Equipment Maintenance

Creating a Culture That Embraces Equipment Reliability

In order to improve equipment reliability, you need to approach equipment maintenance and root cause analysis from a top-down, strategic perspective.

For a small business manufacturing operation, productivity and profitability are closely connected.

Your company's ability to maintain reliable equipment assets will dramatically impact your manufacturing process and the quantity of inventory you are capable of introducing to the marketplace.

Although company leaders are usually committed to equipment reliability, not everyone in the organization has a vested interest in reducing malfunctions and machine down time. Maintenance staff and other stakeholders may actually be motivated to resist reliability initiatives and perpetuate the status quo. Since that isn't a realistic strategy for companies in highly competitive industries, you need to find a way to create a culture that embraces equipment reliability as a cornerstone of your business model.

Equipment reliability cultures require a top-down approach. That means managers, executives and owners need to be invested in the process and be firm in their resolve to make equipment reliability a serious priority. Here's how to make it happen . . .

  • Executive commitment. Don't assume that your commitment to equipment reliability will be shared by your leadership team. Be proactive about communicating your top-down reliability philosophy to your executives and create accountability mechanisms for everyone on the team.
  • Hands-on involvement. Owners and managers have to be involved on the front line of reliability initiatives and root cause analysis. Detachment from the process will be interpreted as a lack of concern by your manufacturing divisions.
  • Reliability champions. Designate one or more managers to be champions of reliability improvement in your organization. Although these individuals won't carry the ball by themselves, they will be tasked with keeping reliability at the forefront of the company's consciousness.
  • Process communication. Consistently communicate the process and outcomes of reliability improvement to your workforce. Once or twice a year won't suffice. Instead, strive to address reliability on a monthly or even weekly basis.
  • Institutionalization. Root cause analysis and reliability initiatives are most effective when they become institutionalized in the organization. Strategic planning integration and adequate funding form the backbone of the institutionalization process.

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