"Equipment Maintenance problems do not belong to the maintenance manager; equipment maintenance problems do not belong to the maintainer; equipment maintenance problems, once accepted for investigation and repair by the maintenance department, belong to the maintenance team."
One of the hallmarks of a successful maintenance operation is its cognitive ability to recognize and responsibly manage its customers' needs and requirements, and its own. Today's maintainer usually is well aware of the benefits of teamwork wherein the sum of the whole—or combined team strength—surpasses any person's individual strength. Ask any maintainer who has belonged to a "winning team" in the past about that experience and he/she usually will characterize it as nothing less than "magical."
So, if teamwork and its benefits are so desirable, why isn't every maintenance department consciously striving to develop a winning teambased approach? The answer is simple. In any form of chaotic working environment—devoid of any process or procedure—in which individual maintainers operate autonomously, acting as their own parts buyers, planners and schedulers, it is extremely difficult to find time to communicate with and relate to maintenance peers in a proactive manner.
The benefits of teamwork can only be reaped through understanding, recognition of need to change and structured peer communication. By allowing and encouraging an open communication environment, acknowledging and capitalizing on each other's strengths and working toward clearly defined goals, we can foster true teamwork. Peer connection—or intra-departmental communication—is vital for maintenance department success, which precedes and provides the essential ingredient for successful inter-departmental connections, or partnership relationships previously addressed by this column.
Promoting peer connection
Many maintenance departments struggle with the concepts of system management, job planning/ scheduling and open information sharing. Sometimes they appear content to simply fall back into a known path of working in a total reactive environment based on personal agendas and limited responsibility. Under such a regime, cliques that encourage maintenance individuals or groups to work against another often are formed. When this happens, all maintainers complain of lack of respect and low morale.
Breaking out of a destructive pattern like this calls for a time-lined, structured maintenance management program that recognizes both the present and future state of maintenance. This type of program incorporates a management action plan to achieve both corporate and maintenance department goals within a stated time frame. Any maintenance management program implemented along these lines will promote peer interactivity through the following:
As stated at the beginning of this article, equipment maintenance problems DO NOT belong to any one individual, but rather to the maintenance department as a whole. If maintenance problems are to be successfully resolved, it will be accomplished most efficiently through departmental teamwork, promoted by a healthy peer partnership. MT