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A Journey to Shape Reliability Excellence at Bristol-Myers Squibb - Part 3

This installment shows how the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS) aligned its central efforts with the reliability strategy. It continues the journey from Part 1 in Uptime’s December/January 2016 issue describing the initial implementation of Uptime Elements at BMS and Part 2 in Uptime’s February/March 2016 issue demonstrating how the sites began to adopt and utilize Uptime Elements as a communication tool to set strategy and align reliability efforts with their specific site goals. This seemingly hands-off approach helped to create an organic culture with a sense of ownership for the sites while still maintaining a consistent approach globally.

The central team at BMS felt strongly that ownership at the site level was critical to long-term reliability sustainability. Several key activities from the central team were designed to shape culture, such as site visits, conscious efforts to provide feedback and coaching to site reliability leaders, and hosting the internal conference detailed in Part 1 of this series. But more importantly, many activities normally associated with a corporate-driven reliability improvement initiative were avoided. The goal was to strike a balance between what is driven and what is desired.

Reliability as a term is a tangible calculation expressed as the probability of successful operations under stated conditions for a specified duration. However, reliability as a holistic strategy comprised of proper asset management systems, processes and tools, coupled with the efforts, expertise and culture of the people responsible with its achievement, is another animal. Think of growing plants as an analogy. Seeds require basic needs, such as soil quality, planting depth, water and sun. How well would seeds from different species do if you were to plant them all at the same depth or prescribe the same amount of water? Sure, some would grow, but others would not have the right conditions to thrive. If the conditions are right and the seed germinates, it begins a journey toward what it desires, the sun. To cultivate a reliability centric culture, it is imperative to provide the conditions necessary for everyone to thrive, for once they are in an environment where they know they can thrive, they simply will. The goal of a corporate team should not be to dictate, but to cultivate. This requires a balance between conditions and patience. As this approach is explained further, keep this balance in mind because it was a critical component to the success at BMS.

Most reliability road maps are an extensive manuscript detailing the opportunity and potential cost savings available through achievement. These reports focus heavily on identifying gaps and offering insight into technical tasks to help close them. Tasks, such as criticality analysis, failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) or reliability-centered maintenance (RCM), preventive maintenance optimization (PMO), or predictive maintenance (PdM), are suggested to close gaps and achieve reliability. These recommendations greatly benefit organizations that are unaware of reliability concepts or are looking for an outside group to provide guidance. However, there are enough books and white papers to fill a library detailing the benefits of these techniques and still organizations struggle with reliability. For BMS, at the center, it was about finding a balance between empowering a culture and determining standardization of technical aspects.

The approach the BMS central team took was laser focused on people and empowerment. Ensuring decisions are made at the right level, BMS worked as a global community focused on continuous improvement. Several approaches were avoided; the most notable being the absence of a formal rollout. The introduction was an activity or an event, which helped employees recognize where they needed to focus their efforts to establish a robust foundation. There was no requirement for sites to perform similar exercises to understand their specific needs. Most importantly, there was no required action for sites to adopt this language, framework, or approach. Typically, a corporate group will set expectations with deadlines for the sites to meet, but this was most definitely not the central team’s approach. Furthermore, the sites were not required to align their updates at the biweekly update meetings with those of the Uptime Elements. While this approach is unorthodox, it is also critical to success.

The Uptime Elements framework was provided as a tool, a compass, but not a prescriptive list of requirements. The role of the central team was to provide this tool as an option. The nature of the framework is unique in that it provides the ability to visualize reliability; to discover how the elements are related, to self-explore which are dependent upon others and to draw one’s own map. The central team did not want to provide turn-by-turn GPS instructions as this does not teach one to navigate. For example, if you are headed to the North Pole, you only need to know which way is north and how to walk. At BMS, the company goals are the North Pole, the Uptime Elements are the compass and the central team gets everyone to take steps in the right direction and provides the systems and tools to get there. The central team provides the compass, water, snowshoes, boat, machete, etc. Simply let the central team know when you need them and if you want training or a guide for their use. Along the way, keep a journal of the terrain you cover, lessons learned and benefits. The central team stores this knowledge so others can use it to navigate as well.

The sites adopted the framework on their own because it just made sense. It was easy for them to understand and they derived value from day one. As the sites began to incorporate the framework into their communications, the other sites saw the value in having a common language. It improved the effectiveness of the communications and aligned the thoughts of the other sites. It is important to recognize that there are many people on the biweekly call that don’t speak English as their primary language. The Uptime Elements help frame the conversation for everyone and improve the efficiency of the central team’s messages. The team also provided coaching and mentoring to the sites during this evolution to ensure presentations included lessons learned and tangible value derived from the sites’ efforts.

As the weeks progressed, it was clear that the framework was working its way into all areas of reliability. With connections to other areas of the business and projects that stretched beyond reliability, the framework began to be recognized by the larger organization. The central team continued to facilitate communications and provide training when requested, but never required specific actions, only coaching and mentoring.

While the sites were on their own journey, the central team, in conjunction with site personnel, worked on the development of standards. Standards included lubrication management, storeroom management and organization, root cause failure analysis, and alignment and balancing. These standards were developed with teams comprised of representatives from several sites working with key vendors. In addition, a team of site representatives worked on updating corporate requirements for engineering projects to ensure they contained requirements that aligned with reliability best practices. The teams were led by volunteers from the global community and not the central team. Again, this approach is strategic as it keeps the global team connected and collaborating with each other in an effort to benefit the greater team. The central team could have hired vendors to provide standards, but the effect would not have been the same. The teams, while working together, get to know each other, make connections, learn experiences and continue to collaborate long after the standard is written. When BMS employees now get together as a group, they already know each other. They communicate directly and transparently, knowing that they do so in the spirit of continuous improvement. They are no longer a group of individuals, not even a team, they are a family.

With all these activities ongoing, the central team began to coordinate an effort to broaden the reach of reliability understanding through an agreement with the Reliability Leadership Institute and the development of certified reliability leaders (CRL). At its 2014 conference, BMS was successful in certifying about 30 individuals.

Details of BMS’s efforts to develop 100 CRLs throughout its network will be presented in Part 4, which will be published in the June/July 2016 issue of Uptime magazine.

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George Williams y Robert Bishop

George Williams, CRL, CMRP, es Director Asociado, Gerente de Activos, Servicios Globales en Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS). George tiene un máster en Ingeniería de Confiabilidad de la Universidad Monash y ha trabajado en BMS por 15 años. Comenzó su carrera en BMS como técnico de mantenimiento y ha ejercido varios cargos de creciente responsabilidad.

Robert Bishop, CRL, CMRP,es Ingeniero de Mantenimiento en Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS) en Syracuse, NY. Rob tiene una licenciatura en Ingeniería Mecánica de la Universidad de Rochester y un máster en Bioingeniería de la Universidad de Syracuse. Rob ha trabajado en BMS por más de nueve años en varios cargos de soporte de equipos. Es un early adopter y le encanta mejorar los sistemas y la cultura.

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