Monday, June 3, 2013

Sometimes the guy with the worst times is right and everyone else is wrong!

At one point I was getting beat up by the international headquarters for excessive repair times for a military trainer that our company maintained under contract to the US Army.

My times were significantly higher than the other field maintenance sites. My boss took the time to look at parts usage and because he had an intimate familiarity with actually fixing the trainer in question he recognized that I was using a lot more of the tiny set screws that aligned the device.

Those little setscrews tended to corrode between servicing and needed to be drilled out and replaced to realign the trainer. Sometimes you even needed to rebuild the threads for the set screws which added even more time to the process. But, if you didn’t take the time to do the required realignment each time the device was in for any other service you wouldn’t use very many setscrews!

My boss proposed a test to see how well the devices were retaining alignment between servicing and the international headquarters sent out a sheet that required the devices alignment to be noted (by serial number) before and after servicing. After six months all the other field sites maintenance times and parts usage aligned with mine.

The lesson being that the outlier turned out to be the correct time while all the others were below what they should have been! The headquarters’ conclusion that the higher times were wrong turned out to be wishful thinking. Their desire was to do the work in the lowest possible time which translated into lower costs.

The first question to ask whenever you find an outlier is what are they doing that everyone else is not doing and ALWAYS ask it’s converse – what are the group not doing that the outlier is!

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