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The 10 Steps to a Successful Ultrasound Program

How to Ensure Maximum Results From Your Program

How many times has your organization purchased equipment without fully understanding where, when and how it will be deployed?  I can’t count the number of organizations that I have gone into and see vibration, thermography, ultrasound or other tech sitting on a shelf still in a box, or covered in dust.  This equipment was purchased to deliver improvements in reliability, often at a significant cost, and is not delivering those results.

Why does this happen?  There are a few reasons that come to mind;

  • Organizations looking for the “magic” bullet
  • Organizations don’t understand the failure modes that the technologies are used to detect
  • Organizations don’t prioritize the assets that are monitored with PdM or CBM technology and become over whelmed with the efforts
  • Maintenance staff don’t take the time to share their success or savings and after multiple years, the organization cuts the funding due to lack of results.
  • The program was introduced and lead by a single champion, and the program died when that champion left the organization.

I am sure there are many more reasons, but there seems to be a consistent theme in all of the reasons.  That theme is there is not a robust strategy in place to administer the program.  Sure, there may be some tactical actions in what assets are monitored, by there is no strategy for the program.   The key to any successful CBM and PdM program is to have a sound business strategy behind it.  So how can you ensure that your ultrasound program has a robust strategy and delivers long term benefits to the organization?  There are 10 steps to ensuring your ultrasound program has a business strategy.

  1. Assemble a Team – The team is not just who will be using the ultrasound equipment, but who has a stake in the program.  A team should have an executive sponsor, a few stakeholders (environmental, operational, etc.), a program champion (or leader) and the staff who will be using the equipment and performing the analysis.  This cross functional team will help to build organization support and ensure continuity in the event someone leaves the organization.
  2. Determine Applications – Once the team is established, the team should begin to determine what applications (see our previous post on the different applications) the program should focus on.  The initial focus may be on air leaks, but the team needs to consider what applications may be used in the future as well.  This will enable the organization to select the right equipment and set the program goals.
  3. Set Goals – As with any other new business process or program, there must be a benefit and return on investment.  In order to understand if the program is meeting expectations, there must be goals established.  The goals should be balanced and not just focus on a single measure.  Focusing on the number of points monitored and the completion rate is great for monitoring the efficiency of the program but doesn’t tell the story on if it is effective.  Be sure to establish a few goals that balance each other.
  4. Establish Benefits Tracker – With the goals established, a benefits tracker needs to be established.  This benefits tracker should have a flight plan for the savings generated vs the actual savings. This is a great way to share the success of the program and to identify weaknesses and trigger changes to program if the savings are not meeting the target.
  5. Purchase Equipment – Now it is time to purchase the right equipment.  Look for equipment that can meet your current and future needs.  Also, look at the user friendliness of the unit, which includes the ergonomics of the equipment, can it be used with gloves, etc.  Also, consider the support provided by the manufacturer/distributor.  Try out a few units before selecting the unit to purchase.
  6. Train – Once the equipment is selected, be sure to invest in training.  Basic training on the use of the equipment provided by the distributor is important, but it is often not enough.  A 2 or 3-day program on the fundamentals of ultrasound is vital to the ability of the technician to understand what the readings are telling them and make informed decisions.
  7. Create Champions – Training multiple staff will ensure the continuity of the program, but training alone will not create program champions.  A champion is an advocate who promotes the applications and benefits of the program and creates external support.  Creating champions are not easy, so if you see someone who is truly excited and takes ownership of the program… you have your champion.
  8. Celebrate & Reward Success – As the program begins to deliver results, they must be celebrated.  The celebration does not mean a significant event, but a thank you and congratulations go a long way.  If the program delivers results, but not recognized, support will fade.
  9. Review Progress – Periodically, the progress and benefits need to be reviewed and goals reset.  As the long hanging fruit is eliminated, the savings may be a bit more difficult to achieve.  This may force the team to look at different applications, or go after more difficult issues.
  10. Share the Results – The results of the program need to be shared outside of the team.  The benefits and results need to be shared with the site leadership team to generate ongoing support for the program, and with the wider plant staff.  A newsletter or posters in the lunchroom are a great way to communicate the results.  One of the best ways I have seen the benefits communicated is a showcase in the main hallway, with all of the different components that were failing, but caught before consequences occurred.

Setting up an ultrasound program is a team effort that requires full support throughout the organization.  It is not simply taking some readings, and putting them into a software package, or fixing a few leaks.  It is a cultural change, a different way of looking at reliability, lubrication and the beneficial impact that a proper program can deliver to an organization.  Remember to follow the 10 steps above to ensure your program delivers those benefits.

How many of you have any condition monitoring program that has followed these steps?  Ultrasound, vibration, or oil analysis programs should all follow the same approach to ensure longevity and sustainability.  Remember, there is more to setting up an Ultrasound program than just buying the equipment.    If you are interested in setting up an ultrasound program, feel free to contact info@hpreliability.com for a free consultation.  If you have already starting to establish a program, but need equipment, training, or a second opinion, SDT Ultrasound offers the tools, equipment, and training to enable any organization to successfully implement an ultrasound program.  If you are interested in any SDT offerings, please contact info@hpreliability.com

Remember, to find success; you must first solve the problem, then achieve the implementation of the solution, and finally sustain winning results.

I’m James Kovacevic
HP RELIABILITY Inc
Solve, Achieve, Sustain
Follow @HPReliability

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By | 2017-08-18T21:31:18+00:00 August 21st, 2017|Equipment Strategy, Ultrasound|0 Comments

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