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Turning MRO Into a Competitive Advantage

April 15th, an inauspicious day for many, was a great one for me. After 10+ years in the US Marine Corps followed by eight years in the aviation MRO industry, I was given the opportunity to lead Proudfoot’s MRO Practice. I arrived viewing maintenance strategy from 30,000 feet and at 500 knots, and I was certain that I would be bringing “best practice” from the aircraft industry to spread across its “less developed” brethren.

What I’ve quickly learned, however, is that all capital-intensive industries are aggressively developing creative approaches to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of their critical maintenance operations. That puts me in an exciting position. With Proudfoot’s 70 years of experience at my back, our team can be an inter-industry conduit for the application of these innovations, bringing the cutting edge from across the space to the client at hand.

In short, we’re helping clients turn MRO into a competitive asset. Yet as maintenance leaders well know, there are common challenges faced across industries today. Time remains critical. When equipment is “in the shop,” it’s not in the market creating value. Yet internal and external stakeholders are focused on quality and reliability, while budgets get tighter.

Working in industries ranging from mass transit and transportation to industrial products and natural resources, I have developed a list of core MRO principles that can be applied worldwide. When managers design and operate to these principles they see operational, financial – and perhaps most importantly ­– tangible workforce benefits.

This series of posts will lay out these MRO principles, and if you have any questions or further insights, please get in touch.

To avoid being overly broad, I have limited the scope of these insights to those that:

  1. Leverage skills typically found in most maintenance departments
  2. Require only limited investment in new technology, particularly IT
  3. Build on time-honored methodologies like Lean Manufacturing and Continuous Improvement

Reactive Maintenance is Mediocre Maintenance

The first principle is at the heart of everything we do. At Proudfoot we believe in a 20:80 Reactive-to-Preventative Maintenance ratio, yet we often find that ratio flipped. Reactive maintenance is less safe and more expensive – in both the tasks themselves, and the disruption of operations and maintenance groups that it causes. It can frustrate workers, and, worse yet, it can turn them into overeager “firefighters,” unconcerned about preventing the fires in the first place.

Proudfoot’s clients have seen rapid, dramatic MRO and operational improvements by focusing on improved preventative-maintenance scope, greater asset reliability, more reliable parts availability, and lower parts consumption.

Drive Complexity into the Plan and Out of the Execution

Another title for this could be “plan early and plan often.” Whether you are shutting down a plant for periodic maintenance or putting an aircraft on the ground for a heavy “check,” proper planning is the number one execution factor in minimizing the cycle time of your event.

Non-routine tasks can be uncovered earlier by driving routine tasks that identify those inevitable non-routines. Having resources from all functional areas involved in planning – then driving great scheduling and management behaviors on the shop floor – is another best practice that can shave meaningful amounts of time. For instance, with Aeromexico, Proudfoot successfully implemented an organizational restructure of the maintenance function, breaking down silos and integrating operational areas in the planning process, improving productivity levels by 54% and saving $2M+ in overhead.

It all comes down to short interval controls and dynamic scheduling with active follow-ups from supervisors, foremen, program managers, and other key leaders to continually close the gap between the plan and what has been completed.

I hope that these ideas will spark increased creativity for you and your teams and am excited to deliver results for clients that need help relieving business pressures. After eight years of feeling those pressures myself, I can’t wait to help transform your MRO capabilities. Stay tuned: there’s more to come.


Article by Dennis Santare, Managing Director, MRO Americas