Alea Iacta Est. The Die is Cast

By George E. Krauter

February 02, 2017 at 12:47 PM

When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon river, circa 49 BC, he stated, “Alea lacta est!” (“The die is cast!”) meaning there is no turning back; commitment is absolute. He started a civil war in Italia! 

It has always been a dilemma for me to understand why companies continue to operate their own MRO storerooms when lack of proper MRO management is a major cause of downtime, worker inefficiency and a drain on plant reliability levels.

Biochemical companies need security so they outsource security because they are not in the security business. Tire companies outsource maintenance because they make tires; their expertise is not plant maintenance so they hire experts to do it. Universities exist to teach; why throw money into an activity that loses money? And yet they remain in the MRO business and continue to lose money that could be recovered.

Over the years, I have contemplated many reasons why companies continue to operate and own internal hardware stores (aka MRO storerooms) when hardware store management is not their business. It seems to be: Inertia. “This is the way we have always done it.” “No time to consider change. (Time consumed by emergencies caused by poor storeroom performance—the vicious circle.)” “No one available to manage change.” “Management will not invest in MRO change; we just have to live with it!” “Truth be known, we really do not know how to change for the better or change to what?”

Well, after reading about Julius Caesar and the Rubicon, I have a new idea why there is the reluctance to get out of the MRO business: “If we fail, we can’t go back to the way it was.” “If we cross the MRO Rubicon, the die is cast; if we fail, all is lost.” “What if “it” does not work?” “Who will be blamed?” “Let’s stay where we are; it’s safer.” “Let’s not cause an MRO civil war revolution.”

I will admit that sometimes a change in MRO procedures and/or MRO suppliers will produce a “civil war” in the plant; however, if the change is implemented properly and measured to the advantage of all disciplines, there will be no MRO “war.” Satisfaction will prevail and, “Beneficiae Accessae,” aka benefits will accrue.

Caesar did cross the Rubicon; he defeated Pompey in Roma and when he defeated all opposition in Greece, Spain, and Egypt, he arrived in Syria and announced “Veni. Vidi. Vici.” “I came. I saw. I conquered.” 

If companies can acquire the will to cross the MRO Rubicon, they will come to the MRO “Storm Room;” they will see the opportunity; they will conquer the existing profit drain and realize reliable plant goals.

Wonder if Julius had a storeroom with slings, arrows, and catapult parts?


Tags: purchasing MRO indirect Supply chain management Procurement sourcing maintenance reliable plant
Category: Blog Post

George E. Krauter


George Krauter currently serves as Vice President for Synovos in Radnor, Pa. He is recognized as the originator of the concept that became known as “integrated supply.” He has participated as a guest speaker at Reliability 2.0, ISM Indirect Conference, International Maintenance Conference (IMC), The Conference Board, and events for APICS, SMRP, and ISM professional chapters. 

George is recognized as an authority on methods to achieve reliable, maintenance-connected MRO storerooms; he has published his experiences in Uptime Magazine, Food Manufacturing, My Purchasing Center, and Supply & Demand Chain Executive. He holds a B.A. and M.B.A.A. from Temple University (Philadelphia) and has conducted seminars internationally (Oslo, Abu Dhabi) as well as sessions at Duke University, MIT, Howard University, and Temple. He lives in Bucks County, Pa., with his wife Joyce; all grandkids live within eating distance. You may reach George by phone at 610-246-6492.

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