UK – European Union (EU) duty rates? How will the UK re-create their own external
tariff and will it be able to break off UK FTAs from the current EU FTAs? A
step further, it is to be seen if any of these events will affect duty rates
(initially) on a unilateral basis, if there will be repercussions, and whether a
tit-for-tat culture will initiate a tariff war?
It’s all not too likely. Negating
FTAs is not easily done, and the UK will be cautious to create any economic upheaval
that may negatively affect their status as a financial leader in the market.
However, the prospect of an increase in duty rates is
realistic as a number of large economic forces will be closely reviewing their
trade agreements and tariff structures.
Who would have thought the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade
Organisation (GATT/WTO) bound rates books would ever have to be dusted off to
check possible rate increases would not violate these agreements?
Additionally, two other events could impact duties in
2017. It can be expected that the US
will increase pressure on low cost manufacturing, which would lead to a
significant number of new Anti-dumping duties/Countervailing Duties (ADD/CVD)
cases as unilateral duty increases are possibly too obvious. Lastly, China’s growing debt may threaten
current economic stability, but the association with duty rates will likely not
be seen in 2017.
Most likely there will be additional paperwork required for
goods to move between the UK and the EU, and equally likely there will be UK
FTA specific documentation requirements once it is clear how the UK will
rearrange its trade relationships with the current EU FTA partners.
On the artificial side of trade barriers, some token reactionary
measures may be taken to hamper certain trade lanes (read: importing from
China), but expect additional non-tariff barriers to be more in the security,
trademark, and consumer marking areas, specifically security around additional
compliance measures for dual-use goods (a global trend), a stricter enforcement
of trademarked goods, and closer reviews of consumer marking where safety of
products containing certain materials is concerned. For example, ‘simple’
accidents like smart phones catching fire will pave the way for more agencies
ensuring all imported products are safe for handling.
Some 2017 predictions
And now the unofficial 2017 predictions:
Sensibly common ground will be found and China
manufacturing will continue as is, although there will be a face saving
announcement about increased market accessibility of foreign products into
China. This agreement will bear little result.
FTA utilization rates will improve. A common compliance standard (i.e. proof of
eligibility) will be agreed on and this will boost the use of FTAs.
Hopefully, the WCO announces that in 2022 they
will randomly make products obsolete by no longer allowing them to be
classified (i.e. any logical or possible HS codes will specifically exclude
these products). Under consideration are
items such as flip phones, satchels, Yanni CD’s, and toy panda bears holding
One thing is for
certain, 2017 will prove to be an interesting year in the Global Trade
Twist or turn it, compliance issues in global trade are a component of non-tariff barriers. With duty barriers ever decreasing, average duty rates went down from 8.55% in 2000 to 4.74% in 2014,[i] it is difficult to substantiate claims that non-tariff barriers have been put into place instead. However, the international focus on trade compliance, ranging from import facilities to export licenses for dual-use goods, has increased over the years, with more countries following the United States regarding the export compliance side and the European Union when it comes to simplified import facilitation.
A wide variety of legislation applies to the shipment of goods. An export shipment from the US going into the EU seems innocent enough, but at the very least a restricted party check has to be performed. If a dual-use item is shipped, product screening and possibly export licenses have to be applied. Shipping documents are required. Import and export declarations need to be filed. Customs value and HS codes need to be declared or identified. Not complying with these (inter-)national customs requirements results in delays at the very least to time in prison at the most, with financial penalties and export restrictions in between.
Often times, complying with customs legislation is complicated as some facets, such as license requirements, will be different based on the tradelane, and different types of licenses or compliance issues may arise based on the exact country of export and import combination.
Enforcement of export legislation has become particularly strict. A few simple rules will reduce the risks of non-compliance:
·Ignorance is not bliss-neglecting applicable legislation is not a great defense. If you are uncertain about what compliance regulations you are subject to, use the authorities as a resource, they are very willing to assist.
·Establish procedures- set up a compliance program just as you would a quality assurance or a customer support program. Be diligent, retain historical data, be thorough, and commit.
·Document-any claim made (for customs valuation, preferential origin, classifications, etc.) may need to be substantiated, which is nearly impossible without documenting findings. External opinions can be obtained to substantiate.
·“I didn’t know” isn’t a good answer- awareness should not be limited to the few people dealing with trade compliance. Just as with other compliance programs, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA), company-wide awareness is needed to ensure no one is out of sync. For example, run Restricted Party screening checks on sales leads, instead of on orders, to avoid potentially unnecessary work. Involve the product engineers in the product classification to ensure the right classification is identified and the proper license requirements and import duties applied.
Having a compliance program in place does not ensure smooth sailing. Trade compliance is a collaborative effort, especially in the supply chain, where you are dependent on partners for certain data. Their efficiency will affect your programs. Getting your supply chain partners in sync with your compliance programs will result less issues and fewer delays, as well as faster resolution should compliance issues occur.
While it can be a challenge to get all supply chain partners on the same page, it is recommended to review opportunities for the following:
·Specify in contracts what you expect from the supply chain partners to deliver and assist with.
·Do not only rely on the sales or buying representative; coordinate with compliance personnel.
·Share experiences and issues through periodic meetings.
·Use portals where possible; these can be constructed in a way so that partners can view or edit data and report as needed.
Prepare for the Unexpected
While it may be an over-used cliché, it applies to well-oiled supply and compliance chains. Run a mock audit. While not necessarily a fun exercise, it will point out the weaknesses in your compliance program. Ask your supply chain partners for support documentation on some invoices or customs values, ask a supplier for verification of an origin statement, challenge a logistic service provider with a few ‘what-if’ scenarios (‘what –if’ we have to change routing of a shipment or need to use a truck instead of a plane – will these chances affect paperwork needed and therefore our capability to be in compliance?).
In summary, it may not be as much about the risks associated with global trade management as it is about how to anticipate and deal with them. Identify the compliance requirements you are subject to, set up programs that make you compliant, and create a common understanding internally and externally about the importance of compliance. It can save you time in multiple ways: valuable time wasted in the supply chain or even time in prison.
[i] The World Bank, Tariff rate, applied, weighted mean, all products (%). http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/TM.TAX.MRCH.WM.AR.ZS