Curing Problems

Last blogpost I talked about introducing important habits to your workplace. This week I will further explain why this will help you solve your problems. Think of it this way, your plant and/or machines are sick, and if you arm your colleagues with knowledge and good habits, they become the immune system created to eradicate “diseases” and “heal” what is broken and/or “infected”.

Human bodies are massive, and infections can hide, but less so if there are armies of leukocytes (white blood cells) stationed everywhere. Infections can also be tough to beat, hence why so many leukocytes are used. And some infections are so unfamiliar that leukocytes don’t know how to deal with them initially and thus need to learn how to. That is what you want your colleagues to be, an army of leukocytes learning to search for, recognise, and solve problems in order to keep the plant healthy together.

If you try to explain a concept in an overly complex way, it will pass through them like a ‘ghost’. You need to find a simple, memorable ways to explain it. This is a skill had by all great leaders. A guy called Wayne Bissett once told me you should run your plant “smooth, clean, cool, and dry” Short. Sweet. Roles off the tongue. People love it. If we do run our plants smooth, clean, cool, and dry, it won’t vibrate itself to bits, it won’t build up foreign contaminants, it won’t overheat, it won’t corrode your water ingress, and it will live a long life. The solutions to four major issues summed up in four words only. These simple, snappy phrases can help experienced people make clearer sense of what they already know, and explain it to those who are new.

Another thing I like about that phrase is how it can relate to RCA. It tells us exactly what a healthy plant should look like, and encourages us to ask the following question when searching for problems. Is the smoothness, cleanliness, coolness, and/or dryness being disrupted in some way, and by what? See how well that statement fits in many contexts? See how these simple, four words branch off into something else? That’s what you want, a core idea that people can use as a launching point. If they notice the four signs of healthiness being disrupted in some way, our leukocyte workers know to find a disease that needs attacking.

Allow me to demonstrate how best to communicate issues and ideas to your colleagues in a few sentences. Imagine you have a oil breather being used in a situation it is not suited for. According to our RCA, it allows in too many contaminants. Let’s call this one Breather X. We decide that Breather X is not working and decide to replace it with Breather Y which will allow our plant to run cleaner. Simple enough to explain right? I once heard someone say that people who truly understand something can simplify it. If you’re trying to explain something but can’t do so coherently, perhaps it’s a sign that you don’t understand the subject matter well enough, so you should ensure that is not an issue before you pass that knowledge on.

In summary, to cure defects, we need to effectively summarise and standardise what we do. Gaining a shared understanding is the first step towards implementing improvements across the plant. Make sure those standards are easy to understand, so they can be properly practiced. I will never stop stressing the importance and effectiveness of consistency and communication in the workplace.

 

If you want to know more about curing problems and other reliability-related subjects, why not register for our Extraordinary Reliability Engineers course? It will offer you all the knowledge and wisdom Peter Horsburgh wished he had long ago. If you’re interested, register for a free webinar at our Eventbrite here.

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