Is your maintenance organization centralized or decentralized?

Why some organizations would benefit more by choosing just one.


During a recent conversation with a group of clients, we were discussing the idea of centralized and decentralized maintenance, or, in other words, whether or not maintenance should report to a maintenance leader or Courtesy: ARGan operations leader. Based on that conversation, I wanted to share my thoughts on how I see the two, and why an organization might want one over the other.

If I were to discover an organization that was very reactive and lacked reliability maturity, I would recommend a centralized maintenance structure where all of the maintenance organization reports to a mature maintenance and reliability leader. The reason? If you are trying to improve reliability, one needs a strong central leader to drive the message early on and then build a coalition that moves the understanding out into the organization and ingrains it into the culture. As the organization reaches a higher level of maturity where operations understands the guiding principles of reliability, the organization will continue to improve. Only then can we look at decentralization.

If you make the move to decentralized maintenance too early on,  one risks the craftsmen being stationed by operations next to a machine "to stand guard." Of course they would do this to facilitate faster reacting to failures and reduction of their set up and down time. What we want to occur instead is for those crafts to identify and eliminate the failure modes and prevent re-occurrence through a root cause analysis, improved craft skills, precision maintenance, and other tools.

Shon specializes in Business Process Management, Adult Education, Strategic Planning, Organizational Change Management, Leadership, and Reliability Engineering and has lead improvement initiatives for industries such as pharmaceuticals, metals, petrochemical, paper, and power generation, among others. Shon has been asked to speak at numerous professional conferences on these topics in the US as well as Europe, South America, and the Middle East. This post originally appeared on reliabilitynow.com

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