is the price that life exacts for granting peace. The soul that knows
it not, knows no release from little things; Knows not the livid
loneliness of fear, Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear the
sound of wings."
culture can be described by three words, focus, proaction and
priority. These are essential components of reliability. The questions
are "to focus on what?" and "proact to what?"
Priority gives focus and proaction its direction and support. All
three components are of extreme importance if reliability operations
are to produce truly outstanding results.
intellectually agree that facilities that focus on the most important
issues and that proact to prevent surprises and deviations from
effective operation will be most likely to turn in superior results?
The writer would like to look at all three of these reliability
components from a human aspect because when they do not exist and poor
performance results, the fix is clearly a human issue.
when senior management clearly delineates an institution's direction
and assigns responsibilities. There is one more factor management must
also put in place, that is, the support mechanisms to facilitate the
work of line managers. In this way they dramatically demonstrate to
the population involved that they sanction the direction line managers
are pursuing. In other words, to use a cliché‚ of today, they will
be "walking their talk".
perform their part in a needed cultural shift, senior management must
aid the focus effort by establishing a rallying vision. The wording of
the vision becomes extremely important if it is to influence needed
behavior changes. It is one thing to say we want to achieve a 10%
increase in market share in five years but it is more of a rallying
vision to say we will either be number one or number two in the market
place for our products in five years or we will not be in that
business. This was, of course, done by Jack Welch of General Electric.
priority, senior management must participate in open debate on the
paradigm shifts that will be needed to achieve quantum results. The
outcome will be agreement on what thinking must be changed. Knowing
this, senior management can provide the necessary support. Senior
management should expect some organizational people to yell foul when
a change in their behavior is expected. Indeed, if there is no human
system noise assume that changes are not taking place.
To sum up, when a
cultural shift is necessary to achieve superior performance, senior
management must be part of the process. They need to examine what
thinking and behaviors need to change, including their own, to get the
process started. They certainly need to set out the vision, goals and
values that they want the organization to achieve and they have to
make the appropriate policy changes. Beyond this they need to provide
visible support, track the change agents and clear obstacles.
Focus is the
directing of human energy and capability to the significant few issues
and opportunities that result in quantum benefits. Now, this appears
to be so logical we have to ask ourselves why isn't it generally done?
facilities have, within their fence line, the capability to solve most
of their problems yet they continue to be hampered by recurring
failure events. In fact, what do most field people do daily but attend
to chronic problems.
prevail that are instrumental in limiting our ability to focus:
- It is career
limiting to resist assignments even if they obstruct more
- To belong, it
is important not to object to work assignments, even if it isn't
as important as the work currently being done.
Can you argue that
these are not representative of the thinking of organizational people
probably at all levels? What this represents is a dilemma for most
people. Either I work on the trivial many or I challenge my job
assignments. The first decision promotes mediocrity, the second may be
perceived as insubordination. In fact, challenges to job assignments
can polarize relationships between bosses and subordinates.
The answer is to
challenge but to do it in a way that is not perceived as being
insubordinate. One can do this by using a variety of prioritization
techniques. This reduces the challenge to a technique on a piece of
paper, permitting the supervisor to see the logic of the challenge.
Indeed the supervisor can modify the priority by interjecting his or
her own logic. He or she may even use the document to present the
field view to their own boss, if necessary.
Some of the
techniques for establishing reliability focus are:
This is a way of
focusing that requires the management team to examine the health of
the organization by first establishing a rallying vision of the future
along with the values that they want the organization to represent.
This is followed by a day long introspection of the health of the
organization for which they are responsible. Finally, a focused plan
is developed for moving the organization forward. If the organization
is found to be unhealthy, as is observed in many plant organizations,
then the result of this session is a twofold plan, one to restore
health and one to move forward.
Failure Modes and Effects Analysis
of concentrating personnel solely on the failures that are perceived
as being of interest to senior management, or the most dramatic
failure of the day, we need to concentrate our trained resources on
those failures that are most important to achieving and exceeding our
financial targets. To do this, a very effective technique, developed
in the aerospace industry, has been simplified and made user friendly
making it applicable to the continuous process industry. The result is
a method that captures vital information held by people in the field
that is usually not found in our data systems.
modified version of Failure Modes and Effects Analysis uses field
resources to develop the information that identifies which failures
represent 80% of facility losses. The technique, although somewhat
subjective, is powerful and very capable of identifying the
significant few failures that should be subjected to Root Cause
As employees of
companies, it is our tradition that orders for performing work comes
from our bosses. It is also our tradition that objections to such
orders are not usually tolerated. Since traditions are our paradigms,
they have the effect of promoting mediocrity. They also represent a
dilemma for employees....do I challenge job assignments or do I
continue to work on the trivial many? Decision by pairs is one
technique that provides a vehicle to challenge work assignments in a
non-personal way. It allows a list of jobs that need attention to be
prioritized by comparing each job with each of the other jobs to be
done and then sorting the list according to how many times a
particular job is selected.
