What Happens When We Reduce Variabilities From Our Process?

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Process Optimization
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Many years ago now, as technology began to ramp up in the manufacturing world, process leaders began to focus on removing variabilities. The thought was, in operations, “If we can reduce variabilities in our processes, then our finished product becomes much more consistent.”

This wasn’t a new thought, even back in the 70’s and 80’s that quest had begun in most operations. However, it was a real challenge without technology to run “in the center”. At times, all we could do is depend on operators to know the process good enough to know when they were operating in or out of set parameters. They needed to have the right skills to know what to do to get the process back into the correct parameters. Then we had them record in a “log book” when they were operating outside parameters and what they did to get it back inside parameters. This took great discipline on their part to make sure all of this happened.

Let’s fast forward a bit until present times and let’s take a look at our maintenance teams. Maintenance was not included in the efforts of variability reduction because we had no set process or really no finished product, right? Boy, did we miss it! In today’s world of “only the strong survive”, we have to take a closer look at maintenance costs and control that spending or we end up on that growing list of failed factories! The more successful companies today have come to the realization that asset maintenance truly does have a finished product that is measurable. It is called Asset Reliability. There is a process by which maintenance delivers that product called Precision Maintenance®. Knowing that, then let’s go back to what operations said, years ago, “If we can reduce variabilities from our process, then our finished product becomes more consistent.” Precision Maintenance® is where maintenance is always performed in a Known, Precise, Disciplined and Documented approach. All we can do is depend on our maintenance craftsmen to know the process good enough to know when they are inside or outside of set parameters (specifications). They need to have the right skills to know what to do to get the asset back into the set parameters (precision state). Then, they have to document when they leave an asset outside of parameters and what the plan is to re-address that asset to get it into “precision”. This takes great discipline and must become an expectation or asset maintenance continues to be a “cost center” with no measurable product.

Is it an expectation at your plant that maintenance is always performed in a known, precise, disciplined and documented approach? Go out to the job and ask:

  • Where are the specifications and job documentation worksheets?
  • Where are the precision measuring tools (micrometers, torque wrench, alignment tools, etc)?
  • What are the expectations for the finished product?

From the answers you get, you will know the level of quality of work being performed. Our greatest opportunity to reduce maintenance costs is to fix it once and fix it right! The only way we can do that is to engage our people, empower our people and expect our people to make a difference!

  • Engage – make them proud to be craftsmen. Treat them with respect while demanding that they take responsibility and be accountable.
  • Empower – Tool them up! Make sure they have the correct time, tools and training to perform at the highest level.
  • Expect – Communicate clear expectations of the quality level of work performance … Stick to those expectations. 99% of all craftsmen will meet your expectations. We are built that way!

Reliability Solutions wants to be partner with your company on your journey to Reliable Manufacturing® through Precision Maintenance®. Let us assist you to achieve Profitable Results® through excellence in Reliable Manufacturing®.


About Tom Carr

Reliability Solutions 13jan20 2Tom Carr is a Maintenance and Reliability Instructor at Reliability Solutions.
He will be at the Full day Reliability Workshop during PaperWeek on Monday February 3, 2020 - Room: Saint-Denis at 8:00 - 17:00.

After a 27-year career in the pulp and paper industry, Tom joined Reliability Solutions in 2011 to return to his passion for building people. During his career in pulp and paper, Tom worked as a craftsman, a maintenance instructor, a training coordinator, a reliability specialist and a maintenance supervisor. 


Source: Reliability Solutions

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