The South African Maintenance Association (Sama) is currently engaged in a number of certification programmes and training initiatives with the aim of developing the local maintenance industry, which will include organisational benchmarking, and providing accreditation for continuing professional development.
The training initiatives are in line with government’s efforts to assist in the continuing professional development of the engineering industry, Sama vice-president Paul von Zeuner tells Engineering News.
He says that Sama makes several services and products available to the industry to assist and grow maintenance practitioners in their efforts to improve their company’s asset management.
Sama has, in conjunction with petro- chemicals company Sasol, adopted the Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP) certification developed by US professional maintenance organisation, the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP).
“The SMRP’s aim is to facilitate information exchange through a structured network of maintenance and reliability professionals, and to support maintenance and reliability as an integral part of business management, among other things,” explains Von Zeuner.
Sama council member Jaco Smit manages the portfolio for the SMRP and has arranged a series of CMRP examinations, the first of which was held in June, earlier this year, and the second of which is to be held in November, reports Sama.
“Sama, in conjunction with Sasol, is of the opinion that the CMRP examination will benefit asset management and relia- bility engineers in Southern Africa,” comments Von Zeuner.
He mentions that Sama seeks to promote the interest of maintenance and asset manage- ment professionals in Southern Africa by consolidating the different aspects of asset management.
The association provides an unbiased assessment programme, which is designed to assess a company’s asset management practices.
This is achieved by facilitating communication between Sama members, industry service providers and other affiliated organisations and institutions, reports Von Zeuner.
“We recommend areas where improvement may be required, but do not offer consulting services in any area, which, if they were offered, could bias our audit findings,” he says.
Sweating the Assets
Von Zeuner says that it became a very acceptable corporate goal in the manufacturing industry, about 5 to 10 years ago, for organisations to sweat its assets, which implies that maximum use should be made of the assets owned by an organisation.
This resulted from the need to contain capital expenditure owing to the cost of finance.
He says that the decision to sweat the assets was taken without elevating the life-cycle management of the asset to a similar strategic level.
“You cannot sweat the assets, while at the same time cutting cost on maintenance, and then on top of that see the maintenance practi- tioner as only a necessary evil,” he argues.
In a typical manufacturing plant, an increase of 10% in overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) could add significantly to the return on capital employed, which is a figure that often could only be matched by completely avoiding all expenditure on maintenance, reports Von Zeuner.
Von Zeuner states that Sama intends to advance and encourage higher standards for the professional status of maintenance and asset management in the asset management industry.
The association also seeks to institute, maintain and improve common specifi- cations for maintenance and asset management, while also encouraging, promoting and effecting voluntary interchange among members of the association.
Von Zeuner also mentions that Sama hopes to stimulate and promote education, training and original research in the main- tenance and asset management fields.
He says that the association aims to promote a representative and centralised body or organisation to collect, collate, coordinate and distribute data, ideas, knowledge, methods and techniques by any suitable means for the purpose of improving the efficiency of maintenance and asset management technologies.
Other objectives of the organisation include building synergistic rapport between companies on maintenance and asset manage- ment issues, encouraging companies to establish their own training programmes guided by the association’s knowledge, and promoting asset management as a means to long-term asset health.
Sama, which endorses the Maintenance Engineers Conference of South Africa, hopes to endorse the application of OEE by companies, which need to take strategic decisions in order to embody the OEE aims.
“Making OEE a strategic decision allows the focus on this aspect of the business even at board level, not just as a cost that has to be contained, but as an asset that has to be managed throughout its design life,” suggests Von Zeuner.
Von Zeuner states that the skills shortage in the maintenance industry is as severe as in any other industry.
“The lack of reliable service delivery has created pressure and identified the urgency with which maintenance has to be viewed,” he says.
He says that the lack of skills development in South Africa over the years is a respon- sibility that should be shouldered collectively by all stakeholders in the industry.
He endorses the argument that says: “Show me a skills shortage and I will show you an organisation that has failed to develop people.”
The role that Sama can play in the development of skills in South Africa includes benchmarking the maintenance practices of an organisation, proposes Von Zeuner.
He says that the association seeks to play a role in advising and assisting in the establishment of the maintenance professional, through its link with standards bodies, as well as the identification of service providers which are affiliated with Sama.