Bryan Christiansen’s picture

By: Bryan Christiansen

Top management often struggles to approve large sums required for annual maintenance because the expense is seen as a necessary evil. As a result, if a business encounters short-term financial constraints, the first place it looks for savings is maintenance.

This is why your maintenance budget can’t be an arbitrary number that is devised based on revenue. Instead, you must link maintenance expenditure to desired business outcomes.

Smart businesses understand that maintenance is an enabler of business success and growth. By understanding the trade-off between asset life and revenue, a business can target maintenance investments to optimize equipment uptime and longevity, maximize revenue, and delay capital expenditure.

In other words, maintenance budgeting is a balancing act. Let’s see how to walk that fine line.

Mastering maintenance budgeting

Budgeting is a fundamental requirement in business. Although never a perfect exercise, it allows business departments to identify their annual goals, allocate expenditure to achieve those goals, and keep evaluating performance against the plan. The maintenance department is no exception.

Anthony Tarantino’s picture

By: Anthony Tarantino

In 2007, Nassim Taleb described black swans as highly improbable events that had dramatic or even catastrophic effects on markets and economies. Until recently, it seemed that such events were indeed rare.1 There’s now a major rethinking with the world entering the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic, reshoring and near-shoring of supply chains, and the first major land war in Europe since World War II.

The disruptions to fragile global supply chains are becoming more the norm than the rare exception. Such dramatic and sudden changes call for faster and more-accurate decision-making, i.e., a consensus around one data-driven source of truth.

Susan Robertson’s picture

By: Susan Robertson

Every year in the spring, Amy B., a buyer for a large retail chain store, hosts an Easter egg-decorating, team-building party, where she and a bunch of her suppliers spend an entire afternoon coloring and bedazzling hard-boiled eggs. None of them bring their kids.

They do this for the sheer pleasure of out-of-the office bonding, and creating interesting and attractive objects. The group is always amazed at the creativity of the resulting eggs. (And in case you’re wondering, no, none of them are artists.)

So why, as adults, don’t people exercise their inner childlike creativity more often? And what is it about the Easter egg party that allows them to so freely generate and express such a range and diversity of ideas? There are several factors—all of which also apply to innovation.

Each egg represents a very low commitment

It’s cheap in both time and materials to try any idea they think of, so they try lots of ideas. If one doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter—it’s just one egg.

Ethan Drower’s picture

By: Ethan Drower

Launching a service-based business is so appealing to entrepreneurs because these businesses are the easiest to start with no capital. Any person can launch one simply by creating a website outlining their offerings and promoting their service for free on social media. On the other hand, product-based companies have to invest a ton of money in purchasing materials from vendors to create their items, manufacturing equipment, shipping supplies, and more.

Are you finally ready to launch the service-based business of your dreams? Congratulations! You are probably excited to spread the word about your company, build your customer base, and see what the future holds. During my more than 10 years as a software developer, and as a co-founder and operating partner of CiteMed, I have discovered some of the top problems that can hurt the progression of new service-based businesses. Avoid the critical mistakes detailed below so your new venture can thrive in the long run.

Bill Kalmar’s picture

By: Bill Kalmar

For years, when I was the director of the Michigan Quality Council during Gov. John Engler’s administration, we reviewed businesses across the state and looked for world-class service. What we found was that meeting and exceeding the expectations of customers was of paramount importance. And companies who practiced that stood head and shoulders above other companies.

Having said that, I marvel at the ads that herald “Customers are No. 1,” or “We treat you like family.” In my mind, aren’t these just givens? I would hope that as customers we’re the No. 1 when we come into a store or order something online. That seems rather logical. So why do companies have to advertise it? Just wondering.

Then there’s the comment about us being treated like family. Now let me be a bit critical here. I guess it would be nice to be treated like family if we all had the typical Ozzie and Harriet family. But I suspect that isn’t always the case. Thus, are we sure we want to be treated like our family? Again, just wondering.

