With twenty plus years of working with companies around the world, I’ve been witness to some incredible improvements. From a small company that was still working with paper work orders to large companies who struggled to make sense of their CMMS, the common thread for those who realized success was the discipline to implement and perform their RCM (Reliability Centered Maintenance) tasks.
The flip side of this adventure has been the frustration of being witness to those who invested in training their people, performing an analysis, and failing to implement the results. Worse yet is when you know as a facilitator, the analysis they just completed will without a doubt deliver significant results and likely make a change in culture that delivers improvement to multiple assets and locations.
As any RCM Practitioner, Trainer and Mentor will tell you, we all have our success stories that we like to share with potential customers but it’s only when we have the chance to sit with other RCM folks that we share our disappointments.
Today, I’m going to change that.
I’d like to share the RCM failure that has haunted me for nearly 10 years now. While I can’t share the name of the people or company I was working with, I can share the series of events that still anger and frustrate me to this day.
As a solo provider of RCM services, every few years you get a customer that would like to roll out an RCM effort at multiple locations requiring of course, multiple facilitators and instructors. While this creates its own unique challenges, it had little to do with why in the end, they ultimately failed.
The Corporate Reliability Leader for Company X wanted us to start with a pilot initiative on equipment that manufactured and packaged one of their top selling products. While the product had been on the market for several years and was manufactured at 3 different plant sites, they were still in a sold-out position and struggling with the decision to purchase more equipment because their best OEE across 12 lines was 54%. Looking at this data, it was clear there was plenty of room to eliminate manufacturing losses and put more product out the door.
The pilot would take 10 weeks to complete and while I urged the company to immediately begin implementing tasks after the first week, the decision was made to press on, complete the analysis of a full line and tackle the implementation at the end.
As we began to develop the implementation plan it was clear that implementation would take one person working full time several weeks to complete the time based, PM, On-condition and Operator Care tasks. With plant management in the room, the sites maintenance planner stepped up and volunteered to tackle implementing the tasks.
The planner took 6 full weeks to complete the implementation with the exception of 12 small capital projects that were identified. Over the next two months, the pilot line OEE improved from 48% to 76%! In the following two months we worked to template the maintenance plan to 4 addition lines, and each saw similar improvements in OEE. By the time Company X held their world-wide reliability group meeting, the company had been able to meet all customer orders for their top selling product and their RCM effort was declared a success!
Now it was time to put the roll out of RCM in high gear across multiple locations. Over the next 6 months, Company X completed over forty RCM’s at various locations and while we were all busy performing analyses, not one of these sites had begun to implement. Company X was spending a LARGE sum of money talking about what they needed to do but never actually doing what they needed to do.
Three months into the company wide roll out, I met with the Corporate leader to discuss the need to implement. When I asked him why the sites weren’t implementing, he said the feedback they got was they didn’t know how, or they didn’t have the people available. It was at this point I suggested that he bring the Planner from the pilot site on to his staff and have him spend two weeks at each site that had performed a RCM to get them started with implementation. Problem solved! I thought for sure, we would soon begin to recognize success at each site.
One month later, we are on our weekly call and I ask how the Planner is making out at his first site. “Oh, I forgot to tell you, I got shot down on that idea by corporate Human Resources. I didn’t know it, but the planner is an hourly employee, and we can’t bring hourly employees to staff positions.”
Ok, so promote him to Supervisor, making him salary and bring him up that way.
“I tried that, and we can’t promote anyone to supervisor unless they have a 2-year degree.”
Go over the HR managers head, it’s a stupid policy and you have solid documentation that he helped the company make significant improvements on a problem that site engineers and managers with 4-year degrees couldn’t do.
“I’ll give it a shot.”
One week later we speak again, and I ask how he made out.
“My boss tried, and she got shutdown as well. HR claims it opens a bag of snakes and they will not bend. We even discussed just having him stay in his current role and having him travel to help out. But that would require his site to hire a temp to back fill for him and they can’t get the approval.”
Why can’t they get approval?
“They already at full head count for contractors and a planner would be I higher price category than just labor. Look, we tried, it’s not going to happen. They won’t bend and we’re out of ideas.”
In the end, Company X had 1 very successful RCM effort at 1 site.
Eight months after trying to promote their planner and make him a part of their Corporate Reliability Team, he took a job and promotion with another company. He is a Maintenance Manager with another company that apparently doesn’t have silly rules to punish its top performers.
In the months following the Planners exit from Company X, the OEE on product lines where they had implemented the RCM tasks began to slip. Turns out the Planner was also their Scheduler and the PM’s he scheduled to ensure reliability were being pushed out to accommodate their growing emergency/demand work.
Sometimes, rules were made to be broken.
Douglas Plucknette is the President of Reliability Solutions Inc. and creator of RCM Blitz™. The author of Reliability Centered Maintenance using RCM Blitz™ and Clean, Green and Reliable a best-selling book on how to reduce energy consumption in manufacturing plants through equipment reliability. Doug has published over 100 articles on Maintenance & Reliability, and has been a featured Speaker as well as Keynote Speaker at a countless number of conferences around the world.
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