Maintenance Quality Improvement

What it is and how to effectively mange it

“End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price alone,” he says. “Instead, minimize total cost.

“Look at the total costs of a part or the lifecycle cost of a machine. Some savings are illusionary and hurt the overall goals of an organization.”

5. Keep up the improvement of quality and productivity in order to constantly reduce costs.

This is important, Levitt emphasizes, because “in today’s industry, the way it used to be done is never going to be good enough for the future.

“All improvements and growth flow from dissatisfaction with the status quo. Build measurement into the maintenance information system.”

6. Training should be mandatory for technicians the way it is for doctors or teachers.

“Technologies are changing; skills must change too,” he stresses.

In addition, Levitt says special effort should be given to training those workers who deliver the on-the-job training so that they can become more effective teachers.

“Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement. World-class maintenance departments make a commitment to invest 1 to 3 percent of their hours in training for all maintenance workers.

7. Institute leadership with the aim of helping technicians and machines do a better job.

Supervisors should serve their subordinates by removing the impediments to quality productivity and making sure the technicians, tools, parts, units to be serviced and work permissions all converge at the same time, Levitt says.

8. Break down the barriers between departments because everyone’s expertise is needed for constant improvement.

9. Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the work force asking for zero defects or new levels of production.

“Such exhortations create adversarial relationships,” maintains Levitt. “A bulk of the quality problems belong to the system, not the people. Stable processes create quality.

“When you create stable processes producing quality outputs workers will feel the way the slogan says without coercion and alienation.”

10. Eliminate work standards, quotas and management by objectives (MBO).

“Work standards and quotas are associated with management styles that treat the maintenance worker as someone needing to be told exactly what to do and how long to take,” explains Levitt. “Standards are useful for scheduling and to communicate management’s expectations.

“It is difficult to not use them as a production whip, and that is a disaster in maintenance situations. Once an asset is down for maintenance, the desire is to have technicians take the time needed to fix every problem they see – within reason, and not just the original job.

“We must trust the technician to look out for the company’s interests, particularly when management is not there,” he continues. “The problem with MBO is that it focuses on visible, measurable aspects of maintenance, yet many of the real issues of maintenance concern aspects of the environment which are hard to measure.”

11. Remove the barriers that rob technicians of their right of pride of workmanship.

“Technicians must be allowed to feel pride in their jobs that are well done. Maintenance managers and supervisors must not allow anything to stand in the way of that pride.”

12. Because transformation requires the talents of all the employees, put everyone in the organization to work to accomplish the transformation to maintenance quality improvement.


Any organization can improve its maintenance quality, says Levitt. This is best accomplished through benchmarking exercises to determine how well it is meeting its quality performance objectives.

The next step is to then apply best practices to:

  • Identify problem areas and areas for continuous improvement.
  • Define the processes used to identify causes of problems.
  • Manage the effectiveness of corrective actions that drive the resolution of problems, plus drive improvement in the future.


There are a number of common impediments to improving maintenance quality, Levitt notes. Key among these are:

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