Beyond KPI’s

Working Together or in Silos

Working Together or in Silos

In the asset management world measuring performance through the right KPI’s is important, focusing on the results of the asset management processes and adjusting regularly to the trends seen on the dashboards is vital to continuous improvements.
However it is not enough just to focus on the KPI’s, one always needs to be aware of what is behind the KPI’s, what behaviours KPI’s are driving and what is the ultimate goal for the business as a whole.

A batch production process breaks down, it is a small component that is relatively easy to change, just takes a few hours to do. However, the spare part is not available in stock and it will take 2 weeks to get that spare part. Luckily, they have two exactly the same types of processes side by side and the production batch cycles allow for the part to be taken from one manufacturing process and installing it on the other process while the batch preparation is done. Thus not affecting the production and delivery of the product is without any production losses noticeable.
So the Maintenance Supervisor adapts to this situation and had a Maintenance Technician perform the switch regularly keeping the production, as well as the customer, happy because production went as planned.
However when focusing on the maintenance KPI parameters this results in an increased Break Down Maintenance over the 2 week period, as they needed to move the part from one process to the next in line with the batch production cycles. This also resulted in non-compliance to part of the PM program, as the maintenance technician did not have the time to do all the planned PM’s because of the added Break Down Maintenance. It can also be assumed that because the PM’s where not done that could result in further unforeseen breakdowns.
The Maintenance Manager comes to the Maintenance Supervisor not happy with his decision, because he monitored the KPI’s and could see that the Maintenance KPI’s, noticeably the break down KPI and PM compliance KPI where not trending in the correct direction.
After weighing the options and understanding the story behind the KPI’s development the Maintenance Manager agreed that out of a bad situation the Maintenance Supervisor selected the best possible path.
If everyone is focused on a single dominating goal, it is less challenging to adjust to situations as described in the example here above, as long as we understand the underlying attributes that affect the KPI’s developments.
However in a silo situation where there might be tension between the silo’s (e.g. production vs. maintenance). In that case the example might have developed in a different way, i.e. half the production down for 2 weeks because of a failure where the spare part cannot be delivered for 2 weeks, the maintenance KPI’s would suffer a bit (one break down) but the production KPI’s would suffer even more.
Food for thought:
Is there a clear understanding in your organization for the why’s of the decisions that are made, i.e. are there clear governing goals?
Do you sometimes sacrifice your goals for the greater governing goals? And are you recognized for that?
I welcome your feedback and discussions below this Blog post.

Blog on a poll asking: What do you think is the most important aspect of Asset Management?

A while back I posted a poll with a few possible options as answers to this question and in this blog I will publish the results and some thoughts as well on this.

Participation was 161 votes and the result was as shown in this picture here below:

Poll result on the question: What do you think is the most important aspect of Asset Management?

Poll result on the question: What do you think is the most important aspect of Asset Management?

The answers in other (10.65%) were as follows:

  1. open sharing of knowledge
  2. Workforce awareness and education
  3. Understanding Risk & Consequence
  4. All of the above
  5. Asset Management Initiation
  6. Understanding the asset
  7. asset management results
  8. Reliability
  9. there is no most important. Most of the items above are essential
  10. All of the above
  11. Effective Change Management
  12. asset management outcomes
  13. people
  14. They are all equally important
  15. Value adding proces
  16. Risk Analysis
  17. Good Communication with all involved!!!!!

There were also some comments made on the poll’s web site as follows:

  • I voted for the continuous improvement approach. The meaning of that approach, however, should include ongoing communication with major equipment suppliers to assure that the bill of material for the equipment is up to date. All other planning will fall short if replacement parts are not available to support maintenance and reliability efforts.
  • My point is that if any organisation expects improvement in EAM area (I assume, if no improvement is expected all that poll makes no sense) it should concentrate on assessment of the present state of Asset Management. That means analysis of business KPIs and getting to some conclusion. The feedback – whatever it is – means some decisions which will be executed with EAM Business Processes. Very few organisations use EAM Balanced Scorecards, so the relevant decisions may depend on personal criteria of the managers. Whatever decisions are taken their implementation will affect business processes, so I reckon, Asset Management Processes are always involved, so that item of the poll should be regarded as the most influencing. However, a holistic approach seems to be obvious, but one should remember that some companies have developed EAM strategies and plans only in documents for stakeholders, if they have had any…
  • I don’t see a lot of difference between some of the categories. Some could well be a component of another.
  • All companies have headline business policies irrespective of whether they are explicit or not, though clearly a well defined policy will be better communicated, however, I believe that at the heart of the asset management process is the strategy. A clear map of where we are – where we are going and how we will get there! A cyclic process of continual review and course adjustment whilst in operation will complete the process. Thus without a well defined strategic core, asset management initiatives will fail.

