By André Jeha, FALCONI Partner
In the commodities and capital-intensive sector such as pulp and paper, good maintenance can be the difference between victory and defeat – but what exactly characterizes good maintenance?
We have worked in many factories in which the maintenance area is represented primarily by two factors: technical knowledge (engineers and maintainers who know the mechanical, electrical and automation aspects of equipment) and leadership (which guides and supports technicians, so that they can perform their work in the best possible way). In fact, these two factors are essential. Many times, however, key factors to achieving results end up “taking a back seat” on the frantic daily routine of Maintenance: the efficiency and effectiveness of management processes.
What does the word “management” mean? This word – much talked about but little practiced in its essence – has become widespread in recent years and, therefore, may have lost a little of its meaning. I remember the beginning of a project on the shop floor in a large Brazilian factory: the director started the meeting by saying that management improvement work would enhance efficiency. A mechanic raised his hand and, in all honesty, asked: “Mr. Director, what is management?”
The silence of the seconds that followed the question seemed to last forever. When the director decided to speak up, his complex words more confused than clarified the watchful mechanic, who only wanted to learn something that could, according to the director himself, help everybody.
At FALCONI, we usually say that management simply boils down to defining and reaching goals. For this, we use the PDCA method, the way to achieve goals in a sustainable fashion. Management, therefore, means defining goals well and accomplishing them in a sustainable way by using the method.
Thus, how should we work on Maintenance management? Firstly, systematically. A good Maintenance Management System should be able to:
– Set the goals of the maintenance process indicators in line with the strategic goals of the company. Although it seems a simple task, it is not always easy to extend availability and cost metrics to operational levels, at which supervisors and maintainers perform activities on a daily basis. How to relate the cost of maintenance with the labor utilization rate? To unfold your goals, it is necessary to build a maintenance indicators tree, always aligned with the processes and organizational structure (“who does not measure does not manage!”). In addition, it is essential to consider the continuous trade-off between availability, cost and inventory level. This is an important analysis, but execution is not always simple. It is necessary, for example, to be able to reliably separate spending on preventive activities from those resulting from corrective maintenance.
– Develop the appropriate maintenance strategy to achieve these goals. This ranges from defining the systemic functional hierarchy of the equipment to preparing bills of materials, as well as asset criticality criteria and preparation of maintenance plans. Often a loss occurs simply because the master system did not include the failed engine, which, therefore, did not have a systematic inspection/maintenance plan and, therefore, was not being monitored. Similarly, the company will hardly be able to manage the stock of spare parts of this engine, which may increase repair time due to the lack of spare parts.
– Solve problems that prevent us from reaching goals. In our projects, we bring together multidisciplinary teams (with the participation of Maintenance, Engineering, Operations, Procurement, etc.) to identify, prioritize and solve problems systematically. Using the PDCA method, these teams plan and implement process improvements (e.g.: optimization of the planning process and programming, implementation of autonomous maintenance), standards (e.g.: review of maintenance plan and improvement of inspection procedures) and improvements in the way personnel is trained. Attention should always be paid to the implementation of planned actions: we are usually able to plan improvements with relative ease, but we fail when we are expected to perform them accurately and at the right time. Therefore, it is essential to control your results and actions together with the teams and generate countermeasures for deviations.
– Manage maintenance projects: it is necessary to achieve your goals, in addition to making improvements to the maintenance processes, identify, prioritize and perform properly the projects of new assets (from feasibility analysis, considering the entire asset lifecycle, to commissioning) and major renovations / downtime. In the pulp and paper industry, major downtime events cause quite a significant impact on the results of a company, not only due to the expenses (costs and investments), but also due to the influence exerted on the availability and performance of the plant in the following year. Thus, the management of major downtime events should also be organized methodically, starting from the definition of safety goals, environment, cost, scope, time frame and quality, including a checklist for the delivery of each service and losses while starting operations again – always comparing what was planned against what was achieved and acting on deviations to improve the future.
– Manage daily maintenance routine: the above mentioned improvements will be fleeting if routine management is not robust enough to incorporate them systematically into the daily routine of operation. Therefore, it is important to know how to standardize (only what is really critical), train people (daily) and treat failures (a practice that goes beyond “putting out the fire”). It is essential to identify and treat the root causes (usually processes and standards), so that failures do not become chronic. As for maintenance, this includes not only identifying the cause of the failure itself, as often the main anomaly is the time taken to return the equipment to its operating condition: it is also important to look at it always involving maintainers and supervisors in this analysis.
We have worked the above approaches in various companies in the industry and have achieved significant results in reducing the failure rate (-50% of ADMT loss in causticizing processes), optimization of maintenance costs (-10% at R$/ADMT in the bleaching process) and increased labor utilization (+ 40% through the improvement of the maintenance planning and scheduling process), among others (1). These results are obtained not only by planning improvements in maintenance processes and standards, but mainly due to their effective implementation on the shop floor, always in the presence of supervisors and maintainers: identifying, analyzing and solving problems through the method. This is management!
(1). The illustrated results are not completely exhaustive and exclusionary, reflecting many works already performed in the industry both in Brazil and abroad.
Published in the July issue of O Papel magazine.