This request was the impetus for creating something that would encompass a means to accomplish the integration of all the initiatives at Dupont - The Manufacturing Game.

The source of all reliability, safety and environmental problems are defects in equipment, processes, policies and practices. While some of these defects are created through normal wear and tear, the largest portion is created by random events that could be avoided through good organizational discipline and precision in the way work is performed. A method is needed to rationalize all initiatives into one integrated initiative that can be understood by all the employees: operations, business services, and maintenance - planners, schedulers, and mechanics.

Leadership's role is to choose the best initiatives to improve performance. The mistake most organizations make is to undertake multiple initiatives to address different kinds of defects. These initiatives are very well intentioned but are conceived in separate contexts and are not integrated.

The secret to integrating initiatives is to recognize that they are all attempts to eliminate particular defects. Separate initiatives don't require separate means for implementing them. The most effective approach is to apply defect elimination to the whole system at once. This avoids creating an improvement in one part of a system that creates a defect in another part of the system. Applying a systemic implementation requires an understanding of how the whole system works.

A clear understanding of the manufacturing process along with a structurally authentic experience is important to allow everyone to see how their job makes a difference to the whole system. Once a person has had this experience, it is easy for that person to see how defects affect his job or role in the facility as a whole. It is necessary to create a whole system solution, through cross functional teams, who can design and implement the solution in a way that all roles are considered. This is best done in small increments so everyone has a chance to participate in the improvements and own the results.

From a leadership perspective, the other consideration is what pace of change is appropriate for the entire organization. This can be determined by assessing the magnitude of defect generation in the organization and the capacity of the organization to eliminate the source of defects. This should not be done as a static question. The capacity to eliminate defects can be significantly increased when people are motivated by a clear understanding of the structure of their situation. It is also important to take into consideration the fact that motivation decays with time. The longer the change takes, the harder it will be to insure its success.

Don Kuenzli, a plant manager who has taken two different refineries through complete transformations to the Precision Domain, says, "The only way to make this transformation is make defect elimination your way of doing all of your business."

Recommendations on How To Deal With Initiative Overload

What to do

1. Significantly reduce defect generation rate in equipment and processes through the use of equipment proprietors. A well-designed proprietor system restores the infrastructure deterioration back to acceptable standards. The proprietor system should be designed to match the distributed nature of the defects. Basically, all property should be assigned to a proprietor who is in a position to visually inspect the real estate and hardware personally. The proprietor should be the voice of the needs of the property he is assigned. Each proprietor should be assigned no more property than he can inspect in one day. The role of proprietor is simply to run equipment within standards or shut it down. When a property is shut down, only the aging defects accumulate. This is a reduction of 96% in defect generation rate so the property can remain relatively stable until the resources are available to deal with the higher defect generation rate. The proprietor should not be the budget holder for his property - that way he can concentrate on maintaining standards and not have that over ruled by monetary constraints.

2. Engage the entire workforce in defect elimination using cross functional Action Teams as a means of creating a culture that assumes equipment improvement as a normal part of the everyday job. Once a particular proprietor determines his facility to be out of the Regressive Domain and into at least the Reactive Domain, a systemic process of defect elimination must be created within the workforce. The basic need is to learn how to work cross functionally instead of in silos and to learn to treat contractors the same as employees in this process. Many of the defects created in the random category come from the lack of appreciation for the needs of the other functions that impact common equipment and work processes.

By using cross functional teams to eliminate defects, people learn how to be a team while doing their normal work. An incredible amount of organizational learning takes place among people in these teams. Launching cross functional Action Teams should continue until this cross functional way of working becomes a habit and the generation rate from random events is reduced by about 30% of total work orders.

3. Create a leadership process for the culture change based on boundary setting that creates freedom for the workers and proprietors to make decisions aligned within standards established through reflection and dialogue. Management must learn how to create boundaries for cross functional teams so that the teams are free to make decisions on their own that are within tolerable levels of risk to management. The focus of management's work should be to avoid two other kinds of imperfections -- excesses and recycle.

This requires conscious and creative energy. The best questions a manager can ask are "Where did the excess energy come from that created these defects?" and "How can we keep this kind of a failure from happening again in the future since we can't change the past or the present?"

4. Standards should be set on the tolerance of imperfections in the outcome of work and not on controlling the process for attaining these results. Process controls only deal with the functional aspects of an operation and ignore the "will" and "being" of the situation, therefore, dealing with only one third of what the people are actually experiencing. While many processes have universal application to many different situations functionally, they do not deal with the will of the situation or the being of the organization. Attempts to apply universal processes to all situations tend to get so complicated that people are not able to use them. Many of these processes are based on the assumption that aging and basic wear and tear sources of defects are the only defects present and therefore ignore 84% of the random defects.

What not to do

1. Do not treat each initiative as if it were independent of all others. Use defect elimination potential as the key principle in rationalizing all initiatives into one. Maximize the probability of success and minimize the risk of catastrophe.

2. Do not use internal change agents. Using outside change agents is advised to preserve the talent of employees to concentrate on the main line work - pursuing the corporate vision. Change agents will only be required for a short period of time to make the culture change and once the desired change is reached remove all change agents so that the organization can refreeze into an efficient operation of the new culture.

3. Do not focus on implementing systems. Implementation of systems to institutionalize the new culture should not take place until the correct stage of the change process. If you implement systems first, you do not have the culture to use them so the systems get perverted to accommodate the old culture, which takes an incredible amount of time and distracts the most talented people from the main work of changing the culture. Implementation is important when the work practices match the system being implemented, by this time as much as 84% of the defect generation rate has been eliminated so the job is one-sixth the size it would have been before the change.

4. Do not focus on team building. Focus on cross functional teams to deal with defect elimination on the job as a daily habit. This will create the desired teamwork and is an example of how resources can be made available by integrating initiatives.

Article submitted by Winston Ledet, Co-Author of Don't Just Fix It, Improve It! A Journey to the Precision Domain

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