When 'Good Enough' is Not Good Enough

One issue we face in many maintenance departments is that we accept "good enough".  I have worked in many maintenance organizations in my career and find that "good enough" and "close enough" can be the source of many equipment reliability problems.

Often we find that small issues become large problems.  When quality work is not the norm, equipment reliability and performance will suffer.

When the grease we install in bearings, the alignment of the motor, the torque of the bolt, the belt tension, the chain tension, the allowable chain stretch, the pulley condition....are ‘close enough', production output will be close, but not enough.  Why? Because precision matters.

Bearings are manufactured to 3 -10,000 of an inch and should not be installed with a hammer.  Spring lock washers lose tension and should not be reused.  Belt sets are often matched and when one breaks, all need replaced, key stock wears out and should be replaced with pulley sets. Lock Tight should be used in critical applications.

How can we develop a culture of precision?  Well the first place I would look is your workforce.  When I worked with my tools, there was always a craftsman that demanded excellence.  I was told as an apprentice to run my conduit straighter, pay more attention to detail, mark up the prints, place tape on wire nuts (with a folded tab for easy removal), and clean up after the job.  Was this constant direction by management or my fellow craftsman?  Well I suppose the answer is both.  The management provided an environment for excellence to flourish and a few key craftsmen had the passion for excellence.  Create an environment that expects, rewards, and reinforces excellence.

The second step is to invest in the development of your existing resources.  Local vendors will often offer free or low cost lubrication, bearing, alignment, installation training to further the partnership between your organization and their services.  Take advantage of this free or low cost training to increase the skill of your workforce.

In summary, know when tolerance matters and when close enough is not good enough and your attention to detail and pursuit if excellence will pay dividends.  Strive to create a professional organization of maintainers that are the best of the best in your organization.

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