If you have been in the corporate workforce for more than an internet moment you have been exposed to this simple circle of life: Plan, Do, Check, Act. True, it began as just Plan, Do, Check. Then, a smart person added Act. An excellent example of adapting and overcoming when the data is telling us our great ideas are not panning out.
Let’s apply this to Asset Management and tools like IBM Manage (formerly known as Maximo) with which you can manage, monitor, maintain, and inspect the equipment you are responsible for. Of course, it is a good opportunity to look at your business processes to make sure the tools you use are supporting them.
We begin with the biggest challenge: Planning. One tool that helps immensely with planning is having an active Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP) in place. Depending on your context, this agreed-to and approved plan will provide guidance as to how equipment is procured, commissioned, maintained, and disposed of. While not every piece of equipment would be under the SAMP, those costly and critical assets are better managed with a good plan.
Maximo / Manage plays a role in supporting the SAMP by having places for the important data elements that describe the equipment. Asset Classifications, Types, Statuses, etc. are examples of out-of-box functionality that can be used during the lifecycle of the asset. Asset Calendars, Downtime Reporting, and Codes also go a long way in assisting Planners in knowing what the state or availability of the equipment is before making assumptions. Preventive Maintenance definitions that produce Work Orders based on time or Meter readings are also part of your overall Plan for the equipment.
Even on the Inventory side of the house, Maximo / Manage supports Planning. The use of pre-determining Spare Parts, Tools and even Services the crews need to get the job done are present in the software. Item Reservations, Job Plans, and Inspection Forms go a long way as well to prep for the work.
We often focus only on “work” processes and forget about the processes we have (or need!) in the area of Planning. People and Process play a huge role in doing any sort of Planning, and if we neglect how we go about Planning, we end up with Plans that cannot be executed well. Take a little time to ponder how you go about “doing Planning,” and see where some improvement may be needed.
So, you have a Plan. Now you must execute it. Work Orders are the key facilitator for your Plan. No matter their Type (CM, PM, CAL, etc.), Work Orders are the easiest method to keep up with what needs to be done and is being done to your equipment. One “rule,” you could impress upon your workforce is that nothing happens to a piece of equipment unless there is a Work Order in place that describes that work. Might be hard to do at first, but over time, this simple rule will provide you with crucial data and might even prevent disasters.
Aside from the Work Order functionality to support the “Do,” task, there are:
- Service Requests – to identify work needing to be done
- Labor, Crews, Crafts, etc. – greatly assist in assigning the work at the correct level
- Graphical Scheduler / Assignment – to support very busy organizations
- Quick Reporting and Actuals entry – makes reporting who did what very simple
- Logs / Comments – impromptu reporting of notes for action or reference
“Do” also has People and Process elements… of course! How People are expected to Do things is critical. Sure, you can give them tools to Do the job, but they need to know how to do the job as well. Training processes come into this area, making sure your teams are prepared for the work beyond just a task list for them to figure out.
“It is finished!” While that is true, there is always paperwork to complete as well before one can say the job is done. After all the tools are put away, the green lights are flashing, and the keys returned to the lockbox, all the appropriate details of the work must be entered in whatever fashion (and degree of detail) that the organization requires… into those foundational Work Orders.
“Paperwork,” as a concept will never go away. What has gone away is the actual, “working with paper.” Given web browser or true mobile application access provided to your field staff, there is no reason to carry paper around. Yet another tool in their toolbox, they can enter their Actuals via a tablet right then vs. waiting to mash the details into the system later in the day. Tap and click vs. scribble and decipher.
Work Orders that are, “Field Complete,” can then be reviewed by Supervisors to ensure completeness. Maximo / Manage can of course be set to make some fields required depending on Status, and picklists of values (Domains) can be set to make data entry easy and consistent. But, in the end, having a human look at what the field teams are reporting is an important data integrity task. Start Centers and pre-set queries make the Supervisors’ job of finding what they need to review/approve much easier.
To put a fine point on the Check step, it can be used to review any improvements that were made since the circle was performed last to see if they have made a difference. This infers that you had an improvement Plan in place that you now want to see what the results are. Very common to see Work Orders used for improvement activities.
Of course, how do you know if the results you are seeing are good or bad? Establishing Metrics that use the data coming in from the field is a critical step and might even need to be part of Plan at the beginning of the circle. “That which is measured improves” is a common adage that should ring true to you.
But wait… we just did all the work, didn’t we? The Act step in the PDCA circle is the brilliant addition. Just because you went around the loop does not mean that you should repeat it! What if your field staff is logging that they skipped PM steps because they were not possible in the state the equipment was in? What if you have a stack of work that cannot be performed because of a lack of spare parts? How about your teams telling you that doing a PM each month is simply too often?
You should always be looking for input from those who are performing the work to make things better. They know far more than you do about the reality of the equipment. Take the time to review their observations and the data they produce to adjust… you guessed it… your Plan.
Now the circle is complete! You Planned, Did the Plan, Checked the results, and then Acted to make necessary adjustments to your Plan. ‘Round and ‘round you go!
How TRM can help you
TRM offers a pre-configured Maximo / Manage instance called our Advanced Asset Management (AAM) product. In it, we have established best practice flows for work orders and other common processes to help foster the PDCA approach to equipment maintenance. Let us know how we might be able to help you. You can now leverage our association with IDCON to walk through your processes and give you insight and guidance on how to improve your workflow.
Article by John Q. Todd, Sr. Business Consultant at TRM. Reach out to us at AskTRM@trmnet.com if you have any questions or would like to discuss deploying MAS 8 or Maximo AAM for condition-based maintenance/monitoring.