SA has a lack of maintenance vision


There have been a plethora of stories recently in the press about the ongoing
challenges faced by municipalities and state-owned enterprises who are struggling to
operate and maintain their infrastructure, so much so that it severely hampers
service delivery. However, what may surprise you, is that this problem isn’t isolated
to Government, there are many corporate organisations that are also stuck in a
pattern of "firefighting’ or as the term is more commonly known as reactive
maintenance says Allan Tarita, Director of IHA Technology & Aviation.

Tarita says, "many organisations both public and private in South Africa are
stuck in a pattern of reactive maintenance, they share a common trait, they simply
suffer from a lack of maintenance vision."

He goes onto say, without a clear and concise vision and its supporting tactics or
actions the day-to-day practices can be observed as cyclical or never changing.
This will hurt any maintenance department in the long run because it inhibits the
department’s ability to move forward and evolve, creating a type of paralysis in the

The end result is predictable. You start to see a very rapid deterioration of
assets and eventually this downward spiral leads to a catastrophic failure at some
point which in turn creates regular and often prolonged disruptions in uptime of an
asset and as I said before this cycle is simply repeated and over and over again.

The reality is that you need to stop and take a long hard and very critical look at
your maintenance practices because once this reactive maintenance pattern is
entrenched best practices are forgotten, pushed aside or given a lower priority
against the daily crisis management realities of trying to meet production and/or
service delivery targets.

We know that deferring maintenance is not an option. So when asked, this is
what Tarita had to say, "the general foundational pillars of good asset management
are characterised by 3 core aspects of reliability that relate firstly to the asset, the
human component and then to the actual maintenance process. Let’s look at each
of these in turn:

Asset Reliability - ask yourself; is your plant or equipment in fact
the highest priority for your company? If you aren’t actually sure then here is a
simple question that will give you the answer you need, on a weekly basis is at least
45% of your maintenance department’s available man hours committed to the
professional completion of required Preventive Maintenance tasks (these are the
activities that ensure that your equipment moves in a healthy way through its
intended and designed life cycle) - if the answer is no then you have a problem.

Human Reliability - ask yourself; are you, your management
and frontline supervisors supported with ongoing maintenance-focused training in
order to remain current with the ever evolving list of asset management best
practices? If your answer is no and you can’t remember the last time you attended
a training course then you have a problem.

Process Reliability - there are a couple of points you need to
check here. Firstly, do you have a fully functional Routine Work Management or
Planning and Scheduling process? And I mean a real one, not one that sits off to the
side of your organisation, serving nothing other than a cumbersome black hole of an
IT solution, but instead one that is visibly and measurably sown into the fabric of
your organisation and is viewed by everyone as a necessary function and not a
department? Again if you are honest and the answer is no, then you have a

Another process reliability point might be simply to ask, do you have processes?
Are they mapped? Are they documented? And do you use them aggressively to drive
continuous improvement? Again if the answer is no then you have a problem'

Allan says, "the good news is, even if this quick self-analysis shows some
startling results, it is fixable. Your have to start with your maintenance vision first,
because this will drive the make-up of your maintenance strategy or tactics and
these will ensure that you are moving along the pathway that leads your
maintenance function towards optimal equipment health. Without a vision there is
no energy and without energy or the need and stress to improve, there is no
movement forward, period."

As a parting thought, Tarita had these words of caution, the creation of a
maintenance vision includes all facets of your organisation. Many maintenance
departments have become disheartened when they try to create their own visions in
isolation and subsequently struggle to understand why other departments won’t
support their vision when it comes to implementation.

It is a combination of operations and maintenance that equals production and
the involvement of supporting functions, again no matter if you are a public or
private organisation such as senior management, safety and procurement, etc. is
necessary, no in actual fact it is vital to ensure a win-win for everyone but most of
all, for your assets.

"Uptime’ remains the ultimate objective. If you start with a realistic and
achievable maintenance vision that is supported by strong and focused leadership
then sustained uptime with all the secondary benefits of improved cost management,
safety performance and an empowered and motivated workforce can be

The Maintenance Planning & Scheduling course will be run by Alusani Skills & Training Network®. This course always sells out so for more information please call 011 447 7470, email [email protected] or visit Alusani Skills & Training Network