Cheers... to the last outage.

WIthin all forms of manufacturing, outages exist. They are either planned or unplanned and they could exist at some periodic interval. These activities are a transaction of time producing for addressing or maintaining the condition of the assets intended to produce. Some organizations grasp the benefits of planning concepts well and execute the outage to the plan while nimbly working with the challenges that unfold during the outage. Yet, other organizations strive to become more mature in their planning and executing activities but seem to struggle to piece together how to get there. Regardless of the maturity, I might recommend that improving its effectiveness starts with just a six-pack.

After these outages, we all have different ways to refuel. Some of us remorse about all the things that went wrong, thinking about every detail leading up to the inefficient activity. Others of us celebrate the things that went right, measuring the effectiveness of a siloed view of duration, budget, or that we got all of the planned work done. Others of us want to think about the lessons that we learned; the good and the bad. Regardless, these reflections are should be focused on how we can apply these lessons to the next outage. Sometimes these refueling activities do indeed consist of a six-pack beverage of choice, talking about the good and the bad of the intense 16 hours, 2 days, or 2-week outage we just got out of.

Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose. - Sun Tzu

I have seen many organizations conduct no formal post-outage review or reflect on the effectiveness of the outages that significantly impact production. Additionally, I have seen organizations that conduct post-outage reviews that are extremely complex making it difficult to prioritize the list of actions. The best post outage reviews I have seen are around six ways to measure the results and grow as an organization at conducting them better in the future. Let’s make a “six-pack.”


Proactive Activites

Reactive Activities



Lessons Learned

Table 1 - Format of a Six-pack Post Outage Review

  • Metrics - Quantitative measurables focused on time, cost, and safety performance

  • Proactive Activities - Quantitative measurables showing the effectiveness of conducting the planned proactive work by functional area

  • Corrective Activities - Quantitative measurables showing the effectiveness of conducting the planned corrective work by functional area

  • Add-ons - List of work, by description or title, that was completed but not part of the original plan

  • Deferrals - List of work, by description or title, that was not-completed but was part of the original plan

  • Lessons Learned - Prioritized list of themes from the outage that would improve future outage effectiveness

The first reflection is on metrics and measurables. This should include start time, end time, duration, budget, and safety incidents at a minimum. These are quantifiable values that each had a plan going into the outage and each has a value coming out of the planned outage. For example, the start time might be 07:00 with a target to be +/- 2 hours. Additionally, the end time might be +/- 5% of the duration. Whereas, if the duration of the outage is 24 hours with a targetted end time of 15:00, the compliance would be anywhere between anywhere from 13:48 to 16:12. This area of the six-page is visually conditioned and formatted to show compliance.

The second area is quantitative and focused on the effectiveness of the planned proactive work. This is typically categorized in functional areas of the production unit, showing a planned amount and an actual amount. Depending on the maturity of the organization, I have seen it be successful in the count of work orders, budget spent, or the number of labor hours planned versus actual. Either way, it categorizes the effectiveness of executing the planned work to specific sub-areas of where the outage was conducted.

The top right of the six-pack is articulated the same way as proactive maintenance but it only consists of the values encompassing the planned corrective maintenance. It lays out the amount of planned corrective maintenance going into the outage against the results. For both the proactive and corrective, there should be targets in the form of a percentage. Depending on the maturity of the organization, I have seen targetted values between 85% and 95% to quantify effectiveness.

The “Add-ons” are the bulleted list of activities conducted that were not part of the plan going into the outage. Typically these are a list of job descriptions indicating tasks where resources had to be mobilized to address a condition before starting up a line. For example, we may have only planned to grease a coupling but instead, we had to replace it because of its condition. This would be denoted here as a description of replacing the coupling. This is also the area where most of the “war stories” come from, but in their moment the work is anything but memorable.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. - Mike Tyson

The deferrals section is a list of the job descriptions of work that was deferred from the original plan. This could be because of time or the availability of resources due to being diverted to add-ons or ineffective job-kitting. Regardless, this list denotes the jobs that were deferred during the outage and typically will have to be conducted at some point in the future.

In the bottom right of the six-pack, the intent is to list the lessons obtained from the outage. Consider things that we have all experienced and we either want it to never happen again or we want it in every outate going forward. Consider things like an ineffective lock-out or communication of who was responsible for inspecting a job kit. But don’t forget about listing out the positives too if worthy. Consider the support security provided when establishing confined space jobs or the support that engineering provided on a complex unplanned fabrication. I have seen the best organizations always find five things in this area of the six-pack. Some outages have dozens and other outages may struggle to find two. The goal is always to agree to five things that we learned from the outage and denote them for future use and consideration.

This “Six-pack Post Outage Review” is a very effective tool to simplify the results of an outage while taking a moment to agree on its effectiveness. Not dedicating time to conduct a reflection of the outage’s effectiveness to the plan will result in the organization never improving the time investing and maintaining the assets in exchange for production time.

Cheers to this outage, and all of its good and bad, let’s make the next one better.


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