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Explains in-depth the eight elements of change and how they relate to cultural change.

Discusses cultural change with a reliability focus.

Presents the subject in a way that middle managers will be able to understand and apply.

Includes a PowerPo
Improving Maintenance Reliability Through Cultural Change
(Cultural Change - Technology)

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   by Stephen Thomas
Published By:
Industrial Press Inc.
Explains improving maintenance and reliability performance at plant level by changing the organization culture. Intended for middle managers in manufacturing and process industries. SALE! Use Promotion Code TNET11 on book link
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13.2 Technology – The Systems That We Use Types of Technology Systems


Two types of technology systems support change in a reliability based work culture. These are administrative software tools and specific functional tools.


Administrative Tools

These are software applications that handle information about the work process. They also provide the user with the ability to work with the information as the work process progresses. Examples include your computerized maintenance management system, a system for controlling supplemental workers (contractors), financial, materials management or financial systems, and programs that provide reports for analysis and action.


Functional Tools

These are software applications that work specifically with a functional part of the business. These tools provide a place to store the information you gather and directly help you conduct problem analysis. They also help you convert the information into data that is analytical and predictive in nature. Examples include vibration analysis, thermography, stationary equipment thickness and remaining life information, operator driven reliability software (usually part of a handheld electronic process), and others.


Reasons for Using Technology

Administrative and functional tools are equally important if we want to change from a repair-based work environment to one focused on reliability. However, many people still believe that state-of-the-industry technology is not necessary. Instead, they believe that doing things the old way, manually or with antiquated software, is good enough. We will discuss this concern further in the section on role models. For now, I want to explain why the old way is simply insufficient if a company wants to survive in today’s marketplace.


These older processes worked when all we wanted to do was to fix what had broken down and return it to service as quickly as possible. They do not work in a reliability-focused environment because they can not deliver the essential and required information. What we require are modern systems with information that is accurate, timely, controlled, widely accessible, consistently logical, and integrated. Otherwise, a reliability-focused culture is difficult or even impossible to achieve. Let’s look at the key factors required.


Accurate Information

The information within our systems needs to be accurate. Older systems or manual efforts do not always live up to this requirement. Older systems are difficult to manage and information doesn’t always get entered. Both manual systems and older computer systems that require extensive manual intervention are subject to human error.


Timely Information

The information needed to make sound decisions may be available, but older systems and manual processes have extreme difficulty getting it to the right person in a timely fashion. Reliability-based decisions require information to be at people’s finger tips when needed


Controlled Information

The information within our systems needs to be available, but it also needs to be controlled. The majority of people who need information really only need to see it; they should not be able to remove, alter, or delete it. Newer databases provide this level of information security. Older systems are much more difficult to control; manual processes are even worse.


Widely Accessible Information

The majority of older systems are functional in nature. As a result, they are only accessible to the function and the members of the function that they support. Many people liked this because it was their system and others needed to come to them for their information. If we want the work to have a reliability focus, everyone involved must have access to the information that will lead them to quality decisions.


Consistently Logical Information

Information has a logic to it, especially if it is being analyzed by the system. Software provides consistently logical results. Older software is limited. Human systems are subject to human error or logical processes being incorrectly applied as different people perform the required tasks.


Integrated Information

Older systems and manual processes were fit into functional silos – those in the function were the only ones who had access to the information. Consequently people had to seek out this information from other departments — a time consuming effort — or make decisions without the information.. If you want people to make quality decisions, then you need systems that allow them to gain access to all of the information required to make those decisions. You need to establish a way to bring all of the information together for access by those who require it. This can be a manual process, but preferably you can work within your company to develop an electronically integrated solution — one that links the systems and the information that these systems contain.


Technology tools that provide these basics are not easy to obtain and can be extremely expensive. Some companies have purchased multifunctional software to try to achieve these requirements. The expense is large and the software often fails to deliver one tool for all needs. The problem is that our administrative and functional needs are just too diverse and complex. Other firms simply employ multiple technological tools. They trust that the users of these tools can obtain what they need by knowing how to navigate more than one system or simply by getting the information from someone who does. Each of these approaches is time consuming and difficult. Finally, using new technology solutions, many companies have worked to integrate their systems so that information can be obtained from a single source without having to know the systems from where it came – systems / information integration.


