Champion the cause of success assurance

We can define individual success for our manufacturing plants. We can assure success.

06/04/2015


We are by nature a pessimistic lot. I’m not sure why that is, except perhaps that everything is finite. Even by that standard, there are infinite ways to deal with a finite world.

While some view a glass as half empty and others have seen it as half full, I’ve always felt that the view of the glass depends mostly on how thirsty you are. There are other factors that determine whether that’s enough water for your needs, or too much water at this time.

If all this sounds a little too philosophical for a column essentially about maintenance, that’s because I recently had a moment of philosophical clarity. I was at an industry event, and the discussion migrated to the topic of failure avoidance in manufacturing operations. It occurred to me at that moment that we were focused on the wrong topic—that we were looking at a half-empty glass.

“Why,” I asked out loud, “aren’t we talking about success assurance?”

We’ve made great progress in two important areas in manufacturing—safety and productivity. We talk about maintaining a safe plant, because safety is the baseline for success. We discuss productivity as a positive outcome of excellent workplace practices.

We also know that too much of our day is spent putting out fires. Some of those are the result of poor planning, and others are the result of poor execution. It doesn’t much matter what caused the fire; what you’ve got to do first is extinguish it.

But what if there was a mindset that you wouldn’t have to spend resources putting out the fire if you made sure from the start that there was no chance the fire would start? How does that thinking change the way we view everything we do in manufacturing? What if we engineer not just to get a line up and running, but also to ensure that our people are trained, our systems are optimized, and our organization is aligned to deliver nothing but success? If we start with that philosophy, how does that change our operational goals?

Many facilities try to make their operations foolproof—another phrase that perpetuates the negatives about an operation. Broken down to its component parts, to make something foolproof is to engineer it so that even a fool couldn’t break it. Why would we even want to employ such people in our organization?

We need to begin with the idea that success is inevitable. Too often, we begin with the opposite idea in mind. Training eliminates the need to foolproof our plant. System engineering begins with the end goal in mind, so that every component part is aligned with that end goal. The idea that we will succeed when we do all of these things well, is liberating.

It also, incidentally, is profitable. Better engineering and training and maintenance all lead to lower overall costs. More product is produced—notice I didn’t suggest there is less waste. Workers are safe, which should be a constant state. To suggest they are “safer” implies there was a time when they were less safe. That’s not a message that has any value for an organization thirsting to be successful.

Perhaps this all sounds like semantics, but I think they are important distinctions. The approach we take to many things we do begins with the idea that we have to avoid trouble or minimize risk. If success is the model we build toward, it is implicit that problems are avoided and minimized. Success can be measured in several ways, of course, but all of the outcomes are predetermined. They keep our eyes up and focused on moving forward. We’re not looking back. We’re not naive, but we’re not afraid—and we’re better able to add new technology and new solutions because they will continue our success.

We are in a data-driven world today. We can quantify what success looks like. Unlike sports, where no matter how well we might score, someone else can always match it or surpass it, we can define individual success for our manufacturing plants. We can assure success.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2016 Product of the Year; Diagnose bearing failures; Asset performance management; Testing dust collector performance measures
Safety for 18 years, warehouse maintenance tips, Ethernet and the IIoT, GAMS 2016 recap
2016 Engineering Leaders Under 40; Future vision: Where is manufacturing headed?; Electrical distribution, redefined
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Safety at every angle, Big Data's impact on operations, bridging the skills gap
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Applying network redundancy; Overcoming loop tuning challenges; PID control and networks
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing arc flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role of plant safety and offers advice on best practices.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me