How do you successfully unify a vendor maintenance team and your facility's maintenance team?
For the most part, a facility's maintenance efforts will be handled by the facility's maintenance team - that should make sense to most people. However, it can be a bit of a thorny situation when maintenance for an asset (or part of an asset) is handled by the asset manufacturer.
In decent cases, the maintenance team and vendor team get along, while in the worst cases the maintenance efforts can be jeopardized in the first place by infighting, as there can be a lot of differences in regard to "proper" maintenance practices. There are other problems than just getting along, too; if an exterior maintenance technician does 20% of the work on an asset and doesn't document it, that's 20% of the asset's maintenance data that the facility doesn't have.
So how do we fix this?
Track data properly
In the case of data, it's vital to have all available data from all of a facility's assets, making a scenario like the one above unacceptable. In this case, it can be helpful to either train vendor technicians in using a facility CMMS or, if that's an uncomfortable solution, have one of the facility's maintenance technicians shadow them.
This accomplishes two goals: first, it allows the vendor technician to do their work properly. Second, it allows the facility to gather the requisite data.
Ensure mutual respect
People have disagreements - that's a natural part of being a human, for the most part. However, these disagreements shouldn't hinder the workplace, and they certainly shouldn't hurt a facility's maintenance efforts.
It's as important to train technicians to work as a team as it is to make sure they understand concepts like mutual respect, cultural competence, and conflict resolution. Some may find these to be useless, but they can make or break the relationship between vendor and facility maintenance teams.
For instance, let's say a facility has maintenance techs come in from a Japanese company. It's helpful for the facility's technicians to understand the barest cultural norms for Japanese people - after all, they're going to be working closing with the Japanese technicians. Doing this helps to ensure a smooth working relationship and avoid deep insult or discomfort on either party.
Organize training and documentation
Vendor maintenance teams shouldn't represent a thorn in a facility's side - rather, they should represent a training opportunity for your team's technicians.
Use these opportunities to their fullest by scheduling training and demos with vendor maintenance teams. Not only will technicians come to know each other via these sessions, but it provides alternative solutions in the event that vendor maintenance teams are unreachable in emergencies.
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