Lean In Maintenance
That is very different. For many companies, there is still a large gap between the desirable best practice state and the current situation that I encounter on the ground. However, many companies or people responsible for maintenance are committed to improving their individual activities and work processes. I see the greatest challenge in the conflict between optimization efforts and the so-called “day-to-day business.” At the same time, we also find the coveted levers of greatest effectiveness.
Is Agile Maintenance The Future?
What are the megatrends in the world of work, and how do you think Agile maintenance will change?
That’s a very exciting question. First of all, structural change in the world of work is already underway, with the keyword “VUCA.” In short, this can be summarized as follows: The world of work is becoming faster and increasingly volatile. Of course, there have always been changes and the urge to accelerate, but the demands placed on the actors are taking on a new quality. This is not the least due to the increasing complexity. In the field of maintenance, I see four specific areas that require more intensive discussion:
- First of all, there are people with their skills. It will be a challenge to reconcile the requirements arising from the changed world of work with the interests and skills of future generations.
- Second, the implementation of Industry 4.0. Here the scenarios range from a refusal or ignorance of the digitization of the working world to an almost idolatrous admiration of every digital gimmick, no matter how trivial. For example, I would like to mention the call for paperless maintenance. “First the tablet, and then (maybe at some point) we’ll look at the processes.”
- The third topic area will be data as a strategic resource. This means, for example, the experience and knowledge of the maintenance department as well as the know-how of the machine manufacturers.
- The internal value of maintenance is a fourth and increasingly important topic. Will maintenance succeed in emerging from the shadowy existence of production? I see far more opportunities than risks in this.
Without Self-Organization, There Is No Agility.
Can you give us a few concrete examples from your practice of how an agile organization works?
First, I would like to explain the term “agility” in more detail. Agility means that an organization (e.g., the maintenance department) can adapt flexibly to changes and react quickly. A key element of this is self-organization. When work teams first submit a thousand applications and have to work their way through hierarchies, they cannot act and react quickly. “Acting,” in particular, will become increasingly important. Take a look at the situation of the maintenance departments in medium and large companies.
What happens if the company’s utilization rate skyrockets or drops just as rapidly? Or if, for example, a reorganization takes place? It is often enough for a manager to leave the company or for a new one to join. I often observe that departments need to improve their performance as a result. Some are even pushed to the limit of their willingness to perform. And then, look at organizations that have autonomous or at least semi-autonomous work teams. As long as there are no significant changes to their working framework, these teams work flexibly and are extremely resistant to environmental disturbances. A well-known organizational approach to establishing these competencies in maintenance is, among other things, the approach of a decentralized system and process responsibility. Or the TPM model that most readers are familiar with.
Finally, each company and each organizational unit must be considered individually. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions for applying agile maintenance. Before you start thinking about solutions, learn to understand the problem first! I talk about exactly how this works in my seminars.