Top Maintenance Goal: Make Technicians Better Firefighters
2. Front-line supervisors should be in the field 60-70 percent of the day. This one sounds easy, but as with planning and scheduling meetings, very few organizations achieve these percentages. The truth is that the percentages of most maintenance leadership teams are exactly the opposite of my recommendation. This means they are in the office 60-70 percent of the time. I don't know how we got so far off track that we rely on technicians to be self-directed so much of the time. If you are honest with yourself, we know that approach doesn't work.
To achieve this goal, remove administrative tasks from supervisors and let someone do them who can do them more cheaply and, more than likely, better. Minimize meeting schedules. Supervisors don't have to go to them all. Harness technology, including tablets and smart phones, to minimize or eliminate paper tasks.
Sometimes, managers have to force the issue. Years ago, my secretary would come into my office, pick up my steno pad that I kept all my notes in, hand it to me, and say, "It's time to walk around the plant. I have cleared your schedule for the next two hours." She would just look at me until I got up and left the office. It worked very well. Remember, the primary job for all supervisors and managers is to lead, guide, and direct, not be clerk typists.
1. Make technicians better firefighters. I hope I didn't let you down with this one by making it the first thing you should do to create a maintenance utopia in your facility. It surprises me when so many clients expect me to install whiz-bang software or new reliability program to solve all their problems. The point here is if technicians are fighting fires all day long, how do managers have time to build a PM program? Managers need to create a little breathing room with their labor, then start some other programs.
By making workers better reactive maintenance technicians, managers allow them to complete more reactive work, which frees up a little bit of extra labor to begin the good stuff. Additional training will improve troubleshooting skills, ensuring they have the required tools and equipment with them. Analyze their transportation needs so they can travel more quickly between jobs. Make sure they have the latest communication tools so they don't waste time trying to find someone or something. Finally, rethink all one- and two-person work assignments. Most organizations have technicians work in two-person crews, but when I question that strategy, managers often say they do it for safety. Safety is rarely the issue. Loneliness is.
Remember, don't let perfection stand in the way of progress. Start by changing something.
Michael Cowley, CPMM, is president of CE Maintenance Solutions — www.cemaintenancesolutions.com. Cowley provides maintenance training, coaching and consulting services to facility and manufacturing organizations nationwide. He is a frequent speaker at national facilities management conferences.
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