Let’s Have a Talk About Communication

All successful reliability programs have one thing in common – strong communication between all plant resources. Although this concept does not have any direct relevance to maintenance, it is an important topic to reflect on. Keeping a constant line of communication with operations, maintenance teams, management, and everybody else at your facility will provide feedback that leads to continual improvement of the equipment and processes, proves the value of what you are doing, and drives a much better maintenance culture overall.

 

Ask Questions About Equipment

Whenever I go out to collect vibration data, I always stop by the machine operators and ask them how the equipment is running. Operations personnel run this equipment daily and are often the first to notice when the equipment is not “running right”. Getting this helpful information will give you more insight on which pieces of equipment may need you to spend a little more time on this round, prompting the analyst to simply pay more attention.

The maintenance teams have obvious needs when it comes to communication. For instance, what equipment is having an issue? What do they need to do to correct it? How long will it be before it fails?

 

Communication is Key

How we, as vibration analysts, communicate that information is very important:

  • Do you write a monthly report on all equipment?
  • Where do you keep the report? Is it emailed to everybody? Printed and kept as a hard copy in the shop?
  • Do you utilize a web portal that can be accessed by everybody?
  • What do you do if you find something that is close to failure and needs to be checked out, repaired, or replaced as soon as possible?
  • How do the maintenance teams communicate with the analyst?
  • What did they find when they made the repair?
  • Was your analysis correct in identifying the issue?

These are all important questions that need to be answered to achieve the high-level reliability program we are all striving for.

 

Having Discussions with Management

In discussions with management, the main concern is usually on a different level. Typically, the leaders are tasked with making sure the facility is getting value from the reliability program. Management is also in charge of driving the overall “culture” of the teams that they are leaders of. This is where case histories and cost savings come in. Pull together documentation showing circumstances where the reliability team prevented a catastrophic failure and present it. Management appreciates this information as it illustrates that the value is there for what we are doing.

 

The Value of Reliability

Cost savings are a little more involved, but you can take the repair costs, lost time, and equipment replacement costs and present that in contrast to the projected costs associated with a catastrophic equipment failure. Web portals are of particular use to those in management positions as well, as they give the overall view of all equipment in the plant and break it down into graphs and charts that can be very effective when they need to demonstrate the value of reliability.

Everyone at the facility can play a role in equipment reliability, I have gotten tips from the janitors saying that a piece of equipment “doesn’t sound right” to them, or office staff, who are not directly involved with maintenance, complaining about their desk vibrating.

There is more to say regarding communication in a plant setting. We want to continue building on the lines of communication by keeping the conversations open and driving toward our ultimate goal of world-class reliability programs!

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