Monthly Archives: August 2014

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The key to efficiency is found along the shortest path between any two points.

It is remarkably simple to think of an efficient operation as one that runs in a straight line. Getting from point A to point B is rather “straight forward” they say.1

The challenge is to step back far enough from the daily nuances to be able to see the path we propose. With a clear view, we can see if it is relatively straight or if it is “remarkable” (in its curviness).

In order to travel the path of “straightness”, we need to understand each step we must take along the path. This allows us to understand which steps are then deemed as “extra steps” and are wasted energy without value. Knowing which steps we do not need helps us sharpen the focus on those we do need.

The “extra steps” that do not need to be taken – do not need to be taken.

They are simply wasted energy.

In Reliability circles, the Path between point A and Point B is the path between the RCM study and the fully prepared CMMS system that has delivered a new work instruction document to the technician. Arguably they contain more than just a few simple steps as I have illustrated.

This has added complexity when you are confronted with so many new technical jargons like maintenance items, schedule suppression, document information records, PRT, task lists, secondary tasks, and the like. The hidden purpose of these terms might seem like it is to simply confuse the issue, so set them aside for now, and just focus on getting from point A to point B.

The action of integrating a process for efficient action invokes a myriad of words that include “combination, amalgamation, unification, merging, fusing, meshing and blending”. The use of a consistent tool, like the Reliability Integration Tool (RIT), allows you to navigate this jargon with a simple process and traverse from point A to Point B easily.

When we integrate RCM with a leading CMMS like SAP or MAXIMO® we are faced with many additional choices. These additional choices arise because the flexibility in modern CMMS systems has evolved to service a broader spectrum of the market. The market has pushed the CMMS designer, to allow for their CMMS to fit a great many organisations easily. This means the CMMS can probably do anything, but in doing so the CMMS can also do several things you probably don’t need.

Knowing which CMMS features you need now is perhaps the most important “current issue” you will have to solve.

Key in this choice is to not install what I call a “Glass Ceiling”. A glass ceiling is an artificial barrier which limits your organisation growth, because you have configured your CMMS to accidently retard future growth. This can be avoided if you know which CMMS features you will “need in the next three years” before you lock down how your CMMS should operate today.

Today, your goal is still to get from point A to point B. Deliver into the hands of the waiting technician a fully featured professional work instruction when it is required, using the data from your RCM study.

To illustrate the point a little more clearly, let us consider we own a new large piece of equipment.

To ensure the equipment provides many years of trouble free operation, you will apply the RCM method to generate the “content” needed to prepare your initial maintenance strategy.

We can call this Point A!

It is with the application of this initial strategy and some improvement activities, you intend to operate the new asset, following the straightforward, prudent application of maintenance when it is needed, not before or later than needed. This is all considered best practice stuff – well done!

Now – let’s define Point B as the Preventative Work Instruction you will print from a CMMS work order and hand to your technician. This document is very important because it will serve as the transfer vehicle for all of your hard work. Recall you started with RCM preparing the maintenance strategy and have transitioned to the work instruction content that the technician can execute.

The challenge is of course getting the CMMS to print this document, on time, not early, and complete in the format needed by the technician.

This is not as easy as it sounds.

Understanding the underlying RCM Analysis database tables alone is complex. Aligning the RCM tables to the CMMS database tables is complex integration work that forces the data into load sheets for each CMMS table. This typically is a format that few understand well.

Factor in the requirement to produce a work instruction document using a standard template that looks like a professional work Instruction document, will generally involve a “heap” of work.

Faced with such a large amount of work, we all want an “easy” way out. What you need is a simple to use, consistently formatted set of tools that help you get from point A to point B. It is important to know that such a set of tools exist and they are easy to use. The ARMS Reliability’s Reliability Integration Tool (RIT) is the leading example of one of the tools currently available.


The individual toolset items take more space than that provided in this blog, so I will leave you with a teaser.

The tools do exist – and working with ARMS Reliability we can help you travel from point A to point B easily. We can help you do this without wasted steps and produce professional work instruction documents AND also load SAP, MAXIMO and most every other CMMS known to man.

To learn more:

This is just one of the many topics we will cover at the Reliability Summit 2014, October 27 to 30th. For further event details on speakers, topics, workshops, visit If you would like to discuss in further detail the Reliability Integration Tool with one of our consultants, please contact us at

Reliability Summit Monochrome


By Kevin Stewart

With all the preparation work (Honing your Facilitation Skills: Part 1) behind you, you’re now ready to start facilitating an Apollo Root Cause Analysis. Follow the steps below to ensure a smooth process and successful outcome.

Step 1. Introductions

First, do some simple introductions and housekeeping. Cover things like:

  • Introductions all around
  • The meeting guidelines: when to take breaks, phone and email policy, and so on
  • The objective: we’re here to fix the problem, not appoint blame
  • A review of the Apollo Root Cause Analysis methodology for those who may not be familiar with it (spend 15 – 45 minutes depending on the audience)
  • Your role as facilitator: you may need to ‘direct traffic’ or change the direction of discussions to help them discover more causes or to reach effective solutions

Step 2. Timeline

It’s now time to capture the ‘story’. What has happened that brought you all here? Get several people to provide a narrative, and develop a timeline of events as you go.

This timeline will prove very useful. It should reveal the event or issue that becomes your primary effect or starting point – and ensures that all the items beyond this starting point capture the group’s issues.

In the example below, if I start from T1 I’ll discover why I left my iPad in the bathroom.  However if I start at T7 I will also discover why my check process didn’t function as desired.

Date Time Event Comment
T1 Leave iPad in department restroom stall
T2 Meet wife
T3 Have lunch
T4 Return to car to leave
T5 Wife asks if we have everything before we leave
T6 Pat pocket and look, run through check list
T7 Head home without iPad
T8 Get call halfway home asking if i have iPad

While the time that each event occurs is important, it might not always be known. In these instances, you can represent the time sequence as simply T1, T2 and so on.

Step 3. Define the problem

You’re now ready to define the problem. Often, the problem definition comes out easily and everyone agrees. However, sometimes you’ll find that the group can’t arrive at a Primary Effect. In this case, as facilitator, it’s your job to regroup and ask some questions about why everyone is interested. Often, it’s about money.

One thing you don’t want to do is get stuck trying to find the perfect starting point. I’m reminded of a saying I heard once:

Dear Optimist and Pessimist,

While you were trying to decide if the glass was half empty or half full, I drank it!


The Realist

The Apollo Root Cause Analysis methodology is robust enough to handle an imperfect starting point. If the problem changes or evolves as you go, just put it down as the new starting point, adjust the chart and go on!

Now that you have a defined problem, with its significance well understood, you’re now ready to start the charting process. The team should also know by now why they’re here, and how much time and money can be spent on the investigation.

Would you like to learn more about the Apollo Root Cause Analysis methodology? Our 2 Day Root Cause Analysis Facilitators course is perfect for anyone needing to understand fundamental problem solving processes and how to facilitate an effective investigation.