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Reliability and Maintenance Management Beliefs Part 2

by Christer Idhammar

Read part 1 and Part 3

In my previous article, I mentioned that IDCON has a belief system that guides our business and the work we do for our clients.  You must develop and communicate your beliefs to your organization. These beliefs will guide your organization on its journey towards your goals. 



Belief 9.

Rapid and sustainable change does not exist in maintenance because the change process is “90%” about people and behaviors.

Is rapid change possible in a maintenance organization?

If change is equivalent to sustainable improvements the answer to this question is no. Why? In my experience 90% of improvement of maintenance performance is about people and 10% is about technology and processes. This does not mean that technology and design of processes are not important. It is very important to design the right processes for people to enable them to become more productive. But that is the easy part in an improvement initiative. This part might take only five to ten percent of the effort in time and money.

What takes time is to make an often-undisciplined reactive organization to work in a disciplined process. Your organization might have many maintenance heroes who value the recognition they receive when they repair a broken down piece of equipment. They might also be rewarded by overtime pay because of the logic that equipment is more likely (76%) to break down when the full maintenance crew is not in the mill.

Technology is also very important. To acquire the right tools for vibration analyses, precision alignment, and hand held computers etc. is easy because most maintenance people love gadgets and tools. The challenge is to implement the use of the tools in a disciplined process. It might be basic things like taking action to plan and schedule correction of failures in equipment discovered early by any of these tools. To make that process work is what takes time. It might include changing the mindset of requestors of maintenance work to not request a higher priority on work than necessary because it will drive the organization into a reactive mode. It might require to update bills of materials so planners can plan more efficiently etc. It will require a close partnership between operations and maintenance so priorities of work are done based on what is most important for the business. These are just some few examples to demonstrate that 90% of effort to improve maintenance performance is about people.

During all my years in the reliability and maintenance management business I have seen so many, and done so many, well written plans and Power Point presentations and often seen lacking true implementation of these plans. Most organizations know what they need to do so that is not the big issue. The big issue is to make the system and processes you designed and agreed upon work. I call this phenomenon the “Know-Do gap”. I have also worked with many organizations that have reached excellence in reliability and lower costs. The common denominator for these organizations is that they close the “Know-Do Gap”, they think long term and clearly define the best practices, they consistently communicate these practices, they provide the right tools and consistently execute these practices long term. 



Belief 10

Operations, Engineering, Maintenance, and Stores must work in a partnership to reach excellence.

Most organizations we work with think they work in a close partnership between these departments, but not many do. This is often reflected in in the way performance indicators are used. Operations are measured by the quality tons produced, maintenance by the cost of maintenance, engineering by on time and within budget for projects and stores by turn over and value of inventory. These examples of performance indicators do not promote a partnership between the departments.

If you agree to Belief 1: “Cost reduction does not generate improved reliability. Improved reliability results in lower cost”.Then you have set the foundation to a reliability driven organization and the common lagging performance indicator should be production reliability. Production reliability is how many quality tons manufactured divided by capacity tons: or Quality performance x Time performance x Speed performance. If production reliability is used as the common goal for operations and maintenance it will drive a different mindset. E.g. it will be less important to record lost production by department. Instead the organization would focus on eliminating the root cause of the problem. It will also lead to that, as a leader, you would focus more on development and documentation and implementation of the processes that drives better reliability followed by lower costs, instead of focusing only on the cost of maintenance.

The manufacturing cost per ton will override the maintenance cost per ton. This will encourage operations employees to participate in maintenance work and vice versa. As an example: Where it is practical, operators will do a big part of basic inspections and essential care of equipment. Shutdowns can be changed but only as a joint decision between operations and maintenance etc.

Stores will not only be measured by inventory reductions in money. Instead inventory reductions will be done concurrent with measurement of service level to maintenance (right item available at the right time.) 

Engineering will include reliability and maintainability considerations in specifications and design of equipment and make procurement decisions based on life cycle cost over 10 years or more.

If you agree with belief 10 you cannot only say that: “now we shall all work together as equal partners in a reliability partnership”, you need to define, document and communicate your beliefs, and then design all work processes according to these beliefs.

Picture 2 Reliable production (or manufacturing) is the common goal for operations, engineering and stores in a reliability driven organization


Belief 11.

Lost production reports shall record where and what, then ask why to solve and eliminate problems

In most organizations the operations department is viewed as an internal customer to the maintenance department, and the maintenance department view themselves as a service organization to the operations department. This working relationship is often reflected in the lost production reports. Lost production is reported by department e.g. Operations, Mechanical, Electrical and Instrumentation etc. This serves no purpose more to find someone to blame. It is also very often wrong because it frequently reports the symptom instead of the cause of the problem.  E.g. an electric motor failed and caused lost production. This is often reported as down time due to electrical problem, but the cause to the motor failure can be something different. If you want to create a partnership between operations and maintenance the common goal between these two departments is reliable production. (Belief 10).

This belief shall be documented and reinforced in a mission statement. An example of a production, or manufacturing mission statement could be. “In a partnership between operations and maintenance we shall safely deliver continuously better production reliability”.  Then all work processes, including lost production reports, must be designed according to the mission statement.

Instead of reporting lost production by department it should be reported where, when, what happened. A trigger is set to filter what events shall go through a Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE) activity. In a RCPE process the first step is to clearly describe the problem in a problem statement, then ask “why?” or “how can?” the problem occur. This process will help build a partnership. Also notice we talk about problems, not failures. The term failure will lead thoughts to equipment and maintenance, while the perm problem is more inclusive of everybody.

The next article I will give you the last 4 beliefs but in the meantime if you have questions, feel free to contact me at

Align your organization’s beliefs