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Shoestring Supervisors

The first area to discuss is the past. Overcoming a problem falls to the basic task of using a Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA). A supervisor can utilize a full blown RCFA for a complex problem or just a quick and simple analysis for easier problems. A failure can be caused from many different sources and the way the problem is solved might not be the best method. The way the problem is solved lends itself to the present and the future capabilities of the process. If the problem is not truly solved, it will surface again and again. It basically boils down to the old principal of learning from the past.

Second, the present is the reaction to a problem when it occurs. The initial steps taken during a casualty can set the mood and pace of the troubleshooting and repair process. When the supervisor is organized and follows a plan, the time to repair an equipment casualty will be reduced. This will mean reduced maintenance costs and increased profits for the process. On the reverse side with disorganization the time to repair will increase and the cost will go up. Remember that organization is a combination of experience, education, and planning. In addition, the mood is set by the emotional state of the supervisor during an equipment casualty. When the supervisor panics the technicians are likely to panic and the thought process becomes clouded by emotion. The supervisor must take a methodical approach ensuring that the situation is made safe and then proceeding with troubleshooting. Panic leads to injuries of personnel or mistakes that can damage equipment.

Finally, we can take the time-warp into the future. What will be done the next time the casualty occurs? Planning will answer that question. The planning should be a collaborative effort between the management, supervisor, and technicians. This will allow the views from every level to dictate the plan and address any foreseeable problems. The supervisor is probably the most critical element in the planning process because he will have to react to the situation when it occurs. When the planning is completed it needs to be readily available for anyone who might have to respond to a specific equipment casualty. The common problem today is the turnover rate and loss of knowledge with those turnovers. Too many times the assumption is made that the same people will be there when the casualty occurs again.

Recommendations fall into three simple steps. First, the supervisor should communicate and document problems for reflection after the problem is solved. The documentation can be entered into a Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS). Second, the supervisor should get organized and approach the situation in a calm manner. Even in an unsafe situation the mood and attitude projected can propel the situation into a chaotic frenzy. Finally, the plan for future situations should be made and thoroughly reviewed to ensure the utmost safety and efficiency in correcting the casualty.

Robert Apelgren is a Reliability Engineer. He received his BS in Industrial Technology from Roger Williams University and is currently working on an MBA at the University of Phoenix. He has 12 years of maintenance experience as a technician, supervisor, coordinator, consultant, and trainer.

Article submitted by, by Robert Apelgren, Reliability Engineer

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