How the Wisdom of Winston Churchill Can be Applied to MRO Efficiency Improvement

By George E. Krauter

March 02, 2018 at 10:28 AM

Winston Churchill once said “Things do not get better by being let alone. Unless they are adjusted, the explode with a shattering detonation.”  How apt these sentences are when considering the current state of most maintenance, repair and operations supply (MRO) processes across industries.

As in wartime, no organization (or army) cannot achieve its mission without reliable equipment and assets. If spare parts are either not reliable or are unavailable when needed, high downtime costs are often incurred. Therefore, the businesses mission falls short (explodes) when the management of critical SKU’s are not adjusted to the strategies of the maintenance mission.

Maintenance management will employ various methods to maintain assets to avoid as much downtime per asset as possible. They will measure Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) which calculates the time between the report of the “down” asset to the time when that machine is back up and running. The availability of parts needed to repair the machine affects the time the machine is down, i.e. the MTTR.

There is another measurement that could be even more important than MTTR ̶ that would be Mean Time Before Failures (MTBR).  Let’s consider the example of fire in a manufacturing plant. There is a fire reported; affected areas are shut down; the fire is extinguished; operations are restored; the time from the initial report to restoration of operations affected is measured (that’s the MTTR part). Now adjust the strategy from MTTR to MTBR; under MTBR, every scenario that could cause or did cause a fire is fixed (adjusted) before any fire could occur. An example would be fixing a wire connection to avoid potential electrical fires. If the management of the SKU’s in the storeroom is a part of this strategy, MTBR is shortened to the benefit of the organization.

Many plants will rely upon the recommendations of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to establish inventory levels for spare parts; these recommendations are based upon subjective considerations and do not take into account indigenous factory situations such as dust factors, vibration areas, and operator abuse. For example, in a truck assembly function, operators of the sawing department did not like the saw rep, so they forced the pressure on the saw machine past the machine’s capacity causing the machine to malfunction and the blades to break thereby influencing the purchase of alternate equipment. Such situations, where logic is thrown out in favor of human emotions, are quite common.

In the real world, machines do not run equally; their performance varies from plant to plant and from operation to operation. To reach optimum MRO reliability, traditional MRO supply techniques must be put aside, and be aligned (adjusted) to MTBR methods and goals of the company’s maintenance programs.

Too many companies just “leave MRO alone” (to paraphrase a common attitude across industries) and, as a result, fall victim to Winston Churchill’s prediction of “shattering detonation”.

Tags: MTTR MRO parts availability MTBR spare parts availability
Category: Blog Post

George E. Krauter


George Krauter, former founder and president of Industrial Systems Assoc. [I.S.A.] has retired as vice president of Synovos.

Currently, he has initiated, "George Krauter Consulting [GKC]"  for effective reliability and cost recovery for consumers  of MRO materials. George is a recognized authority on the management of the MRO supply chain and support for maintenance reliability programs. His book, "OUTSOURCING MRO...FINDING A BETTER WAY" is available from Amazon and from Reliability

He is published in Uptime, Modern Distribution Management, and Supply and Demand Chain Executive. George has conducted seminars across North America, in Europe, and in the U.A.R. as well as a guest speaker at Temple U., Howard U., Duke, and MIT.

George is a graduate of Temple University; he lives with his wife, Joyce, in Bucks County, PA. All grand kids live within eating distance. He can be reached anytime:

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