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M-News Edition 19
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M-News - the Maintenance Newsletter

Edition 19, November 2001


In this edition...
Feature Article - Nobody Ever Gets Credit for Fixing Problems that Never Happened
Feature Article - Understanding the Concepts of MRPII/ERP
Feature Article - Failure of Dust Suppression Systems in Coal Handling Plants
Feature Article - Shaft Eccentricity and Bearing Forces
Survey Results - Maintenance Outsourcing
Survey Results - Maintenance - The Big Issues
Current Survey - Maintenance Budgeting and Cost Control
Book Review - Maintenance Planning & Scheduling Handbook, by Doc Palmer
Recommended Books
On the Lighter Side - Engineering Humor

If you wish to receive notification of future copies of this newsletter by email, please register at If you have any feedback on the newsletter, or have something to contribute, please send me an e-mail.

Feature Article - Nobody Ever Gets Credit for Fixing Problems that Never Happened

Today's managers face a paradox. On the one hand, the number of tools, techniques, and technologies available to improve operational performance is growing rapidly. On the other hand, despite dramatic success in a few companies, most efforts to use them fail to produce significant results. This article, from MIT, suggests that the inability of most organizations to reap the full benefit of these innovations has little to do with the specific technique. Instead, the problem has its roots in how the introduction of a new improvement effort interacts with the physical, economic, social and psychological structures in which implementation takes place. It presents a framework to understand how these failures arise and illustrate strategies for overcoming the pathological behaviors that we identify with case studies of successful improvement. You can read this articles at Note that you will need to have the free Adobe Acrobat reader installed to be able to view this file.

Feature Article - Understanding the Concepts of MRPII/ERP

In the competitive business environment of the twenty first century many companies have decided to use a popular tool that has evolved over the past few decades. ERP, the descendant of MRPII offers the "answer" to the economic and productivity troubles of manufacturing and service enterprises. The ERP system has recently become very popular as an enterprise management software tool, and there are many useful products in the software market to fulfill this need today. This article, from Marie Elena Salazar starts to contribute a review and analysis of the following questions:

  • What are MRPII/ERP software solutions position in this environment?
  • Do we completely understand what this system is designed to do?
  • Is really what we are looking for?
  • Is our company prepared to start using it?

You can

Feature Article - Failure of Dust Suppression Systems in Coal Handling Plants

Generally all systems used in power station coal handling plants are wet dust suppression systems. In this paper, from Makarand Joshi, the reasons for failure of these type of dust suppression system are discussed. The remedy for the improvement of this system is also given in this paper. You can read more at Note that you will need to have the free Adobe Acrobat reader installed to be able to view this file.

Feature Article - Shaft Eccentricity and Bearing Forces

This article, contributed by P.F. Joy, is a case study from the petrochemical industry, illustrating how vibration analysis was able to detect shaft eccentricity as a result of improper installation. You can read the full article at Note that you will need to have the free Adobe Acrobat reader installed to be able to view this file.

Survey Results - Maintenance Outsourcing

This survey closed on August 31. Key observations were:

  • Respondent organizations spent around one-third of their maintenance budget on maintenance contractors, on average. This indicates that the maintenance contracting market is substantial.
  • The most commonly stated reasons for using contractors were:
    • To increase labour productivity
    • To reduce Maintenance costs, and
    • To focus in-house personnel on 'core' activities
  • The most common uses for Maintenance contractors are for:
    • Minor Capital Work
    • Labour Hire
    • NDT/Condition Monitoring, and
    • Offsite overhauls and Repairs
  • The most commonly used measures of Contractor Performance (both formal and informal) were:
    • Price/Cost
    • Safety Performance
    • Work Quality/Rework
  • Equipment Performance, through measures such as Equipment reliability, and availability, are considered to be of less importance than price, even though, in many instances, the cost of poor equipment performance may significantly outweigh any savings made by reducing contractor costs.
  • The greatest benefits from using contractors were seen to be in the areas of:
    • On-time Performance, and
    • Equipment Availability
  • Safety and Cost improvements were not as evident.
  • Respondents considered that, when assessing the most successful maintenance contractors on their site, the most important factors in contributing to that success were:
    • Contractor responsiveness
    • Contractor Flexibility
    • Competent, Stable Contractor workforce
    • Two-way Communication
    • Shared Goals
  • Expenditure on Maintenance contractors, as a percentage of the total Maintenance budget has increased in recent years, and is expected to continue to do so in the near future.

You can read the full survey results at Note that you will need to have the free Adobe Acrobat reader installed to be able to view this file.

Survey Results - Maintenance - The Big Issues

This survey closed on November 21. In it we asked what the most important Maintenance-related issues were that respondent's organizations would be working on over the next 12 months. These turned out to be:

  • Improving Safety
  • Increasing Plant and Equipment Availability
  • Increasing Plant and Equipment Reliability

The least important issues were:

  • Negotiating Maintenance Pay and Conditions
  • Hiring Additional Maintenance Labor
  • Reducing Maintenance Labor
  • You can read the full survey results at Note that you will need to have the free Adobe Acrobat reader installed to be able to view this file.