Priority Matrix is
a technique that is two dimensional. This means that instead of
comparing the importance of one job with the importance of other jobs,
we can sort on the basis of the impact of a job as well as the ease of
achieving the job.
When we allow
subordinates to question priorities we are, in effect, allowing limits
to be challenged and opening up our plants to some very real progress.
I define proaction
as any improvement, foresight and/or execution activities that will
prevent equipment, process or human failure or lessen the consequence
I want to discuss,
in human terms, mechanical, process and human proaction.
mechanical proaction we must predict how our machines are failing or
are likely to fail. When we discussed Focus we talked about a
technique called Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, a tool to help us
identify failure modes. Having knowledge of failure modes, we can take
steps to avoid these occurrences and develop early warning signals of
their impending happenings. What is generally missing are standards of
acceptable performance and how to achieve them. Take for example
rotating equipment such as pumps, pacesetters are using standards that
are getting them six years average life on their pumps instead of the
two years that is generally found acceptable. To understand how to
achieve this higher standard let us examine three vital up front
activities that we perform to put rotating equipment in service:
namely, balance, assembly and alignment.
use ISO balance standards when they supply our rotating equipment
parts. ISO G6.3 is generally used for pump impellers, pump couplings
and sheaves. This standard will provide orbits or whips in shafts that
are 6 to 7 times higher than API standards. If we ask manufacturers to
provide API standard they will usually quote outrageous fees. However,
experts advise that to go from ISO G6.3 to API standards requires only
two to three extra spins on the balance machine with a spin usually
taking from 5 to 15 minutes. So a more appropriate question to the
supplier would be "how much per hour do you charge for the
balance technician?" since all we want is an extra 45 minutes of
the balance technician's time, at the outside.
Those of us that
are relying on outside balance shops for repairs must assure ourselves
that the contract shops are using appropriate standards and that
assemblies are being balanced, not merely parts.
To be a pacesetter it takes great attention
to detail during assembly. It means that all parts are carefully
examined to look for any mars, scratches and indentations that could
possibly become stress risers. It means assuring that every mating
surface is carefully inspected for burrs and rolled over edges. It
means that every clearance is double checked. It means that there are
marks placed by the balance technician so that as those parts are
reassembled in the machine, they are positioned exactly as they were
on the balance stand. Now this is not going to get done if the work
environment stresses speed of assembly and attention to detail is not
recognized and rewarded. I truly suggest in-house training courses
focused on this issue of attention to detail.
Industry certainly has the tools and the
methods to align equipment properly and yet alignment is reported as
50% to 70% of the reason for failure of rotating equipment today. The
writer finds that most managers that have provided training in the
reverse indicator method or the laser method feel that they are
getting good alignments. This kind of thinking ignores the training
cycle. If prompt practice in the field of what is learned is denied
and if there is no follow up to assess skills learned, we can be sure
that we are taking false comfort in the thought that we are getting
organization that was getting two year MTBF's (Mean Time Between
Failures) on their pumps required a failure analysis for all failures
occurring in less than two years even if it was a day less than two
years. What they learned, they applied. As a result they now realize
six year's life and are heading for 8 years.
average plant that has 1200 pumps and average repair cost of
$5,000/pump. This assumes all costs involved including the procurement
& storage costs of parts, cost of supervision & technical
support, cost of tools and rigging equipment, cost of overhead burden
and finally the cost of person power and their overtime. (We have been
advised that this cost may very well be $7,500 to $10,000 per pump).
This is a
clear savings of $2,000,000/yr.. It can be more if the people freed up
can be assigned proactive work with other equipment including the
We know who the
performers are in our operating units. What we generally do not know
is what factors separate them from the average field operating person.
When we think of these performers or groups of performers, we
generally recognize their fine behavior traits. This is, of course,
normal but what we need to do is define these exemplars not in terms
of their behavior but rather in terms of their demonstrated
performance parameters are defined, usually in terms of quantity,
quality or cost, we need to define the gap between the exemplars and
the average producers. It is likely that more than one measure of
performance will be needed. It is also likely that, upon reflection,
we will find that the parameters that we are seeking are not currently
being measured. If this is the case, it will be necessary to set up
the means to measure the performance gap.
Once metrics are
put in place, they will define the performance gaps so that the
opportunities to improve average performance can be realized. Analysis
of the gap may reveal that the average operator lacks confidence in
their ability to handle some off standard conditions or perhaps some
shifts have better teamwork than others. Whatever the case, it is
incumbent on management to develop a strategy to close the gap.
The tendency is to
center our attention on attitudes, yet, throw up our hands when we
find how difficult it is to directly influence attitudes. The writer
is suggesting that we center our attention on performance to identify
exemplars and define the opportunity gap. We then center on analyzing
the reasons for the gap and developing strategies to close the breach.
