The importance of people’s reliability on your asset data integrity.
Even though we are entering the era of IIoT and smart machines, the reality is that most organizations are using Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) or an Enterprise Asset Management System (EAM), where more than 95 per cent of the data comes from human interaction.
It is people like the system administrator who configure the master data and keep it up to date; maintenance managers will add maintenance plans, asset attributes, and BoM, and even set the threshold for machine connectivity, and regular users will request service based on their observations of how the machine is performing.
Planner, stock manager, and workforce complete the workflow process, adding additional data and completing the asset historical record through planning of work orders, managing parts, and recording activity results, failure data, and meaningful closing comments.
These three roles are key players in enriching the asset history and keeping up to date the existing data, based on their feedback. They are the closest to the assets and are the ones who can identify opportunities for improvements or issues that require attention; they can update asset condition and nameplates and even help optimize existing PM programs.
Managers at all levels of the organization will rely on this data and create reports to make decisions, adjust priorities, and understand asset performance. But an important question arises: Is the data fit for its intended uses in operations and maintenance decision-making?
Five characteristics of high-quality data are accuracy, completeness, consistency, relevance, and timeliness. These need to be present to add value to your decision-making process.
Human Error and Human Reliability
The reliability of the data is directly tied to the source of it. People can be unpredictable, hard to reset or reprogram, easily distracted, highly multifunctional, unique, autonomous, muddy, and sensitive; making them prompt to commit errors that will compromise the integrity of your asset data in the CMMS/EAMS. Fortunately, errors are the outcome of multiple human and organizational factors happening in a chain reaction.
The human factor link is a physiology combination of decision, learning, performance, omission, and memory. We can break out the organizational factors (environment and task) into systems, procedures, processes, and culture. Organizational factors will give us a chance to influence the human link and break the error chain.
Human Reliability Enablers
Avoiding blaming people but focusing on possible contributing factors of the problem helps to identify practical solutions. One way to do this is by categorizing the type of human errors that prompt situations like missing failure data on work orders, logging unrealistic labour hours, or even choosing the wrong asset to track the history. Using root cause analysis and other strategies will identify what is the ultimate cause of the human error, helping you to build strategies that prevent the occurrence and reoccurrence of the human errors when inputting data into the CMMS/EAMS and boost the human reliability.
We can influence behaviours and outcomes by ensuring there is a platform that enables human reliability when deploying a new systems, relaunching existing systems or sustaining operations of your current CMMS/EAMS.
Some strategies include efficient ergonomics; practical processes and systems; a variety of training, clear communication, and motivational ideas to engage and promote sense of ownership on our so complex human capital and primary source of data. These strategies could lead to a great success, but only if they are built keeping in mind the people and their characteristics.
Human assets are very complex; no one is identical to any other. The level of interaction with the CMMS/EAMS and expectations of it are different, therefore each of these strategies should be moulded to their role as much as possible.
Software developers have this critical enabler in mind as systems are developed to be more user-friendly and intuitive and with more options to configure screen and software interfaces as per the user’s preferences and roles.
Some ideas that can be implemented to make sure ergonomics are more effective are the following:
• Design system’s work environment with meaningful information and dashboards according to each role. Hide any application of the system that your users have not accessed or is not required to do their job.
• Ensure availability of hardware/devices for your users to input their data.
• Provide them with an adequate workspace and top-of-the-line hardware.
• Configure electronic systems to help staff to stay focused.
Processes and Systems
Review and update constantly your SOPs and work instructions as part of a continuous improvement process. A business process to include feedback and people’s knowledge into optimizing and updating these processes must be in place to capture, validate, and implement changes that enable people to know what, when, and how to input accurate and complete the data in the CMMS/EAM.
Pay attention to the following:
• SOPs, documents, and work instructions should list any specific data to be recorded on the system or subsequent actions to be taken to modify, update and/or add a new record. Create activity sequence and/or checklists for those tasks that require data entry. Highlight inputting the data in the CMMS/EAMS as one of the steps.
• Quick reference and user manuals made simple; more pictures, fewer words.
• Users’ roles and responsibilities must be defined with clear expectations on how they will interact with the system. When the users know the scope of their work with the CMMS/EAMS, it is less overwhelming and ensures accountability.
• Reduce interruptions and distractions during procedure executions to keep people focused on their tasks.
By training people on the functionalities of the CMMS/EAMS they will be more confident to use the system, increasing their contribution, accuracy, and consistency of the data, but the CMMS/EAMS software could be tremendously powerful and very overwhelming.
