Is Your Factory Maintenance Rooted in SMART Goals?
Manufacturing maintenance programs are built on goals. It’s not just about the objective like keeping a machine running — it’s about the steps required to achieve that objective. Multi-step objectives demand SMART goals, which is why SMART goal setting is a strong part of the Lean manufacturing framework. Whether it’s cost conservation, uptime goals, or machine service standards, goal setting needs to be as methodical as the steps required to achieve the objective.
What’s a SMART goal?
Every manufacturing maintenance manager needs to familiarize themselves with SMART goals. Here’s a breakdown of this simple acronym:
- Specific. Be as unambiguous as possible when defining the goal.
- Measurable. Attach a specific metric or unit of measurement to the goal.
- Achievable. Set goals that you have a realistic chance of achieving.
- Relevant. Make sure the goal has meaning and context.
- Timely. Keep yourself on-track for achieving this goal within a specific time period.
Together, these variables culminate in a specific pathway to achieving the SMART goal. Here’s a look at what an extremely simple SMART goal might look like, written out:
Reduce the setup time of Machine X by 10% in the Second Quarter. We will do this by pre-coordinating the process for die changeovers, consolidating three steps into a single routine action that’s performed before the changeover begins.
In the above example, there’s a specific objective that’s relevant within the factory landscape — one that’s measurable and timely, and theoretically achievable.
Why are SMART goals so important for maintenance?
SMART goals provide all the context a maintenance team needs to strive for specific improvements. Or, in simpler terms: SMART goals attach meaning to maintenance. Without SMART goals, maintenance is just maintenance for the sake of upkeep. SMART goals introduce the concept of improvement, turning maintenance into a catalyst for betterment.
Aside from giving maintenance technicians and teams a clear objective to work toward, SMART goals give manufacturers context for understanding. SMART goals lend themselves to projections, KPIs, budgeting, estimations, asset management, and much more. For example, if you have a goal of 10% downtime reduction on Machine X by the end of the Second Quarter, you can theoretically calculate the potential range of efficiency improvements into the third quarter as a result of achieving that goal. SMART goals beget smart insights, which leads to better planning, evaluation, and expectations.
SMART is a fundamental component in Lean
Any factory manager schooled in Lean concepts will recognize SMART goal setting as a core foundation of Lean initiatives. Every Lean concept that goes into practice is the product of SMART goal setting and is governed by the SMART characteristics that define it. Whether it’s an effort to reduce waste (muda) or an exercise in mistake-proofing (poka-yoke), SMART goals are what herald change in Lean factories.
Remember that the objective of Lean is operational efficiency. SMART goals are a testament to that objective, since they’re the most efficient, waste-free form of goal setting. It’s good practice to create SMART goals any time you set a goal, no matter the size or level of complexity.