Enlisting Craft Help to Reduce Cost and Improve Performance

We’d like to provide ACA’s observations and recommendations associated with the subset process of the Equipment Reliability Program related to Craft Feedback.

To ensure we are all on the same page, Craft Feedback is the process that gathers and communicates inputs from Maintenance Shops (Crafts) related to the condition and reliability of equipment and the Planning and Scheduling processes. Please note that Craft Feedback is not restricted to preventive maintenance.

In ACA’s world, Craft Feedback applies to all types of Craft work. These inputs are trended and analyzed by the Monitoring and Diagnostic Center (M&DC) or owners of the Preventive Maintenance (PM) Program and Planning and Scheduling Processes. This trending and analysis results in actions to be implemented based on this feedback.

Some organizations broadened craft input to include notes, comments, observations, performance data, pre- and post- maintenance / testing information as well as equipment performance and operator round information which all would be fed into the Equipment and Program owners.

Many organizations overlook the ‘Fix It Now’ teams (FIN) for feedback. FIN teams are self-directed and self-sufficient in their scopes of work. FIN teams are typically applied to “protect” the planned work schedule to complete emergent work. Often the FIN teams are working on equipment that over time carried significant trends of declining performance which was kept in the shade and became a much larger issue later.

Why Craft Feedback?

In our opinion, Craft Feedback is one of the most important and effective processes for improving equipment reliability, planning and scheduling and reducing and optimizing costs, dependent on that equipment’s performance, functional importance and reliability profile.  Surveillance and PM Program owners are often the gate keepers for approving a change (increase or decrease frequencies, adding new or retiring PMs) in testing and PM performance.

Overall cost impacts are not always optimized, but rather increased to ensure ‘nothing is ever missed’, which is not always the best maintenance strategy.

The cost of providing, analyzing and acting on Craft Feedback is far outweighed by the benefits gained such as:

  • A continuous stream of information and recommendations for performance improvement
  • Elimination of low value PMs
  • Improved equipment reliability resulting in fewer failures of Critical equipment and reductions in the total cost of maintenance
  • Elimination of barriers to a streamlined planning and scheduling process that supports the Functional Equipment Group (FEG) based Long-Term and Short-Term Scheduling Processes

Why Craft Feedback Does Not Work for Many Organizations

We consistently hear from managers and supervisors that the Craft Feedback Process is extremely important. Then we hear from them that the process is not working well. “Reasons” we hear include:

  • Some managers and supervisors say the feedback cannot be used because of poor quality or no feedback provided.
  • Some managers and supervisors say their staff do not have time to evaluate the feedback because it is too hard to find and evaluate.
  • Some Craft say they used to provide feedback, but no one was doing anything with it, so they stopped.

Craft Feedback is Divided into Two Parts

Equipment As-found Condition and Failure Causes:

  • The As-Found Condition of Equipment is determined during all types of Craft work.
  • An As-Found-Condition Code is assigned.
  • Comments are documented by the Crafts with recommendations for changes to PMs or other changes related to the equipment being worked on.
  • If a Corrective Work Order is being performed or if the As-found condition code for a PM indicates that a failure has occurred or nearly occurred, the Craft assign an initial Failure Cause Code.
    • The Craft document the part that failed and their opinion of the cause of the failure.
    • The Failure Cause, failed part, cause and comment information is used to provide additional insights to resolve adverse trends in performance.

Improvements in Planning and Scheduling

  • In preparation for, during and upon completion of any type of work activity, the Craft may recommend changes in any area of planning and scheduling processes.
  • These recommendations include changes in the estimated hours to perform the work.
  • If practical, these recommendations may be fixed “On-the-Spot.”
  • If they cannot be fixed “On-the-Spot”, the Craft will document their recommendations as part of the work order closeout process.
  • The appropriate change process is initiated, the recommendation evaluated, and necessary actions taken.