There was one extra comment made directly under the poll at this blog site:

  • I have been acting long time maybe too long as a management consultant and still I can see alot of unefficiency on a shop floor lever. Examples of these areas are e.g. maintenance planning, multiskilled people, bad collaboration between production, production planning, sales and maintenance.                                         I agree with the opinion a maintenence strategy is mandatory, but in this changing world sometimes the business strategy/goals of a company can be a bit “fuzzy” too and then subgoals/strategies can be even more difficult to give or get.          So, quite practical approach can give sometimes a faster and higher ROI>>>Fix things you can and leave the rest!

Above you have now seen all the raw data from the poll and comment´s made to date. I would like to leave the interpretation mostly to you, my dear reader, as I know the people who read this blog are quite intelligent people working in the great field of Asset Management.

As we can soon see in the emerging ISO5500x series of standards Asset Management is a very iterative management system and as with most systems as soon as one element of the management system is taken out the whole system will not be as effective in delivering the results that are desired.

I can say that the results overall do not surprise me for one and I would like to encourage you all to comment and discuss the results in the comments section here below.

Reliability or safety first?

In an asset intensive environment an integral part of Reliability is Safety, in other words when reliability increases so does the safety.

It is always a pleasure to see that when reliability initiatives are starting to have a positive effect on equipment, people and processes the safety Key Performance Indicators (“KPI’s”) go up as well. But why does this happen and which is coming first? Is it the safety or reliability? I say reliability comes first then safety, people become more comfortable and positive in their respective roles because the processes are under more reliable control and safety is one of the positive side effects of reliability.

Let’s take a look at the illustrated scenario below:

In a Reactive Maintenance environment:

  • Safety is very instinctive in nature; that is to say when a problem arise instincts are what drives the situation more than anything else. Instincts say that one can react to the problem in a particular way, unfortunately often ignoring or not noticing the dangers that are present.
  • Reliability, if that definition can be used in this situation, is almost nonexistent; that is to say there are no failure mode focused or planned maintenance activities and therefore the maintenance activities are all reactive or break down maintenance.
  • Behavior is all reactive; in a reactive maintenance regime it is close to impossible to expect anything else.

In a Planned Maintenance environment:

  •  Safety is enforced; through planned maintenance activities safety procedures are most often enforced through the planning process.
  • Reliability is scheduled; scheduled maintenance activities can support reliability initiatives. Focusing maintenance activities on failure modes, therefore preventing failure obviously contributes to increased reliability. However one needs to be mindful that too much planned maintenance can backfire. Focusing on the wrong maintenance activities (the ones not focusing on the failure modes, etc.) will not help and last but not least the maintenance induced failures also contribute to less reliability.
  • Behavior is guided; through the planning process safety procedures are usually a part of the Planned Maintenance procedures and thus enforced.

In a Pro-active Maintenance environment:

  • Safety is embedded; in a pro-active environment safety conscience is a second nature. Embedded in all levels of the organisation, responsibility for safety is everyone’s role and viewed as an added value to the business.
  • Reliability is Continuously Improved; in the Pro-active maintenance environment maintenance activities are not only performed, they are always performed in a way that focuses on how they can be improved. It also focuses a lot on condition monitoring and only intervening when failure modes are measured as trending up.
  • Behavior is self disciplined; in a pro-active maintenance environment the behaviours are self disciplined to focus on reliability continuous improvements with embedded safety in all aspects of the maintenance and production environment.

As can be seen above the development of Reliability and Safety have a strong correlation. Focusing on increased Reliability will promote the right behaviours and result in better safety KPI’s. In addition to all these great benefits to the organisation it will also have a positive impact on the productivity and therefore profitability, which is always a good added benefit to any initiative.

EAM & CMMS Systems, 10 times more data in the system or 10 time less done with the data available?


The road to success in using information systems is a difficult one to navigate. When an implementation of a system is started some assumptions are made about what is needed from the system, how it will help with decision-making, how it will help with execution  of maintenance activities and many other factors. The maintenance environment is a complex environment to begin with, then on top of that it is an environment that is constantly presenting itself with new challenges and changing operational conditions. The markets change as well as many other external factors, the knowledge is leaving from the manufacturing environment because of aging workforce as well as more competition for the remaining workforce with knowledge and experience and the list could go on and on.