These strategies include training, tools, job aids, recognition
programs, field reinforcement of learned methods, as well as
management system changes. Management system changes may include:
speeding up decision making, installing feedback mechanisms, and/or
field audits, to name a few.
starts with inculcating productive paradigms. To do this we need to
know something about paradigms. Joel Barker's film on
"Discovering The Future" does an excellent job of
introducing people to paradigms and their effects. If you have seen
the film then you will see that the writer's treatment of paradigms
complements what Barker presents.
The first thing to
consider is the distinction between a mindset and a paradigm. A
mindset is a deep seated conviction, value or way of doing something
that we, as individuals, possess. When the same mindset is shared by a
significant number of people in a population, like a department or
plant, it becomes a paradigm. So a paradigm is always a mindset but a
mindset may not be a paradigm.
Consider that we
are the most technically advanced society on the face of the earth and
yet many of us struggle to gain economic advantage over our
competitors in other nations. How can this be? The writer has found
numerous examples of manufacturing plants being held in bondage by
their own thinking, their paradigms. For example, plants that are so
used to playing the incremental stretch game that they do not stop to
analyze the gap between unrestrained production at their highest
demonstrated rate for quality products versus their present situation.
This relatively simple task often reveals enormous opportunities.
Some people have
expressed to the writer that they tire at the use of the word ...
Paradigm. This is truly unfortunate because it conceptually captures
the power that our thinking has over our behavior. If we believe in a
cause or a direction strongly enough we can do extraordinary things,
like landing on the moon. If we believe in false limitations, like not
being able, as human beings, of running a mile in less than four
minutes, we will find ourselves dead in the water, incapable of any
The writer has
numerous examples of paradigms that have restrained progress:
mechanics believe that management only gives lip service to
wanting equipment repaired properly. This perception is
reinforced every time management stresses the need to expedite
people are convinced that management's primary interest is in
avoiding and responding to large failures, not the chronic ones.
This is, of course, the result of centering on large failures
without a balanced focus on repetitive failures.
There is a
large restraining paradigm that exists in California,
particularly Los Angeles, that says 'Because of strict
environmental laws, it is impossible for chemical and petroleum
plants to compete'. The problem here is that minds become closed
to viable strategies for competition in California. For example,
the monitoring of fugitive emissions is a cost burden that has
to be sustained. But, fugitive emissions testing should
represent a driver and an opportunity to cut out, in the average
plant, approximately $2,000,000/yr. in pump repairs by reaching
for a new level of precision in pumps. $2,000,000/yr. far
exceeds the annual cost of fugitive emissions testing in the
people have a paradigm that creativity cannot be expressed in
many plants because management tightly controls their
activities. Some of this results from close and sometimes
intimidating supervision as well as from the need to abide by
the 'management of change' rules set down by the government.
Reasonable means for people to express and use their creativity
need to be found to negate this paradigm.
people feel that they must cover themselves with enormous detail
rather than say 'I don't know'. Interestingly, management's
insistence on details does not seem to promote the attention to
details that they are trying to inculcate. It is like preparing
for a school test. For too many students the important thing is
to know enough detail to answer the test questions. It is
usually not to understand the logic and substance of the work.
It is a subtlety but an important one. The writer feels that
what managers need to exercise people on, is their thinking
processes instead of their memories.
opinion exists that management has trimmed workforces to a point
that important gaps in performance exist. Couple this paradigm
with one stating that salaried people must work long and
audacious hours to protect their career development. The result
is a perception that people have to work harder with increasing
uncertainty about continued employment. Without a perception of
greater stability or growth, the jobs will eventually appear
futile to people who perform the work.
It is unfortunate
that census reductions take place before non-value added work is
reduced, yet, it may be the only way that senior management can
realize the financial results needed. Obviously, the answer is to
define work that is non-value added and develop means to reduce and/or
eliminate it. This will open time slots that can be used to relieve
the workload, reduce frustrations, restore home lives, and create the
potential for moving people into more proactive activities.
The writer often
hears the admonition that operators or mechanics or both are not
pulling their load. This is certainly disheartening. Experience tells
us that in many of the cases it stems from not holding people
responsible for their work.
plants need to establish criteria of performance, not of behavior, and
devise strategies to obtain the criteria. The criteria have to be
dynamic because management will reasonably continue to ask for the
next plateau of excellence. The way people perform, to each level of
criteria, will be a measure of their competence.
is the job of a central core group, not the job of everyone" is a
common refrain. If people do not know how they can participate in an
activity, it is reasonable for them to assume that it is some other
person's job. This is both an educational and a management system
really wants people that can react and get the facility back on the
line". Reaction is too often rewarded, creating a sense of
fulfillment for this type of activity. This, of course, perpetuates
mediocrity because it discourages proaction and continuous
improvement. All that is needed is to change what people get rewarded
writer often senses deep seated feelings from field people that they
are required to use old equipment or push existing equipment beyond
its ability to provide consistent flows and quality products. This is
certainly a breeding ground for assumptions but it could also be an
early warning system if the reasons for the feelings are listened to
and evaluated. Feedback to the claimant can help dispel the false
often formulated by assumptions that people make about their world.
