Zero Breakdowns – A Reality or a Dream?

Are zero breakdowns really achievable at your plant or facility? Is it conceivable or even desirable to have zero breakdowns? If we think of the quality initiatives, the goal was zero defects. And while most companies never achieved this goal, many developed strategies or methodologies that came very close to the goal. In fact, Six Sigma Quality was the stated goal for many company’s quality programs.

If we compared maintenance to quality, quality focuses on producing a perfect product. Maintenance focuses on providing reliable equipment capable of producing the perfect product. So if zero defects was the goal for quality, could not zero breakdowns be the goal for maintenance? And in reality, most companies would never achieve zero breakdowns, would it be possible to have Six Sigma reliability? And what would Six Sigma reliability cost? When would the cost of that level of equipment or asset reliability exceed the benefits achieved? How expensive would it be to achieve zero breakdowns really?

These questions can only be answered after clearly defining breakdowns, the business objective of the equipment or asset, and the determination of the steps necessary to achieve zero breakdowns.

Asset Utilization – The Business Objective

Asset utilization, commonly referred to as Overall Equipment Effectiveness, is a complete picture of how equipment or assets perform. It involves examining equipment availability, the equipment performance rate, and the quality rate. The asset utilization may also be referenced as equipment capacity. Asset utilization is not just the responsibility of one department.

Asset utilization is the responsibility of the entire company. It has the focus of insuring that nowhere in the world does another company have the same assets and achieves greater capacity from the assets. It is the single focus of being the best at getting the most out of the assets. The measurement of asset utilization is the overall equipment effectiveness. Overall Equipment Effectiveness is a holistic calculation that measures availability, performance efficiency, and quality rate.

Availability is defined as the percentage of time the equipment is available compared to the time that it is required to be available. Of course, breakdowns, equipment malfunctions, setups and adjustments, and even material shortages, are all possible reasons the equipment may not be available.

Performance rate of the equipment compares the current operating rate of the equipment to the actual design capabilities of the equipment. Many companies use some type of targeted performance, which usually fails to optimize the utilization of the equipment.

Quality Rate is the percentage of good product or satisfactory service the equipment provided compared to what the equipment should have delivered. So defects, re-work, off spec product, or unsatisfactory service from the equipment lower the overall Quality Rate.

For equipment to be fully utilized, it is a blend of all three parameters that determine its actual performance. By examining equipment or assets in this manner, companies can avoid a one-dimensional focus on utilization of the asset. In many companies, decisions are made to increase production, which may boost performance rate but yet lower equipment availability due to a decrease in asset or equipment reliability.

On the other hand, if the maintenance department performs too much maintenance and lowers the availability, and then even if the equipment performs as designed, the overall output is lower. This still puts the company in a noncompetitive situation when it comes to asset utilization.

So it is clear that the approach cannot be one dimensional. The true value of measuring the asset utilization in this manner is that it presents a holistic view of the asset or equipment.

With this perspective in mind, what prevents a company from achieving Zero Breakdowns from their assets? There are five main areas and these will be discussed over the next several blog posts.

Search All Categories: