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Week of 25 March 2019: How to tell if a Maintenance Department is Effective

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There are only two or three conditions one has to observe to determine if a maintenance department is effective. Fixing them if they are not is a whole other chapter in our quest for a properly operating mill. This week we'll just look for clues as to effectiveness.

The first is organization and cleanliness. The space occupied by the maintenance department ought to look like the maintenance department at your local Mercedes Benz dealership. You can eat off the floor; there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. The employees are neat, orderly and walking briskly from one place to another.

The storeroom is well organized and secure. Motor shafts have markings indicating they are rotated on a regular schedule. Waste bins for trash, scrap and junked parts are no more than half full. Any space controlled by the maintenance department near their main space is clean and empty. There is no "bone yard."

Offices occupied by maintenance managers are neat and orderly, not stacked full of parts, either old or new. They are not grime laden atrocities but clean and organized spaces.


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IT and Controls Specialists think they are a special breed. They are not. Their wires, notes terminal blocks, and who knows what else are organized and neat. This is a deeper dive into how they actually organize things on their computer(s). Their electronic filing system should follow a prescribed system, developed internally or purchased from one of the many companies that do this sort of thing.

The above matters are generally static concerns that can be observed and corrected over a few weeks or a few months.

Then there is the special dynamic case: kitting for shutdowns. Every job for every shutdown should be completely kitted a minimum of three days before a planned shutdown. By completely kitted, I mean every part, every gasket, every bolt, every electrical termination should be on a crash cart. A list of disassembly/reassembly instructions also should be on the cart. A list of personal tools should be included. A manager should go over the job and the cart with the assigned employees. If they are not happy with the first round, subsequent rounds of review should take place until the manager is satisfied the project can be done safely, efficiently and quickly--without excessive trips back to the shop. (What is excessive? One).

Larger parts cannot be put on a crash cart. The manager and the techs assigned to the project should walk to these parts and put their hands on them. They should plan what motive equipment will be needed to get the parts to the place where they are to be installed.

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Finally, the crash cart discussion should include what final settings will be required in situ on the new parts, what cleanup will look like and the disposition plan for the old parts removed. If they are to be tagged for removal to a repair shop, the tags should be premade and the temporary storage place for such parts should be predetermined and marked out.

Following this discipline for a month to six weeks will result in a complete understanding of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to your maintenance department.

Of course, safety is the overarching concern in all maintenance activities. Make sure to emphasize it first, middle and last.

Be safe and we will talk next week.

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Employers are on board with There are nearly thirty employers located in fifteen different US states and two other countries. [06.19.19]


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