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Asset Management and Dynamic Work Plan-I

My early days as a heavy equipment engineer saw a transition phase marking a shift in the organization from a pure manual maintenance approach to a Computer based Maintenance Management System (CMMS). The growing popularity of CMMS at that time and the organization's experience in ERP for managing its steel manufacturing were enough reason for the management to think on investing in a system to streamline their Maintenance operation in their Heavy Equipment division. To start with, the SMEs were required to identify the must have features in their respective areas. This listed feature was also referred to as the "Wish list". This helped the management to make a decision on procuring the right system fitting the bill.  The business case presented to the Management was that of a "Revolution" which was going to transform the mundane Maintenance process. 

The early results we saw were indeed fascinating; the automation which the CMMS brought seemed to be a true success story across departments it got implemented thereby winning all hands down. When the initial excitement subsided, the concerns started surfacing. What got extrapolated as a fairy tale story bringing wonders to the Maintenance process, soon started showing its shortcomings in addressing our process requirements.  Looking back at some of the items in the "wish list", we realized that they were just a wish which were never got fulfilled or addressed to its fullest potential. The fix we were in - How to question the package capabilities, something which is deemed to be supporting an optimal mix of best maintenance practices? Moreover, questioning the "best of best" would invite more questions about our processes. The solution- Simple, stop complaining, we will have to live with it! 

I still carry the wish list. Having seen multiple ERPs and its respective EAM modules, I juxtapose my list with the feature any leading EAM packages offer; in a hope to map these features in some form or other. With a series of blog I am planning to discuss one such feature per blog to get your perspective/story .To start with, I am putting forward my first in the wish list- A dynamic Work Plan, here it goes..

To understand and appreciate this requirement better, I would like to take you through a case, a day in life of Bala, our maintenance supervisor in the steel plant. The maintenance department services in all 20 tracks mounted loaders, each working in different location of the steel plant like the facility expansion site, scrap/iron ore unloading site, Slag pit, Jetty etc. The Asset though same demanded different maintenance treatment in terms of resources and safety compliance depending upon where they operated. One day, Bala gets a message regarding a gear box-oil leakage failure for a track mounted loader operating in the slag pit area; a section where molten slag gets collected. Slag pit is critical site and any failures are taken up on priority. Bala has the responsibility of fixing up this leakage; something which is not so straight forward. He surely needs to pull up a work plan template to guide him with the resourcing. On searching the repository for gear failures, he comes across one related to the Oil leakage. Just when he is about to go ahead with this plan, it strikes to him that there had been a similar series of breakdown which happened in the slag pit area. He recollects the discussion with Mr. Patel, the SoS (Sequential Oil Sampling) expert talking about the Oil in the gear box needing to be more viscous having higher boiling temperatures so that they do not vaporize or become thin to escape the oil seals.

The plan which Bala worked for this oil leakage however did not include the change in the oil specification as there was a single plan for the entire Asset family of track mounted loaders. The decision in this case had to be made to be made quickly; slag would get solidified quickly making the transporting process difficult. Time was running out for Bala and further adding to his woes, all the spare loaders have been lent out to the scrap unit, to load and unload the metal scrap. He needed to repair the fault very soon. The oil seal supporting the new grade of oil was also different .Bala also had to browse through the list of Crew members certified to work in the Slag Pit area, this being an onsite failure. Being a champ and backed by his strong experience, he was able to make these manual inclusions to the plan and pull this off just in time. This is a moment of realization making  one think - is this model really sustainable!
What we witnessed here is that the basic purpose of a template based work got defeated as Bala treads though the plan resource by resource, contemplating on the best mix. I would like to invite your ideas/ views on how such solution can be implemented. I will also present my view on how I think a CMMS package could have effectively handled this, in the Part 2 of this blog.

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