Lightbulb Moments

PEME Reliability Operations Manager, Duncan Maxwell has been featured in the November 2014 Assets magazine 60 seconds interview. Assets is the magazine of the IAM.

Duncan is a member of the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) Reliability Subject Specific Guidance (SSG) Working Group. The interview is re-produced below.

Since a sink or swim moment in his 20s, Duncan Maxwell has continually expanded his asset management knowledge, skills and experience.

Can you describe your career path into asset management?

I came in through the university route. An industrial placement with the Process Development Department of Saint-Gobain Pipelines took me from an academic mind-set into an engineering environment. After a few more years with Saint-Gobain, I moved to Roquette as a Project Engineer.

Shortly afterwards I was asked to look after maintenance while a major investment project was ongoing on the site. At 23 I was a Maintenance Manager, with a multi-million pound budget and an objective to make the factory run better. This was my sink or swim moment.

My Production Manager could be accommodating – if and only if I could properly justify maintaining an asset. I didn’t know the term then, but the justification was asset management.

I stayed until I got the seven-year itch. I was becoming insular: a specialist in a narrow field.

What does your current role involve?

Now, as Reliability Operations Manager at PEME, I can go from a bakery to a paint factory to an automotive facility in the same week. I manage a team of reliability engineers who spend two to four months on a client’s site, developing maintenance packages and delivering reliability improvement projects.

Can you point to any significant breakthroughs or achievements?

I recently helped an automotive supplier, Autocraft Drivetrain Solutions, to improve the reliability of their most critical assets.

The approach we’ve developed lets us generate Preventive Maintenance schedules while complying with best practice Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM) principles. The new routines have focused, quantitative task descriptions that capture inspection criteria and access requirements, to improve maintenance delivery.

On completion of the implementation, Autocraft reported a 33 per cent reduction in breakdowns, a 31 per cent improvement in remedial task completion and annual recovery of 4,000 hours of lost production capacity.

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

I remember talking to some very old school tradespersons who did not believe in new ideas and new technologies. Everything was better with just a screwdriver in your hand, nothing was wrong with fortnight-long factory shutdowns, and every asset should be overhauled every year. It was very satisfying to bring about that lightbulb moment, when they realise you can do things differently to improve reliability and asset availability without relying heavily on intrusive maintenance.

What do you see as your biggest challenges?

With the new ISO55000 series, the biggest challenge is applying asset management standards to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

One way to convince SMEs of the value of ISO55000 status would be if it was recognised by their clients, in the same way Tesco might specify that its suppliers have to comply with food safety standards. They need to be shown that standardisation isn’t just more red tape, and also how to implement it alongside more established standards such as ISO9001, ISO14001 and OHSA18001.

What is the key to successful asset management?

The key is that everybody believes in it, from the company owner to the tradespersons. Without that belief, it’s very hard to implement and sustain effective asset management.

For senior management the key is to show them how to realise the added value asset management can give them and how that turns into profit. For the tradesperson, it’s showing how asset management allows them to bring the best out of what they do. Asset management needs to enter the DNA of a manufacturing organisation.