When management makes pronouncements, institutes new policies, or
merely praises or criticizes work that has been done, there will be
assumptions made. These assumptions might include how people will be
affected and how they will survive and prosper. The assumptions made
as a response to management's message can very well become deep seated
values or paradigms.
So how do we
handle this problem of paradigms? The mind is, of course, dynamic, not
static. As a result, our mindsets are being continually honed by new
information. Regrettably, most of the time we will distort the
information to preserve our mindsets if they truly represent our deep
seated values. To move people out of their restraining mindsets we
must, at times, be prepared, be bold and a little bit outrageous.
One strategy is to
change people's jobs. The writer had one client whose organization was
not making headway because incumbent managers were shackled in their
thinking by the turf that they felt they had to protect. One bright
morning the General Manager, my client, came to work and announced
that all nine of his managers suddenly had new jobs. Each of them now
had the responsibility of one of their colleagues. What the General
Manager did was unshackle them from their past. He gave them a new
beginning but he lost none of their experience. And it worked.
We can move people
to new environments or we can introduce radically new technologies.
Each of these strategies will force the establishment of new thinking.
However, often we do not have the liberty to use these strategies. The
writer has experienced two additional strategies that work. One is to
provide the training and tools to perform the old job to new and more
exacting standards of performance. The other strategy requires
management systems that provide speedy responses to worker's
creativity, thus giving them a sense of fulfillment.
The writer has
also seen in-house advertising succeed providing that it is
straightforward and honest. The model to use here is the evolution of
our approach to safety. In-house advertising usually takes more time
because here the thrust is changing attitudes, a time consuming
activity. It can be speeded up if it is combined with the
would not be complete if we neglected to discuss training and
alienation, wrapping it together with human error and its
consequences. Starting with training, it is imperative for both
operating and safety reasons that people know their jobs. They really
cannot respond to operating deviations or precision repairs if they
simply do not know what to do. Sure they can fake it and get by most
of the time because the work environment is quite forgiving and,
frankly, so are we. When we allow shoddy workmanship to stand we are
contributing to the mediocrity that it engenders.
A familiar refrain
of the writer is the advice that because people, for the most part,
cannot reveal their deficiencies of knowledge or skill it is incumbent
on management to ferret out the educational gaps. The writer suggests
that needs assessments be implemented to provide needed information on
knowledge and skill gaps.
The Next Step
Once the gaps are
determined the next step is training. To train effectively, we must
first isolate the specific performance we want to improve, translating
it into training criteria.
The training must
accomplish two things: it must fulfill a perceived need and it must
link to existing knowledge held by the student. For students to absorb
information and transform it into personal knowledge, the training
information needs to be presented in more than one form to make the
skills training must present opportunities for repetitive use of the
skills learned. It is necessary to practice the skill in the classroom
but it is also very necessary for the supervisors to allow and
encourage the skills to be used on the job. This means that the
supervisors are a necessary part of the training cycle.
Once the students
are back on the job for a time, their performance must be matched
against the original criteria to assure the training was effective. To
this end the writer recommends that critical skills such as vibration
analysis, machine alignment and balancing be assessed by experts to
assure that any gaps found can be closed by reinforcement from the
We also have to
concern ourselves with alienation because if we are estranged from our
bosses, subordinates or colleagues, this excess emotional baggage has
the effect of reducing our ability to be sensitive to our
surroundings. We need to be sensitive to our work environment to
operate effectively and to prevent sporadic failures. The writer
recognizes that alienation will never be totally eliminated but we can
significantly reduce it, if we are aware of it.
earnestly believes that attention to these key issues: knowing job
content and reducing alienation, will significantly influence
performance, safety and environmental integrity. This is true because
the environment we work in is very forgiving. If we raise our
sensitivity to our surroundings a notch or two we will materially
environment is said to be very forgiving because even though we, as
human beings, are error prone we generally survive our own mistakes.
We see this graphically in the Error Change Phenomenon. It is reported
that it takes 10 to 14 errors and their associated changes before a
random event occurs, such as an unpredicted failure, fire or
explosion. Because of this, we realize that we need to recognize
errors, our own and others, and break the chains leading to disaster.
Remember, when we remove a tripping hazard, we are breaking an error
chain. When we are too close to another car and maneuver to increase
the distance between the vehicles, we are breaking an error chain.
Breaking chains by
becoming more sensitive to our surroundings is vital in modern day
plants because of the danger of massive injuries and product flow
disruptions. The danger is usually very high primarily because of the
ever increasing horsepowers and speeds of modern machinery. In
addition, the danger escalates with production materials that can
cause fire, explosions and chemical or radiation poisoning.
insuring that field personnel know their jobs and how to perform them
will increase their sensitivity to the their job environment.
