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Changing Views on Maintenance

June 28, 2018

I met with some of the other managers from the other departments, in particular about lubrication maintenance. I had to pitch to them why the maintenance department need a bigger budget. Something I’ve had to plan for and somewhat dread for the last week. Could I bring forward compelling enough evidence to do this? Thomas assured me that I had enough.

This is critical, convincing other people that maintenance is critical to operating well. The best arguments include these three elements-

1) It makes the machines safer over the long run

2) It prevents downtime

3) Preventing down time means production is also better.

Instead of reforming practices on all the machines all at once, which would require cooperation from people I have to convince, we’ve concentrated on three machines that the operators use every day. Every single machine performs better and hasn’t had a single problem over the last three months. Compared to the other machines doing the same job our three are more efficient.

Now, if the management accepts my plan that doesn’t mean the operators will. They all are hard working men and women who've performed well for years. They use the same methods they've used for twenty years. So, what may happen is that they will change, for a little bit. They know the game, conform to the new normal long enough to make everything run smoothly and then wait for laziness to set in. After a few months the one who implemented the plan will have failed and how they do things will not have changed. Then a few years down the way they know someone else will get a crazy idea and they’ll repeat the annoying process.

Some will get angry, we don’t like change, even if it is to improve our work. So, how do I combat this inherent human trait? Well, make the change urgent.

Nothing gets people into action like thinking something is a crisis. The maintenance program has been in a crisis, but not in a massive crisis like an imminent tsunami. Rather it’s a crisis that crawls around, under everyone’s noses. More like a black widow crawling across a window. Anyone can see it crawling, but they have to look. They know the danger it poses, but even as it crawls towards someone it might slip out of view for a few seconds and someone might say it’s nothing to worry about. Then of course it starts biting people. And then everyone might say, ‘oh hey we should do something,’ but by that point you’re taking people to the ER.

We’re going to fight this idea by not making everyone do it all at once. We’ll move machine to machine, proving our case, making it even more solid than it already is. Sure, the progress of implementation might take a little longer, but if gets the actual desired long-term result then it’s a win.

The unseen situations are the most difficult, the maxim- “out of sight, out of mind,” applies here. If I can use the provable stuff, I can then move onto the kind of stuff that we’re not seeing. The more we get down to the nitty-gritty of maintenance, the more I’m convinced we haven’t yet seen the whole picture of how bad things are.

A proactive use of predictive and preventative maintenance get this place running to full capacity. We don’t change easily. A machine can change quite easily, it will do what it is designed to do and can be modified easily to do something slightly different, but that doesn’t apply to people.

When the oil arrives it is not clean, yet we’re dumping it into the reservoir. We’ve dumped oil that’s been sitting around in barrels outside in the weather into a reservoir. This is a bad practice, and not only that will cost nothing to change. So, this will be one of the changes I propose to make. Change of practice can best be put into effect by having it-

1) Be something that maybe only takes a little time, but costs nothing.

2) Has a clear benefit in a positive way.

If something is able to look cleaner it will give off the impression of being more valuable. The look of thing is as important as what the thing does when you try to impress people. And I must impress people because I must change their minds and doing that requires leaving an impression.