Friday, January 05, 2007

The purpose of maintenance - creating change

Article in December 06/January 07 The Chemical Engineer
Article titles "Make the most of your assets" by Sandy Dunn

One of the major barriers to overcome if maintenance is to be improved is that its purpose is not just to repair equipment after it has broken. It is not even abut prediction and prevention - rather it is a holistic process that ensures equipment fulfills its intended business purpose. A key element of this is identification and elimination of the things that cause failures, and this goes far beyond the maintenance department. As a minimum they need to be working with operations and purchasing, and all need to have a shared common goal.

To achieve step-change improvements, the organisation needs to be ready to change to this holistic view. Many will not be, and will need a compelling reason for change.

The necessary change will be multi-dimensional. To achieve it you need to

* make sure people have access to the right tools and information, the authority to make decisions
* change the way performance is measured and rewarded
* rethink lines of reporting
* redesign jobs and procedures; and train people.

To get people on board you need to have a good answer to the question "what is in it for me?" This can be financial, self-esteem, recognition, job satisfaction, career growth, pride and many others. When these have been identified they should be emphasised frequently, although care is required to avoid creating unreasonable expectations.

A rule of thumb says that if there are no tangible benefits following a change within six months support will halve and barriers will double. Therefore the program of change needs to ensure benefits will be achieved throughout as people may not be prepared to wait until the end to see them.

Quoting Dunn. "Newton's Third Law was never so true: an object at rest tends to stay at rest until acted upon by external forces. In change projects, inertia is to be avoided. It is too easy for stakeholders to remain exactly where they are, especially if they are anxious about the change project. Stakeholders need continuous invitations to become involved, constant reassurance that they will get their wins."

Andy Brazier

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