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Title: Cross-Pollination – Low Cost Ways to Attain Maintenance and Reliability Best Practices

Author(s): LCDR Thomas Moriarty, USCG (Ret.),P.E., Alidade MER, Inc.


Problem Statement:
Lack of widespread knowledge in maintenance and reliability engineering best practices perpetuates inefficient use of resources, lower operational availability and an inability to capture and use important data.

Within the any community of practice there is a tendency to stick with what has been accepted within the culture. The Coast Guard Naval Engineering community has, for more than twenty years, been constrained by limited funding for training and cross-community conferences. Much can be learned from interacting with other maintenance and reliability practitioners. 

Over the same period of time Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) has been integrated as the methodology of choice for analysis and development of cutter asset maintenance strategies. RCM has in fact been specified in the Maintenance Management Policy (CI 4790.3) and the Reliability Program Process Guide (CGTO PG-85-00-030-S). Within these policies and processes there has also been recognition of, and preference for condition based maintenance (CBM).
In practice, however there remains a culture that favors time-based maintenance to the near exclusion of condition monitoring. There are two main causes of this situation. First, there is a widespread knowledge gap related to best practices in maintenance management and reliability engineering. Second, senior enlisted and officer personnel have experienced periodic flirtations with maintenance technologies and the results have not been impressive. This is mainly because they use high cost resources and aren’t disciplined about planning and scheduling of corrective actions. Maintenance management has to be carried out in a disciplined way for CBM to be effective.   

A root causes of a culture stuck in the past is the lack of cross-pollination, or exposure to other communities of practice. The reason for this is the long standing policy of unfunded training and travel for professional development. Given that the policies regarding training and travel are unlikely to change, what can be done to raise awareness and knowledge levels throughout the Coast Guard Naval Engineering community?
There are three main recommendations in order of value to the government. First, widespread, low cost computer-based fundamentals training. This would provide exposure to best practice concepts and increase professional development. Fundamentals training would create deeper understanding of important maintenance and reliability engineering concepts. Second, exposure to no-cost, or low cost, organizations and information sources that have well established bodies of knowledge. These include the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP), and the Association of Maintenance Professionals (AMP), and perhaps establishment of a recommended library of books and journals. Third, would be service contracts that include better requirements that enable access to true professionals in maintenance and reliability. This would allow government personnel to write task orders that could include transfer of knowledge from certified professionals that include ‘participative activities’ (training by another name).

1. Overview of Current Process and Results – Why Knowledge Needs to be Improved
a. New assets have RCM analysis, initial set of planned maintenance tasks.
b. Poor maintenance practices result in poor data on resource allocation and reliability of equipment.
c. Overview of opportunities missed because data is not sufficient.
2. Examples Ways to Enhance Knowledge
a. Dispersed computer-based training.
b. Web-based information and reference library.
c. SOW strategies and ways to structure knowledge transfer.
3. End State Opportunities
a. Best practice knowledge improvement.
b. Generate ‘actively engaged’ members at all levels, driving more improvement.
c. Increase attentiveness for capturing maintenance data.
d. Improved resource efficiency (typically greater than 20%) through disciplined planning, coordination, scheduling and execution of work.
e. Optimized use of organic resources to get more done with

1. Increase exposure to best practices. When there are long standing constraints on travel and training funds you need to be creative. Look for low cost, computer-based, basic best practice awareness training. The objective is to expose large numbers of people to contemporary and proven practices. The training should reinforce the policies and procedures that are aligned with best practices. The outcome will be 10% to 20% more people who will be engaged, and who will drive change and be more proactive in expanding the in-house expertise.
2. For new acquisition assets, take RCM and asset maintenance strategies out of the deliverables for ship construction. Ship builders build ships. If RCM is part of the ship construction contract they will do it, but the output will be different from that of experienced RCM experts. Consider Reliability Modeling and RCM in conjunction with the preliminary and final design phases.
3. Improve maintenance management planning and scheduling discipline to enable benefits from CdM, obtain resources and reliability data, and drive continuous improvement.