Likewise, the reduction of alienation will reduce emotional baggage
and increase their sensitivity to their surroundings. Since our world
pardons many of our mistakes, in that it takes a multiple of errors to
cause a triggered event, this will materially improve operational
performance and reduce the chance of accidents and environmental
Now that what
needs to happen has been laid out, we need to understand how we can
modify operations to achieve quantum benefits. It has been the
writer's experience that such transformations can occur within one to
two years and at the outside five years. Remember that many folks
promoting such transformations approach the subject by trying first to
change attitudes with the belief that improved performance will
follow. This can work, but it generally takes between five to ten
years to accomplish quantum benefits, and sometimes even longer.
It is the writer's
position that change can take place faster by forcing modifications in
behavior as long as they do not violate the values of those
individuals involved in the change. Thinking will begin to shift if
the forced behavior is accompanied by education, participation and
experiencing the fruits of new value systems. It becomes apparent that
timing is important, the motivation of the people involved is
important and the sensitivity and skill of the champion advising and
directing this change is important.
A word about the
consultant that will most likely advise management and provide
training and special expertise. It is vital to have someone that has
had direct field experience in transformations. Without it the
consultant cannot empathize with the parties involved and understand
the particular dynamics occurring in the facility.
The consultant or
advisor should not develop a plan for the change. The plan must be
developed by the people responsible for operational performance. They
will, hopefully, choose to involve various others in the facility.
When the plan is final it must be the facility's plan. The advisor
should be called upon to review the plan in the draft stage, but he or
she cannot be a decision maker respecting the plan. Recognize that it
is easy for consultant's plans to fail. It is much harder for
management's plans to fail.
To accomplish a
transformation that will assure a company's or a plant's ability to
compete in the next century, the following changes in thinking need to
It will be impossible to compete if companies
continue to suffer surprises, whether they be operational upsets,
equipment failure or major financial deviations.
We cannot continue to ignore the mountains of
psychological evidence that says we respond to recognitions and
rewards. As human beings we tend to replicate behavior for which we
are recognized and rewarded. It is no wonder that reaction is in big
demand since in our society we tend to recognize reaction, not
Recognize a Challenge to Existing Limits
We certainly do not need people who are
disruptive but we do need critics as well as people who are creative
and inventive. The critics may appear to be disruptive but, if they
are challenging existing limits we need their help to boldly move
We need to recognize the role of the current
day supervisor. It is to guide, to train the people for which he or
she has responsibility and to facilitate their needs to accomplish
their work. In this way they become leaders. We also need to recognize
that the people doing work should be responsible for their work but
are most often not held accountable. Accordingly, we need to create
new work environments that hold supervisors responsible for
facilitation, training and guiding. Operators and mechanics must be
held responsible for their tasks and performance, whether individually
or in teams.
Open Flow of Information
There is surely a greater flow of data today
but not information. Data must be reduced to wisdom. It must be
presented in a way that helps people convert it to personal knowledge.
The science to help us do this is called instructional technology and
we have to learn to use it effectively.
Everything That Comes Up
Do What Is Most Important
Certainly one of the most powerful impediments to progress is our
inability to concentrate talented work forces on the issues in a plant
that are MOST important. It is generally conceded that almost
everything employees are asked to do in a plant is important. The
writer observes that in facilities that have a lot of system noise,
confusion and inefficiencies, there is no discernment of what is most
important. Plant supervisors and managers certainly need to accept
challenges to assignments not viewed as important as the current work
and devise means to target resources to what is truly most important
Procedures That Protect Legally
Field Procedures That Work
Many, if not most, field procedures are
written without knowledge of how the human sensory system and the
brain absorb information and use it. Some procedures are written to
satisfy legal requirements. Yet, what needs to occur is to develop
user friendly procedural products that make great use of graphics,
color, instructional technology and human factors engineering
techniques. Our goal must be easy understanding of not only how to do
something but also why it needs to be done.
We tend to take for granted what people know.
We must realize that it is difficult for people to say they don't know
something when they are already being paid to perform specific tasks.
In many cases they muddle through but they can not provide the
precision needed to allow their plants to become pacesetters. The
answer is to learn the science of instructional technology and apply
it so that people truly know every facet of their jobs. Additionally,
we have to strive for work environments where employees feel free to
tell us what they don't know or understand.
In the United States we have, in the past,
concentrated our efforts on effecting big improvements in our
equipment and processes. This has often been done at the expense of
smaller but needed improvements. Some of our Japanese competitors have
been extraordinarily successful in making small improvements work for
them. The USA can also make small improvements work for them but they
must reduce the bureaucracies that are often set up to handle
improvements. This would mean that the burden for following through on
small improvements would fall on the 1st line supervisors. Bearing
this burden would only be possible if the role of the supervisor is
changed as has been stated above. Supervisors need to be relieved of
the responsibility for the work of their employees but become
responsible for facilitating that work. This is in no way suggesting
that plants should relax their responsibility to manage change.
