Thursday, August 10, 2017

Take Your Medicine

If they had cancer and I had the cure in a pill, they still wouldn’t eat it.

This was the response a colleague gave me on my inquiry with respect to his presentation at a trade show. The cure he was talking about is a concept that reliability professionals have been relying on for decades: Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM).

However, most frustratingly for my colleague, attendees were listening but were totally unwilling to take their medicine.

Reliability Centred Maintenance is the conceptual framework that allows maintenance managers to create the most cost effective maintenance strategy for their operating environment.
It is the same concept employed across the world that has resulted in exponential improvements in air travel safety.

For the record, here are the seven RCM questions:
1.       What does it do (determine expected performance for operating environment)?
2.       How can the asset fail (define modes of failure, such as reduced braking ability or reduced output)?
3.       What causes the failure (define causes such as heat, friction, short circuit, crack)?
4.       What happens when the asset fails (brakes can’t stop, tank leaks etc.)?
5.       What are the consequences of each failure (safety/production risks)?
6.       How can we predict or prevent failure (maintenance monitoring or actions)?
7.       If you can’t be proactive, what else can be done?

In the hands of a trained practitioner, these questions can optimise the maintenance strategies of an entire organisation, and ensure that you renew/replenish critical components before they fail. Additionally, through a proactive education campaign, this can ensure that maintenance managers also understand the consequence of running their equipment too hard.

Two of the primary upshots are, less unplanned maintenance due to reduced failures, and, reduced downtime due to predicted appropriate spares holdings and service scheduling.

They all sound like positives right? Sure, but as any good professional knows, every function has a cost. The cost of RCM is primarily incurred when investing in the right resources and people to help your organisation.

In line with the hopes and dreams of managers that want something for nothing, the cost of handing an RCM book to your maintenance manager and assuring them that “he/she’s got this” is far, far, lower than getting a consultant in to do the job for them.

Unfortunately, initial cost is only one side of the equation. The truth of the matter is that you WILL NOT get the same value out of your investment, from someone trying to learn and implement RCM principles from scratch.

As I learned during my short tenure with an Asset Management consultancy, mature practitioners don’t need to recite the seven questions. The logic behind the questions becomes instinctive, and once you have that instinct, the road to optimisation is the only logical path.

And therein lies the problem for my colleague (being that he was overtly mature). What was logic for him may as well have been written in binary for the audience. They could only see the cost, which can be a very bitter pill to swallow.   

The benefit of getting the right people to optimise maintenance will be seen, not only in plant uptime and availability, but in the culture of your maintenance organisation. This is a long term benefit that continues to pay dividends long after the initial investment has been repaid many times over.

Of course the consequence of the third option (doing nothing) is death so…... 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Long Road to Redmeption

On instagram (@LoflytKULTURE) I recently asked what it will take for potential customers to forgive Holden for what ever trespasses they have perpetrated, and judge the products on their merit. It’s an interesting question because their road to ill repute is different to that of other brands. At the turn of the century Holden where the second most trusted brand in the country.
Let’s take Hyundai for example. They have been in the country for 31 years, and are now in a position where they are the third most popular brand in the country. In fact, they are the most popular brand in Australia which doesn’t have a light commercial truck (read pick up or ute).
I have many stories about people who have sworn off the South Korean manufacturer thanks to unreliable products that have come apart in owners hands.
Most recently, however, I saw a middle aged guy looking at an i20 for sale on the side of the road.
"Nothing remarkable about that" I hear you say.
I concur, but parked next to it was his i30, a few years old but in good condition.
Is it too much to assume that he is considering the i20 for his son/daughters first car?

Of course, this isn’t limited to Hyundai. Every manufacturer needs to earn their chops. That includes a period of self-improvement which often requires a domestic product acquiring the functional demands of foreign markets.
I’ve recently spent a great deal of time behind the wheel of many South Korean products, and each one draws me a little closer to that point where I no longer regard them as a second choice.
Rather, I now have the Kia Sorento as a lead runner in my families quest to replace our much loved Holden Commodore wagon. More on that another day, but 5 years ago, they didn’t even feature as a third string option.
So what has changed to allow the Sorento a look in? Why do I consider the Elantra GT a worthy daily commuter? Why did I recommend a co-worker look at an Optima GT?
Was it marketing? Well I just searched my brain for a memorable Kia ad…. still searching……”we’re living in the back of the carrr” (nope that’s the catchy earworm Mitsubishi ad).