The best use of the technology is obtained by the integration solution. It certainly is less expensive, it can provide a way to link all systems (and the information that they contain), and it delivers what is needed to run a reliability-focused work process.


13.3 Technology – The Information That We Create

Technology in the form of computer systems is only half of the story. When we need to make decisions about how we are going to repair a failed pump, we need more than software. We also need the information that the software can deliver. This information includes:


pump basics


bill of material


what was done the last time the pump failed


any upgrades planned for this equipment


the repair history


safety requirements that need to be included in the work plan


All this information must be accurate if we are to perform our jobs properly. It’s the job of the software to make this information accessible and integrated. But that goal will fail unless we have processes in place to make certain that the information entered into our databases is accurate and timely.


Important Rules for Information

Several rules apply to this type of information. If these are followed, the resulting information that becomes available for the decision-making process is likely to be what is required. Without these rules, the information will be suspect by the organization, which will foster a culture that will always be checking its accuracy with the experts.  These checks are time consuming and inefficient, and add a layer of skepticism that undermines success. Therefore, you need to apply these rules.


1. Never have the same information in more than one system.

When you have various functions entering information into functionally-specific software databases, you always run the risk of having the same data fields in two places, often with two different values. This conflict needs to be avoided at all costs. First, you run the risk of someone using the incorrect information to make a critical decision. Second, people will learn to distrust the information. The former is dangerous; the latter breeds ineffectiveness and inefficiency. The solution is to analyze the information in each of the databases and remove those that are redundant. There should be only one data set. If the information is required in other databases, create interfaces to get it there on a regular basis from the primary source.


2. Make information accessible in a read-only mode and an easy to obtain format. (Integrate, if possible.)

People need information, but they seldom need the ability to alter it. Therefore, make the majority of the information available in a read-only mode. Most systems today allow this level of security to be placed on the information.


3. Tightly control who can add, change, or delete information.

Engineers maintain the philosophy that people who find inaccuracies in information should be the ones to change it. This line of thinking believes that we are professionals who should have system access to make changes. People probably would not make destructive changes to the information, but it is still possible. More likely, those with good intentions may make incorrect changes.


The problem is that the people we want empowered with the ability to change information do so infrequently. When they do, they are prone to error or to entering the information incorrectly. In addition, the information may need to go into one or more systems; only a data integrity expert familiar with the databases would know the other places the information is needed. In sort, restrict who can make additions to or change your database.


4. Have a detailed process in place for new information, information changes, and information removal.

Along with rule #3 is the need to have detailed processes in place for information handling. If we are going to severely limit who can make additions or changes to the databases, we need to provide a detailed process to enable people to get their updates to those handling the entries. We also need to provide training for entering the information correctly.


5. Make certain that the information handling process is followed.

Limiting access and having a process to update information is worthless if the process is not followed. You need to assign a specific person or group from your organization the responsibility and accountability, not only to make changes, but also to make certain that the process is followed. This can be accomplished by contacting the managers of the projects affecting the information and auditing it on an on-going basis.


6. Evaluate new approaches to information handling and access.

Finally you need to continually evaluate better ways of handling and accessing the information required for reliability-based decision making. Years ago I was involved with the installation of a new maintenance management system. This system had the capability of storing asset related details such as pressure settings, weights, metallurgy, and other significant design information. In an effort to make this a value-added tool for the user community, we spent considerable time and money gathering and inputting this asset-related information into the system. Ten years ago that was the best available solution.


Today these fields are no longer utilized for the asset-specific information. Our new approach is to scan the data sheets into an electronic document management system and index the system based on the asset numbering used by the plant. In this way, users who need information can easily obtain the entire data sheet instead of searching for a specific piece of information buried deep within the maintenance software. The ability to update this information through the control of the most recent version of the data sheet is also achieved so that the user knows that the information is accurate.


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