Establishing Sustainable Maintenance Management Systems

The client is a major European chemical firm with a worldwide footprint. At one of its plants in Texas, which processes polypropylene for use in other manufacturing processes, concerns about the site’s maintenance costs prompted management to seek help in establishing a professional approach to maintenance, with the aim of increasing efficiency and saving costs.

The client assigned T.A. Cook to conduct a three-week analysis of the site’s Work Order Management and maintenance processes. The analysis identified several key problems:

  • Planning was in serious need of overhaul: without a planning department, all planning was done by maintenance supervisors when they found time and was not completed to any consistent standard;
  • There was no scheduler and hence no weekly schedule. The group ran to a daily work list with priorities changing throughout the day. Break-ins were averaging 57%;
  • With no critical overview to assess true priorities, there was a strong culture of “firefighting” maintenance problems as they arose;
  • The right skills, software and training were lacking from the maintenance department, highlighted by the lack of supervisory direction and preventing them from implementing change.   

Following the analysis of all key mainte-nance processes, the client awarded T.A. Cook a seven-month implementation project to realize the identified optimization potential and to put in place a new Performance Management System (PMS) to ensure sustainability.

Project approach
A joint T.A. Cook and client team was set up to define and agree on: key maintenance roles and responsibilities; planning and scheduling processes; preventative maintenances routines; and backlog reduction practices. An additional team created and implemented the PMS.

Implementing effective planning and scheduling systems
Firstly, quality standards for work notifications and work orders were defined by the joint team. A “standard” day for planners and schedulers was agreed in order to provide a framework, while the exact expectations and behaviors required to deliver high quality work orders were detailed.

The team then selected scheduling software and training sessions were carried out to ensure future      sustainability. These were then used to build an executable weekly schedule. This included the institution of perfor-mance review meetings, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and planned follow-up rounds to monitor the effectiveness of the changes being implemented.

Finally, the team reviewed the installed processes together and fine-tuned them to integrate current and future requirements.

Addressing criticality and reducing the backlog
The team focused on two key areas: firstly, the “bad actor” equipment which was consistently exhausting maintenance resources. To guide the team’s focus towards the most important pieces of equipment first, a criticality matrix was developed and installed. This enabled the team to fully understand how to identify and treat work orders effectively as part of a proper preventative maintenance routine.  

Secondly, the team tackled the backlog by reviewing and processing redundant, complete or unnecessary work orders. Together, both actions contributed to a reduction in downtime and surplus costs.

Designing and implementing a PMS
Following the implementation of new processes and behaviors, the PMS team worked together to clarify how management would continue to monitor progress into the future.

Regular performance review meetings were set up and management was trained to use KPIs to determine the gap between actual and expected achievement. Additionally, action plans were created to address any issues and concerns highlighted by the PMS.

Providing supervisor leadership training and coaching
Management attended formal classroom training sessions designed to introduce the principles of active supervision. These training sessions were attended by all levels of management across the plant.

In order to foster sustainability, in-the-field coaching of supervisors and managers was conducted. This allowed participants to practice what they had learned in training sessions and ensured that changes would be maintained going forward.

The introduction of proper planning and scheduling systems contributed to a 20% increase in overall maintenance efficiency, along with a 15% reduction maintenance labor costs.

Due to the success of the newly installed criticality matrix for prioritizing work orders, the backlog was reduced by 52%.

Training and on-the-floor coaching enabled the management to improve maintenance operations, increase efficiency and continue to save costs sustainably and into the future.