Monday, 29 August 2011

Gold - in the form of Preventative Maintenance.

Dragging his feet, the engineering manager trudged across the building to the CFO’s office.  As he struggled to keep his temper in check, hewondered why this pencil pushing nerd from the ‘other side’ couldn't just leave him alone. As if things weren’t busy enough already, I have to deal with his issues as well! he thought to himself.

A battle emerged as they discussed the outcome of the latest cost updates, they both argued their points with vigour and intensity. Neither side backing-down, until in exhaustion they both pulled their miserable selves apart and returned to their quarters.

The CFO, happy to vent, but unhappy with the result, took a walk around the building, on his travels his noticed a golden glint from below a compressor. He stopped and stared at it. What is it? he thought.  He got closer, as if approaching a lion in the wild. Scared that it could leap out and attack him; bending low, he looked closely and realised that it was a leak! He wiped at it with his finger, and realised it was gold!  Actually it was gold coloured oil, dripping slowly from a gap between two steel plates.

He rubbed the fine liquid between his fingers, looked at it and felt disheartened and dejected, he realised that this was another equipment failure waiting to happen.

He paused to think. What should be done? Why is this occurring? Why hasn’t anyone else found it? It seems so obvious. The thin line of oil traced all the way down to a blackened drain, hiding behind the corner, as if to say, "don’t look here.”

Looking into the darkness he realised something had to be done. He straightened, looked back to the engineering office and then, with resolve in his heart, walked back to his office. Calling a local contractor to repair the compressor, he sat back and contemplated what would become of them if they could not reduce costs and increase production.

Within hours, the contractor came through to the CFO’s office after checking out and fixing the leak. He then told the CFO how lucky he actually was. If another few hours had passed, the compressor would have been out of action for weeks.

What did they just save?  A missed $20 fix could have cost his company $10,000 in repairs and put it out of action for days, which in turn would have cost them $100,000s.  All because of a little drip of oil coming from below the compressor.

Feeling ecstatic with himself for defeating a potential failure, he went home with the feeling of success, taking him back to the days when he played chess at school. He could remember the overwhelming joy of beating his opponents with wit and cunning. It felt good to know that he had succeeded as his mind raced off into the night. 

The new day dawned and the ‘athlete in the CFO’ came out.  He arrived at work early, his mind sharp. like the keen edge of a sword, he went in search of potential problems that he could capture and stop.

He had a vision and clarity that he had not noticed before, he started seeing glints of gold in all shapes and forms. From air and oil leaks, through to dirty edges on his machines. He chased the idea of grabbing every opportunity and acting on it - knowing that he was making money every step of the way.

Within days the CFO instructed the engineering manager to assemble a team, their role would be to fix, clean, tighten and service machines, all day, every day.

From machine to machine they moved, closely examining and testing each one, not leaving until all was well, each time claiming a little more success. With each step the plant looked cleaner and things stopped breaking down. Instead of the peace and quiet of complete shutdown, there was a continuous hum of producing. More and more occurred until the whole plant shone. They were back!

Months later, the CFO peered over a report and drifted across the courtyard to the engineering office. Slightly pushing at the door with the tips of his shoes, he saw a view he had never seen before. No operators, no chaos. The secretary’s desk was orderly and organised, the engineering manager had his feet up and was enjoying a cup of coffee while reading his book.

It looked so peaceful that the CFO decided against saying a thing. Instead he closed the door and revelled in his own joy at the success he had found.

He stared at the compressor and realised that it was really gold that he saw that day. Gold in the form of Preventative Maintenance. 

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