Donald J. Wheeler’s picture

By: Donald J. Wheeler

Acceptance sampling uses the observed properties of a sample drawn from a lot or batch to make a decision about whether to accept or reject that lot or batch. Although the textbooks are full of complex descriptions of various acceptance sampling plans, there are some very important aspects of acceptance sampling that are not included in the textbooks.


In the interest of simplicity, the product that has been measured will be referred to as the “sample,” while the product that hasn’t been measured will be referred to as the “lot.” Every time we attempt to use a sample to characterize the quality of a lot, we will be making an extrapolation from the product that has been measured to the product that hasn’t been measured.

Bruce Hamilton’s picture

By: Bruce Hamilton

The level of excitement was high in our machine shop as we drew closer to our goal of less than 9-minute changeovers on the BNC lathe. (See Part One of this story for how we got there.) Setup improvements had so far reduced changeover time to 20 minutes, cutting the economic order quantity from weeks to days of stock on hand.

Our pull system now more closely resembled a supermarket with several containers on hand for each of the 66 parts in our pilot. After decades of viewing setups as a problem and inventory as a protection from stockouts, this new process was still confounding for many persons. But it was working, which was most apparent to the operators on the BNC and their internal customers in assembly:
• No more expedites and angry demands
• No more breaking down a setup in mid run to run a hot part
• No more juggling jobs between machines
• No more fiddling with tools and programs to get a good part

Jonathan Gilpin’s picture

By: Jonathan Gilpin

The world of procurement is often tricky. It involves choosing one appropriate candidate, ultimately benefiting them while rejecting and disadvantaging others.

That said, it isn’t just the businesses picked that will profit from winning the contracts; it’s also their supply chain, their local economy, fellow businesses, families, and so on.

This is particularly true when we take into consideration just how lucrative and valuable some contracts can be. With this in mind, you can see why the role of the buyer in the procurement process can be so complex.

One aspect of sourcing that received considerable attention during the pandemic was that of locality. The idea of “shop local” was thrust into the limelight as businesses and consumers not only struggled to get deliveries from farther afield but also chose to support businesses closer to home in a community-spirit approach.

With responsible consumerism taking center stage in the modern world, shop local is gaining even more traction. However, that is not to suggest that global sourcing doesn’t provide equal opportunity and benefit. In this article we’re going to consider the differences between local and global sourcing before going on to detail some occasions on which local should be the preferred option.

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

The pandemic has forced organizations to recognize that they need to address proximity bias to adapt their work culture to the hybrid and remote future of work. Proximity bias is the unconscious perception that those with close proximity to their team or leader are better employees. These employees tend to get preferential treatment to those who are not.

Remote work has exacerbated the problem. Employees may have different office schedules: Some essential employees might be there full-time, others will be there one to three days a week, and some may be fully remote. The danger of resentment building up between “haves” and “have nots” around schedule flexibility calls for a work culture that addresses such issues. Leaders who want to seize a competitive advantage in the future of work should use research-based best practices to create a culture of “excellence from anywhere” to address these concerns. This cultural best practice is based on guidance I provided for leaders at 17 major organizations to develop and implement effective strategies for a work culture suitable for the future of work.

Bruce Hamilton’s picture

By: Bruce Hamilton

We had been working with the Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC) for two years to build a model line in our assembly department. As we moved from small batch production to one-by-one, the results had been astounding: Customer lead time reduced from two weeks to one day, crew size cut in half, and overtime reduced from 40 hours per week to 10. Hundreds of small changes made by assemblers to the assembly process had made this possible. Everybody every day, GBMP’s slogan, was born from that experience.

Now it was time to move upstream from assembly to our internal supplier, machining, a resource that despite efforts to improve was still overproducing and delivering late. Setups on our CNC lathes averaged 90 minutes despite an improvement project supported by graduate engineers from a notable Massachusetts engineering school.

Syndicate content