Special considerations when setting up training should be taken in order to avoid disengagements because of information overload.
• Role based: Not all users need to manage all the functionality of the system, small sessions based on each role’s primary tasks are more suitable.
• Aware of cognitive load: Break simplified processes by splitting them into short step-by-step tasks. This ensures that the presentation of information does not impede learning.
• Consider the different learning styles: Include a bit of each style in your training session and support documents, so everyone can process the information in the way they are more comfortable with.
• Training beyond CMMS/EAMS: When the users of the CMMS/EAMS become familiar with concepts that drive the type and amount of data that is required for them to collect, they will be more knowledgeable and accretive to record the required data.
Creating common meaning helps everyone understand one another. If you don’t explain why and what the purpose is to use a CMMS/EAMS, then people are skeptical from day one and will not fully co-operate.
Communicate how everybody has a piece of the puzzle in the corporate big picture, preach corporate objectives, and communicate any change that impacts the type of KPIs and data drivers required to support the organization’s strategic plan. This alignment needs to be clearly represented in the data that people need to populate into the system. Change management is a key to stay up to date and record relevant/useful data. Establish a glossary of terms, so everybody is on the same page: semantics.
Tell people what is expected of them and explain how this links to the big picture: clear expectations. Keep people up to date of any variance in the corporate policies, procedures, and priorities – manage the changes.
Good Data Attributes
Be aware that to effectively motivate people you need to cover their needs, but everybody has different needs and different priorities. Understanding these needs and ensuring the basic ones are covered will allow people to focus on new goals. Identify the personality of your staff to motivate them more effectively.
Several theories are based on the four temperaments: melancholic/visualizer, choleric/leader, sanguine/innovator, and phlegmatic/supporter. Each personality perceives and processes the information in different ways and moreover they will be motivated and engaged differently.
• Start with answering the question what’s in it for me? Showcase the benefits of using the software and the importance of its role on recording reliable data. Prepare scenarios that demonstrate how simple it is to access accurate and complete asset history using the system, and compare to the amount of effort required to do the same task without having trustworthy data in the system.
• Personality traits may play a role in how to motivate and engage people into using the system.
• There are many effective ways to manage people to attain high performance, but certainly recognition for doing a good effort may start the wheels of engagement and motivate people to keep up.
• Display how the organization uses the data that it inputs into the system to make decisions and measure performance.
Sense of Ownership
Ownership is the ultimate prize of an engaged workforce and healthy workplace. It is a direct result of employees taking responsibility on a personal level as well as on a team level. Taking ownership means you hold yourself accountable for your actions and how you do your job. When employees feel a sense of ownership towards their duties, they tend to become better performers at work; hence, a more reliable source of data.
Some tips to build a sense of ownership for the data people input into the system are the following:
• Promote feedback for changes of the system functionality.
• Give them the opportunity to tailor their start centres or CMMS/EAMS workspace screens.
• Emphasize it is their knowledge and expertise.
• Ensure the data is available to them for use and consultation.
• Empower them through knowledge.
Data quality comes down to five characteristics that must be defined and understood by every user to set clear expectations of what is required of their interaction with the CMMS/EAM. Human assets are unique; they learn, communicate, and engage differently. Understanding these characteristics and building the systems and processes with them in mind will gain your organization a sustainable culture that will endure, evolve, and continuously improve.
When dealing with human reliability for asset data integrity, there are many efforts like user-centred design and error-tolerance design to make technology better suited to operation by humans, but knowledge and communication will advance your organization to have a trustworthy primary source of data.
Any piece of data you input in the system must be aligned with the organization’s strategic plan and goals so the information that derives from your primary source, people, will be useful and meaningful to make educated decisions regarding your assets. As technology keeps evolving so should we. Never forget, technology is nothing without smart people using it to the best of its functionality and harvesting it to get insights into our reality.
Erika Mazza is a CMMS specialist for the Region Municipality of Durham. For the past nine years, Erika has been capturing and interpreting asset data for Duffin Creek WPCP.
Her background in industrial maintenance engineering helps her to understand the business needs of CMMS beyond the requirements, identifying opportunities for improvement and optimization of the maintenance strategies on her site. She is currently enrolled in the Asset Management Professional program at Humber College, refining her skills to support asset management with asset data knowledge. She is an active member of the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association of Canada, and has presented at national and international conferences and in multiple webinars in Spanish and English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.