Articles and Publications

A Journey of Maintenance Procedures

As professionals in the maintenance space much of our work is guided by information that we receive, instructing us on how to carry out maintenance tasks or activities. How much that information has changed over time is astounding, and even more so the ‘way’ it is now presented to today’s maintainers. We asked a K2 employee the other day (Gordon – he has a few decades of experience under his belt) how he learned how to carry out both simple and complex maintenance tasks during his time as a tradesman. Here is the story Gordon told…

“Over the time I have spent in industry as a tradesman, on the tools, through to being involved in the asset management arena, the changes and improvements in presentation of maintenance instructions and information I have witnessed has been evolutionary, and at the same time encouraging.  So as they develop more and more different ways to display maintenance information in simple and complex forms it will be exciting to be involved with.

When I first started in my industry, we had no procedures to guide you through the tasks. You gained your knowledge and instructions from your workmates or supervisor.  A hard way to learn.

It took a many years before I came across any form or written instruction.

The early procedures were very basic and not easy follow. You had to have a real understanding of the machinery to be able to follow any of the written (text only) instruction.

Again it took another decade to progress to improved presentation standards. This was helped by improvements in computer power and software, and the commitment of the industry to improve and maintain standards.

The continued improvement in computing power and technology started to bring illustrations and good quality photographs into the procedures. What a change this made. They say a picture paints a thousand words … it’s very true. This would make it possible to illustrate actual components in detail and show a defective item with clarity. Therefore procedures were able to identify potential problems without the person having to have specific knowledge of the equipment.

We’ve seen images and videos on ruggedised laptops and other hand held devices, help to convey messages and information that you just could never have gleaned from endless lines of pure text. There has to be something more available to help the maintenance professional access information faster and with improved knowledge of how an asset is constructed and works.

The up and coming technology, which is starting to be implemented, is 3D animation. This is another leap forward in the standards and understanding of maintenance procedures which will improve the quality of the work being carried out. In conjunction with the animation, the use of tablets is a must for productivity and efficiency improvements. This combination of technologies are very powerful in the field of maintenance procedures. It makes it possible to see the task at hand being completed and any issues identified before you start work.

A good example of this is some work being done by companies like General Electric Energy, using a 3D Cutaway Model of a GE Heavy Duty Gas Turbine.

 

 

 

I can see an exciting and interesting future as this technology continues to develop and improve. Come on the maintenance procedures improvement journey”.  

Thanks Gordon.

 

Volume at all Costs

How do we maximise profits in the new ‘Lower for Longer’ business environment and the return to the ‘Volume at all costs’ operating model?

Lower for longer refers to the current market expectation that commodity prices will remain at levels lower than they have been for decades. As resource prices start to improve such as the recent small gains in iron ore and coal prices, operators are returning to the Volume at all costs operating model that led to inefficiencies and minimal innovation investment that occurred during the ‘supercycle’.

So what factors support the new business environment and operating philosophy?

Undoubtedly there will be numerous factors that relate to cost minimisation and increased availability of assets but volume at all costs infers a business’s focus on constant production. The 2 factors considered here that have the ability to affect constant production are;

  1. Scheduled stoppages - for instance regulatory, compliance activities
  2. Unscheduled stoppages - such as breakdowns.

Based on those factors there are three activities that can minimise the downtime associated with both factors and support the constant production requirement. They are:

  • Effective planning and scheduling
  • Spares Strategies
  • Resourcing strategies
Effective Planning and Scheduling

Without proper planning and scheduling, work quality, equipment/asset uptime, and maintenance productivity will not be at levels to support required operating profiles. The reasons for this are:

  • Excessive non-productive time incurred both during and between job tasks.
  • Without effective planning, planners can also become non effective due to the number of technicians that are assigned to them.
  • Overall maintenance costs also increase due to the acquisition and storage of unnecessary spare parts, and
  • Energy consumption also increases due to poorly maintained equipment.

As can be seen, effective maintenance planning and scheduling is a cornerstone processes that can assist with attaining excellence in operations and subsequently be able to support constant production.  The benefits of good maintenance planning and scheduling are numerous, and include:

  • Increased productivity of tradespeople
  • Reduced equipment downtime
  • Lower spare parts holdings
  • Less Maintenance rework

The figure shown highlights the effect effective Planning and Scheduling can have on a company’s Maintenance Maturity Continuum.

Effective Spares Strategies

Effective spare parts management drives efficiency and creates savings for companies, whether they’re regularly dealing with large, high-value assets, a range of smaller machines and systems or a mix of both. The 3 major benefits of effective spare strategies are:

  1. Improved equipment uptime: Extended downtime simply due to the lack of a specific part – or even an array of different ones – is generally avoidable with a strong spare     parts management strategy and system. While there will be the occasional exception, in general asset uptime will improve considerably.
  2. Increased service level of inventory: The increased service level is most closely tied to the concept of right parts, right place, right time, and right quality. Businesses that   implement the software and systems that drive efficiency in the spare parts planning space typically see an improvement in inventory service levels following a good           implementation.
  3. Decreased investment in inventory: An effective spare parts management and planning system allows businesses to reduce their inventory – freeing up capital – while still maintaining high levels of service and accessibility.

http://www.inspirage.com/2015/03/effective-spare-parts-management-and-services-is-crucial-for-optimization-success/

Resourcing Strategies

Operating in a constant production environment requires the optimum number of resources that are trained to the right competency level. Alternatively it means having the right service agreements in place that enable the level of service to be maintained to support operational requirements.

Internal or external resourcing will depend on the individual companies’ requirements however having the right number of resources with the right competencies available at the right time means downtime associated with both scheduled and unscheduled stoppages is minimised.

 

Importance of Reliability-Based Maintenance in Today's Market

Producing quality services or providing services at a competitive price is essential for surviving in today’s business environment. We are forced to look for better, efficient ways of doing things on a continual basis. We in the maintenance and reliability field are constantly challenged to implement the safest, best and cost-effective way of ensuring the reliability and availability of our assets.

We have come to call these our best practices and strategies, but it is not as simple as putting something into effect. The true implementation of best practices and strategies requires learning, re-learning, benchmarking and realising better ways of ensuring high reliability and availability of our equipment and systems.

Reliability-Based Maintenance Fundamentals provides a foundation of basic knowledge, understanding and skills that may allow you to:

“Create an environment whereby asset maintenance and integrity events are measured to determine their impact on the business, safety and environmental goals of your assets. This results in strategies that are adapted to maximise the reliability and availability of your assets, in relation to safety business and environmental performance.”

Written by Alastair Krebs, Principal Consultant