Getting the most out of benchmarking in the Process Industry
Key Performance Indicators or KPIs are the poster boy of maintenance measurements. To achieve those all-important targets it's often necessary to weave in some benchmarking analyses. But this needs to be handled with care, so take these handy hints into account whenever you go about the benchmarking process.
#1 Source appropriate benchmarking levels
“Analyses using benchmark data are possible only if companies are compared with peer companies in the same industry - a chemical company with a chemical company and a paper plant with a paper plant,” Reliabilityweb.com suggest.
It might sound obvious but distinct variations can arise in one isolated industry. “A fine paper plant has far higher benchmark for technical availability than a cardboard plant,” they add. The message is simple then; sourcing the most appropriate benchmarking levels for your company is critical.
#2 Employ standardised KPI definitions
There is a propensity to gather individualised benchmarking data that is only relevant to a particular company. Whilst that data might be useful to them it is rendered useless as a benchmarking exercise for other similar companies to draw comparative analyses.
Mainnovation has come up with the MyVDM.com solution. They say “MyVDM.com uses a database with a collection of data from various types of industry and branches. Your maintenance data and key performance indicators (KPIs) are compared with best-in-class companies.
“The end result of the analysis is a report that will summarize all the steps including the branch related benchmark graphs and improvement agenda. This report will help you to set your maintenance strategy for the coming years so that the utmost value for your company is created,” they add.
#3 – Ascertain KPI interrelations
Single KPIs in isolation will give you very little data in a contextual sense. Rather, you should be ascertaining the key interrelations between your collective KPIs. Ask yourself how they are influencing each other. Better still, enlist the services of an intelligent framework like the VDM Control Panel, another Mainnovation development, which they claim has been known to return cost reductions of “between 25 and 40%” and “uptime improvements of 5 to 10%.” Sometimes it clearly pays to invest in an expert second opinion.
#4 Remember benchmarking is not the be-all and end-all
“The benchmark study is a means to an end, not a goal in its own right,” say Reliabilityweb.com again. Therefore, benchmark studies must always be accompanied by further analyses, citing in-depth discussions with both management and shop floor personnel as an example of another valuable concurrent method of measuring performance. They continue, “A validation of this kind will strengthen the report and increase its acceptance. This avoids a benchmark report being seen as a grading of performance and ensures it is used more as an improvement recommendation.”
So, while it's important to approach the benchmarking process with due care and attention, don't let that put you off.
Follow these failsafe tips and you could soon lay claim to a wealth of vital 'best in class' comparative data to help you achieve peak operational excellence.
LNS Research sum up the benchmarking process nicely. They say, “Whether it’s for comparing the effectiveness of product lines or business units within your company, or the effectiveness of your company against close competitors, benchmarking is a vital continuous improvement tool.” And who wouldn't want to strive for continuous improvement?
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