I can honestly say, nobody I know of likes reading or hearing about recalls in the automotive industry.  I recently read about the GM Recall of 1.3 Million Vehicles and thought to myself- are they considering the failure modes?  If a company makes the decision to recall a bunch of vehicles you can bet ranch they have considered several other options first.

Coming from the world of Maintenance and Reliability, I can’t help but think about all the emergency and demand maintenance calls I have seen where a piece of critical equipment shuts down, when thinking about these recalls. Here is the typical maintenance emergency cycle:

  1. maintenance is called,
  2. they replace a part or component,
  3. return it to operations and within a few minutes the process is up and running again.
  4. Everyone breaths a sigh of relief, the maintenance guy gets a few pats on the back for saving the day,
  5. our machine is back up and running, we are making money again and everything is ok!

no maintenance failures Congratulations!  You have once again reinforced that is more important to make the machine (Car) run than it is to understand why it failed to begin with. 

You have taken the first step in training your maintenance people to become “component replacers” as opposed to reliability maintenance technicians.   By doing this you are rewarding your reliability maintenance technicians for replacing the component or part quickly as opposed to identifying the failure mode or modes that may have caused the failure.

What to expect when you train your team to be “Component Replacers” instead of Reliability Maintenance Technicians:

  1. Don’t ever plan on seeing your failure rate diminish.  You will instead begin to live with them, insisting that “this how this component or part fails.”   Someone, someday, in the name of being proactive will put into place a PM to replace or inspect the item based on some random period of time rather than any supporting data.
  2. You have no idea how or why the failure occurs. And the failure keeps occurring and there is the potential of people becoming hurt but you have created a culture that values replacing instead of understanding.

The alternative to the “component replacement” mentality

You can draw a line in the sand and say it’s time we start identifying our failure modes and developing a task to eliminate or mitigate each.  Learning to identify and mitigate failure modes isn’t difficult, I have yet to work with a maintenance and operations group who couldn’t learn.

Leadership, Structure, Discipline – What’s important to your company?

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