Position your artisans for success

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If you operate in the skills development sector you?ve likely heard one or both of the top two complaints made by companies seeking skilled artisan labourers. Either there are "not enough artisans' or "they are not properly trained'. But are these sweeping comments accurate? One expert reveals why the fault lies with companies and not the workers or the system.

According to maintenance and asset management specialist Allan Tarita "companies are failing to set-up their maintenance staff for success'.

The standard practice of most businesses is to "respond? to equipment malfunction in the workplace. Companies neglect to develop a maintenance plan and instead are forced to follow a "reactive' model of maintenance operations.

This means that artisans are thrust into situations they are ill-prepared to handle due to a lack of preparation, resource planning, and time management on the part of the company.

As a result both amateur and experienced artisans are not being given the opportunity to develop in their careers and perform their duties successfully, and unsurprisingly are labelled as "incompetent'.

To add to this self-defeating practice, the very businesses who fail to plan are the ones losing out on time and money.

According to Tarita "a job that costs R1 a day could cost 7.5 times as much if companies do not develop and follow a structured maintenance plan.'

Tarita encourages businesses to adopt a business process or maintenance plan which consists of the following six parts:

1. Identifying: capture, prioritize and document all the tasks that must be completed, including preventive and corrective maintenance
2. Planning:placing the logical instructions into a reusable document including all the steps, hazards, tools, spares, contract requirements, task duration and costs. One of the planning objectives should be to make artisans efficient.

3. Scheduling: When best to do it - and taking into account day to day business impacts such as public holidays, leave, meetings, illness, even training.
4. Assign task to correct person: Who best to do it - fitting tasks to the right level of skillwill reduce unnecessary time and effort.
5. Execute: Do the work as planned, scheduled, and agreed to. A key principle of this process "Plan the Work - Work the Plan'.
6. Analyze: Assessand measure thecompleted work to identify areas ofongoing improvement.

Companies should employ a qualified planner/scheduler to schedule the maintenance work a minimum of 12 weeks prior to the actual start date. A weekly stakeholder meeting should be arranged, where all the parties come together to agree on the project scope and recognize potential operational impacts. This should be organised at least four weeks before the work commences.

"Maintenance is a strategic function and can provide a strategic competitive advantage for some' says Allan. The manner in which companies approach maintenance is largely dependent on whether they are "production-focused' or "profitability-focused'.

Profitability-focused companies look at the long-term benefits of developing a maintenance plan and adopt this strategy to save time, money and effort. They also try to create an environment that empowers their workers to perform their duties efficiently and effectively.

For more insights join the Maintenance Planning and Scheduling course held by Alusani Skills and Training Network. For more information call 011 447 7470, email faith@alusani.co.za or visit the website Alusani Skills and Training Network

By Cindy Payle - Skills Portal Journalist



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