National Academies Press: OpenBook

Maintenance Productivity Practices (2004)

Chapter: CHAPTER FOUR - CONCLUSIONS

« Previous: CHAPTER THREE - TRANSIT AGENCY PROGRAMS AND ISSUES CASE STUDIES
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Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER FOUR - CONCLUSIONS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2004. Maintenance Productivity Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23049.
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Page 37
Page 38
Suggested Citation:"CHAPTER FOUR - CONCLUSIONS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2004. Maintenance Productivity Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23049.
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Page 38

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27 CHAPTER FOUR CONCLUSIONS The information supplied by the transit agencies in re- sponse to the synthesis questionnaire indicates that there is strong interest in continued maintenance productivity ef- forts as long as quality is prioritized. The questionnaire re- sponses also emphasize the importance of senior manage- ment support for a productivity improvement program to be successful and that the commitment to the program must be communicated throughout the entire organization, including the union affiliations. One of the most important items is the proper definition of standard repair times. Transit properties have varying opinions. A particularly effective definition quoted in this synthesis can be found in chapter two in the section on general methodology. Transit agencies have continued making productivity improvements over the years in an ef- fort to continue to reduce costs. The results of the survey provide helpful details to any- one interested in transit maintenance productivity. Smaller agencies, which do not have a large staff or extensive fund- ing, can effectively use some of the information provided if permitted by their unions and collective bargaining agree- ments. There is much to be gained by sharing information among interested agencies. For example, some agencies have worked with their employees to develop unpublished productivity standards that can be easily adapted by other agencies. Agencies that are currently developing productiv- ity improvements may be interested in the successful pro- grams that have provided incentives for employees who meet new productivity goals. The application of industrial engineering productivity improvement methods in public transit agencies during the past 20 years has provided the following guidelines: • The use of a standardized process and procedure documents can be accomplished without sacrificing quality and can reduce costs if the staff is properly trained and equipped. • Good documentation must be easily accessible to the maintenance shop employees. Transit agencies that do not have the staff to prepare maintenance procedures can use documentation provided by the original equipment manufacturers or other transit agencies. These documents can then be modified to meet the unique local operating conditions. • Standard repair times and maintenance manuals for all subsystems, including component subsuppliers, should be requested in new vehicle procurement specifications. • Initial training and continued retraining of mainte- nance staff with the use of the latest tools and equip- ment is necessary for the success of any productivity program. • Union–management relations will have a major im- pact on any productivity improvement program. The union management and employees must be asked to participate in the development and implementation of the program, thereby establishing a partnership be- tween transit agency management and the union. • Performance goals must be set and published for all to see and understand. Such goals must be supported by a strong methodology for gathering and interpret- ing relevant data. Smaller agencies are moving from manual systems to computerized methods, whereas larger agencies are becoming increasingly sophisti- cated in using computers in the shop. • The most significant performance indicators are based on road calls, premature failures, pullouts, scheduled work compared with unscheduled work, bundling of work, repeat failures, and inspections completed on schedule. Data should be monitored on a monthly basis to allow for different operating condi- tions and climate changes. Additionally, data analysis should focus on problem diagnosis as much as on performance monitoring. It is important that such in- formation be accurate and timely. • The older methods of troubleshooting with nonelec- tronic components depend on having a staff of very experienced employees to diagnose problems, which adds cost and time to the troubleshooting task. How- ever, the use of electronic diagnostic tools has in- creased, as has the presence of complex electronic component controllers on newer vehicles. That situa- tion allows less-experienced but properly trained em- ployees to efficiently troubleshoot. Transit agencies may improve overall productivity by investing in such tools and the proper training in using them. • The maintenance area must be efficiently organized with proper tools and equipment to facilitate vehicle movement and retrieving parts for varied maintenance tasks. The use of kits or bills of material for routine work and component rebuilding can improve effi- ciency. Consideration should be given to improving the workflow in the maintenance facility when de- signing a new facility or redesigning an existing facil- ity.

28 • Furthermore, improvement should be continuously studied and implemented. Failure to do so will cause a productivity improvement program to become ir- relevant and eventually be abandoned. This lesson is true for all of the systems and was used in full to im- prove their maintenance productivity. • Finally, there are many resources available to the transit agencies. Among them are the APTA and TRB websites and webboards. There is also infor- mation available from the bus manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as from the trucking indus- try. Many methods that have proved successful in various industries can be used to create and refine productivity im- provement programs. However, since the early 1990s, no major studies have been funded that review the application of these methods to transit agency maintenance productivity. There is a renewed need to fund studies on maintenance pro- ductivity and apply the findings. The economic benefits that result will prove increasingly necessary for the vitality of the industry. Some suggestions for future studies related to this syn- thesis include: • Cost–benefit analysis of implementing standards. • Review of productivity improvement programs used in the trucking, aircraft, and European transportation industries. • Collective bargaining agreement issues on the use of standards in performance measurement. • Employee benefits and reimbursements/incentives for productivity.

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TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Synthesis 54: Maintenance Productivity Practices provides descriptions of successful maintenance productivity programs and creative modifications to existing programs.

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