Supervisors as Coaches
In the forties we called 1st line supervisors
"pushers" because their job was to push the workers, thereby
assuring a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. At least that was the
theory. Over the years, we have tried to shift this paradigm by
relabeling pushers as foremen, supervisors and even managers, yet we
still held them responsible for the work. In the future, 1st line
supervisors will become facilitators, trainers and coaches while
people who do the field work will be held responsible for their own
performance. Many forms of this scenario are beginning to appear but,
in many locations, our old mindsets are formidable barriers to
progress in this regard.
Added Work Accepted as Routine
Non-Value Added Work Continually Pruned
In plant after plant, we hear the lament that
staffs have been cut so much that it is impossible to pursue proactive
work. Yet, in these plants one can observe a preponderance of
non-value added work being done. Price Waterhouse reports that between
88% to 92% of all the work done in American factories is non-value
added. When we make up our minds to do something about this we will
begin to open pockets of time for proactive activities.
Reducing Potential Failures
We have come to believe that the more
progressive plants have reliability groups that predict potential
failures. What we must remember is that true reliability can only be
realized when we reduce our dependence on prediction. This is not to
say that prediction is not important but more important is the need to
prevent the need for prediction. We do this by increasing the
preciseness of our work. We no longer accept the standards of the past
but adopt new higher standards of workmanship for equipment, parts,
assembling equipment and processing products.
on Sporadic Failures/Problems
Focus on Chronic Failures/Problems
Our practice has been to avoid
and study our more catastrophic failures. Certainly on the surface
this is hard to argue. However, as we discover that the chronic
failures are costing us more over time than the larger sporadic
failures, we begin to see that there is a need to shift our focus.
What has been fooling us is the frequency factor. Without multiplying
by frequency our small failures remain small but when multiplied they
become huge. The writer is not advocating abandoning efforts to avoid
sporadic failures but he is advocating a shift in focus.
People Who Make Mistakes
Find Management System Causes
The theory has been that if we punish people
for making mistakes they will not repeat them. Further, as the
punishment is subtly made public their colleagues will also avoid the
same mistakes. This sounds logical but it has not worked. Failure
rates are rising. The explanation lies in the "Error/Change
Phenomenon" that we already discussed. When we have a sporadic
event like a fire, explosion or merely an equipment failure there is a
multiplicity of errors that lead up to the event. When we punish an
individual for his or her mistake we drive the information on the
other 9 to 13 mistakes underground. Thus, we have not really solved
the problem because we did not uncover all its root causes. This needs
to change. But to effect the change we have to shift a very old
the changes that are needed. The question remaining is how do we
change or transform to achieve quantum benefits and provide a work
place that has less stress and offers more fulfillment. We start with
the following prerequisites:
Identify the status quo - In
the writer's view this should not be done by inside consultants as
plant politics will usually influence what goes into the assessment
report and how it is stated. If the reviewer is concerned about who
might influence his or her career in the future he or she will not
write an unbiased summary of their findings. It is also possible that
if the inside reviewer feels that he or she must let the plant know
how serious the management takes low plant performance they might be
harsher than the study results demonstrate.
should be pointed at needed performance and the reasons that it is not
being achieved. It should be fair but candid, not sugar coated, to get
everyone's attention. The writer likes to be candid in the draft
report and then allow the client to wordsmith to blunt the sharp edges
if they desire. This allows the raw message to penetrate to those that
have the decision power to make necessary changes.
must include recommendations and it must prioritize those
recommendations because they represent an added work burden to the
plant. Usually the recommendations can not all be done at the same
Accept the status quo - Probably
the most difficult step is to accept the criticisms embodied in the
findings and conclusions of an assessment. This is generally a matter
of pride. The first impulse in many cases is to deny that what is
found really exists. The second impulse is to get angry with the
messengers, that is, the assessment team. Although this is a fairly
normal response, it demonstrates a real barrier to success. The writer
submits to the reader that the managers that can accept the criticisms
of an assessment and move ahead have the greatest potential to be
Design the vision of the future
- Moving ahead in this context means knowing
the direction to travel. A pacesetter management is one that will
layout the future, one that has a vision of where they want to be in 3
to 5 years. This management team has the creative ability to present
the vision in a fashion that engenders excitement and commitment among
themselves as well as the employees that must make it happen. The
vision needs to become a cause that employees can rally around.
the will and the courage to navigate the gap
- Whenever we impose a different way of doing
things on people we are bound to make them uncomfortable at the onset.
Perhaps we remember going into the military service or being promoted
into a new responsibility and the unease that goes into approaching
the unknown. Indeed, if people are not uncomfortable and perhaps
voicing objections, then we would not be changing anything.
The fallacy is
that this uncomfortable feeling, this lack of confidence, needs to
continue for a long time. If it does continue for a long time, then we
are doing something wrong, or not doing something we should be doing.
After a few months employee confidence and pride should return. It is
management's job to put in place support systems that assist people in
Because this is a
period of turmoil and, possibly, requiring a new style of managing,
the period can be most unsettling and challenging to the managers.
