Philosophies of Transformational Change and ICML 55

Jim Fitch, Noria Corporation
Tags: maintenance and reliability

I first met Ron Moore in the early 1990s. He is known as an icon in the reliability community and is the author of an excellent book entitled What Tool? When? This book tackles a delicate subject that is both difficult and controversial.

Moore examines and contrasts the world’s most notorious and respected philosophies in the field of maintenance and reliability. These include lean manufacturing, kaizen, total productive maintenance (TPM), Six Sigma, reliability-centered maintenance (RCM), root cause analysis (RCA), predictive maintenance (PdM) and others.

Which of these philosophies does a user organization really need? Is there a priority order or logical sequence to their use? Which produces the greater benefit or return for the lowest risk or investment? How sustainable are they? These are all great questions that require an answer, especially for those seeking a major transformation in their maintenance and reliability programs.

For those of you in the reliability field, this book is a must read. Lectures and interviews with Moore can also be found on YouTube and in the “Rooted in Reliability” podcasts for an abridged understanding of his main themes.

Moore in the Context of Lubrication

Lubrication is a vast subject and highly important to the reliability and management of physical mechanical assets. For those who have read the recently published ICML 55.1 standard, this fact could not have been more validated. This landmark standard on the optimum management of lubricated mechanical assets lists 12 major categories that provide the foundation and framework for the lubrication field.

Do all 12 of these categories merit equal weight related to value and importance? Should all 12 categories be approached and implemented concurrently? Of course, the answer is no. Fortunately, we have learned greatly from the many documented case studies shared by organizations that have gone down these roads before. Their published experience not only helped construct the 12 categories but also provided guidance on how to rank them for a more efficient and beneficial implementation.

However, this column will be a bit different. I’ll be cross-referencing the key points or lessons from Moore’s book What Tool? When? against the 12 categories in the ICML 55 standard that was developed by 45 lubrication subject-matter experts. In the interest of brevity and keeping things simple, I’ve taken some liberties in the narrative that follows to condense the central points of both Moore’s book and the ICML 55 elements (12 categories). I’ve also added a few of my own thoughts.

Reliable Plant Conference

The order of the following sections is generally aligned with the main recommendations in Moore’s book. In other words, while all philosophies he discusses have the potential for solid value, it may be wise to evolve a program (crawl-walk-run) through a series of rational steps. The first would likely produce some quick wins and low-hanging fruit.

As the transformation matures, more advanced and complex philosophies can be incorporated. In the final stage, I’ve added autonomous technologies, e.g., Industry 4.0 and other disruptive solutions. Although I’ve placed this stage at the end of the maturity timeline, its order for some may defy other precursory steps. Only history will know for sure what lies ahead. See the transformational change chart in Figure 1.

This exercise is far from an exact science, and many industry-specific or company-specific differences and special requirements must be considered. Furthermore, these philosophies are not mutually exclusive. The main themes overlap and are interrelated with the core principles of other philosophies.

I see this as particularly true with kaizen and TPM, for instance. A solid case can be made that they all relate to the lean manufacturing model as well. Drawing all of these connections will not be attempted.

Likewise, I will not try to reproduce the arguments behind Moore’s conclusions or sequence. For that, I suggest you read his book. I will say that I in no way disagree. So, let’s get started.


Figure 1: Transformational Change Chart

Asset Management

I’ve discussed asset management extensively in past columns. ICML 55.1 is an asset management standard that is structurally aligned to ISO 55000. Across any organization, ISO 55000 should be harmonized with ISO 9000 (quality), ISO 14000 (environment), ISO 45000 (health and safety) and ISO 31000 (risk management).

Moore talks about beginning with an overall philosophy and strategy patterned after The Toyota Way/Production System. He refers to long-term thinking, the importance of top-down leadership and the need to align reliability to the broader organizational objectives.

Closely related are employee engagement (culture), action plans, metrics, compliance assessments, training, procedure-based work and much more. This all underpins the ideology and principles of asset management, and as such rightly deserves the top spot in the transformational change chart.

ICML 55 Elements: Management (12), Skill (1)

Kaizen, TPM & CBM

Many books and thousands of articles have been written on these subjects. They are the cornerstone of all modern concepts in maintenance and reliability. Moore points out that one of the main benefits of kaizen and TPM is that they are not isolated thrusts but are instead broad-based. They can alter culture and affect the activity of people from the plant floor to the CEO. As such, you enable deep and widespread transformation, improvement and benefit.

The strategic and tactical elements that facilitate transformational change from these philosophies are numerous. These include:

Moore refers to condition monitoring and predictive maintenance as “sophisticated inspection.” This is exactly what is happening. Sensors and instruments serve as data collectors. Software and algorithms aid in problem detection, diagnosis and prognosis. As always, there should be a root cause emphasis (proactive maintenance) that is paired with predictive maintenance for early fault detection.

As condition-based maintenance (CBM) moves increasingly online and toward the industrial internet of things (IIoT), the human element fades or diminishes. Portable data collectors and human analysts are overtaken by real-time sensors, predictive analytics, etc. The velocity of these trends is real and unstoppable. While Industry 4.0 is the buzzword that keeps being mentioned, references are already being made to Industry 5.0.

ICML 55 Elements: Lube Tasks (4), Tools (5), Inspection (6), Lubricant Analysis (7), Waste and Energy (9-10), Contamination Control (11)

RCM, RCA & Six Sigma

Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) is the core reliability platform for many organizations, and for good reason. It has produced powerful and prominent tactual methods, including failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), criticality analysis (failure probability and consequences), the P-F interval and life expectancy.

However, as Moore explains, RCM should not preempt the foundational elements of the first two major steps (asset management, TPM, etc.). Some have viewed RCM as too technical and difficult to mainstream within an organization. Sustainability problems have been noted. Others have pointed to exceptional success.

Like RCM, Six Sigma is another great tool. It is recognized for DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control), process design and management, analysis of variance, balanced scorecards, and statistical process control.

Yet Moore asserts there is a risk that Six Sigma can “consume considerable resources in applying ... people often get so engrossed in the process they forget the goal is to get results.” The risk of “paralysis by analysis” is mentioned. Instead, he suggests that it should be “selectively applied to complex problems that require a disciplined methodology.”

That said, Six Sigma is lauded by many organizations around the world. Moore describes how General Electric has been very successful with Six Sigma because the leadership drove the process and demanded results. He also tells how Toyota has been very effective without Six Sigma, using simple tools, kaizen, 5-S, TPM and engaging the entire workforce in improvement. Again, the point here is to do the basics really well first (kaizen, TPM, etc.).

Root cause analysis (RCA) is yet one more stalwart tool of the reliability field. Its goal is to fix problems forever, regardless of whether they involve a machine failure, human issue, process problem or others. You likely have heard of the 5 Whys, fault trees, RCA logic charts and those famous fishbone diagrams. Failure is a great teacher.

ICML 55 Elements: Optimum Lubricant Selection (3), Troubleshooting and RCA (8), Metrics (12)

Wisdom in Execution

To some, the advice emphasized by Moore and summarized above may seem trivial and a little too pedestrian. It reminds me of the title of another one of his books, Making Common Sense Common Practice. Yes, sexy new technologies may possess the cool factor, but sometimes these cutting-edge ideas later lose their luster or die on the vine.

Moore suggests the best strategies are those that affect the behavior and activities of the most people. Get leadership right, get aptitude and attitude right, and then go on to pursue the rest.