Having taken an inventory of the assets in your plant, you have identified the right tools and training that are needed to minimize unplanned work and avoid creating new defects. Even better, you’ve done some economic analysis, using conservative values, which showed less than a one-year payback and projected substantial recurring annual savings through condition monitoring (CdM) and precision maintenance (PcM).


With the strategy and economic analysis in hand, you’ve convinced your plant manager that CdM and PcM are the keys to driving reliability and profitability. The plant manager funds your equipment and training request. Over the next several months you optimize your interval-based and condition monitoring tasks, train your team members and create CdM routes and train your team on precision maintenance practices.

The CdM and PcM programs start out great. Your team identifies and resolves defects that might have gone unnoticed and perhaps catastrophically failed. The plant manager is happy, your team feels like they’re doing good work. Things are great.

Unfortunately, there is a property of all systems in nature. Systems tend to move from high states of energy to lower states of energy over time. Your CdM and PcM ‘systems’ are no different. As the energy dissipates, the only way to restore the system is to put energy into it.

Leaders have a central role in adding energy to keep systems functioning at a high level. There are three things leaders must do:

  1. Create a culture that will sustain the performance.
  2. Provide what’s needed for the team to continue to perform.
  3. Keep the focus on the big picture – safely delivering asset reliability that generates the best business performance.

Culture is what most people do most of the time. What people do are behaviors. Behaviors are based on long-term memories. Long-term memories are formed as short-term learning is consolidated through repetition. Training loads information into short-term memory. Practice converts short-term to long-term memories. Additional practice generates habits. When enough people have the same habits, those habits become the culture.

Leaders play a role in developing a culture in two ways. First, by providing direction, guidance, and resources. Direction includes mission, vision, values, and objectives. The guidance includes policies, plans, processes, procedures, and measures. Resources include funding, training, equipment purchases/replacements, and time for people to achieve and maintain habits.

Second, leaders develop and reinforce culture by applying productive leadership. Leaders should want to be leaders and want to be accountable. They need to learn and apply leadership roles, leadership attributes, and leadership skills. They should understand and properly apply sources of position and personal power. Leaders must also understand how to influence others based on needs and motivations. And leaders should set motivating goals. More information on these leadership elements can be found in my book, The Productive Leadership System.


Providing what’s needed for the team to perform means making sure your team has what they need to continue carrying out your direction and guidance. Turnover happens. People retire, get promoted, move to other positions, etc. Make sure there is good support in place to train new people and upgrade the skills of current technicians. Leaders have a role in this by planning, budgeting, and defending expenditures for training, replacing/upgrading tools, calibrating sensors, and upgrading software and firmware.

Leaders have a role in keeping the focus on the big picture by identifying and communicating matters related to the CdM and PcM programs. There can be counter-productive matters like operations not allowing time for rotating equipment to be precision aligned or balanced, or not heeding a warning that a bearing is about to fail. Communicate when positive things have occurred; a 50% increase in critical motor mean time between failure, 15% reduction in unplanned work orders, and 5% reduced maintenance costs as a percentage of the total cost.

Thank you Tom Moriarty with Alidade MER, Inc. for sharing this excellent and informative piece with us! 

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, by Diana Pereda