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Maintenance Performance Benchmarking

Interest in and the practice of benchmarking continue to accelerate. Watson [7] reports a 1992 study by the Ameri­can Productivity and Quality Center that indicates 98 percent of companies using benchmarking expect their effort to grow over the next five years. It is reported that today benchmarking efforts are underway in more than half of the Fortune 500 companies. Benchmarking pro­vides the opportunity for innovation through the observa­tion of what others do. The benchmarking cycle suggested by Enusten [3] and Jones [4] typically follows this pattern:

• Observe others and identify key issues
• Make commitments to replicate good practices
• Return to own organization
• Focus on successful implementation
• Use the key issues as a basis for a strategic plan for improvement
• Use a best practices concept to organize the plan
• Integrate the best practices into manufacturing to the extent possible
• Measure progress with appropriate measures
• Execute the plan
• Use performance measures as a feed-back mechanism to adjust the plan

A recurring principle cited by experts in the practice of benchmarking is the absolute imperative of understanding one's own processes before attempting to partner and benchmark another business.

Several benchmarking studies have been performed on the "best" maintenance organizations in several industries. Perceived levels of world class maintenance performance management have been published with the studies. These results should be handled with care and their use properly understood. Pradham [6] recently reported the following maintenance benchmarks:

The perceived world class levels could be viewed as either "so-what" or as goals to attain. As organizations get their work processes under control and linkage is established between functional and strategic levels of the business, the next step toward improvement is to move out with their own benchmarking program. Their findings will be more beneficial for innovation and goal-formulation than trying to emulate the results reported in a "world class benchmarking study." Results of studies of the "best of the best" in maintenance or any other area are helpful, but they fall short of providing information on how to close perfor­mance variance gaps.

Benchmarking is directly linked to strategic business issues. This is apparent in the results of a study of 47 companies' benchmarking process. Features of the compa­nies with the most mature and robust benchmarking programs as reported by Watson [7] include:

• Benchmarking is used as an exploratory tool for clari­fying issues of strategic management.
• Benchmarking influences goal-setting for the strategic plan and enables improvement of key operational business processes.
• Benchmarking is used to identify both "business pro­cess" and "people process" change enablers.
• Benchmarking partnerships support strategic alli­ances and natural networks.
• Organization-wide knowledge sharing processes share results and eliminate redundant efforts.
• Closed-loop business process measurement and moni­toring systems are based on continuously recalibrated benchmarks for all key business processes.
• Benchmarking is not delegated—it is performed by the line on the line.

The benchmark recalibration point suggests that the en­tire maintenance performance management process is highly dynamic and subject to change. As business changes and the maintenance function changes to support strategic direction, performance measures and performance analy­sis will change accordingly. Figure 2 provides a flow diagram of the total maintenance performance manage­ment process which incorporates the key elements of this discussion.

To be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 01


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