Professional Development: The Brain Drain
In other words, an asset management program can assignexperienced technicians (or outsource specialized tasks to experts)just like it would track physical parts and equipment. For example,experienced lab technicians or outside experts could take over certainone-time repairs, thus freeing up the plant maintenance workforce forcritical downtime projects or ongoing tasks.Smartasset management programs strive to achieve the working atmospherewhere the most critical plant maintenance resources are being usedwhere they are most needed. It also means having time and people whocan perform preventive maintenance activities so reactive tasks arereduced. Effective asset management programs must work in conjunction with talents and skills associated with members of the maintenance staff, so their efforts go beyond the mere replacement of a broken part. A smart system uses the power of specialized software and effective communication programs to analyze why the breakdown or loss of efficiency occurred. With proper day-to-day recording by a member of the asset management program team, the software can provide reports for review by plant personnel. Program reports would become the focus for discussion in sponsored activities like lunch and learn discussions or continuous improvement meetings. Most advanced programs rely on professional, on-site account managers who interface closely with the fm and bring key plant personnel together periodically to discuss and address trends observed in the program reports. The account managers also bring specialists from the various supplier repair laboratories to discuss trends appearing in the reports. These experts can then pass along new techniques to maintenance staff memberswho inherit responsibilities after older coworkers retire. Effective programs offer several methods for developing smarter repair practices. Frequently, there are factory situations where parts/components are not suitable for the application because of improper design or hard use. Having historical failure data, repair lab feedback, and good plant communication increases the effectiveness of the repair. This important information allows the program supplier to suggest different repair procedures (or the fm can opt to use alternative parts to improve the component fix and lessen plant downtime). The program supplier will have experienced technicians with specific test stands and environmental chambers to simulate real world conditions. This focus and specialization would not be a practical in plant repair situation. The philosophy of advanced type programs goes beyond a cost-effective, ready inventory of properly repaired parts.They reinforce the plant maintenance group with an analytical evaluation of repairs so they can be managed—and ultimately reduced. Obviously, the goal of the plant is to work with equipment that experiences minimal downtime. This becomes increasingly possible with a smart approach that brings resources to assist the maintenance personnel in making repairs that are as effective as possible. Plant technicians know that the replacement part is not just a simple swap; ideally, it is something better suited to the application. Beyond the value of smarter repairs, it is important to pay attention to the subtle, yet vital, communication and resource sharing aspects of a plant asset management program. Having planned improvement meetings and open discussion type activities can help bring a critical level of experience to prevent the Brain Drain from disabling a facility. Cederstrom is a business development manager for Aztecnology Systems, LLC, basedin Brea, CA. More on the company’s services, including the S.T.A.M.P. Smart Total Asset Management Program can be found at www.k-and-s.com.
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