How do top quartile performers make reliability a priority?

A 2013 Solomon RAM Study conducted by Solomon Associated, LLC, revealed why reliability matters to process industry professionals in refining. The study found that top quartile performers enjoy significantly higher mechanical availability with significantly lower maintenance costs, as described in the cart below:

Top Quartile Performers Focus On Reliability

Chart: Top quartile performers spend less and operate more reliably.

Prioritizing A High-Performing Culture of Reliability

A key focus of reliability can shift low performing energy industry processes into first quartile performers. So if top quartile performers make reliability a priority, how do they do it effectively?

Top quartile performers embrace a culture of reliability throughout the entire organization. Reliable cultures are the most critical asset to positively affect long-term performance changes. Shifting to a culture of reliability takes effort; leadership needs to set a vision that is inspired by the whole organization and valued by all stakeholders.

The “little r” and the “Big R”

In a recent paper on A Culture Shift That Can Save Lives, Nathan Pettus develops this idea further. He states that while reliability comes from careful and safe planning, it ultimately depends upon individual commitment to reliable practices, no matter where they sit in the organization. He calls this concept the “Big R” and encourages leadership to think about reliability holistically across their organizations. Starting with small and incremental changes across the organization (the “little r”), the “Big R” takes shape. With everyone pulling together around the common goal of reliability, top quartile performers see a decrease in safety accidents. Additionally, plant availability increases.

The Building Blocks of Change: People

Leaders can encourage all employees to welcome change by clearly articulating how everyone benefits from change. That process begins with tapping into teams with representation from across the organization (maintenance, operations, purchasing, accounting, and engineering). In these cross-functional focus groups, leaders will learn key focus areas, potential starting points and possible barriers to implementation. Then, leadership can develop a holistic strategy and clearly articulate a plan to shift organizational culture. It bears repeating: reliability is a company-wide effort. Once a plan is clear, leaders ought to solicit participation across the organization  to drive a solid culture of reliability.

Reliability Contributors

Depending on internal teams to prioritize reliability is the first part of the equation.  Installing and maintaining reliable process equipment is another. Sourcing vendors, supply partners, and third-party service personnel that embrace this culture shift is just as important. Do they provide quality tools and skilled resources to help achieve performance goals? Find partners that first value delivering safety and reliability first, and second value contributing to long-term operational strategies.  When it comes to driving reliability to improve process performance, Applied Control strives to be a valued partner.

Final Thoughts

Changing organizational culture to value performance reliability can be done. The sum of small and big steps toward a common goal can drive bigger changes. What can you start doing today to make reliability a priority?

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