Superdome Lights, Maintenance and Reliability

If you followed the game during the Super Bowl XLVII (47), you either saw or heard about the power outage that basically darkened one complete side of the New Orleans Superdome shortly after starting the third quarter. With $150-$300 million on the line for future Super Bowl bids, you can bet it was an awakening for stadium Facilities and Maintenance Managers across the country.  It should be for you too from an opportunity perspective, regardless of your industry.

 

  1. When, if ever, has the equipment been reviewed from an asset prioritization or criticality perspective? Is the right emphasis placed appropriately on your assets, especially on the hidden and/or protective devices?
  2. When was the last through engineering review of your electrical distribution system, looking at loading, ability to close “tie” breakers in the case of double-ended gear, and so on?  Are you using predictive technologies to identify and eliminate potential issues? In some sites I visit, it’s been many years since the distribution breakers have been cycled or serviced. Scary but they honestly don’t know if the breakers will clear a fault condition.
  3. While the Superdome manager said the failure was equipment related and not human error, what are you doing from a standardized work instruction perspective to ensure maintenance interventions don’t create failures from human error? Are you using “precision” steps, i.e. torque, measured belt tension, laser alignment?
  4. What are your “postmortem” procedures?  As part of an root cause analysis process, do you have a defined procedure that at least starts with the “5 whys” to understand equipment losses or failures?  Is there a threshold that triggers the process, i.e. 2 hours down in the process area?

These are just a few of the opportunities to come to mind.  What other ones would you consider within your organization?

Cheers,

Jeff

Not my job …

How many times a week across the organization do you hear “It’s not my job!” when asking about something?  To me, this is a clear indicator of the lack of partnership between the various groups in the organization.  As many of you know, Tammi Pickett and I work together at People and Processes.  Recently, Tammi was traveling to Houston for a trade conference and caught a shuttle from the airport to the hotel.

If you know Tammi, she is quite observant; especially when it comes to safety.  As she boarded the shuttle, she noticed some of the tires appeared rather low on air.  As the shuttle departs the airport, the operator alarm indicating low tire pressures starts sounding.   The driver is rounding curves at high speeds and shuttle is swaying back and forth. Her hotel was probably the 5th or 6th stop for the shuttle after leaving the airport. Finally reaching the tipping point, she tells the driver “You know that if you put air in the tires, the shuttle will handle better and we won’t have to listen to the alarm”.  His response was “That’s maintenance’s job, not mine”.  He goes on to say that he had the same problem the day prior but again, it was not his job to fill tires with air.

We can speculate as to where the fault lies, either with the operator, maintenance, the processes, or the communication.  In the end, it doesn’t matter because the shuttle company failed the CUSTOMER.  Collectively, both groups within the company put the safety and riding experience of the customer at risk.  The point also highlights that Operations is not a customer of Maintenance.  The customer in this case was Tammi.  All groups within the shuttle company have to work in partnership to ensure the safety and customer satisfaction.  Is your organization working in partnership to do something similar for your end users?  Where do you find the greatest hurdles?

Cheers,

Jeff

Destination: Where?

Where do you want to go today?  Along those lines, I was recently headed to the airport to fly off to a client site on the west coast where I was to provide Planner coaching services. On the interstate, I passed a tractor-trailer rig headed south.  Out of the corner of my eye, I caught some lettering across the rear of the sleeper section of the cab which read “Destination: Excellence “. What a neat concept!

This was not a huge corporation providing a vision.  This was an owner-operator (at most a 2 person driving team) that had enough foresight to challenge themselves and proudly display their personal vision to improve their business. How many of you have personal goals like this?

When I step into many organizations, there is no roadmap.  Every day brings a new destination, from being led down the path of reactive chaos. I’m reminded of a recent blog post by Terrence O’Hanlon regarding the ability to take charge of your world.  Start something, do something. Change can begin with you and within your span of control. Even small changes build toward the greater good.

Separately, I was in another site a week later.  The manager asked me to help them develop a document detailing what the end state or vision should look like for that particular organization regarding their implementation of the Best Practices.  He was basically asking, “What is the destination?” so that he could sell the organization on the end game. What is yours? What is your organization’s regarding the Best Practices for Maintenance, Operations, or Reliability?

Once you understand where you want to go, the end game; then you must determine the gaps that are preventing you from getting there.  In our world, you might recognize that as an assessment and gap analysis.  Many groups already have done this. If you haven’t and need help, send me an email.  However recognize the real answer is having a Plan of Improvement or strategic roadmap to help you reach the destination mile by mile, month by month.  This is where most consulting and corporate reliability groups let you down when you perform an assessment and gap analysis. You already know many gaps or distances to cover yourself.  What you don’t know is how to get to the destination. That’s where a strategic roadmap comes into play. I see tons of groups with asessements and NO plan.

So, I’ll ask you again.  What is your destination? How are you getting there? Where is your plan?

