Measuring overall craft effectiveness How OCE impacts your bottom line

This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Part 1 appeared in the October issue, p 39. Part 3 will appear next month. Improving overall craft effectiveness is a key topic we need to address. Getting maximum value from craft labor resources and higher craft productivity require measurement and knowing where you are now.

By Ralph W. Peters, President, The Maintenance Excellence Institute, Raleigh, NC November 1, 2003

This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Part 1 appeared in the October issue, p 39. Part 3 will appear next month.

Improving overall craft effectiveness is a key topic we need to address. Getting maximum value from craft labor resources and higher craft productivity require measurement and knowing where you are now. Maintenance operations that continue to operate in a reactive, run-to-failure, firefighting mode and disregard implementation of today’s best practices will continue to waste their most valuable asset: craft time. Typically, due to no fault of the craft work force, only about 30_40% of an 8-hr day is devoted to hands-on wrench time.

Best practices such as effective maintenance planning/scheduling, preventive/predictive maintenance, and more effective storerooms and parts support contribute to proactive, planned maintenance and more productive wrench time. Measuring and improving overall craft effectiveness must be among the many components contributing to continuous reliability improvement process and total asset management.

Three elements of overall craft effectiveness

Craft utilization (CU) is the first element of the OCE Factor. This element of OCE relates to measuring how effective we are in planning and scheduling craft resources so that these assets are doing value-added, productive work (wrench time).

Effective planning/scheduling within a proactive maintenance process is key to increased wrench time and craft utilization. It means having an effective storeroom with the right part at the right place in time to do scheduled work with minimal nonproductive time on the part of the crafts person or crew assigned to the job.

Pure wrench time does not include time attributed to the following:

  • Running/traveling from emergency to emergency in a reactive, fire fighting mode

  • Waiting on parts and finding parts or part information

  • Waiting on other asset information, drawings, repair instructions, documentation, etc.

  • Waiting for the equipment to be shut down

  • Waiting on rental equipment or contractor support to arrive at the job site

  • Waiting on other crafts to finish their part of the job

  • Traveling to/from job site

  • Make-ready, put away, or shop cleanup time

  • Meetings, normal breaks, training time, and excessive troubleshooting due to lack of technical skills

  • Lack of effective planning and scheduling.

    • Improve wrench time first

      All three elements of OCE are important. But you can go on the attack to increase wrench time in your operation even if you do nothing to improve immediately the other two OCE factors: craft performance and craft service quality level. Very dramatic and significant tangible benefits can be realized by focusing on increasing wrench time. Improvement of 20—30 percentage points can typically be expected just from more effective maintenance planning and scheduling.

      What if through better planning and scheduling, good parts availability, and having equipment available for maintenance on a scheduled basis we are able to increase actual wrench time by 10%? What is the gained value to us if we get wrench time increased across the board for a 20-person crew being paid an average hourly rate of $18?

      Assuming a 40-hr week for 52 wk at $18/hr, 20 crafts people would cost $748,800 in labor. If the average wrench time is only 30 hr/wk, then $187,200 is being spent on nonproductive time. An increase of 10% in wrench time reduces the cost of nonproductive time to just $56,160.

      Craft performance

      Craft performance (CP) is the second key element affecting overall craft effectiveness. This element relates to how efficient we are in actually doing hands-on craft work when compared to an established planned time or performance standard.

      Craft performance is directly related to the level of individual craft skills and overall trades experience, as well as the personal motivation and effort of each craftsperson or crew. Effective craft skills training and technical development contribute to a high level of craft performance.

      Effective planning and scheduling

      An effective planning and scheduling function requires that reasonable estimates and planning times be established for as much maintenance work as possible. Since maintenance work is not highly repetitive, the task of developing planning times is more difficult. However, there are a number of methods for establishing planning times for maintenance work including:

      Reasonable estimates: A knowledgeable person, either a supervisor or planner, uses experience to provide his best estimate of the time required. This approach does not scope out the job in much detail to determine method or special equipment needed.