At the core of information systems is the gathering of data, it needs to be reliable data so that the decisions from that data are based on solid foundation. Without reliable data the decisions made can not be reliable. The way data is collected is extremely important, wherever there is manual input you are introducing an element of risk for mistakes being made. Wherever the data is collected automatically there is an element of failure or calibration error introduced in the collection process. There are also many other factors that are necessary to remain vigilant about.

To answer the question headed in the Blog, today we have the capabilities to store extreme amounts of data in our systems and databases. So too much data is probably not an issue in most cases. Navigating through that data can be challenging but the most important thing about the data should be that it needs to be reliable and accurate! If there is too little done with the data, probably in most cases it is possible to improve how the data is being used. In helping with good quality decision-making it takes time and a lot of thoughts to develop, it is an investment that can be quick to return a profit.

I hope that you have enjoyed the read and if you have any comments or questions please don’t be shy to post them below or contact me directly. Thank you for reading and hopefully sharing.

How long do I have left?

One of the biggest challenges in condition based maintenance is answering the big question of production managers when you inform them of a detection of a failure mode.

When a PdM technician tells a manager, I can see that we have a problem in this bearing, or something similar, the question that is most often asked is : “When will it fail?” or “How long do I have left”.

Answering this question usually involves the intuition of the Maintenance PdM technician, how well does he know the machine, how well is he familiar to the operational environment, are there new operators on the machine, will there be new operators on the machine, will there be a change in the maintenance procedures affecting the failure mode that was detected by the condition monitoring… and the list could go on and on… and on… and on…

The period from the P-F points on the failure curve are dependent on too many immeasurable variables to be able to say, for example : “You have one month before this bearing will break down!”.

It is often extremely tempting to express an opinion of how long the period will be from P-F on the failure curve, however there must always be a “grain of salt” with it, so that the production “side” is aware that this is not a guaranty at all.

Another point to consider is that once a failure mode is detected almost always there is an element of waste added in the process, more power is needed to do the same. There are leaks, internal or external, that are wasting energy, etc.

The point of all this here above is that as soon as a failure mode is detected steps should be taken to plan a repair of the failure. This is the foundation of precision maintenance.

When analyzing what went wrong, to prevent further failures from the same source, focus should be given to the Installation point, because before the P-F curve we have the I-P period, that is the Installation to Point of failure detection point… but more on that later.

I hope that you have enjoyed to read this post and will leave a comment.

Condition monitoring, is it a modern day Crystal ball?

Cartoon about a fortune teller contacting the ...

Do you see a failure in my future? Can I plan for it? When will the failure start to affect my manufacturing performance?

The short answer is : “No”.

We do not only have one “Crystal ball” when it comes to condition monitoring, we have many, for example :

  • Vibration Monitoring & Analysis
  • Motor Current Analysis & Monitoring
  • Acoustic Emission Monitoring & Analysis
  • Thermal Imaging Monitoring & Analysis
  • Oil Monitoring & Analysis

The list could go on but I will stop for now.

I have through the years gotten to know all these and more methods of condition monitoring, I would like to say that they are all great. Some people might disagree with me when I say this and want to express that the only great condition monitoring technique is this … or that … technique. Like with many “opposing” technologies, their representatives like to point out their superiority in some way over other existing techniques. However the fact is that all condition monitoring techniques have their weak and strong points.

When implementing a condition monitoring program it is smart to use the different techniques to confirm each other or go deeper into the analysis of the problem. For example if oil analysis reveals unusual fragments of metal you could use the vibration measurements to further analyse what it is that is wearing or breaking down.

The challenge is quantifying the problem. Production wants to know, understandably, how long they can run the equipment before the failure appears in less production. Maintenance planning also wants to know how long time they have to plan the repair. Just like the people who visit the lady with the Crystal ball we all want to know when things get better in any way people want it to be better. The problem is that this is knowledge the team will get with the years of running the Condition Monitoring Program. This knowledge is very much based on the experience of each plant in their operating context of their respected processes.

Another challenge is that there is always the possibility of unusual loads, unusual operation of equipment and other aspects that can not be foreseen, even with all the great condition monitoring techniques to our disposal.

In conclusion I can say that the investment in condition monitoring is well worth it for most manufacturing plants. However it takes resilience, patience and perseverance to get the condition monitoring program to a place everyone wants it to be right out of the gates.