    Current Survey - Maintenance Budgeting and Cost Control

    Another short survey for you this month, which should only take a couple of minutes to complete. This time, we are asking you to share a few things with others about how your organization performs Maintenance Budgeting and controls costs. The survey closes on January 15, 2002. You can complete the survey, or view the results to date at

    Book Review - Maintenance Planning & Scheduling Handbook, by Doc Palmer

    The Foreword to this book (by Robert Baldwin, Editor of Maintenance Technology Magazine) sums up this book nicely when he says that "Most articles and conference papers on planning and scheduling stress its strategic importance, but they do not delve into the practical details because of limitations imposed by article length or conference programming. Doc has leapt over this hurdle with this Maintenance Planning and Scheduling Handbook. There is now a ready reference to take the action-oriented maintenance practitioner to the level of understanding needed to install a planning and scheduling function and make it work". Full of practical observations and tips, this book should be on every Maintenance practioners bookshelf - from those who are just starting to establish Maintenance Scheduling processes and practices at their workplace, to those who are looking to fine-tune their existing processes.

    This is a hefty tome - weighing in at 544 pages of fairly dense type, with about 40% of this being in very detailed, and useful, appendices. The book starts by putting Planning and Scheduling into perspective - how does it integrate with the overall Maintenance process (and the needs of the business), and the other maintenance tools that most organisations use. It discusses what planning is, and what it is not, and deals with a few common misconceptions in doing so. It then discusses basic, but key Maintenance Planning and Scheduling principles that Doc has found to work, when implementing Planning and Scheduling processes. Among these principles are

    • that planners should be organized into a separate department from the craft maintenance crews
    • that planners focus on future work - work that has not yet been started. Crew supervisors handle the current day's work and problems
    • that planners maintain records based on equipment tag numbers
    • that planners use personal experience and file records to develop work plans to avoid anticipated work delays and quality or safety problems
    • that planners recognise craft skills - the planner focuses on "what" - the craft technician on "how"
    • that "wrench time" is the primary measure of work force efficiency, and of planning and scheduling effectiveness
    • that job plans detailing the quantity and skills of labour required to perform a job are necessary for advance scheduling
    • that weekly and daily schedules must be adhered to as closely as possible
    • that weekly schedules are developed based on a forecast of highest skills available during that period
    • that the weekly schedule assigns work for every available work hour
    • that the crew supervisor develops a daily schedule one day in advance
    • that schedule compliance is the primary measure of adherence to effective planning and scheduling

    While more experienced practitioners may disagree with some of these principles, they are supported by a lot of common sense and detailed discussion, backed up by practical examples.

    The book then moves on to discuss Basic Planning - in the form of "A Day in the Life of a Maintenance Planner"It discusses Work Order systems, Equipment Records, Scoping and Estimating, Obtaining Parts, Safety and many other aspects in a very practical, "how to" manner. The next Chapter is on Basic Scheduling - how to create a Weekly Schedule, Staging Parts and Tools, Daily Scheduling and others - again in the same, practical and instructive manner. Further chapters deal with the use of Forms, CMMS systems (although this chapter is necessarily brief, given the breadth of packages available on the market today, and the continuing rapid development of technology in this area), and Controlling Maintenance.

    The ample Appendices cover such aspects as:

    • Guidelines for deciding if work is proactive or reactive
    • Guidelines for deciding whether to stage parts
    • Numerous sample forms - covering inspection checklists, labour availability worksheets and many, many more
    • Where to buy office supplies relating to Maintenance Planning - such as tags, labels, files etc.
    • Sample Work Orders
    • Step-by-Step Overview of Planners Duties
    • Step-by-Step Overview of Others Duties
    • Sample Work Sampling (Wrench Time) Studies
    • Work Order System and Codes
    • Guidelines for Setting Up a Planning Group
    • ..and much more

    In summary, this is a highly detailed, highly practical guidebook, that all Maintenance practitioners should own. A 5-star recommendation. At US$79.95 it is excellent value for money.

    You can purchase this book through (and simultaneously support the Plant Maintenance Resource Center) by visiting

    Recommended Books

    Some of the books that have previously been reviewed on this site, and which we strongly recommend are listed below. Ron Moore's book, Making Common Sense Common Practice is particularly recommended as representing excellent value for money.

    For details on all of these books, and many more, visit

    On the Lighter Side - Engineering Humor

    The following sign was recently observed in an Engineering Manager's office:

    Ever since I became a Project Manager, I sleep like a baby - I wake up every few hours, cry a little, wet the bed, and then go back to sleep.

    I hope you have enjoyed this newsletter. All feedback, comments and contributions to future editions are very welcome (as are enquiries about sponsorship of this newsletter).

    Alexander (Sandy) Dunn
    Plant Maintenance Resource Center

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