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The Reliability Driven Maintenance Organization- Part III

by Christer Idhammar


To achieve results-oriented reliability and maintenance, plants must realize that production is a partnership between operations, maintenance, stores, and engineering.

The traditional view is that maintenance is a service organization; operations is viewed as the internal customer of maintenance, stores support maintenance, and engineering is an isolated "happy island." The right thing to do is to view operations, maintenance, stores and engineering as partners in a joint venture to reliably produce quality products.

Read The Reliability Driven Maintenance Organization- Part I

Read The Reliability Driven Maintenance Organization- Part II

In this partnership, maintenance will deliver equipment reliability, operations will deliver production process reliability, stores support maintenance and engineering will support both maintenance and operations and practice life-cycle costs (LCC) or Asset Management in its design, specification, and selection procedures for new equipment. This means that equipment selection will be based on the cost to buy and cost to own. The concept includes reliability and maintainability analyses.


Most maintenance organizations can verify that they received recognition when they fixed a major breakdown, but they seldom hear anything when they prevented a breakdown. Although there is nothing wrong in recognizing good work in a breakdown situation, but if this is the only time maintenance people are recognized for good work, it sends the wrong message. This type of recognition fosters a culture of maintenance heroes or "Maintenance Tarzans." They become very action-oriented, and it is nearly impossible to change some of these individuals to more planned, scheduled and organized maintenance work. They might be more motivated by overtime compensation. (It is about 74% likely that breakdowns and overtime will occur when the full crew is off site.) However, motivation by overtime is changing quickly with the Y-generation entering the job market. They value time off more than higher pay.

Plants need to remember that poor maintenance is highly visible and good maintenance is invisible, because it is less action-oriented. The right things for plants to do is to recognize implemented improvements, failure avoidance, planning and scheduling performance and overall reliability.


The following are some practical tips to help develop high performing organizations.

Work Management and Planning & Scheduling

  • Most frontline supervisors schedule work to the people they have available. The right thing to do is to schedule the actual work that must be most always based on four In many cases, no fewer than two people are assigned to each job. This provides the supervisor with a buffer of resources he or she can use for jobs adding on to the schedule on short notice. In this setup, scheduling compliance can wrongly appear to be very high. Therefore, it would be far better to schedule the work with real time estimates and include problem solving, or thinking time, as part of all work done by crafts people. In a high performing maintenance organization, 20 percent of all effort hours should be used on problem elimination or continuous improvement or "designing out maintenance problems."
  • The right thing to do is to prioritize work right based on risk and what is best for the business. Then schedule people to execute this work.


  • Most plants have morning meetings to discuss what happened yesterday and during the night, and some time is used to discuss what is going on today. High performing maintenance organizations should spend most of the meeting time on what will happen tomorrow and next week. Although this sounds unreal, it can be done because very few problems occur, so very little time needs to be spent on yesterday's problems. Instead, the focus should be on future activities.
  • Following the same principle, the organization should work on a monthly or weekly forecast and finalize the next day's schedule about four hours before the end of each day. The schedule should be communicated to crafts people before they leave for the day so they can prepare for tomorrow's work before they go home every day.


  • The 12-to 14-person craft line oriented maintenance organization is , lines should not limit work flexibility, only work skills to do a job safely should be the constrain. This will often require changes in union agreements and a focused training program for crafts people. Experience indicates that if management presents a clear plan, it will be well-received.

Lost Production Analyses

  • Lost production analyses are often done only by classifying the lost production by department; for example, operations, mechanical maintenance, electrical maintenance, instrumentation, etc. This procedure does not build a partnership between departments, nor does it solve any problems. What needs to be done is to define the problem, solve the problem, and classify it by department, equipment, type of failure, etc. after the analyses have been done, and then institute a follow-up on how to solve the problem in the future.

Store Room is closed

  • People in many maintenance organizations are wasting 20 to 30 percent of their time walking to the store(s) and searching for parts. Plants should plan and schedule maintenance activities so that stores can prepare and deliver parts where they are needed and when they are needed. This will require a Bill Of Material (BOM) populated to 95%+ accuracy.

Technical Documentation

  • All technical and economic information about equipment should be readily available. The equipment, loop or circuit number should be the key to this information. At a minimum, all parts kept in stores, or not kept in stores, should be tied to equipment identification in the BOMs. The lack of good and reliable documentation is one tenance planners do not have time to plan.

Maintenance Shift Coverage

  • Most continuously operating plants have maintenance resources covering the late shifts. Some plants still have a maintenance supervisor on each shift. Ideally, a plant should operate without maintenance people on the night nance believes that the plant can operate 16 hours without major maintenance probdo something about it.

The above issues are select examples of actions and cultures that will promote high performing maintenance. It is important that a plant maintenance organization seriously examine how good they truly are and its existing culture and performance to see whether it is promoting the right things, or whether some improvements are needed. Only then can a plant maintenance organization proceed to make the changes needed to become as good as it can become.