The first step the Volvo team took, working alongside Mainnovation as a neutral partner, was to visit each manufacturing site in turn and to run workshops in order to identify what were the important issues that needed to be addressed.
The workshops were structured around The Value Driven Maintenance model which enables those involved in the maintenance operation to identify which of the Maintenance Value Drivers is most important to their operation. Today's maintenance managers are constantly balancing between higher machine availability (asset utilization) and lower maintenance costs (cost control). In doing so, they must take into account safety, health and environment regulations. To make everything work, they need to use the right technicians, spare parts, knowledge and contractors (resource allocation).
For Volvo, at the time, global over-capacity in the automotive market was a major factor to consider and so, closer to home, was the introduction of new models at the different Volvo plants. The economic climate, external factors and market conditions all have an impact on determining which is the dominant value driver at any point in time - and the VDM methodology helps guide the way.
The market situation at that time meant that the most value for Volvo could be achieved by controlling costs. So the right-hand value circle (FIG 2) must be configured from maintenance budgeting to cost analysis. Interestingly, both value circles include the competences of reliability engineering, planning and preparation and maintenance execution. These competences are the link between the four value drivers and thus form the heart of VDM.
Now that the important competences had been identified, the next step for Volvo was to organize and control them in the right way. For this purpose VDM puts forward best practices from leading maintenance philosophies.
For Volvo the biggest change [across the five plants] was to get rid of diversity and to establish a common way of working where, for example, there was one way of ordering a spare part. Part of this process involved installing some new ‘rules’ and making maintenance less complex. To ensure this common way of working a Gatekeeper rule was put in place whereby all modifications coming from the production side and the maintenance side were overseen. The Gatekeeper communicated all proposed changes to all parties (i.e. different shifts, different departments) for common agreement that could then be enacted. The result was a ‘blue box’ system where spare parts, work orders, permits, risk assessments were collected prior to a task being actioned, which has increased the efficiency of the technicians.
Bengt Svensson, Maintenance Manager at Volvo says of the factory in Torslanda, Sweden that “The results speak for themselves. In 2003, the maintenance cost per car was SEK 684 (£62). In 2009, it was down to SEK 344 (£31) per car, a 50% reduction in cost representing a saving of SEK 70 million (£6.35 million) per year.”