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The Support Needed to Launch, Maintain and Improve Your Reliability Strategy!

The Support Needed to Launch, Maintain and Improve Your Reliability Strategy!

Our reliability journey began after the financial crisis of 2007/2008. At that time, our company operated about one hundred and sixty-five industrial sites and our technician team included about three hundred and fifty technicians. At that time, we were mostly a preventive maintenance organization with some sites that would run on a reactive basis.

Our maintenance staffing levels were mostly guided by site financials instead of asset care requirements. We did not have a proper vetting process for techs, and we also lacked a proper maintenance development plan. Our techs got better with time or, if we were lucky, techs came with skills acquired in previous jobs. Maintenance plans were documented on paper or spreadsheets, and with some very few exceptions, a site-specific CMMS that was not supported by the corporate engineering team.

As we scrambled during the financial crisis to identify elements of our company that had an opportunity for improvement that could contribute to its financial stability, asset maintenance was identified as one such opportunity.

From the outset of our maintenance improvement plan, we sought support from our executives to ensure the initiatives and strategies to be deployed would have the proper understanding, buy-in and support. As a company, we understood early on that we needed to evolve our maintenance activity by adding an effective strategy to arrive at reliability. As we introduced the term reliability to our company, we made sure that our executives understood the connection between reliability and safety, reliability and quality, reliability and productivity, and reliability and profits.

Once we had executive understanding and support, we set out to develop a reliability vision statement that could easily illustrate our ambitious goals to transform our maintenance routine into a reliability program. Our reliability vision statement was reviewed and approved by our executives, and with their support, we launched a communication and marketing campaign for our reliability vision. We shared our vision with plant management teams and maintenance teams, and painted the picture of future success as described in our vison, a vision supported by the corporate suite.

Early on, we identified the need for each site to have a leader in the maintenance team, while each team had a person who would bear the responsibility of the team, job descriptions and respective job codes needed to be improved. We partnered with our corporate HR team to develop standardized job descriptions, job codes and a maintenance staffing corporate policy to provide guidelines for each site related to maintenance staffing levels. Our executive support played an important role when engaging our corporate HR team so that the necessary resources and sensitive information could be made available for our analysis.

We knew we had an opportunity to better screen technicians for our maintenance teams. We benchmarked other companies during an IMC conference and learned about an employee assessments and HR consulting company’s preemployment technical testing. We partnered with them and our corporate HR team to develop effective preemployment tests to help us vet incoming technicians and technicians applying for higher level positions. Having executive support behind this effort made it easier to convince our corporate HR team to take on this important assignment.

As we learned more about reliability, we identified better and more effective strategies to manage our maintenance activity and improve our technicians’ development.

We quickly identified the need for a CMMS and, despite the steep implementation effort and annual cost, it was implemented. Our executive support played a very important role in overcoming objections from the field during implementation.

Our executive team has realized the positive impact of our reliability program. Our company tracks return on net assets (RONA) as it reflects asset performance related to sales and productivity. Our company has doubled RONA over the last ten years, a direct impact of our equipment lasting longer and operating more efficiently, allowing for more production with the same assets. It is this type of recognized impact that prompted the inclusion of reliability KPIs to be included in the compensation plans of our management teams. Our executives recognize and support the impact of reliability in the financial success of the company.

Over the last ten years, we have made significant progress in our reliability strategy. Each year, we learn about new tools and strategies to help our teams be more effective. When necessary, we run pilots to ensure a new tool or method is properly vetted and adjusted to fit our needs. Once vetted, they become standard strategies that are included in our reliability playbook. Some of these strategies require significant capital, resources and coordination, but our executive support helps us get the necessary buy-in to gather the required resources for implementation.

Our company’s focus and success in implementing lessons learned in reliability have brought recognition to our company. We are frequent guest speakers at maintenance and engineering conferences and have received invitations to support technical advisory boards that are interested in our reliability contributions. Our executive team appreciates and supports this activity and encourages us to share our lessons learned so that others can benefit from our experiences. At a recent International Maintenance Conference (IMC), one of our senior executives delivered a keynote presentation where he shared the profound understating of the impact of reliability in our company’s business success and, more importantly, our safety success.

We cannot emphasize enough the need for executive sponsorship when launching, maintaining and improving an effective reliability strategy. If the executive level understands the positive impact of reliability in the various elements of the company, they will be more understanding of the needed resources and effort required to maintain and improve the reliability strategies that are in place and the necessary resources to test and launch new solutions.

Eric Ayanegui

Eric Ayanegui, CRL, CPMM, is a technical leader at CINTAS Corporation, directing engineering, reliability, quality and safety initiatives in 210 industrial sites across North America and China. He is a founding member of CINTAS Corporate Safety team and a member of the CINTAS Corporate Executive faculty teaching reliability. Eric has over 20 years of experience in the industrial laundry industry.

Tommy Cocanougher

Tommy Cocanougher is retired from a 30-year career with Cintas Corp. where his roles included plant management, general management, safety and engineering. Prior to joining the laundry industry, he worked 14 years in the sporting goods manufacturing industry as plant manager and engineering manager for Zebco Corp.

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