Cheers,

Jeff

Part II – Playing Games with the People

In Part I, I wrote about taking the hill and leaving bodies lying along the path from a “get ‘er done” task perspective. I heard a similar story at a conference I was attending not too long ago that I thought I would share with you.

Both the dad (Andy) who is now in his late 80’s and the son (Tim) in his 50’s told parts of the story at different times during the presentation.  Andy owned a manufacturing business in Dallas, TX.  The employees were mostly female and loved working for Andy. Compelled to pursue other business ventures; Andy felt it was time to bring the son, Tim into the business. He turned over the reins to Tim who was probably 20 -25 years younger then.  With Andy out of the daily picture, Tim focused on the tangible aspects of the business.  With a laser focus, he drilled into the “hard” aspects or the numbers game of exceeding production and growing the business.  It wasn’t too long before Andy called to come over for a meeting.  On a big poster chart, Andy plotted a line.  It was the production rate which was on a steady climb.  Great news Tim thought.  Then Andy drew the next line showing a significant decline. The line represented the engagement of the employees.  Tim wasn’t bringing them along.  Andy coached Tim to strike a balance by bringing the 2 lines (production & people) closer together where everyone wins. It took a few more visits and charts before Tim truly caught on but my goodness, the difference it made.  Together, both the employees and Tim succeeded. Everybody won. To this day, Tim still wonders who was keeping his Dad in the loop.

Where are you at in your journey?  Are you focused solely on the hard numbers like Tim was?  What would your people say if asked? I challenge you to figure out how to strike a balance where everyone wins. After all as a leader, you are the shepherd of your people. If you need help or ideas, send me an email.

Cheers,

Jeff

Part I – Playing Games with People

Part I
A few weeks ago, I was playing a card game with a group that included one of my daughter’s friends from Texas. In the game, you have the option to pass or play when you are down to the last unturned card in your hand. Playing on that last unturned card ends the game for everyone else after their turn. If you are somewhat of a team player, you elect to pass so that you don’t beat everyone so severely and then on a later hand, play out your last card. You still win but you give others a chance to improve their score. She was down to that last unturned card several times during the course of the afternoon. Having forced the end of each hand most of those times, she paused once to ask the group “what should I do, pass or play”? I suggested that she pass since everyone else playing was losing to her throughout the afternoon. She looked me dead in the eyes and said “Well I don’t see how that would benefit me!” and played out her hand.

Maybe it’s a combination of age and experience that gives you the wisdom to become more of a team player even when playing solo in a card game. I’ll share the moment that I reached the turning point where I realized it’s better to be the team player early in my career. My team consisting of peer managers, direct reports, and our manager were having a little Christmas party where we were sharing gifts and a meal. Our manager had taken the time to create “awards” using printed PowerPoint slides for each of us to give as part of the festivities. As he went through each one, there was laughter and the playful joking. My award was entitled “Take the Hill, Shiver”. The picture had a hill with a path up the side. All along the path were stick men laying on the ground. He told the story of how he could give me any task and it would get done. I would take the hill from the military sense of the word. However, he went on to say that the only problem was all the bodies laying along the trail because as I got the job done, I didn’t let people slow me down or stop me. Once the job was done, he spent time patching them back together. In a military campaign that might be a good thing but the message was that I needed to bring people along the path with me. We all laughed and joked about it along with all of the other peer “awards”. To this day, I don’t believe that manager thought I would reflect on it to the extent that I continue to this day. I heeded the message and became more of a “people” person. I came to realize that the people were ultimately the most important part of the job, to nurture and develop them from the perspective of servant leadership.

The challenge for younger managers is to realize that the production numbers are not the means to the end but the people are the means. It’s important that we bring them with us and focus on their success. If we do that, we will be successful too.

Do you have similar experiences? What was your turning point?

Cheers,
Jeff

If you could step back in time, what would you change from a Maintenance and/ or Operations perspective? What about from a leadership perspective?  Would you take time to learn more? Would you work to help develop others? Would you focus more on the people? Would you better balance work and family?

A shot from my iPhone using Delta's app for Flight SchedulesAccording to the Delta Airlines iPhone app, they offered a chance for time travel backwards on Sunday May 27th. Look closely at the dates and times in the photo. I was sitting home on the Sunday night prior to Tropical Storm Beryl passing through the Jacksonville, FL area. The storm was due to arrive around 12:10AM later that night. As the winds were quite strong that night and it was thundering and lightning, I wondered about when the last flight in to Jacksonville was that evening (a clear sign of being a Delta Diamond frequent flyer who travels too much).  I envisioned quite the bumpy ride for the unlucky souls trying to get home. So I pulled up the Delta app on my iPhone and that’s how I came across Delta’s offer of time travel. I took the photo directly on my iPhone. I can promise it has not been altered using Photoshop or the like.

