How to achieve operational excellence

Hands on Management.

The company should ensure that the individual leadership, commitment and support are given by the senior executive and by all members of the management team

By VAF MEITE

In today’s world, an economy with fewer trade barriers and enterprise competitiveness becomes an indisputable necessity. Thus, the objective of any company is “to consistently supply products and services of the agreed quality on time at the lowest possible total system cost.” Achieving this objective implies implementing appropriate management systems and using best proven practices. For manufacturing operations, setting up and implementing an Efficient Maintenance Management System (EMMS) makes a strong contribution to operational excellence.

Changing role of maintenance

Maintenance is no longer simply a cost center but a profit contributor that generates production capacity and leads to supply chain reliability. According to James Hughes, an EMMS aims to ensure better asset utilisation, more modular components, more standardisation, more integration with the manufacturing, more reliable electronic components, basic skill improvement and more efforts on training and motivation of the workforce. In this article, we highlight an approach that is based on the following foundations which have led to some concrete results; top management leadership and support, appropriate strategy, smart implementation of the maintenance-mix, performances monitoring and existence of a minimum of prerequisites.

Commitment of the management team

First, the company should ensure that the individual leadership, commitment and support are given by the senior executive and by all members of the management team. Commitment to the success of a maintenance program must extend from top production management through the front-line supervisors, and is the true driving force of the improvement process, says Terry Wiremen, a specialist in improvement maintenance and reliability. It is also equally important that the management properly defines the organisational structures, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources.

Policies and procedures are the heart of a good maintenance and normally involve little or no added expenses. It should be positive to have a proper effect, substantiated by further support and actions and communicated to all personnel concerned. To reach and maintain a certain level of performance and control, it is necessary to develop uniform document control procedures such as Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). It is also necessary to set objectives that should not be limited to “no breakdowns”, “no spare part shortage” or “minimum cost” but would normally also include such items as major technical improvements.

Maintenance strategy

It is vital to consider key factors such as costs elements (utilities, labor, and spare parts), availability of spare parts, availability of sub-contractors, skill of maintenance technicians and labour, importance of plant and equipment, asset utilisations and financial means. The first point of action is to take the strategic decisions based on the responses to the following questions: what areas of the plants will be provided with maintenance support? What services will be provided internally? And, what services would be better provided by external contractors?

Maintenance-mix

The implementation of the strategy will rely then on applying the maintenance-mix which is defined as the rational use and dosage of different maintenance policies, such as breakdown, time-based, condition-based, predictive, design-out and total productive on given pieces of equipment to improve their outputs and effectiveness.

Performance measurement and monitoring

The performance must be assessed through analysis of costs and specified Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to demonstrate and monitor how effectively the organisation is achieving the set objectives. Whatever KPIs are selected, they must be quantifiable (measurable), reflect the company’s goals and be keys to its success. In manufacturing operations, there are a number of tools used to define the KPIs that have common bases: Asset management, time-based analysis applicable to different operating levels, performance measurement and tools for benchmarking and improvement.

Necessary prerequisites

In view of the above, the company must have in place the following five prerequisites considered as “condition sine qua non” for a successful implementation of an EMMS. They are not absolute or limitative but by ensuring that they are covered, one can make a great step toward achieving best proven practice in EMMS.

Minimum of competent personnel in-house

The Company must have a minimum of competent and skilled personnel in-house to successfully implement the maintenance-mix. It is not a matter of doing everything in-house but also to have the capacity to organise and supervise the outsourced activities. This implies the development of people (training) in relation to the work to be done to obtain the expected results.

Equipment suitability

It is critical to ensure that the company equipment meets a certain standard of quality and suitability. Equipment must be correctly designed and capable of carrying out the processes for which it is used, constructed using correct materials, accessible, free from contamination via leaking glands and lubricant drips, clearly identified and capable of being calibrated (where appropriate).

Necessity of a good housekeeping

It is more than just cleanliness. Good housekeeping requires orderly conditions, the avoidance of congestion, the marking of aisles, adequate storage arrangements, and suitable provision for cleaning and maintenance. The good housekeeping practices are procedural, administrative or institutional measures that must be included in the maintenance management programme .

Planning and scheduling function

Depending on the company size, one pillar of a good maintenance management system is the “Planning and Scheduling” function (Bureau of Methods). Its main activities encompass the following; to define and optimise the methods of maintenance, to plan and organise maintenance work, to prepare and organise the subcontracted activities.

Appropriate maintenance infrastructures

Basic to a successful implementation of maintenance policies is the availability of; the good workshop facility which is a designated area to undertake repairs and maintenance of equipment and adequate maintenance tools. Similarly to the workshop facilities, a good management of spare parts (technical store) is fundamental for maintenance management upon answering the following questions: How easy is the local supply of spare parts? How reasonable is the lead time for importing parts? What are the costs associated with the technical store?

Email: vaflahi.meite@cde.int

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