Maintenance Work Management
Our client, a major North American energy producer and marketer, found its Denver refinery in a state of flux. As we began our assessment phase, we encountered a facility in the midst of modifying its problematic SAP system. The resulting training effort was massive and distracting the majority of plant personnel, not only from our assessment, but from their “regular” jobs as well. The SAP system changes took a very hard-line command and control path, and Corporate had mandated that the intended design be followed in everything from work flow to organizational structure.
Realizing that we first needed to help facilitate the massive Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) change effort and assist in the contingency planning and execution, we temporarily postponed the assessment phase. From the start, we became conduits of information in a culture that did not communicate problems, but just accepted them as normal. Typically, when work orders failed to flow through the system, the crafts people simply had no work to do. Our contingency plans allowed them to accomplish meaningful work until the bugs in the software could be worked out. We also monitored the work flow bubble and facilitated the necessary corrections in SAP routing.
When the SAP changeover was stabilized, and we were out of firefighting mode, we stepped back into the assessment phase. This included performing Day-in-the-Life-Of studies on key players, studying Time-on-Tools, and finishing the interviews of 44 representative personnel to uncover both cultural and work flow related issues.
Work practices for maintenance had been in place for years, but many of the organizational disciplines had eroded over time. The acquisition of a refinery across the street (literally), complete with its poor work practices, exacerbated the problems. We put together cross-functional teams to design, roll-out, and train on the updated work practices. Focusing on the basics of maintenance (work identification, planning, scheduling and execution), the design teams detailed the work flow, developed RACIs, documented procedures, and conducted the training. A team was also formed to develop KPIs for each phase of work management.
The RACIs that were developed made it very clear who was expected to do which tasks, which was a critical step in addressing our client’s accountability-averse culture. Previous to the documentation and communication of the RACIs, people would often pick and choose what they wanted to do, leaving others to pick up the slack. However, once the RACIs were detailed in black and white, and no longer open to interpretation, the workforce readily embraced the structure they provided.
Work identification was focused on the information necessary for the work order to be effective, which included standardized abbreviations, risk ranking and prioritization, and implementing effective screening and approval responsibilities.
Planning improvements were accomplished through a three-week Planner Workshop. We then focused on detailed job scoping, standard job plan creation and use.
Maintenance work scheduling has taken a huge leap forward. Prior to our arrival, they had a frozen five-day schedule that would melt before Monday. Their weekly schedule compliance was well below 25 percent, but upon our departure, they were routinely above 85 percent. They had gone from the Corporate Zero to Hero.
Through behavioral change, the Operations Superintendents, who were once the biggest violators of the schedule, are now the biggest defenders, reducing schedule breakers from over 85 percent to less than 15 percent.
By instituting a daily scheduling process for the maintenance supervisors, we ensured that 100 percent of available manpower was scheduled. The associated daily scheduling metrics were now accurate, demonstrating that the department was fully capable of executing routine maintenance, with compliance above 70 percent after the first quarter of use.
Originally a central maintenance organization (to blend in crafts from the original site and the newly acquired refinery), we needed to move to an area-based organization to fully support the cross-functional team model mandated by Headquarters. We played a pivotal role in designing the structure and identifying the tasks and expectations of the new positions. Operations personnel were not only pleased to have just one maintenance supervisor to deal with, but also appreciated the additional individual attention they now received.
MTG provided intense field coaching which took place after the combined implementation of the new area maintenance design and work practices. By spending time in the field, we were able to identify some minor changes to work practices that led to significant savings, such as eliminating the need to hire a second maintenance supervisor when it was discovered that the existing supervisor was able to handle the work load for both plants.
Based upon our work, the Denver refinery has made great strides in improving its maintenance metrics, which have received high visibility across the corporation.
The refinery manager summed it up well, stating:
"We are on the verge of becoming the leader in this area, with industry best-in-class on the horizon. (MTG’s) quality work processes, roles and responsibilities, training and coaching have all helped in getting us this far."