A static approach to serving relevant knowledge at the right time
We already discussed how to use mathematics for organize our expert knowledge about error codes and problem areas in a knowledge model of causes, actions and questions using probabilities, time and cost and troubleshoot like the best. However, dynamically calculated troubleshooting guides is not the best construct for all types of knowledge. When it comes to performing static procedures like assembly, commissioning, service, component replacements, assessments, test, billing, HR and other well known work flows that just requires us to get from A to B, we need another model for knowledge – a static approach to serving relevant knowledge at the right time.
The importance of correct equipment assembly
Assembling complex machinery like windturbines, trucks and excavators can run in the 100’s or even 1000’s of hours on-site (we have seen examples of huge mining excavators taking as much as 6.000 hours to fully assemble and commission) and it involves advanced and expensive special equipment, many shipments with parts, a team of skilled engineers and a huge amount of documentation describing each and every detail.
It is absolutely necessary that the field service team on-site performs the assembly and commissioning properly and follow the instructions carefully not skipping steps and ensuring that instructions are carried out in the correct order.
Consider the example below – replacing a front wheel hub on a mining excavator. The purple boxes leads to other instructions with more flows totalling around 100 steps each explained by elaborate text, images and videos.
The importance of assembling and testing machines correctly before commissioning is huge as machines that are incorrectly built will break faster than properly assembled and commissioned machines. Most machines simply stays longer in operation before seeing issues if they are done right from the start.
If assembly instructions are provided as traditional endless pages of static documents with 100’s of work instructions for assembling complex machines, important steps will inevitably get missed or performed incorrectly.
Add to that geographically diverse teams and varying skill levels of the engineers involved – no guarantee that the products are assembled, calibrated and tested correctly every single time eventually leading to errors and sub-optimal equipment performance. Start-up procedures must be followed by all teams every single time a new machine is installed and assumes operation – ensuring optimal performance, improved reliability, less errors, smooth operations and happy customers!
Correct assembly and the P-F curve
Within maintenance and reliability the P-F curve (Point of defect and point of Functional failure vs time) is used for demonstrating the relationship between machine breakdown, cost and how to prevent it. Just because a machine is in operation and working now doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain errors or defects that are already beginning to occur within the machine. As soon as a new machine has gone through start-up procedures and becomes operational wear and tear starts happening and eventually failures will occur – the potential defects starts to move down the P-F curve until the failure happens.
The curve illustrates how a potential failure becomes increasingly more expensive to fix the longer it goes unhandled – and as such it is an essential tool for understanding the effects of proactive and condition based maintenance.
However, if the machine contains defects, errors and other potential failures before it has been in operation a single hour, the machine starts the move down the P-F curve way to soon and the cost of repair begins to increase.
Had an important lubrication step been missed, that particular component is bound to fail very soon, but had the instructions been clear and the lubrication performed properly the component woud be operating correctly for a long time.
Correct assembly and commissioning of new products is actually a very proactive way of ensuring a smooth and failure free operation for as long as possible. It prolongs the time the machine can operate before starting the move down the P-F curve.
Our experience shows that being served assembly instructions in small manageable pieces of content one step at a time is far superior to long-form static documents as it is easy to get lost in long documents increasing the chance of missing important information along the way. Furthermore, the step by step approach provides a great opportunity to track what the assembly teams has actually performed as well as the time spent performing each step – important data in the quality assurance process where it helps identify problematic time consuming steps in complex procedures.
Next we will look into how we capture knowledge and especially elicit all the tacit knowledge we typically have within enterprises.
We have 15 years of experience with helping businesses of all sizes capturing, organizing and optimizing expert knowledge and we work with clients in industries ranging from wind, mining and electronics to consumer printing and tele communications.
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