The current “fix it” approach maintained by the Worldwide Chemical Company is ultimately faulty. As described in the case study, it leads to the decreased first-quality product yields and on-time deliveries, compromising the production cycle and hampering profits. Thus, the best way to maintain the company’s TQM effort is to discard the approach which is obviously flawed. Smith, as a maintenance superintendent, can reorganize the policy of equipment’s service accordingly.
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This will lead to better predictability of its functionality, and thus, reduce the process varieties, and improve the performance and reliability of the machinery. Additionally, the team of mechanics under Smith’s governance seems to experience difficulties with the supply of spare parts, which severely lengthens the productivity and efficiency of the fixing process. Both Smith and Henson thus can contribute to the improved performance, primarily by providing short-term organizational fixes and arranging a change in maintenance policy.
The most obvious alternative to the current operations approach of the maintenance department is the shift from the on-demand maintenance toward the scheduled one. Such change has several benefits. First, such maintenance significantly reduces the time required for the service of the equipment, mainly because of the higher level of organization. Second, the scheduled maintenance allows little to no varieties in the production process as all the interrupts are known beforehand.
Finally, it raises the predictability of the machine’s malfunctioning, as the mechanic is constantly monitoring its state. Alternatively, additional responsibility can be assigned to the operators of the equipment. They can perform simple tasks such as adjusting minor discrepancies and lubricating the exposed parts (Musa et al. 165). Such activities are beneficial for the machinery but are often neglected by the operators who feel the maintenance department is the only responsible party.
While the scheduled maintenance eliminates the factor of sporadic and unpredictable intrusions leading to the disruption of the production cycle, it still requires time, even when no warning signs were received from the equipment. To bring the adverse effects of wasted time to a minimum, the maintenance must be carefully planned to account for the operator’s timetables and the production dynamics (Nyman and Levitt 3). In the case of refrigeration equipment, the seasonal nature should be taken into consideration.
The periods of high workload (the hot season) must include more frequent brief overviews while more substantial repairs and complete overhauls should be assigned to colder seasons. In this way, the least possible time will be consumed by the process, making its impact bearable for the production cycle (Slack, Chambers, and Johnston 302).
The big concern of the management team is the idling of the personnel. According to Henson, the maintenance department is “sitting all day playing cards.” A good alternative to this is monitoring suggested above. The schedule of mechanics must be arranged in such a way that they would have an opportunity to perform a routine check and timely repairs of equipment without bothering the personnel. Additionally, the case clearly mentions the inadequate theoretical basis (“poring over schematics”) and poor warehouse organization (“hunting for spare parts”) (Heizer and Render 502). Both issues need to be addressed, as the comprehensive knowledge of the theory and the organized the tools and supplies improve the productivity of work (Richards 36).
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Besides the monitoring which significantly raises the predictability of the machine’s breakdown, other methods may be utilized. First, the manufacturer usually provides information regarding the equipment’s service lifespan, as well as the guidelines for the most likely weak points. Additionally, consulting the operator may provide information regarding the machine’s behavior. While being largely unreliable, such inquiry may provide useful insights when approached with caution (Dhillon 112).
Dhillon, Brandon. Engineering and Technology Management Tools and Applications, London, UK: Artech House, 2002. Print.
Heizer, Jay, and Barry Render. Principles of Operations Management, New York: Pearson, 2013. Print.
Musa, Mohd Azam, Nazrul Idzham Kassim, Akhtar Razul Razali, and Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Wan Saidin. “Improvement of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) through Implementation of Autonomous Maintenance in Crankcase Line.” Applied Mechanics and Materials 761 (2015): 165-169. Print.
Nyman, Don, and Joel Levitt. Maintenance Planning, Scheduling, and Coordination, New York: Industrial Press Inc., 2001. Print.
Richards, Gwynne. Warehouse Management: A Complete Guide to Improving Efficiency and Minimizing Costs in the Modern Warehouse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Kogan Page Publishers, 2014. Print.
Slack, Nigel, Stuart Chambers, and Robert Johnston. Operations Management, New York: Pearson, 2010. Print.