A vibration program is only as good as its measurement data. Poor data may be worse than no data at all because poor data may lead to the wrong analysis, resulting in working on the wrong thing. One of the best ways to help ensure good data collection is to have well-written procedures for collecting the data. Plants often fail to see the importance of having well-written procedures for most tasks and especially for tasks seemingly as simple as data collection. This article covers the importance of having good procedures and presents the details needed to develop well-written standard maintenance procedures, or SMPs.
An SMP is a detailed list of steps that describes how to perform a maintenance task and is also a documented standard to which the job or task should be performed. All repetitive maintenance tasks should be covered by SMPs, regardless of who performs those tasks, be they craftspeople, contractors or operators. How does a preventive maintenance (PM) write-up differ from an SMP? The answer: It doesn't. A PM is simply a type of task written into an SMP.
SMPs are the basis of effective and efficient maintenance work.
Why are SMPs necessary?
To protect the health and safety of employees.
To help ensure that everyone performs a task to the same degree of precision.
To save time when performing a task.
To help ensure that standards and regulations are met.
To minimize the effects of personnel turnover.
To increase equipment reliability.
To serve as a training document.
To help document the equipment management procedure.
To help protect the environment.
To provide a basis for accident investigation.
What information should be contained in an SMP?
Formal title and document number.
A statement reading: "Read all of the steps in this SMP before beginning work."
Personal protective equipment (PPE) required to do the job.
All safety and environmental hazards to be aware of while doing the job.
A detailed list of steps for performing the job or task.
A complete list of tools and materials for doing the job.
References to other documents needed to perform the job.
Photos and diagrams where needed to explain job steps.
Measurements, standards and tolerances in the SMP steps.
Any other important information that may help the worker complete the task in a satisfactory manner.
A definition of skills required for performing the job.
Hours required to perform the job.
Number of people required to perform the job.
Required frequency of performing the job.
Preparation and revision dates.
Approval and review signatures.
Space to provide feedback as to the accuracy and effectiveness of the SMP.
Feedback is critical to the success of SMPs. In order for SMPs to be effective and accurate, a formal feedback mechanism should be supplied to the job performer. The SMP should be updated when feedback reveals mistakes or more effective ways to perform the job. Poorly written SMPs are unsafe and largely ineffective.WRITING SMPs
Who should write SMPs?
A person who has some training in writing SMPs and who knows his or her company's SMP writing procedure. (Yes, there should be a procedure for writing procedures.)
A person knowledgeable about the safety and environmental hazards involved.
The writer should seek input from the trained job performer or subject matter experts who will be using the SMPs. It is a good idea to get the job performer to write the rough draft because you will get buy-in from the SMP users. A person is much more likely to use something that they helped to develop as opposed to something that was developed without his or her input.
What are the rules for writing SMPs?
The burden of written communication is on the writer, not the reader. The goal is to serve the user.
The first writing is a rough draft and will need to be reviewed and tried before being published.
Use numbered line items and avoid paragraphs (one item per step).
Keep wording short and precise.
List steps in proper sequence. The job should flow in natural order.
Use step check-offs where useful.
Have the job performer enter quantitative values; it is even better than check-offs.
Target elementary-grade reading level (fourth or fifth grade) if possible, given the nature of the procedure being written. A reading skill commensurate to the minimum qualifications for performing the job itself is assumed.
Use graphics where needed to clarify meanings. A picture really is worth a thousand words.
Keep verbiage consistent. Don't change equipment names from step to step.
Begin each step with a verb if possible. For example: Step 13 - Remove coupling guard.
If jobs involve too many steps, break the job into sections such as Motor Removal Section and Gear Unit Removal Section.
Remember to write for safety:
Even though safety hazards are listed at the beginning of an SMP, the warnings should be repeated for each hazardous step.
Use the word "Warning" to protect against personnel harm and the word "Caution" to protect against equipment harm. For example: Step 23 - Warning! Remove hot slurry line.
The information in this article can also be used to develop good standard operating procedures (SOPs). Good procedures are important tools and a requirement of any successful reliability process.