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Q&A with two Industry Leaders: Nissan North America

Uptime Magazine recently caught up with Mary Jo Cherney, Manager - Total Productive Maintenance, and Matt Breedlove, Reliability Maintenance Supervisor - Predictive Maintenance Lab, from Nissan North America to discuss how they came to Nissan and how they are working towards Nissan's mission: To enrich people's lives, building trust with our employees, customers, dealers, partners, shareholders and the world at large.

Our reliability program is centered around continuous improvement in the manufacturing of our vehicles through thorough cleaning, inspection, and the use of technologies to reduce and eliminate production losses.

What is your career background - where did you start?

Mary Jo: I began my career as a high school business teacher. When I received my MBA, I shifted my focus to higher education and became a faculty member at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, OH. That led me to a long career as a consultant in process improvement, organizational development, six sigma, and continuous improvement. I was hired as a Division Manager of a steel company in Cleveland, OH, and that led me to Nissan.

Matt: I started at Nissan back in 1994 as a production technician working on the assembly line. I did that for 7 years and then put in for the maintenance apprenticeship program. I was accepted and worked in the trim in chassis maintenance department for a little over 10 years. I then transferred to the reliability group as a technologist in 2011 and received certification in infrared thermography, Lubrication(MLT), and MCE motor testing. This past January I was promoted to supervisor over the predictive maintenance lab.

What are some of your personal career highlights to date?

Mary Jo: Helping the Maintenance, Engineering, and Utilities Department in the steel mill in Cleveland to win the "Bronze Award" for TPM. Additionally, passing my Certified Reliability Leader from the Assoc. of Maintenance Professionals and my CMRP from the SMRP organization. Lastly, being a co-author on a book about Visual Management with the former head of Global TPM at ArcelorMittal Steel.

Matt: I believe just finding problems using the predictive tools we have to find problems before they happen or anyone else is even aware of the problem. The area responsible is able to be notified and the repair is planned instead of the downtime occurring during production. Avoiding downtime is an accomplishment for the PdM group. Also getting my CMRP certification was a highlight for me.

How did you come to be in your current role at Nissan?

Mary Jo: My former boss moved me to the Manufacturing Engineering Department to work more closely with the Global Maintenance Reliability department. I added the management of the GMR department to my TPM responsibilities a year or so ago.

Matt: I was promoted from reliability technologist to supervisor over the predictive maintenance lab.

You hosted the Certified Reliability Leadership and a plant tour in October (2014), so obviously you value continuing education. What advice could you give the Uptime readers regarding their educations?

Mary Jo: Being a former teacher, I understand the value of life-long learning. Take advantage of all the training that your company offers. If you are the head of a company, training your employees is critical to success of your company. The old philosophy "if we train our people, they will leave," needs to have a funeral and be buried in our world of extreme competition! Education is one of the major components of success!

Matt: Always look for new ways to prevent downtime of your asset and continuous education on the equipment you are looking at. The machinery is always changing, so should you.

Your title is Manager - Total Productive Maintenance. There have been many differing views of TPM over the years. What is your vision of TPM?

Mary Jo: TPM is an operating system that drives improvement in all facets of a company. Only the very best of the best companies run their organization by TPM. My vision is to have TPM and its methodologies engrained in every employee at Nissan. We have a foundation in the Nissan Production Way philosophy and I will just continue to fortify that philosophy.

Your title is Supervisor - Reliability Maintenance Supervisor- Predictive Maintenance Lab. There have been many differing views of Predictive Maintenance over the years. What is your vision of Predictive Maintenance?

Matt: I think predictive maintenance is key to keep the machinery running efficiently and productively. To be successful here it is vital to have the equipment available and running properly to produce a high quality vehicle. If we can detect problems and have them repaired before they start affecting the performance, that's our goal.

Why do you think TPM has been successful at Nissan?

Mary Jo: We have seen the results in improved safety, lower downtime, and increased productivity. Once you can show dollars, the program will take off. We have given a voice to all employees. We also improved communication and coordination between maintenance and operations-they now work well together. The employees love it because their equipment runs when it is supposed to run!

Why do you think Predictive Maintenance has been successful at Nissan?

Matt: Our department is growing and we are continuously finding problems earlier and expanding to more equipment. We measure our success by downtime avoidance. Those numbers continue to grow.

Any final advice you could provide for the Uptime readers related as to how to be successful with their maintenance and reliability strategies?

Mary Jo: As Jim Valvano stated in his acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, "Don't give up, don't ever give up!" That is the attitude you have to have about Reliability and Maintenance strategies. Many of you will become change agents for your company! You must plan and implement with rigor and untiring enthusiasm. As a reliability professional, you must be the evangelist of improvement within your organization. Don't expect results overnight-realistically it can take 3 - 5 years to fully implement. The journey is worth it. When you embrace this philosophy, you will be successful!

Matt: Having support from upper management is key. Provide a business case to show the value. Continuous education and know your equipment and its failure modes.

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