After all, who has prepared them for these challenges, for possibly
receiving agendas from subordinates, for delegation, yes; but for
transferring power to lower levels? A good training ground for this
kind of management is managing charity work or a parent teacher's
association. Because in these activities the leader has little
authority and must learn to be persuasive and to be challenged. The
writer assures the reader that the new management style takes personal
fortitude and courage, but the result is more satisfying and enduring
for more people.
Now we know the
prerequisites, what are the means? The means vary depending upon the
organization, its prior conditioning and what needs to be
accomplished. Although some consultants would like you to think there
is a cookbook and they have it, the writer has not been able to
experience "like" situations. Each plant has its own
uniqueness. Following are some of the strategies that have worked for
the writer. They are not presented as an all inclusive list but can be
very effective in the right circumstances:
A. The writer
believes it is necessary to have a Reliability Policy, set out by
management, if one does not exist. The policy commits management on a
philosophical level to reliability activity. It also sets the
priority. It informs everyone of management's expectations and
management's commitment to reliability. If management is unwilling to
set out a policy it is unlikely, although not impossible, that
reliability work will take root.
A policy also does
another thing, it spells out that management understands what
reliability can do for the manufacturing process.
B. The writer used
to believe that champions were needed to shepherd in reliability
changes. But events have also caught up with this concept. Today, the
writer believes in the need for a two part shepherding system. We need
to appoint drivers as well as champions to effect reliability changes.
In cases where reliability is merely a vibration monitoring effort or
something less and needs to be expanded, we need to have a working
committed believer effecting needed change. One of the writer's
clients calls this person a driver. He or she is in the trenches
imposing changes and probably making many people uncomfortable. In
fact, if this person experiences no resistance, it is quite likely he
or she is not a driver. Because people are being moved out of their
comfort zones, the drivers will need mentors or spokespersons that
protect them, see that barriers to success are removed and put in
place needed management systems. This person needs to be at a higher
managerial level. This person is called the champion.
C. One defines
failure as "a machine breakdown", another as "a quality
defect" and still another as "an excessive cost". One
defines proaction as "forecasting activity", still another
as "doing things right the first time" and another as
"an improvement program". And what about the concepts, ideas
and definitions behind words like "Focus",
"Sporadic", "Chronic", "Problem",
Opportunity", "Primary Failure vs. Secondary Failure"
and the list goes on. The writer learned a long time ago that we have
no means to think without words. We need words to formulate our ideas
and communicate our needs. The dilemma exists when there are multiple
meanings for the words we use to conduct our business. For this reason
the writer believes that it is most useful to present seminars that establish
a common reliability vocabulary.
D. Safety is an
entrenched activity in most, if not all, continuous manufacturing
plants. But it was not always this way. The writer remembers the
difficulties in getting employees to wear safety glasses and hard
hats. They complained of impaired vision problems, headaches and even
more profound damage to their brains. But management prevailed and
today these, and many other safety practices, are done by rote. How
did this happen? There are multiple answers but most important was
in-house advertising with a consistent message. The banners, posters,
safety films, safety gifts, hard hat stickers are all means of
advertising and they have a proven record. This model will also work
E. To progress
reliability, various types of training will undoubtedly be needed and
will have to be provided. If employees do not know how to do their
tasks, they cannot perform. It is as simple as that. Training in
Equipment Monitoring is often needed. This includes vibration,
infrared thermography, eddy current testing and acoustical testing.
The training needs to be hands on as well as interactive lecture.
Additionally, the trainee's supervisor needs to be a partner in the
training. He or she must provide opportunities for using the training
and they must monitor the learning curve and assure proficiency. These
steps are vital because all too often it is assumed that trainees have
the proficiency merely because they attended a training course. This
often leads to a false sense of security.
Training must also
include Root Cause
Failure Analysis to establish a cadre of principal analysts for
attacking the "Significant Few", those failures that
represent 80% of plant losses. It must also make provisions for
training field level people in failure
analysis and problem solving to assure continuous improvement. It
is essential that such training focus on verification of potential
causes and at uncovering the basic roots of failures.
activities to succeed it is imperative that supervisors and managers
receive overview training so they understand the vocabulary and can
develop meaningful expectations assuring a return on the training
dollars. Supervisory training may have to include facilitation
and coaching instruction.
prediction efforts are, most often, considered part of maintenance
and, as such, designed to be a maintenance job aid to warn of latent
failures. This is a restraining paradigm that has its roots in the
methods used to market prediction instruments. We need to shift this
paradigm so that people in manufacturing recognize that when
prediction is broader based, and is used against higher standards,
runnability can materially improve. For example, we should be
predicting the effects of management pronouncements on our ability to
produce. We should be extending trendlines of operating variables to
warn of impending yield and quality problems and we should establish
higher standards for acceptable vibration to improve equipment life.
