HUMAN FACTOR IS CRUCIAL
An international chemical company sought to become more economical in the area of maintenance at its largest European sites.
To this end, the company and a commissioned team of T.A. Cook consultants developed and implemented a classic cost-cutting program. The key goals were cost reduction, greater efficiency and improved plant safety.
Savings potential in technical service
Risk assessments of individual plant components
Individual coaching sessions carried out
To increase effectiveness, all equipment parts were evaluated in terms of safety, costs and availability. Based on the findings, clusters of equipment groups were created and maintenance strategies were developed. T.A. Cook incorporated their wide range and detailed templates for most industry-typical equipment groups and compared and supplemented them with the existing strategies. Individual strategies were developed for the three percent of highest risk equipment.
The root cause analysis process was also revised. The key questions were: which equipment parts or defects keep recurring? How can they be remedied? While answering these questions, failure patterns and “bad actors” were identified. On the one hand, this concerns technical problems, like the repeated failure of the same pump. Solutions were found for such issues, namely by using electronic fuses or warning signals for overload protection. On the other hand, operating errors were also noticed and dealt with; for example, the system was not optimally set in terms of pressure, temperature, etc… The most important action was the introduction of structured processes for collecting the data and the close involvement of production.
To optimize efficiency the consultants took a close look at work order management, where significant loss times were identified. These were reduced through better work preparation, scheduling and necessary coordination with production. Once execution efficiency was increased, stakeholders addressed the question: what work had been outsourced in the past, but could rather be handled internally with the resulting free capacity? One solution included installation and assembly tasks could be taken care of internally by in-house craftsmen in the future.
What was exciting about this case was that only roughly 50 percent of T.A. Cook’s involvement went into technical know-how. The bulk of the work was interpersonal. This demonstrates how important it is to “pick up”, align and include all those involved. Eye level communication and a professional feedback culture formed the basis for success and created the foundation for the necessary support at all levels. Internal resistance was managed and overcome through numerous discussions, training sessions and workshops that encouraged understanding of the necessity and benefits of the planned changes.
With a focus on practical feasibility, the T.A. Cook team was able to achieve a great deal together with the customer in just under a year. The company became faster, leaner and therefore more efficient in the area of maintenance. Increased execution efficiency, better equipment reliability and an optimized mix of preventive and corrective maintenance can save the technical service department up to 25 percent of its previous expenses.