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Reliability and Maintenance Management Beliefs Part I.

by Christer Idhammar

Read part 2 and Part 3

Excellent leadership is the very essential success factor for lasting results of any improvement initiative an organization undertakes, including improvements of Reliability and Maintenance performance.

As a leader you need to create an organization of disciples that will follow you to make your vision or future organization, a reality.

As a leader, I have found it very important to develop and communicate your beliefs to your organization. These beliefs will guide your organization on its journey towards your goals.

In this and following columns, I will share my own and IDCON’s beliefs and hope they can serve as a guideline to develop your own beliefs. 


Belief 1.

Cost reduction does not generate improved reliability. Improved reliability results in lower costs.

Reliability performance is here measured as performance of Quality x Time x Speed or Overall Production Efficiency (OPE).

To sustainably reduce cost, you need to focus on what drives cost, not cost alone. Improved production reliability drives down costs.

Cost reduction often leads to short-term gains and long-term loss. For example, just because you cut the number of employees does not mean that the work they do will vanish, and it certainly does not mean that reliability will improve. Even if your production lines are not sold out the biggest saving potential is increased production reliability because it shortens the time from raw material to finished product.

Improved reliability also improves safety and energy consumption.



Belief 2.

People cannot be more productive than the system they work in allows them to be.

Even with good skills and good will people cannot be effective if they work in a reactive, unplanned and unscheduled system.

As an example, skills training will be wasted because people are not allowed to use their skills to execute work with precision.


Belief 3.

It is a leadership obligation to develop, communicate, and coach implementation of these processes.

One of the most important things you can do as a leader is to develop and document the holistic reliability and maintenance management system, the processes in that system, and the elements in the processes. E.g. Overview of the holistic reliability and maintenance management system, the work management process within that system and the elements within the work management process e.g. of how to set the right priorities on work requests and work orders.

When this is done you will have a very well defined reliability and maintenance management strategy. You can use this documented strategy to drive implementation and to measure progress towards your vision.


Belief 4.

It is more important to do the right things than to do things right.

To decide what the right things to do are is leadership. To do things right is execution of these things.

When developing your reliability and maintenance management strategy you should only focus on the right things to do and not discuss how to do them. It is much easier to reach acceptance on the right things to do then how execute them.

As long as the right things to do are done it is less important how they are done. Organizations with different sizes, skill levels and cultures have many different ways to execute.


Belief 5.

The rightpeople are an organization’s most vital asset.

I see this statement quite often, “People are our most valuable asset”. I do not agree with this statement. It should instead state, “The right people are our most valuable asset”. That is a statement I would agree with. Many improvement initiatives fail because the right people are not accountable and responsible for the task they are assigned. It does not mean that these people cannot be right in another position. It is a continuous process to develop the organization so that the right people have the right position.


Belief 6.

Busy people are not productive unless they work on the right thing.

Measurement methods such as "Wrench time" can, therefore, not be right.

In fact, a very good maintenance organization is less busy with “Wrench time” between shutdowns. Instead, more time is spent on Root Cause Problem Elimination™ (RCPE) and preparing for the next shut down. This can be done because there are very few breakdowns. If work is planned and then scheduled people will work on the right things, so it is more important to measure the effectiveness of the process people work in then to measure the symptoms of the process people work in.


Belief 7.

  People do not mind change, but do not like to be changed.


My experience is that people do not like, and seldom buy in to, changes handed down from above without explanation of what, why and how. But, if people are well informed and listened to, they will better understand and accept the reason for change. Repeated information, education and training are essential elements of any improvement initiative involving people.


Belief 8.

Basic maintenance processes must be in place before implementing more advanced tools.


Many organizations start new improvement initiatives before they are ready. Some examples include:

  • Starting Reliability Centered  (RCM) Training and analyses before they are ready because they are still too reactive; they are reactive because they do not do the very basics well. 
  • Train crafts people in precision maintenance training when they work in a reactive process. When most work is urgent, there is not enough time to use the good skills learned.  In turn, this leads to disappointment and loss of those skills.
  • Upgrading to an advanced Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) before the organization is ready. Good advice is to always start with designing the processes first and then implement the new system.

  Illustration of what the basic maintenance processes are. Looks so simple, but vey few organizations do them well

I look forward to detailing the rest of our beliefs to you in the next article.  As mentioned earlier, to be effective leader for your organization you must have a belief system in place and it must be communicated.