Elements of a Successful Craft Feedback Program

Many organizations have taken different approaches to establishing effective programs. Instead of correcting the real problem, some organizations tried simply moving the responsibilities to a different process, such as scheduling. In our opinion, the actions below will help to establish an effective and sustainable program:

  • Senior management make Craft Feedback a “required to do” priority.
  • Interfacing personnel collaborate to develop and implement the process.
  • Interfacing personnel fully understanding the process and actively support it.
  • Utilize a simple set of codes and criteria for as-found and as-left feedback codes. As-found conditions are documented by Crafts at the completion of a PM. Up to 10 As-found condition codes have been seen in use, however 10 codes provide too much granularity for useful PM Program decision making.  The following is one example of a simplified set of codes and criteria:
    • CODE 1:
      Failed Component, the component is no longer functional. The cause needs to be determined and corrected. The cause may not be related to the PM Program.
    • CODE 2:
      Degraded, repair required, caused by normal wear, can be repaired without Engineering involvement.  This may require a change in PMs or other activities to protect the component from wear.
    • CODE 3:
      Satisfactory, normal, expected wear found. No adjustments required, no parts outside of these expected in the PM were replaced.
    • CODE 4:
      Like New, no wear, no adjustments required, no parts replaced. PM may not need to be performed as often.
  • Utilize a simple set of parts that failed and failure causes. Upstream in the process is the assignment of the Failure Code, or part that failed, such as a bearing in a motor.  There is a long list of these codes that are specific to the type of equipment. This list of failure causes was developed from larger client lists that had so many cause codes that it confused the Craft that are applying the codes. One may get more accurate analytics from a larger number of cause codes, but it may be deceiving ones-self thinking that more is better, when if the Craft cannot assign them accurately, more is worse. The following is an example list of potential failure causes:
    • Foreign Material, Dirt, Contamination
    • Operation Above Design
    • Lack of Lubrication
    • Excessive Lubrication
    • Wrong Type of Lubricant
    • Loose Mounting, Resulting in Vibration
    • Corrosion
    • Erosion
    • Loose Connection, Resulting in High Resistance
    • Not Operated in Accordance with Procedures
    • Maintenance Induced Failure
    • Infant Mortality
    • External Force or Load
    • Expected Use or Wear
    • Water Intrusion or Contamination
    • Not Performing Required PM
    • Ineffective PMs
    • Intentional Action, Vandalism
  • Frequent Face-to-face feedback with the Craft (such as during their staff meetings) to thank them for their feedback and show them what was done with their feedback. Rewards and recognition for the best, most impactful feedback.
  • Include the basis for PMs in PM Work Orders to improve the quality of feedback.
  • Ensure necessary computer tools are in place to minimize the time required to document recommendations, trend, implement results and report improvements. Examples include:
    • Microsoft Power BI for data visualization and reporting trends and results.
    • Endevor’s E-Strategy (https://www.endevorllc.com) platform for the PM Change Request and Evaluation process.
    • NextAxiom’s platform (http://nextaxiom.com) for developing workflows to eliminate the need for most manual data entry to document changes to PMs and work orders.
    • OSI Soft PI Infrastructure (https://www.osisoft.com) to provide near real time, time-series data that can be integrated with Craft Feedback to provide a better assessment of equipment condition.
  • Ensure your M&DC or other monitoring function is monitoring, trending and analyzing Craft Feedback information.

Where Could you go from Here?

If you are concerned that your Craft Feedback Program is not where you need it to be the table at the end of this document will allow you to compare the current state of your Craft Feedback process to our view of the future state. This may provide you with a gap assessment and an idea of things that you might want to change in your program.

Our first principles in improving any element of performance is to first fully understand the current state, define the expectations of cost and benefits from a change to get to where you need to be.  We also recommend fully utilizing the tools you have today before you purchase new ones. And when it comes to the use of technology and data, we highly recommend that you first streamline the process, and practice it manually before you purchase or make any significant changes to your current computer tools. Avoid the impulse to apply a “spot six” to solve this problem. Working from a business process perspective will allow you to implement sustainable change in set of temporary change.

As you already know, change management and bringing your staff along with any change is extremely important. Do not underestimate the need for effective change management with some form of follow-up such as 360° to make sure the change and communications have been effective.


Properly managed, Craft Feedback is the one of the best inputs to continuous improvement programs. Craft Feedback will require a concerted effort to start.  Once started, using the guidance above, the process will continue because involved personnel will see the benefits of their work.

Craft feedback includes both outage and non-outage scheduling and planning. When optimized maintenance and PM’s are in place, solid foundations will be established that will enable the outage scope to be optimized (more done on-line, or vice versa) so benefits are realized in reliability while shortening or ensuring optimum outage duration (direct Cost per MWH).