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The Maintenance Management Blog

February 20, 2015

KPIs: Back to Basics

KPIs: Back to Basics

As professionals in the reliability industry, we tend to make things more complicated than they need to be. We are results-driven individuals (we have to be) and a good maintenance manager will tell you that if it isn't broke, you may still want to fix it. As a supervisor in this industry, you have to always ask yourself: is there something I can be doing better to improve performance? One way to help answer this question is to set good KPIs - Key Performance Indicators. And that, my friend, is what today"s article is all about.

When it comes to knowing if our maintenance and facility care plans are working - and how we measure them - our bosses tend to look at factors such as whether the equipment is working or if we are being a (necessary) drain on the company"s bottom line. Those of us in the thick of it, however, are more concerned with the performance of our equipment, avoiding downtime, reducing energy waste, and ramping up efficiency. If we can achieve those goals, then we can make the bosses happy and keep the lights on.

Measurement and setting realistic or obtainable "goals" is one way to achieve maintenance Nirvana. But how do we measure those goals and how do we know if what we are doing is truly effective? One way is to set - and measure - key performance indicators (KPIs).

What Are Key Performance Indicators?

Key performance indicators are earmarks or factors that you can look at and measure to determine if a given project, methodology, or task is performing at, below, or above expectations. When tackling any objective, you should always set performance indicators and aim to meet - or exceed - those benchmarks.

So what are some key performance indicators you should set? Typically, a maintenance manager or facility supervisor will want to set their KPIs along three paths: department and individual goals, site goals, and corporate goals.

Department Goals/Individual Goals

Examples of department goals could be something like increasing production by a certain percentage or enhancing machinery efficiency by a particular amount. If you decide you want to increase productivity by 5% over the course of several months, you would define set benchmarks that you need to hit in order to achieve this task. By measuring and aiming for these benchmarks, you can then receive a clear picture (and a defined path) that will let you know if you are on track or if you need to make adjustments to your end-goal.

Individual goals would include things such as obtaining a certain certification or completing training on equipment. Taking a course in OSHA standards or furthering education all fall under this category.

Site Goals

Site goals are a bit more complicated but follow the same principles. One great site goal to set for your department would be to reduce the energy waste of your machinery and facility by whatever amount you deem feasible. Benchmarks along the way could include ensuring preventative maintenance is performed on time (smooth running machines use less energy than poorly maintained ones), switching light switches to timers in non-essential areas, replacing outdated equipment with new machines, and focusing on energy-saver products where applicable.

As you incorporate each of these into your workflow, tick them off your list and rest assured you are on the path to achieving your site goal.

Corporate Goals

Corporate goals and key performance indicators centered around them tend to focus on the bottom line. How do we cut costs, improve worker efficiency, increase profit, and make sure the maintenance department is a profit center versus a cost center. All of your KPIs in this arena will likely be centered around these items. Worker safety and compliance will also feature as goals, though these will usually be lumped into department goals.

At the end of the day, KPIs are performance indicators that let you know how you project is going and if you are meeting your goals or not. The important thing is not just to hit the pre-defined benchmarks, but to monitor them, and adjust accordingly.


Lisa Richards

About the Author – Lisa Richards

Lisa Richards is an experienced professional in the field of industrial management and is an avid blogger about maintenance management systems and productivity innovation. Richards' undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering opened the door for her initial career path with a Midwest-based agricultural implement manufacturer with global market reach. Over a span of 10 years, Lisa worked her way through various staff leadership positions in the manufacturing process until reaching the operations manager level at a construction and forestry equipment facility. Lisa excelled at increasing productivity while maintaining or lowering operating budgets for her plant sites.

An Illinois native, Lisa recently returned to her suburban Chicago North Shore hometown to raise her family. Lisa has chosen to be active in her community and schools while her two young girls begin their own journey through life. Richards has now joined the MAPCON team as an educational outreach writer in support of their efforts to inform maintenance management specialists about the advantages in marrying advanced maintenance software with cutting-edge facility and industrial management strategies.

Filed under: key performance indicators, KPIs — Lisa Richards on February 20, 2015