How to get the most from it
We can use benchmarking to measure our performance relative to others, which provides us with an indication of what we may need to improve, or whether we need to keep focus on maintaining a lead from what we do better.
The problem is, how?
Most other organisations we are in competition with may keep their performance confidential, meaning that benchmarking data, the type of intelligence we need to improve competitiveness, may be difficult to obtain. For these reasons, external benchmarking against our industry could be difficult. If we wanted to benchmark and compare performance internally, perhaps between sites, a key question is, do we have the metrics or the data that would enable this?
Sources of information for external benchmarking
Our competitors annual reports – puts best gloss on what they are doing in high level terms for market analysts to bolster shareholder value. Market value is an assessment of future capability and so these reports need to describe the strategy and focus for improvement. Reading details of how the competition is investing provides some level of understanding about where they see competitive advantage.
There may be industry publications for performance relevant to maintenance. For example, the OREDA North Sea oil and gas reliability books have been constantly updated for the critical machinery used on platforms. These books provide breakdowns of failure modes and reliability, maintainability and availability data that could be used as a rough benchmark. If this data is used, we need to appreciate that performance is influenced by the operating context and environment the machinery is used in and make allowances correspondingly.
Manufacturers may supply
Governments may provide data on various industries, including some defence and civil programmes like Nuclear or aerospace. More of this data becomes available under freedom of information. Again, allowances need to be made for differences in operating context.
In the energy industry there is a trusted commercial company, Strategic Power Systems, that uses a standards driven approach to gather RAM (reliability, availability and maintainability) data throughout the industry allowing members to benchmark their operation against the industry as a whole.