June 12, 2013

Standards are requirements, not something organisations should settle for

All checklists and procedures in organisations to ensure machines are operating correctively are important. However, it may also be good for managers to highlight the fact that those standards should be considered as minimum level of standards which is the level at which it is acceptable for organisations to operate to meet requirements from legal perspective as well as from other stakeholders.

Organisations moving towards excellence needs to look beyond these and strive to achieve maximum utilisation of resources to increase performance. This will require the engagement of the workforce and it is therefore important that management is concerned about understanding the behaviour of employees and their motivation. I believe frequent communication between employees and managers as well as the working environment would aid in gaining this understanding. Because even in informal interactions usually the more you talk and spend time with someone the more you are able to learn about that person, his/her habits, mood, behaviour and so on.


MBE – Learning environment

One of the things I have learnt the most at MBE is the independence of my studies. Basically before coming here I had always had lectures and teachers had always given quite clear guidelines of what has been expected in terms of group work and so on. However, in MBE it has been very different and for almost all mini projects we have had limited lectures on the topics requiring us to find information, sort and make sense of it to come up with a presentation. I think in the beginning I was really struggling because it felt like doing work in the darkness with no light guiding. However, now I think that is probably one of the best things with MBE, because with every module I have become more and more comfortable with working in a state of confusion and instead of going to an immediate state of panic I approach the subject in a more sensible manner. This is probably one of the more practical skills I will bring with me when I go into the workforce and instead of feeling insecure of new tasks I could read and learn more about it to gain a better understanding.


So much more than just maintenance

Maintenance is not just about maintenance, it is obviously about equipments but also to a large extent about managing people and IT systems. Especially when it comes to predictive and planned maintenance where a greater understanding of equipment components and but employees need to receive training to gain knowledge to know what repairs need to be made. At the same time the organisation needs to have an IT system in place where documents about procedures and manuals can be found and shared. And in addition to this costs are also a big concern for companies and with limited resources priorities often need to bet.

This multidisciplinary view of maintenance is a network of interlinked business aspects that needs consideration for a sound maintenance plan to be in place. So although I have in the past always thought of maintenance as a quite technical area I have realised that it is so much more and this has further highlighted that all functions within a business are connected.


June 05, 2013

Fine line between autonomy and control

One of the pitfalls in TPM include managers not being committed to TPM implementation or exercising too much control over employees. As highlighted in the leadership module the involvement of managers, especially when introducing new initiatives and activities plays a critical role in successfully implementing these in the organisation. If managers do not believe in these and pushes for these it cannot be expected that employees will either.

Furthermore, there is a fine line between excessive control and motivation and for managers it is important that managers are aware of allowing autonomy and monitoring. Allowing employees enough autonomy to enable creativity and innovation is important in this knowledge economy. However, it is also important that managers perform some degree of control to ensure their actions are in line with economic feasibility and appropriateness of the employees’ actions in the organisation. Finding the right balance is therefore going to be needed to be identified by managers to ensure that employees stay motivated and creative whilst also being able to ensure actions are in line with business strategy and objectives.

Culture, People and IT

KM is very important has been highlighted extensively in the literature. It is one of the sources of competitive advantage in organisations. For KM I think the three most important factors include culture, people and IT.

People are the source and instigator of every innovation and creative knowledge. Therefore having the right people, developing them and retaining talents in the business should be on every managers’ agenda. To facilitate this process culture and IT could be used to support KM in terms of disseminating and sharing knowledge and make improvements within the organisation. Together I believe these three factors could contribute to a full KM system in the organisation. If employees have access to information and data previously acquired and feel comfortable sharing ideas it would be easier for them to see what has been carried out in the pasts and build upon ideas that have been developed previously.

I believe this is true because in for example a marketing module where the group needed to develop a marketing campaign for Walkers crisps the initial readings all group members did were noted down and shared among group members which everyone had access to. From that the group tried to generate ideas that could be used in the campaign and the group dynamics and working style determined how comfortable individuals were with sharing. So, the individuals were the ones that came up with creative ideas and the IT and group dynamics worked as tools to facilitate this process.


