Keeping your plant up and running may not always get all the recognition it deserves but plant managers do a heck of a job. Great plant managers have found the balance between machines, people, CMMS software, predictive technologies, training as well as parts (inventory) management is the secret to successful operations.

The Reliability Factors

To be effective, plant managers need to bring all the components together as seamlessly as possible. This requires people skills, vendor management, the right tools, reliable assets and knowing where the best resources are. Reliable does not equal perfect, rather it means that the available resource(s) will be there when needed most. Let us take a look at how reliability influences good plant or manufacturing operations.

Reliable Assets

Reliable assets means that your assets are well made and can do the job required without the need for non-standard adjustments. It also means that parts are easily obtained and do not have to be specially crafted to work.

Reliable Asset and Maintenance Management

Even the best made machines suffer from wear and tear. Reliable asset and maintenance management integrates the use of preventive and predictive maintenance tools to minimize unplanned downtime or emergency repairs. Manually tracking asset care is as obsolete as smoke signals. CMMS software solutions help management organize asset and maintenance management as well as help keep assets operating at the most efficient levels.

Reliable People

Regardless of the level of automation or the use of technology, assets will always need care by people. Asset care may be simple preventive maintenance such as changing filters, inspecting equipment  or require advanced engineering degrees to create solutions.

Reliability increases when plants give their staff the tools they need to do their job with pride as well as retaining their asset maintenance knowledge by recording all asset maintenance using a CMMS. This lowers the need to recreate the wheel for each problem.

Reliable Vendors

Whether a plant is purchasing a new asset or outsourcing specialized maintenance needs, good vendor management ensures that vendors will be available when needed and that facility managers can be assured they will do quality work.

Quality EAM/CMMS software gives plant managers the tools they need to review vendor terms across multiple locations, rate their performance and track important documents such as term sheets, contact information, blueprints or operating manuals.

Reliable Components/Parts

There are numerous inventory or part control methodologies ranging from just-in-time to keeping a specified number of components on hand. Unplanned or extended downtime because a part is not available is not acceptable.

Just as important is that the parts that are purchased or manufactured internally are of the highest quality. Good plant management knows how to make use of coordinate measuring machine (CMM) tools to meet critical quality specifications.

Reliable Training

Technological tools can be a wonderful thing when used properly. However, the proper use of technology often goes to waste because staff has not been trained beyond the ability to perform basic functionality. In any industry, it does not take long for CMMS manufacturing software or other technology tools to eventually be shelved when training is:

  • Only performed with the initial purchase
  • Done in a classroom setting (no hands on)
  • Does not include new enhancements, updates and features
  • Viewed as an unnecessary expense

As a general rule of thumb, people will only remember 10-20% of training material. This in effect translates to very low system adoption rates which means that the intended benefit of the technology can not be fully achieved. To avoid this, training should be part of every annual budget with established milestones of success.

Reliable Asset Management Resources

According to Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong, probably will. Good planning, staff, and tools can reduce the consequences from unexpected events. However, there are times when the answers are not in-house.

Therefore the final attribute of a great plant or manufacturing manager is that they have the intelligence to know when to look outside for asset management resources. Like a supply Sergeant in the Army, a great plant manager knows where to go and who to ask for help to get what they need.