Maintenance must be seen as a priority

EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is the third in a series of columns based on the book, Future Capable Company: What Manufacturing Leaders Need To Do Today To Succeed Tomorrow, by Dr. Tompkins. These excerpts are provided through special arrangement with the publisher, Tompkins Press. Copyright c 2001 Tompkins Press.


The Future Capable Company must fully understand the scope of physical asset management and the maintenance process. Maintenance for the Future Capable Company combines reliability, predictive maintenance, and preventive maintenance to create high levels of uptime and productivity, anticipate potential problems, and minimize future problems. Maintenance and operations must be integrated and function as a supportive team through improved planning, scheduling, and cooperative team-based continuous improvement efforts.

25 Requirements for Effective Maintenance Leadership

When a Future Capable Company prepares for continuous improvement, it should include the evaluation and improvement of its current maintenance processes. There are a number of key principles and best practices that are fundamental to continuous improvement. Understanding the 25 Requirements for Effective Maintenance Leadership should provide measurable benefits for the Future Capable Company's total operation.

1. View maintenance as a priority. The process of performing maintenance and managing physical assets should be a priority in the Future Capable Company. Maintenance should be viewed as another area that contributes directly to the bottom line when a strategy for continuous maintenance improvement is adopted. The Future Capable leader should understand best practices and should have identified priority areas for improvement based upon a total benchmark evaluation of the maintenance operation. Investments should be made to implement best practices.

2. Develop leadership and technical understanding. Maintenance leaders must understand the challenges of maintenance and provide effective maintenance leadership with a vision of continuous maintenance improvement. Maintenance leadership must continually develop the skills, abilities, and attitudes necessary to lead maintenance into the future. They should understand the 25 Requirements for Effective Maintenance Leadership and develop priorities for action. In addition, they should foster understanding within the organization about maintenance and develop a vision of continuous maintenance improvement shared throughout the organization.

3. Develop PRIDE-People Really Interested in Developing Excellence in maintenance. Maintenance operations in the Future Capable Company should experience fundamental improvements in work ethics, attitude, values, job performance, and customer service to achieve real pride in maintenance excellence. Successful maintenance operations should have leadership that instills PRIDE and creates inspiration, cooperation, and commitment throughout the organization. Tangible savings and improvements should occur as a result of continuous maintenance improvement.

4. Recognize the importance of the maintenance profession. Maintenance should gain greater importance as the role of chief maintenance officer (CMO) becomes established during the early stages of the new millennium. Maintenance leaders should be recognized as critical resources necessary for the success of the total operation. The CMO in large multisite operations should create and promote standard best practices. The complexity and importance of maintenance and physical asset management will continue to grow because new technologies and added responsibilities will require more knowledge and skills.

5. Increase capability of maintenance personnel. A significant upgrade in the level of maintenance personnel should take place to keep pace with new technologies and responsibilities. Successful maintenance operations should continually upgrade the skill level of crafts people through effective recruiting with higher standards and through more effective craft-training programs. Pay increases should be more directly linked to performance and demonstrated competency levels in required craft skills.

6. Initiate craft skills development to enhance human capital. Successful maintenance operations should continually assess craft training needs and provide effective skills development through modern technical learning systems and competency-based development of required skills. A complete assessment of craft training needs should be accomplished to identify priority areas for skill development. Skill development should be competency based to provide demonstrated technical capabilities for each craft skill. The successful maintenance operation should develop an ongoing program for craft skill development. Continuous maintenance education based on modern technical learning systems should be viewed as a sound investment and an important part of continuous maintenance improvement.

7. Develop adaptability and versatility. The maintenance crafts work force should become more versatile and adaptable by gaining value with new technical capabilities and multicraft skills. The development of crafts people with multiple skills should occur to provide greater versatility, adaptability, and capability from the existing workforce. Multiskilled personnel should have added value. Crafts people should become more adaptable, versatile, and valuable as a result of ongoing programs for craft skill development.

8. Promote teamwork as a Future Capable Company strategy. Maintenance staff should be team players and maintain a leadership-driven, team-based approach to continuous maintenance improvement. Maintenance leadership should accept its role as a top-priority operation and should set the example as team players within the organization. The strategy for continuous maintenance improvement should be a leadership-driven, team-based approach that captures the knowledge, skills, and ideas of the entire maintenance work force. Cross-functional teams with representatives from maintenance, operations, and engineering should be formally chartered to address improvements to equipment effectiveness, reliability, and maintainability.

9. Establish effective maintenance planning and scheduling. Customer satisfaction and the utilization of available craft time should improve through more effective planning and scheduling systems. Developing better systems should be a top priority for the Future Capable maintenance operation. As reductions in breakdown repairs occur through effective preventive and/or predictive maintenance, the opportunity to increase planned maintenance work should result. Maintenance and operations should work closely to schedule repairs at the most convenient time. Maintenance should become more customer-oriented and focus on achieving greater customer satisfaction by completing scheduled repairs on time. The utilization of craft time should increase as levels of planned work increase and as the uncertainties and inefficiencies associated with breakdown repairs are reduced.

10. Maintenance and manufacturing operations should be a partnership for profits. Maintenance and manufacturing operations should become integrated and function as a supportive team through improved planning, scheduling, and cooperative, team-based improvement efforts. Operations should be viewed as an important internal customer. Improved planning and scheduling of maintenance work should provide greater coordination, support, and service to manufacturing-type operations. Maintenance and manufacturing operations of all types should recognize the benefits of working together as a supportive team to reduce unplanned breakdowns, to increase equipment effectiveness, and to reduce overall maintenance costs. Manufacturing should be viewed as an important internal customer and gain greater understanding of the 25 Requirements of Maintenance Leadership. It should also accept its important partnership role in supporting maintenance excellence.

11. Develop pride in ownership. Equipment operators and maintenance should develop a partnership for maintenance service and prevention and take greater pride in ownership through operator-based maintenance. Equipment operators should assume greater responsibilities for cleaning, lubricating, inspecting, monitoring, and making minor repairs to equipment. Maintenance should provide training support to operators to achieve this transfer of responsibility and help operators with early detection and prevention of maintenance problems. Operators should develop greater pride in ownership of their equipment with their expanded responsibilities.

12. Improve equipment effectiveness. Maintenance and manufacturing operations should use a leadership-driven, team-based approach to totally evaluate, and subsequently improve, all factors related to equipment effectiveness. The goal is to obtain maximum availability of the asset for performing its primary manufacturing function. Continually improving equipment effectiveness should address major losses due to equipment breakdowns, setup/adjustments, idling/minor stoppages, reduced speeds, process defects, and reduced yields. Reliability improvement teams should be established to meet on a regular basis to identify and resolve equipment-related problems. They should work constructively as cross-functional teams to exchange and implement ideas for improving equipment effectiveness. They should use techniques such as continuous reliability improvement (CRI) and reliability centered maintenance (RCM). Chronic problems should be analyzed using tools such as statistical process control, graphs, process charts, and cause-and-effect analysis. Maintenance operations within successful Future Capable Companies should use a total team effort by operators, engineering, operations staff, and maintenance to identify and resolve root causes of equipment problems.

The June issue will cover the remaining 25 Requirements.

Future Capable Company is available from Tompkins Press, 2809 Millbrook Rd., Raleigh, NC 27604. Phone 800-789-1257, fax 919-872-9666, . $24.95.

Author Information

Dr. James A. Tompkins is the president and founder of Tompkins Associates, a leading global consulting, implementation, and integration firm focused on total operations success.

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