      Historical data: The results of experience are captured via the CMMS or other means to get average times to do a specific task. Over time, a database of estimated time is developed, which can be updated with a running average time computed for the tasks.

      Predetermined standard data: Standard data tables for a wide range of small maintenance tasks have been developed. Standard data represent the building blocks that can then be used to estimate larger, more complex jobs. Each standard data table provides what the operation is, what is included in the time value, and the table of standard data time for the variables that are included. The Universal Maintenance Standards (UMS) method used in the 1970s represents a predetermined standard data method.

      ACE Team Benchmarking Process

      A means to overcome many of the inherent difficulties associated with developing maintenance performance standards is the ACE Team Benchmarking Process (“ACE” stands for “a consensus of experts). This method, based upon principles of the Delphi Technique, relies primarily on the combined experience and estimating ability of a group of skilled crafts personnel, planners, and supervisors. The objective is to produce higher quality, to support safer repair methods, and subsequently as a byproduct, to determine reliable planning times for a number of selected benchmark jobs. This team-based process using skilled craft people places a high emphasis on continuous maintenance improvement to reflect improvements in performance and repair methods as they occur.

      Generally, the ACE Team Benchmarking Process parallels the Universal Maintenance Standards approach in that the “range of time concept” and “slotting” is used once the work content times for a representative number of benchmark jobs have been established. The ACE Team Benchmarking Process focuses primarily on the development of work content times for representative benchmark jobs that are typical of the craft work performed by the group.

      Once a number of benchmark job times have been established, these jobs are then categorized onto spreadsheets by craft and task area and according to work groups that represent various ranges of times. Spreadsheets are then set up with two to four brief repair descriptions for a work group and each work group having a time slot or range of time. For example, Work Group E would be for benchmark jobs ranging from 0.9 hr up to 1.5 hr and assigned a standard time (slot time) of 1.2 hr. Likewise, Work Group F would be for benchmark jobs ranging from 1.5 hr up to 2.5 hr and assigned a standard time of 2.0 hr. Spreadsheets include only brief descriptions of the benchmark jobs and represent pure wrench time. Work content comparison is then done by an experienced person, typically a trained planner (familiar with the job), to establish planning times within the 95% confidence range.

      Planning times are essential

      Planning times provide a number of key benefits for the planning/scheduling process. First, they provide a means to determine existing workloads for scheduling by craft areas and backlog of work in each area. Reliable planning times applied to deferred maintenance gives a clearer picture to top leaders and supports taking positive action. Planning times allow the maintenance planner to balance repair priorities against available craft hours and to realistically establish repair schedules that can be accomplished as promised.

      Secondly, planning times provide a target or goal for each job that allows for measurement of craft performance. Due to the variability of maintenance work and the inherent sensitivity toward measurement, the objective is not so much the measurement of individual craft performance.

      The real objective is measurement of the overall performance of the craft work force as a whole. Measurement of the individual crafts person is possible to validate acquired and applied skills. However, craft performance measurement is intended to be for the entire maintenance work force that is doing skilled work.

      Craft service quality

      Craft service quality (CSQ) is the third element affecting overall craft effectiveness that relates to the relative quality of the repair. This element includes quality of the actual work, where certain jobs possibly require a callback to the initial repair, thus requiring another trip to fix it right the second time. However, craft service quality can be negatively impacted due to no fault of the crafts person when hasty repairs, patch jobs, or inferior repair parts/materials create the need for a callback.

      We can measure callbacks via the CMMS with special coding of callback work orders. Typically, the CSQ element of OCE is a more subjective value, and therefore it must be viewed accordingly in each operation. However, the craft service quality level does affect overall craft labor productivity and the bottom line results of the entire maintenance process.

      As founder of The Maintenance Excellence Institute and President of Ralph W. Peters and PEOPLE Inc. Peters has over 30 yr of practical engineering expertise, operations management, and maintenance responsibilities in both the public and private sectors. He can be reached at 919-270-1173 or .