This wouldn't do in the airline industry; travelling with airlines that didn't attain the last 10% of performance required to take off, fly and land would prove rather unpopular. The airlines may compromise their customer relationships when a plane runs into technical problems and the customer stays on the ground, but there is no compromise on the safety issue which caused the technical grounding.

The significance of manufacturing maintenance reliability varies across industries. For instance, should a bottling plant aspire to the standards of the aircraft industry and attain those maintenance standards? Anything you can learn as part of the improvement process brings value, but achieving the last 10% can come at a high price and requires significant effort.

It's the same with production performance. If the plant plods away at 40% OEE there is a lot of wasted effort so plenty of opportunity for improvement and there are some big wins to be made. Whilst it takes a lot of effort to improve the OEE score into the mid 80s, it is nothing compared to the change required to move from 90% to 92% OEE.

So, if it's difficult to achieve, is it worth pushing for the last 10%?

The answer to this question very much depends on the business process and what is been measured. If quality is the focus, and the measure is 90%, the percentage of waste is very poor and results in significant expense for most companies. If we make 60,000 products each week and reject 10% then over 300,000 units are wasted each year, directly impacting bottom line profitability. However, if the performance element is the focus and we should achieve 300 units per minute, the 30 units lost do not appear to be a significant problem, unless the case in question is a 24/7 operation and is losing 302,000 units a week.

Less than 90% OEE clearly comes at a cost and for companies with tight profit margins, the situation is even more critical. The example below, created by Bob King, Group Head of Operational Excellence for Premier Foods, shows that for companies with tight profit margins, the last 10% is where the real money is made and competitive advantage is achieved.

Figure 1

Sustaining OEE scores at this level requires production teams to virtually eliminate breakdowns, slow running and quality issues, and in these cases of operational excellence, effective maintenance is vital.

Is a different kind of maintenance required?

Is there a basic difference between airline manufacturing maintenance procedures and other industries? There are two key differences; regulation and manufacturer support. Everything and everyone is regulated. People are highly regulated in terms of qualifications, skills and the levels of supervision. Work inspection and recording is regulated. Spare parts are regulated in that all key components are serialised and tracked. The airline industry however has more at stake, for example than a bottling plant (there can be nothing worse for the plane maker than the headline ‘The accident involved a Boeing 777') and so the levels of maintenance regulation are at a different level. So too are the levels of maintenance support provided.

The bottling plant manufacturer probably spends little time on component testing or the creation of maintenance guidelines; perhaps a page in the machine manual describing oil change frequency, air mist bottles and chain alignment etc. The maintenance planned is usually based on asset availability, operating experience, and the abilities of the maintenance staff. Compare that to the maintenance support aircraft companies provide - failure mode and criticality analysis, component life prediction and testing, testing and more testing. The maintenance guidelines are highly detailed and precise instructions describing not only what should be done but exactly when it should be done, by what skill level, how it should be inspected, and how completion should be reported and recorded.

The first step to ensuring effective maintenance would be to use analytical tools like FMECA to establish improved maintenance standards and procedures. But should the bottling plant move towards airline type maintenance? The question should really be why shouldn't the bottling plant strive for the last 10% effectiveness? And what is the true cost to the organisation if it achieving it is deemed too difficult/unnecessary?

At this point, why not check out you own maintenance procedures to see how they compare?

Should you aim for the last 10 %? Godin advises that it's the all important push:

"The last ten percent is the signal we look for, the way we communicate care and expertise and professionalism. If all you're doing is the standard amount, all you're going to get is the standard compensation. The hard part is the last ten percent, sure, or even the last one percent, but it's the hard part because everyone is busy doing the easy part already."

As a maintenance professional, I have seen the benefits of what some people refer to as the ‘extra mile'. In reality, and in particularly in this economic climate, it isn't an optional extra.

Companies that strive for the last 10%, that dedicate time to achieving operational excellence and implement the right tools and systems to sustain their improvements, are the companies that fly through their audits and never disappoint their customers. They have the competitive advantage.

Alan FranceAlan France, OEE Business Manager, Olympus Automation, has extensive experience in lean manufacturing with a background that includes several years as Engineering Systems Manager for the largest food company in Europe. A systems specialist, he now consults on the importance of underpinning lean initiatives with realistic targets and sound metrics.

Contact him by e-mail, alan.france@olympus-automation.co.uk, or visit http://www.olympus-automation.co.uk/ for more on CMMS and OEE software.

If you want to read more from Godin here is a link to his daily blog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog

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