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Maintenance Foundations Maintenance Management

A key life hack, Mind your workflow

Why we need to carefully craft the workflow of any process in our life and work? What is the work flow? Where spontaneity fit in the equation?

Randomly doing things may be considered spontaneity, but in many life tracks it is troublesome. What we mean by workflow? and how it affects work and life? That’s what we are to delve deeper about today with examples and suggestions.

Workflow in production facilities

What’s come up to mind when we say a “Production Facility” is usually the robots in a car assembly line. This ends in undermining the efforts needed to create a proper workflow for smaller activities that carve for them. Let’s take an example on the other side of the scale. What about a small PET bottles making facility? Or a small factory making one of the plastic trims for a big car manufacturer? They have a raw material input that need to be continually handy at the machine input. Moreover, there are products and wastes that need to be removed not to jam the machine exit. If you widen the image, there is the raw material purchase, preparation and storage.

This raw material feed preparation may start few days or month before the manufacturing process. On the final product side there are the packaging, quality inspection, storage or delivery. By the way, does the quality inspection come before the packaging or after it? Is it needed? What if we never check the product quality or if it is matching this order that will be delivered today? Same hustle & bustle goes for the service industry. You need to be ready to deliver the service, approach the intended customers, Well receive the service request and then deliver it with the perceived quality and on time.

Some life examples of workflow

I like to expand the image to everyday life. Think about you coffee. You need to have the coffee beans if you have a grounding machine. Or, a grounded coffee or the grain size that matches how you will make the coffee. They are well stored and handy. The coffee machine and cups are ready. You PRESS the button and wait the few minutes you are used to.. And, here is your coffee ready to enjoy. In case you didn’t properly terminate this process by cleaning the cups and the machine or re_storing the raw coffee, you won’t be able to restart the process again.

Don’t let work flow kills your spontaneity

Spontaneity here have the sense of freedom to explore new horizons. If we reflect back on the coffee example. You can try another coffee beans blend. But it should be grounded to the size that fits the way you make the coffee. If you are using a French press or an expresso machine or standard American coffe maker, the output depends on selecting the proper input. Turkish coffee and it’s blends is another story but needs also a workflow to receive your best cup. Spontaneity in selecting a new approach need to be mindful about how to make this spontaneous idea useful.

If we go to our work place, it is spontaneous to bring cakes to the meeting (read why here: 11 ideas to boost your team) or call you colleagues for a week end brunch. But it is not so if you decided to give your coworkers a day off regardless of the need of the workplace for them. Also it is troublesome if you decided that today you won’t do maintenance or cleaning for the equipment. Spontaneity in the workflow means that you have a flicker from a new idea, you study how applicable it is, make a pilot test and then roll it out.

Life is a project, same as maintenance need to be streamlined and to deliver lessons learned

A streamlined workflow is the one that is having been made simpler and more efficient or effective.

In the maintenance process, the workflow includes preparation, trigger, coordination, execution then, closing. Same workflow is needed when you are going for a vacation or if you are planning to launch a new product. Missing a streamlined workflow that is mindful about the details won’t allow you achieve the expected results. You need the correct spare parts before it is the maintenance due date, same applies for tools and skilled manpower. Then the machine under maintenance need to be reassembled and tested then it is handed over.

Never overlook the lessons learned or the feedback collection and analysis it is a treasure for the next maintenance so include it in your workflow. Same applies for your next trip. The experience from the last trip and that of your friends shapes your expectations of the coming one. Without being at the airport with the tickets and luggage at the proper time, you had broken the workflow.

Parallel workflows

In life, you can see yourself shaving while your coffee machine is dripping. In your workplace, the raw material preparation and the product dispatch are continuously working while your machine is producing. You can widen your picture by thinking about the marketing process and the finances keeping track of your next pay check. However, all these processes are moving in cycles that meet in perfectly crafted points that need to be well coordinated or they will delay each other

So to be mindful about your workflow, you need to give it some time to visualize it before it happens. It goes both ways. If you want to upgrade any existing process in life or workplace, monitor it for sometime and visualize with your mind what can be done better. Same as for a new task. It is like a new project that is having a unique handover. Maybe the process involves the same steps we are used to of preparation, coordination the execution and handover and closure. However the product itself is a new one.

So to be mindful about your workflow, you need to give it some time to visualize it before it happens. Whether you want to upgrade any existing process in life or workplace, monitor it for sometime and visualize with your mind what can be done better. Or if you are looking to craft a new task. It is like a new project that is having a unique handover. Maybe the process involves the same steps we are used to of preparation, coordination the execution and handover and closure. However the product itself is a new one. So, it needs to be mindful about the details.

What is a workflow?

From all the examples we had walked through, workflow consists of 3 phases: Preparation, execution and closure or dispatch.

There is no one clear border between these areas of the workflow for any process. We may consider that there is a clear cut in the production facilities where the machine that produces the final product can be considered the execution phase. Meanwhile what comes before it is the preparation phase and what comes after it is the closure, dispatch or whatever you like to call it based on the product or service you provide. However, the preparation of the raw material even it was mere purchasing and handling is a process in its own that starts with a request and a search how to secure the raw material. Then, raw material is received and stored till needed as an infeed. This cycle or workflow in its own ends or is closed by the raw material delivered to the feeding of the machine.

Same philosophy applies to the service industry till the service is delivered and then the service follow up. Even on your personal scale a vacation or an asset purchase regardless of its size is a process that has workflow. Further more, any phase of this process is composed of smaller processes

The end line is that you need to mind the workflow of every process in your life and work to ensure that all the steps are streamlined and timely harmonized this will create an amazing flow of every area in your life and work. Spontaneity is not panned from within the perfect workflow. It adds life and excitement to the process. However you need to be mindful that it is not disrupting the process.

In Conclusion,

We had presented a demo of a power distribution panel Failure Modes analysis. The analysis includes one (1) main function and six (6) secondary functions. Followed by about twelve (12) function failures. Consequently it result in around forty eight (48) Failure Modes. There are more failures and those failures vary from one working place to the other based on the business environment and operation context. Next chat shall bring more examples from various disciplines in the maintenance field. What a bless coffee is, even in your imagination.

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By Rezika

I intend to create a better-managed value adding working environment.
Projects and Maintenance Manager with broad experience in industrial plants. Managed Projects and applied different maintenance strategies and improvements tasks in different industrial plants: steel, cement, and food industries.

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