So back to the question, if Delta or any other entity offered you the ability to travel in time backwards; what would you change?  How would you improve the Maintenance or Operations world given the chance? Your world?

Speak soon,

Jeff

Maintenance managementThe word “Leadership” implies change agent(s) regardless of whether Reliability, Lean, Six Sigma, or any other initiative. Change agents aren’t bound to upper management positions but can rise up from any level within the organization. At a recent OpEx conference, Dr. Howard Penrose lamented on how surveys continue to show that 60% of organizations are reactive, a number unchanged for the last 20 years or so. Rather than resting on your laurels and accepting the status quo, what prevents you from initiating change within your span of control?

When we add the word “Reliability”, we add context to imply moving from a potentially reactive to a more proactive reliability centered culture. What does this mean to you and how would you approach it? Would you start with an assessment and then, based on the gaps identified, develop a strategic plan? What about aligning the organization (potentially adding Planners and Schedulers if you have none as an example)? What would you do from an education and training perspective? How would you gain buy-in at the lowest levels to encourage support for the change? What other items would you add?

Cheers,
Jeff

A few days ago, I conducted a webinar on protective devices and hidden failures with ReliabilityWeb.  With webinars of this type, there are often great questions that come up for a response. This webinar was no exception.  I’ll go on to add that I truly appreciate professionals like Terrence O’Hanlon of the ReliabilityWeb organization and Larry Hoing from Wells Dairy for pushing the concepts into real life scenarios and creating conversation outside of the box.  Larry asked if ladder logic and/or controls functions could be hidden potential failures. If so how would you test them? He went on to clarify by asking how we can be proactive and prevent incidents when PLC controls are involved.  Is it in some type of standard for ladder logic writing or is it simply up to the designer of the program?

In the answer, I wanted to frame it with one of the more recent events that was published regarding the use of PLC logic and failures. If you remember, a virus titled “Stuxnet” was specifically designed to attack Siemens PLC and SCADA control systems. It was intentionally designed to infect and destroy Iran’s nuclear program centrifuges. The virus spread from USB drive to USB drive in Asia for months until it infected computers that controlled centrifuges at Natanz, Iran’s main uranium-enrichment facility. The worm stealthily sped up Natanz’s centrifuges to their breaking points, even as it hijacked the facility’s monitoring system to falsely show that the machines were functioning normally. It took the Iranians weeks to figure out what was happening, and the resulting damage supposedly set back the suspected Iranian nuclear-weapons program by years.

In this particular case, the functional failure of the centrifuges was evident to the Operators on its own and not hidden even though some time may have occurred before detecting failure (RCM “question of time”). The protective devices had been maliciously programmed to indicate normal function when in fact, this was not the case. From a RCM2 perspective, with the protective device failures hidden by coding and the resulting functional failure of the centrifuges, we had a “multiple failure”.

To Larry’s question, either inadvertently or maliciously a programmer could create a potential hidden failure using ladder logic or programming techniques. In the example above, the protective devices were programmed to appear to be functioning normally when they were not.  When I was in the role of a Controls Engineer, I have seen a protective device omitted from the logic by accident or deleted in error. This is actually one of the reasons that I used to hard wire safety and environmental protective devices to interrupt the machine function so that I could guard against human error in PLC logic. I would simply use the PLC logic for monitoring the protective device status. This was prior to communication networks like Profibus becoming widespread which changed the approach for many.

As for the remainder of the question, I have become too far removed from the ladder logic and SCADA programming so I’ll put that to you for discussion.  From a programming standard, does the IEC 61131 address the potential for hidden failures? Is there another standard more applicable?  And finally, how would you test to determine the potential for hidden failure from a logic perspective?

 

Cheers,

Jeff Shiver

Got Three Feathers?

I was recently talking with a gentleman regarding his requirements for attending a publicly offered course. During the conversation, the subject of culture change came up and how his organization reacted to change in general. He went on to say that he only had about three feathers in his headdress compared to those in charge who he implied had a higher number of feathers. If we ask them, they may very well disagree but that’s a story for another day.

So, the conversation begs the question of how many feathers are required in the headdress to initiate and sustain culture change. How many do you believe are required? I’ll be the first to agree that true sustained culture change is best lead from the top down by those with lots of feathers in the headdress. However, I’ll go on to say that I also believe that change can start with just one person. You see individuals take those steps every day. Consider the one woman activist who was solely credited with causing the banking giant Bank of America to withdraw the plans for a monthly fee for the use of her debit card. She used the tools she had, the Internet, and a passion to make a difference.

I think that individually we miss many opportunities to influence our peers and others because we believe that we only have a few feathers or are low on the totem pole so to speak. What prevents you from making positive and proactive change within your span of control? What ideas do you have for change that could be implemented within your organization to drive improvement in either Maintenance or Operations activities?

Cheers,
Jeff Shiver