The 10-second Measure of Maintenance Effectiveness

Ned Mitenius

Two decades ago, I worked in the Florida citrus industry. Near the end of each growing season, the fruit became softer. This promoted increased damage during handling, especially in the bins where the fruit was temporarily stored during testing.

This, of course, wasted money, as juice literally went down the drain.

We built and automated a system that would allow us to bypass these storage bins while still allowing us to meet all of the necessary testing requirements. But this system came with its own costs and risks, so it was only economical to operate late in the season when fruit quality was diminished.

Our company had sophisticated measurements in place, including comparative values across the state. We could use these measures to determine at what point in each season we should convert to this system.

But, we didn’t need those comparisons.

My engineering office was on one side of those elevated fruit bins. The business offices were on the other. Every morning, I walked under them to a staff meeting.

When my shoes began to stick to the floor, from the bit of extra juice that had been lost from the fruit, I knew in 10 seconds that it was time to switch systems.

A few years later, I had a new role in another company, installing maintenance software systems in 33 factories. We found a broad spectrum of maintenance capabilities and results. We also found this interesting corollary: The factories with the cleanest repair shop floors were also the factories with the greatest maintenance effectiveness! No oily rags or metal shavings on the floor. Floor coatings in good condition. Regularly swept.

It wasn’t that a clean shop resulted in high maintenance effectiveness. It was that the professionalism and discipline that supported effective maintenance programs also supported a clean shop.

Take 10 seconds to look down at the floor the next time you walk through your repair shop. What does it say about your maintenance operation?

(Try this in your favorite automotive repair shop next time you take your car in for repair.)

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About the Author

Ned Mitenius, PMP, began his career supervising a submerged nuclear reactor. He has spent the last 20-plus years in the food manufacturing industry, saving companies like Minute Maid, Ocean Spra...