Autonomous Maintenance (AM)

TPM requires a big change in the working culture and attitudes and one of the major changes for the production workers would be the ownership of equipments where they will be responsible for carrying out basic maintenance work in the machines they operate on. This is a way to better utilise resources I think because if workers are able to carry out tasks like that the maintenance department are able to free up resources and use them for more important and activities. However, it will be important for the organisation to provide sufficient training and support that will enable the production workers to carry out those new tasks.

One important thing to recognise is that this could potentially create reluctance among employees as they might regard these new tasks as additional work and responsibilities and hence lose motivation. This attitude I believe is quite common cause sometimes even in groupworks there is reluctance among group members to take on additional tasks that were previously not identified. To keep the motivation up it is going to be important that the employee understands how the new tasks contribute to the company and his/her own self fulfilment and achieves recognition for this. The management or supervisors should demonstrate with data how the worker’s job has helped the company to reduce machine failures and breakdowns. I think this is important and could help the employee to clearer see the contribution he/she has on the company.


May 29, 2013

TPM units the organisation

One of the greatest benefits with TPM over earlier maintenance strategies is that it requires the involvement of everyone in the organisation. This will if well implemented remove the attitude of us vs them and instead of only maintenance people being able to carry out maintenance tasks the people who are actually in charge of running and operating the machines are trained about the equipments which should increase the standard of how the machines are run because they have a greater understanding. I think this is definitely beneficial for companies because the people who are constantly working on the machines should know the basics and if they are able to identify the minor problem areas early and take corrective actions resulting in extending the life cycle of the equipment. Usually the individuals who work on the machines on a daily basis could easily notice if there is something wrong with the machine and if they are trained to take corrective actions the life cycle of the machines can be extended because problems are fixed immediately instead of wearing out the components.


Development of maintenance management

The view on maintenance management has changed quite drastically the last decades and instead of seeing it as ‘must-do’ activity which entails costs it is now seen as a profit generating activity. This might be difficult for businesses with management that focus on short term payback to understand. This is because they want immediate money return and because maintenance requires a long term perspective they might not see the benefits of carrying it out or focus on it. Therefore organisations need to understand the tradeoff between long- and short-term investments.

Just like many business functions maintenance has become a strategic activity if implemented and managed correctly could provide the organisation with cost savings in terms of for example less rework and better meeting customer demand because continuous maintenance management could enhance process and product quality and safety. Organisations that understand this are probably more likely to survive in the long term, especially if it is a manufacturing company because they are more likely to posses many machines that are expensive. Also I think maintenance would be essential if a company is in an industry where product safety is of critical importance such as airplane industry.


May 05, 2013

Maintenance as prevention

For any types of physical assets such especially machines maintenance is so important. With maintenance a company is able to save money in the long run as they could potentially avoid hazardous accidents, lower quality, a stop in production line and so on. Potentially this could also extend the usable life cycle of the asset if it is regularly maintained. This is also relevant in our daily lives like for example our laptops which need updating, virus checking and other maintenance things to function properly.

It is just like with a car where maintenance is essential and in Sweden all cars older than 3 years need to once every year have the car tested to ensure everything is of satisfactory standard and to avoid road accidents because of poorly maintained cars. This principle should apply to companies as well because they would not run a car till it runs down and needs repair if it is still possible. Maintenance would also link very much to health and safety of the work place and the employees.


KM in service sector and manufacturing

Obviously all organisations use some knowledge in its operations because without it there wouldn’t be an organisation in the first place. However, is KM more important in the service sectors for example the government, than in manufacturing for example where machines are taking over manual labour? I would probably say yes, because KM there would play a central role in the in the daily activities whereas in manufacturing the machines have taken over and the people would mainly be involved when it comes to maintaining or fixing the machines. Or perhaps they require different kinds of KM... where in manufacturing explicit knowledge noted down in terms of components etc is important so maintenance for example know what the machine in an ideal state should look like. In government KM need to be spread because very often decisions made in one department is linked to another. Overall though, all organisations rely on KM and any organisation striving to improve learning and knowledge transfer are more likely to thrive.


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