An alternative way to meet your staff’s training needs

Training method to face machine failuresHaving a training plan for your personnel is always a good practice. However, sometimes it’s not possible to find the adequate course because the topic is too specific, the course is not available at that moment or is too expensive.

Many years ago, while working at a maintenance department, I was looking for a training course for our personnel and couldn’t find one that fulfilled our requirements in terms of cost and availability. Still, I really needed to train our technicians so I found an alternative way to do it. Continue reading

How to Validate your Decisions Using Statistics (Analysis of Variance) – Part II

crossroadsIn the previous post I showed how to solve a simple problem by performing an Analysis of Variance (if you haven’t read it, please click here). The example was about three different methods to perform a task and we wanted to know if we are getting different results or the variations on the data are only due to the population dispersion.

Generally speaking, we compared the variances between the three samples and the variances within each sample and used the Variance Ratio Test to know, with a specific confidence interval, if the samples are coming from the same population, which in practical terms (referred to our example) means that the different methods are not changing the outcomes. In our example we rejected this hypothesis, so we can say that there is a significant difference between the methods. Continue reading

9 Points for Effective Brainstorming (Part II)

BrainstormingIn the first post I described the main key points for planning a successful brainstorming session. They were basically the tips related to the preparation of the workshop. Now let’s focus on some useful points to lead the session itself. Continue reading

9 Points for Effective Brainstorming (Part I)

Brainstorming SessionBrainstorming is one of the most popular tools used by professional teams to find innovative solutions and ideas. It’s a quite popular technique and I’ve heard many times of people suggesting a brainstorming session to find innovative solutions for difficult problems. However, to be effective, this technique needs to be carefully led. I’ve seen many brainstorming meetings that derived in a disorganised discussion without achieving any concrete results.
After leading many brainstorming meetings I’d like to share with you 9 tips for running a successful brainstorming
session. Continue reading

Applying 5S series – (Part V) The last two S: Seiketsu and Shitsuke

Information BoardIn previous posts, I introduced the 5S methodology and explained the first three 5S (Seiri, Seiton and Seiso). At this point in the process, we have sorted everything, set them in order and cleaned the whole place to eliminate sources or dirt. Now it is time to talk about standardization and self-discipline.

Continue reading

Applying 5S series – (Part IV) Third S: Seiso – Shine

Clean places facilitate failure identificationSince the introductory post of the 5S series I have talked about the first two different steps of the methodology: the first S -get rid of all the things that are not necessary- and the second S -organize the place in the most efficient manner-. In this post I’m going to talk about the third step: Seiso – Shine.

This step is the one that people usually associate with 5S: a deep clean. However, it is not just about cleaning, it also involves taking measures to reduce the time spent in cleaning activities. The main idea is to systematically prevent the area from getting dirty by eliminating the sources of the dirt. Continue reading

Applying 5S series – (Part III) Second S: Seiton – Set in order


Every item in its place and a place for each item

As I mentioned in the first introductory post, 5S is one of the best methodologies to organize our workspace. It has five steps. In the first one, we need to get rid of all the things that are not used at the location. Here, in the second one, I will tell you how to organize those things in an efficient manner.
In my case, I carried out steps 1 and 2 in parallel, which is a very common way to do it. Specifically, in this second step we apply the concept: “every item in its place and a (specific) place for each item”. Continue reading

Applying 5S series – (Part II) First S: Seiri -Sort

Interpl untidyIn my previous post I explained 5S methodology and began to discuss planning the implementation. As I mentioned previously, I will use an example to illustrate each of the five steps of the method. In this opportunity I am going to talk about the first S: Seiri or Sort as the English equivalent.

Continue reading

Applying 5S series – (Part I) Introduction

Untidy Workshop

photo credit: Tudor Barker






Maintenance managers always want their employees to work efficiently, follow procedures, and comply with OH&E Standards. However, when the work environment is in poor conditions, workers do not feel compelled to follow the appropriate guidelines. In fact, an untidy, dirty, and unorganized working environment encourages employees to acquire bad working habits. Consequently, if we want to improve our personnel’s work ethic, we first need to evaluate whether the environment inspires people to work efficiently and correctly or if it does the exact opposite. If latter situation is presented, we need to make improvements before asking workers to change their habits. The best way to guide this improvement process is to implement 5S in the work environment.

5S is a methodology to clean, to improve, and keep the workplace in optimal conditions Continue reading