Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 4

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

Journey Not the Same for All

Rick Carter
Executive Editor

I

've been lucky enough to tour many industrial
operations over the years, usually in the course
of article research. The process has allowed
me to witness a small sample of the infinite
variations possible in the continuous-improvement
journey. Most of the plants I've seen have been
noteworthy examples of what we consider best
practices in maintenance, asset-management,
reliability and production. Typically run by efficient
world-class cultures whose members are proud of
their accomplishments, these are cream-of-the-crop
plants, and the most likely to achieve recognition.

The continuous-improvement journey is a
challenge, but one that most of our survey
respondents indicate they are working to
meet with everything they have.
But these aren't the only plants running. Many
others have the same goals and are at very different
parts of their journeys: good ones working toward
world-class, average operations struggling to
maintain hard-won improvements, and those just
struggling. Good times and bad, this is the case.
And when you consider the sheer size and diversity
of the U.S. manufacturing landscape-some
300,000 establishments and approximately 11
million employees, as of the 2012 U.S. Census (not
including utilities and mining)-it's not surprising
that everyone's continuous-improvement journey is
going to be different.
This is certainly what we found with our 2015
Maintenance Technology State of the Practice
Survey, which is highlighted in this issue. Its input
from nearly 300 MT readers provides a benchmark
for the industrial-maintenance community's
current ability to integrate and improve key
procedures. And it contains much good news about
those efforts. It also reminds us how difficult the
continuous-improvement journey can be. The
fact that many of the survey's key findings have

4|

MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY

changed minimally for the better-or not changed
at all-since the last such survey was conducted in
2012 tells us that, despite today's many world-class
manufacturing operations, not everyone's there.
Some have barely begun the trip.
Fortunately for me, personally, and my need for
perspective, I've seen the non-superstar operations,
too. One visit with a consultant on the factory floor
of a struggling aeronautics client was a particular
revelation. In his efforts to help his client see why
more money was flowing out than in, the consultant had explained how the site's disorganized
production floor and workflow procedures were a
big part of the problem. But he was having trouble
convincing this well-funded, inexperienced group
how a simple lean-based approach to equipment
placement and workflow could start them on a
corrective path. Unable to grasp this fundamental,
the management team could only argue about
solutions, and the consultant moved on soon after.
I've also seen heavy-industry operations on
both sides of the fence: shipyards devoted to
implementing company-wide TPM regardless
of the many over-sized challenges they faced in
doing so, and, by contrast, a large steel-making
operation that was a trip into the past: dirt on
all surfaces, outdated equipment and unengaged
workers. Finally, there was a memorable visit to a
large, dazzling operation that was world-class in all
aspects except for their use of maintenance strategy,
which was at beginner level. They had just begun
to address this seemingly at-odds approach with a
cautious roll-out of several maintenance programs
they hoped to eventually use company-wide.
So when you view the comparative figures in
our survey report (starting on page 14), don't be
surprised at the absence of eye-popping differences
over the past three years. With so many ongoing
inequities across manufacturing-especially the
dire need for skilled workers, which our survey
reconfirms-it's some consolation that, with regard
to this community's overall understanding and use
of best-practice strategies, little ground has been
lost. Clearly, the journey remains a challenge, but
it's one that most of our respondents indicate they
are working to meet with everything they have. MT

rcarter@atpnetwork.com
MAY 2015



Maintenance Technology May 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Maintenance Technology May 2015

Maintenance Technology May 2015 - Cover1
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - Cover2
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 1
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 2
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 3
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 4
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 5
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 6
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 7
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 8
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Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 14
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Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 16
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Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 18
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 19
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 20
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Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 28
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 29
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 30
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Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 38
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Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 40
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 41
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 42
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Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 45
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Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 47
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Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 49
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Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 51
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - 52
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - Cover3
Maintenance Technology May 2015 - Cover4
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