September 30, 2022
Writing Skills for Maintenance - Part II
Throughout my life, I've been a radio broadcaster, worked in hospitality, was a graphic designer, and was employed in a printing company. During that entire time, I wrote novels and short stories. While I have a few decades' worth of experience, I still don't consider myself an 'expert' writer. Always, there have been learning opportunities, improving with each new project.
As I moved from one position to another, I always tried to use the previous skills and knowledge from one job to make the next one a little better. So many concepts followed me and could be adapted from one employer to another. Some were general principles and skills, some more personal. Those I took—and still see positive results from—can also be used in a company's maintenance department, especially if a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is used.
Continuing with the points started last week.
As mentioned, I'm not an expert writer even if I've learned a lot over the years. My novels are challenging in so many ways. Plot, action, character development, etc. Often, I'll find the outline and scenes don't work. My job is to create a solution that will satisfy the reader.
Within the story itself, I include action scenes. How do I make one different than all the others? I've learned to not automatically accept the first idea that pops into my head. I dig deeper through several levels. When I do, I'll inevitably find something worthwhile.
Problems and issues are always present in a maintenance department. Challenges are as varied as the number of industries. With a CMMS, supervisors have easier methods of resolving those concerns.
An overall problem could be efficiency. With a CMMS organizing inventory, preventive maintenance, and work orders, there will be an increase in efficiency. Repairs are prioritized and scheduled. Inventory costs are lower. Admins create crews and crafts in the CMMS for a team effort.
One of the 'problem solving' features of a CMMS should be in assigning parts as substitutions for others in case the original runs low.
I enjoy learning about the 'toolbox' of writing. Point of view, narrative voice, character development, sentence/paragraph structure, dialogue, and a whole host of others. Writing conferences and seminars are great for gaining tips. Critique groups are wonderful for seeing if my practice is working.
Personally, I'm not into How To Write books. Some have great points but for me, it's just buckling down and writing and listening to comments that work.
Of course, maintenance is the same way. Workers must develop mechanical and logistical skills. Part of this is done in a classroom setting but often, it's done on the job. Doing gains knowledge and experience.
One of the important stages of using a CMMS is training. Does the vendor offer seminars online, in-house, or onsite? Admins and users should learn some of the ins and outs of the software. Proper usage aids in success. Continued use gains familiarity and a chance to explore other features. If you're not sure about the 'technical' side of using a CMMS, be sure to schedule some training.
I've mentioned editing elsewhere, but in this case, I was thinking of some basic checks on punctuation/grammar/spelling before I read a chapter to critique groups. I don't want to deal with discovering these mistakes during the presentation. I'm looking for technical feedback on craft and dialogue, coherency, and how the scene flows. I don't want to be bothered by nitpicky things at this stage. So, I scan it thoroughly beforehand. No, I don't always catch everything, but I do catch the majority of errors.
Regarding maintenance, I'm thinking of preventive maintenance. A CMMS is a great tool for this. Creating cycles, adding job steps, prioritizing, and scheduling.
Another part of this idea is a good system will have fields for meter and gauge readings to judge the 'health' of equipment.
Another example could be having to change the equipment number to something else. Perhaps the drawings were updated or the plant reconfigured so everything needs to be renumbered, but keeping the original work order history on the equipment intact, reflecting accurate costs. A good CMMS can handle this.
One of the wonderful benefits of writer conferences is making new friends. Not only with other authors but editors and agents who attend. Who knows what may come of a new relationship?
Writers support each other at book signings and critique groups. Friendships developed only help everyone.
I think improved coworker relations and increased morale are often underplayed when it comes to companies that use a CMMS. Yes, we talk about cost-cutting and smoother operations, but attitudes and coworker bonds are just as important. With maintenance running better, workers are friendlier and less tense and anxious about the job.
Focusing on Detail
Every writer runs into similar issues in each scene. How much description to use. How to include sensory information. How much setting to have. Readers don't need a huge info dump each time, but they do want a feel for where the action is taking place.
I remember reading Zane Grey novels years ago. He'd paint wonderful word pictures of the mountains, plains, or the desert, sometimes extolling details for pages. Yes, it brought me more into the scene but after a while, I really wanted him to get on with the story. In his defense, at the time he wrote, he was paid by the word. The more he could write on the page, the bigger his paycheck.
For a maintenance department, details are important. I mentioned checklists last time, but let's move back a step. When
creating your equipment list, does the CMMS offer an array of details?
A place to include safety procedures.
Bill of material.
How about those details for inventory lists?
Assets for which an item will be used.
All companies won't use all options, nor should they be required to. However, your system should have the above and more available.
So often, minor concepts and ideas can turn into major problems if not dealt with. If handled properly, they can produce successful results. For both writer and company maintenance…the latter of which includes a better overall bottom line.
For details on how a superb CMMS can help your business visit Mapcon Technologies. 800-922-4336