Using this broader approach, when prediction is joined to root cause
failure analysis one can expect no less than quantum results.
efforts have for too long been directed toward short term runnability.
Management must continue to insist on uptime but with cautions against
focusing on short term operations.
New standards of
excellence need to evolve that recognize precision in every assembly
that is installed in the field. For this to happen, something has to
change. For example, our shops have followed the same design pattern
that we had in the forties and fifties. Dust and dirt are allowed to
infiltrate and operations such as welding, machining, grinding, and in
some cases sand blasting, coexist in the same space where equipment is
assembled. Clearly we can see the lack of logic in this ever present
We need to revisit
our engineering standards and assure ourselves that they reflect the
higher level of precision that we will need to compete in the coming
years. If we are committed to outsourcing maintenance elements such as
balancing, valve repairs and motor overhauls, we need to have people
that have the training and the skill to audit these activities to
assure compliance to the best standards available.
H. To achieve
transformation, management must select the proper time to involve
their field people. This expert cautions against field employee
involvement in the necessary culture changes until a critical mass of
plant management people are truly on board. The writer has found that
it is more effective to work on the management for as long as it takes
to bring the most influential members on board before exposing the
field people to reliability concepts.
When the facility
is ready to expose field people to the new concepts, it should not
merely be a training exercise but a growing, learning experience that
is exciting and entertaining. It should involve presentations that
hold their attention, discussions, exercises and field assignments. It
must not be a one shot exposure but one that is spread over a period
of a year or more so that the seeds can not only be planted, but also
nurtured. To do this successfully management will have to institute
management systems that will allow synergy between supervisors and
wageroll employees, feedback systems, recognition for sought after
behaviors and celebrations for meeting new performance targets.
I. The goal of the
new approach to manufacturing should be no surprises and ever
increasing mean times between equipment failures. To set up the
environment for this, management has to promote and keep reinforcing
focus and proaction. They need to provide the tools and the training.
They need to examine all their pronouncements with a sense of system.
This means they have to anticipate how their supervisors and field
people will react to what they say.
believes that management has to find a growth message in their visions
of the future. The absence of such a message is to promote effective
operations with a clear expectation of census reductions. The writer
is not suggesting that employment be guaranteed. He is suggesting that
we provide visions that promote stability and excitement. Our result
can then be the commitment that emerges when people feel growth is the
expectation of higher and higher levels of precision and attention to
J. The barrier of
resistance today, after all the reductions in levels and in staffs, is
the perception that there are no more people available to make the
transition from reaction to proaction. Everyone is overworked and
under considerable stress. The writer is sympathetic to these
protestations. They are most often heard among line managers and
supervisors and for the most part they seem real. However, there is a
wealth of potential time available if two actions are taken. First,
boldly push the concept of focusing on the MOST important issues.
Those issues that are revealed by utilizing a focusing technique, not
the unchallenged notion of someone in authority. This may sound easy
but it is hard and it takes courage. Second, engage in strategic
change sessions to identify non-value added work and be prepared to
have management accept or reject plans to eliminate or mitigate this
type of work on the spot. If these two activities are purposely
followed, time will make itself available.
K. Now, how do we
do this quickly? We first determine the gaps and provide the tools and
the training. We, then, establish accountability and develop the means
to enforce it. Finally, we establish the rewards and/or forms of
recognition that will be bestowed on those individuals that exhibit
the new behaviors. We may not like to think that we are creatures that
respond to reward and punishment but the fact is that it works. What
separates us from other living creatures are that our needs and
motivations are highly complicated and very sophisticated. Therefore,
rewards and/or recognitions have to be carefully designed so that a
flexible system evolves.
that the road to quantum successes is bumpy and has an inordinate
number of pitfalls, it is unlikely that we will achieve success if we
do not set up metrics to gauge problems and announce successes.
M. Finally, we
need to celebrate performance successes. This is different from
preceding paragraph "K" where we were recognizing specific
behaviors. Here we recognize quantum level performance.
In summary, the
writer has experienced manufacturing locations that have outstanding
successes. Because of this experience and the writer's observations of
manufacturing, generally, he is enthusiastic about our future. We have
always found the will and the courage to rise to the occasion. We are
currently on the move and are experimenting with a number of means. We
are pointed in the right direction.
Approach works. It is the infrastructure that supports organizational
health, quality, safety and environmental integrity. To achieve the
challenge of setting the Reliability Approach in place will require a
number of conditioned paradigms to change. This will take boldness and
courage. We are up to the task. If we can delineate the challenge in
an uplifting vision we can even have fun realizing extraordinary
performance far beyond what we have become conditioned to expect.
live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very
restricted circle of their potential being. They make use of a very
small portion of their possible consciousness, and of their soul's
resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily
organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little
finger. Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our
vital resources are than we had supposed."
people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very
restricted circle of their potential being. They make use of a very
small portion of their possible consciousness, and of their soul's
resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily
organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little
finger. Great emergencies and crises show us how much greater our
vital resources are than we had supposed."