Everywhere in the manufacturing world, you hear the term “reliability.” You must have a “reliable” manufacturing process to be able to compete with your competition. Large companies all over the world are spending a lot of money trying to become more “reliable.”

Better technology, better inspections, better operating procedures, better skills sets, everyone is looking for that magic bullet called “reliable manufacturing.”

Interesting thing is that even though everyone is chasing the same thing, not everyone gets there. That is what I want to take a few minutes to discuss.

Why do some companies, some mills and some plants see really nice results from reliability improvement efforts and others realize little or no improvements at all? This same variability exists even when the parent company utilizes the same reliable manufacturing training at all mills or plants. Why?

A large portion of the answer lies in what happens after the training. The first few weeks after the training is a very important time. Whatever the training, if the new techniques, ideas and learned skill sets are not used and proven very soon after the class then the knowledge gained begins to leave a person very quickly. In other words, things get back to normal!

I was once told as a trainer by a maintenance manager, “I want the mechanics all trained as fast as we can get them trained, so that we can get through with this and get things back to normal.” While, I don’t think that this manager really meant this the way it sounded, he did send a very strong message that he really saw little to no value and expected nothing different than what he had always seen.

It is an absolute must to understand that the only way to get different results is to expect different results. In other words, craftsman will meet the expectations that you provide most of the time. It is our fault as managers, when we do not demand and field measure excellent workmanship from our craftsman.

One of the first steps in the process is to develop job documentation field guide sheets with sign-offs that reflect our expectations of precisely completed job.

The following are some considerations that should be considered as a part of these work sheets:

  • Before and after machine performance data – vibration, bearing temperature, coupling temperature, amp draw, machine speed, etc.
  • Pre-alignment checks – key lengths, key positions, set-screw positions, pipe strain, parallel soft foot, base condition, etc.
  • Thermal growth calculations – thermal expansion of all machines in the train must be considered to understand how shaft centerlines will be positioned when the machine system is at normal operating conditions
  • Angle soft foot check – needs to be identified and eliminated after machines are within 10 mils of final positions
  • Final alignment positioning – alignment standards must consider center line positioning at the coupling and all machine feet in order to understand an acceptance envelope
  • Coupling condition – correct grease type and amount must be verified
  • Guard condition – guards must pass OSHA standards AND allow for good on the run PM inspections

These work sheets need to have a place to properly sign a job “out of precision state” when conditions will not allow us to get a piece of equipment where it needs to be. There also needs to be a place for explaining why the equipment was left in an “out of precision state” and what our plans are to get it “in a precision state.”

Correct job documentation must have every step that might be encountered in that job identified; with a place to check off that each step has been accomplished. This job documentation must have sign offs for the craftsman performing the work, operations manager who asked for the work to be done and the maintenance supervisor who is overseeing the work. When a business decision is made to leave a particular piece of equipment “out of precision” (as for some equipment the cost to place it into a precise state may not be acceptable as to the consequence of the failure), then all signatures must be in place. Only when we begin this process, can we expect to know, understand and realize what condition our assets are in.

The mills, the plants and the companies that realize very profitable results are companies that expect to see the “big change.” They provide an application process that measures excellence and has the ability to track results and report the successes back to corporate leaders, who probably approved the money to be spent on the training in the first place.

Reliable manufacturing is not a pie in the sky. Reliable Manufacturing is a journey, a process where the bar of excellence is always being challenged and raised when necessary. Only those facilities that create a process with documentation, field apply provided training and measure the results with expectations will really see positive and sustainable change. Those will be the plants, the mills and the companies that survive and will be able to tell the stories of the “big change”, years from now.

Reliability Solutions wants to partner with your company to walk with you on your path to an improved and more complete Reliable Manufacturing effort. We have developed and successfully field applied job documentation in both hard copy and electronic form. We can help you get the process in place that will allow you to easily track and report your progress along the way!

Get in touch with Reliability Solutions today to find out more information.

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