MRO Magazine

Creating the ’24/7′ list

This article is part of an ongoing series. The introduction appeared in Machinery & Equipment MRO's February 2005 issue and the series has run in every issue since. Previous instalments are archived online at www.mromagazine.com. This...


This article is part of an ongoing series. The introduction appeared in Machinery & Equipment MRO’s February 2005 issue and the series has run in every issue since. Previous instalments are archived online at www.mromagazine.com. This month, we pick up where we left off in the February 2011 edition, as maintenance manager Bob Edwards gets ready for a major push towards his goals.

As I sat in my office and reviewed in my head the things that we were doing and compared them to the Wisconsin mill we had visited and were modelling ourselves after, it still seemed that the biggest difference that mill displayed was the ‘ownership factor’.

We were going to have a meeting in the next few days to decide the level and criteria for giving our shift guys authority to call in extra help or contractors as needed, but the Wisconsin mill seemed to have ownership in every facet of its operation. I needed to find more ways to develop this kind of ownership if we were going to change at the speed that Corporate and Joe, our mill manager, wanted.

The day of the meeting arrived and Carol, our reliability manager, had prepared some information that she had been able to obtain from Wisconsin. Once millwrights Steve, Tom and Ted, and Larry, an electrician, had finished reading the information, I asked them for their comments.

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“It actually seems straightforward and I think everyone will understand quite easily. I’m not worried any longer,” said Steve, who had expressed concerns about the decision-making process the previous week.

“It’s even easier for us electricians as we don’t have area maintenance and so we don’t need to worry about calling the wrong guy,” Larry added.

“That’s not exactly true, Larry, as we have to ensure that where possible we don’t call on the same guys all of the time,” I replied. “They’ll get fed up with being called and the rest will claim they don’t get a chance for overtime. I don’t really think we will have a problem, but we should be aware of what we’re doing.”

“I understand, Bob, so let me repeat this so we’re sure that we’ve got an understanding. If the mill is still down after one hour, we are to meet with the shift supervisor. If we know the solution, have the parts on hand and can complete the work ourselves, we’re to do so – giving the supervisor an estimate of how long the job will take.”

“Correct.”

“If we don’t know the solution and believe someone else might have more knowledge, we are to call them in – our guys or a contractor. But do we wait for an hour to meet with the supervisor?”

“No, as soon as you realize that you’ve reached that point, let the supervisor know what you are doing.”

“If we know the solution but need help or a different skill, we are to call them in as soon as we realize this?”

“Correct.”

“If the mill is likely to be down for more than four hours, you want the supervisor to let you know about it.”

“Correct, then I’ll decide if I need to come in. That will be based on whether or not you have the solution to the problem.”

Carol, who had said nothing so far, gave me a quizzical look.

“What’s up Carol – you don’t agree?”

“No, it’s not that I disagree. I think we might be missing an opportunity here.”

“Well, expand.”

“If the mill is going to be down for more than four hours and all we do is resolve that particular problem, we’ve wasted four hours of opportunity to repair or check other equipment. I was thinking that if we had a prioritized list of work orders that included the estimated times they required, then we could take advantage of the breakdown to address them.

If the shutdown was caused by an electrical problem, then the millwrights could complete some of their mechanical work orders, and vice versa. I suppose that, taking it to extremes, we could actually call people in to complete the work orders. It would mean that we wouldn’t have to take equipment down or bring in extra contractors on shutdown days.”

“That’s a great idea. Even if we did some two-hour jobs when the mill was down for four hours, we would be much further ahead. I don’t think I like the idea of trying to do a four-hour job when the estimated downtime was four hours, just in case it extended the downtime.”

Steve seemed quite enthused by this idea.

“Even if we did run over time, Bob, if it was on a job that we knew we were going to have to shut down to do anyway, we’re still ahead – but I guess I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes trying to explain that in the morning meeting.”

“Actually, Steve, with the way things are going, I think most people would see the benefit. As you’ve heard many times from me over the past few months, it’s not business as usual at this mill any more. In fact, it’s not business as usual for the company any more. You’ve seen the focus Corporate has placed on our improvement drive.”

“Okay, that’s it then. I’m going to prepare a list of work orders with estimates of two hours, four hours and eight hours by area and trade,” said Carol.

“Can I make a silly suggestion?” asked Ted, who also had been quiet throughout the meeting.

“Sure – if it’s not too silly.”

“Carol, rather than doing it for two, four and eight hours, why not do it for two, four and seven hours?”

“Uhh, do you want to explain that a little more?”

“Well, then it would be the two-four-seven list! Or the ‘Twenty-Four-Seven’ list. It’s work that can get done 24/7. You know that us shift guys quite often feel left out and sometimes we think that all of you day people don’t realize that we run the mill 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This list would show that you recognize that and it would be something we could feel we owned.”

“Brilliant! That’s what it is, Carol – the Twenty-Four-Seven list!”

I think the group thought that I was crazy, getting so excited over the naming of a list, but this was another way of getting what was required – ownership.

I headed off to see Fred in the production manager’s office to show him what we had decided. Surprisingly, there was no criticism and Fred said he would meet with his supervisors about it over the next day or two. As I had told Steve, it wasn’t business as usual and people were getting on board.

We had decided not to wait to roll this out and held a meeting the next day, where we discussed the Twenty-Four-Seven list that Carol had quickly prepared. We talked about it as if it was owned by the shift guys. On the way out of the meeting, Pete, who was a day millwright, asked if he could talk to me about something related to what I had said in the meeting.

We settled down in my office. “Okay Pete, what’s on your mind?”

“It’s the ownership thing you talked about. Ivan and I have been doing the vibration rounds for the past couple of months and if we find anything, we let John, the vibe guy, know. It looks like we’ll give the rounds to the operators very soon and I hope that Ivan and I will still own the issue when the operators raise one.”

“I don’t see why not, Pete. In fact, I don’t see much of an alternative.”

“Great, but there’s more to it than that. Currently John brings his results to you and sometimes Ivan and I feel out of the loop. We both have great belief in vibration analysis. I wondered if John could sit down with us and go over his reports. Of course, he would discuss the exceptions with you, but in general, we would own the program.”

“I don’t see this as a problem, Pete, as long as we make sure that I’m made aware of anything that may have an impact on performance. I’ve got your side of the story, but what about Ivan?”

“He feels the same way; he’s just not as pushy as I am.”

“I don’t know if that’s true about Ivan because I’ve seen him quite defiant when he believes in something.”

“That’s true, but I think that for Ivan and a few of the other older guys, it’s a case of once bitten, twice shy.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, the guys who have been
around a while tell us about how it used to be years ago. The trades guys were here to fix things – not think, not suggest, definitely not own! I saw some of it, but the guys say that it was a lot worse before.”

I felt a little disappointed as I thought we had moved on from the ‘old days’.

“I don’t know what to say, Pete. I’ve tried to show that we have changed but I seem to have failed.”

“That’s crazy, Bob. I was talking about Ivan not wanting to come and confront you. You only have to look at how involved Ivan’s become, how much interest he shows and how he wants to own the program to realize we’ve changed in a big way. You’ve talked about how we’re different and how we each need to be managed differently. This is just one of those cases. Ivan will probably never feel confident enough to voice many things, so you’ve got to get it out from him.”

“Thanks Pete. Tell Ivan it’s a deal!”MRO

Cliff Williams is the corporate maintenance manager at Erco Worldwide in Toronto, ON, and a consultant with TMS – Total Maintenance Solutions Inc., Markham, ON. He can be reached by
e-mail at williamscliff@rogers.com.

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