It must be the product then. Having driven the Sorento extensively, I can’t say it’s a match for the Commodore wagon, but as with the other Kia products, it has the basics right.
So perhaps it's not the product... well, not just the product.
The reality is that all of those things make up a brands reputation. When you back it up with a segment leading warranty, just like Hyundai (5 years) and Kia (7 years), the result is trust.
That is what the Koreans are earning, year after year.
Equally, that is what Holden has lost recently, as they allowed older generation Korean products to die on their vine/lots.
I've driven the new Astra, and it is very good. The RS has an amazing amount of technology, drives like a Holden should, delivers exceptional economy, and even manages to provide a solid amount of value despite immigrating all the way from Europe.
But that is not enough. More new product, better marketing and longer warranty, is the only way Holden is going to earn back the consumers trust, and claw their way back to the top.
Oh, and time. There are no shortcuts on the road to redemption.
See more Korean Stuff here: #KOREADRIVEN
See more of the Astra here: #INSTASTRALOGIC

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hit For Six

The irony of most non-Australians not understanding the title of this article is not lost on me, nor is that irony misplaced.

Hitting a cricket ball out on the full is worth six runs, kind of like a home run.

The term, just like "home run", is regional and not necessarily appreciated by Canadians or Fijians, both of which have terrible international cricket teams.

Meanwhile, ask me which sport involves face dodging or butt caps and I'll head straight to google (It's Lacrosse apparently which also includes ground balls, D cuts and a poke check).

Many moons ago, cars were equally diverse and regional. Globalisation is technically kind of new and most vehicles went where they belonged (eg, British cars followed the British empire).

It's the proliferation of trade that has allowed new and amazing cars to become available anywhere in the world. For example, the Holden Commodore has been sold in every continent on Earth and is currently sold as a niche model in the United States. 

Likewise, the most ubiquitous mid sized car on Earth, is currently built in Australia for supply to Middle East, Pacific Islands and New Zealand. Our Camry engines are even delivered into Asia (surprising considering the density of manufacturing in that region). In fact the Camry is the most exported car from our sun burnt shores. 

That popularity is replicated in the domestic market with a top 6 finish last year, beating long time representative of Australian blokiness, the Holden Commodore. 

In return, our puny market has a ridiculous amount of competitors all vying for our cash. A borderline ridiculous 65 manufacturers! 

I've never hidden my preference for Commodores. Having owned seven and reviewed quite a number of them on, I appreciate their mile eating capability and in particular, engines that give credence to their associated stereotypes.

Never once have I attempted a donut, nor have I sought to impress a young lady with a line locky.

I do, however, indulge in other Commodore-esque activities like perfect exploitation of round-a-bouts, steering with the loud pedal and night flying excursions on long country sweepers.

Now feel free to call me biased, but I can't seem to ween myself off rorty 6 cylinder normally aspirated motors. That seems to be a major problem, because V6s are right up there with sugar, on societies hit list of things that must die. 

Currently, down my end of the market, the gruntier choice is typically a turbo or gasp, a turbo diesel (!). 

I've been behind the wheel of some of Europes decent oil burners (thanks Jaguar and Volvo for the opportunity) and been left mildly amused. No doubt both instances ultimately could wind up and carry enough speed to vanish in to the distance, using barely a sniff of the devils fuel, but they didn't really get my heart racing.

Some turbos even have plenty of power delivered in an authoritative shove in the back. Swift? For sure. Engaging? I don't know. I can't really hear what's going on....whoooosh.

They get you from A to B faster but that has never been the point. I need all my senses filled, even if it empties my wallet a little faster. 

So what ARE my options in the future? We know the Commodore has but 5 months (!) left of being made EVER. It's replacement will have a V6 flagship which should come in around 60k but will electrickefy everyone into thinking it's an admirable compromise for the loss of a national icon...

It appears that I'll be waiting for the next Camry to come out. That's right, the much maligned global king pin of steady-as-she-goes, Toyota, oft considered the brand that relies on porridge and refrigerators, will be one of very few manufacturers that will offer a V6 option for regular punters in Australia.

If they actually let the Aussies tune the suspension, it should be an absolute hoot, because the Aurion that I drove in March was everything an Aussie car should be: rorty, pointed, gruff, borderline unwieldy and too much fun for the national speed limit. 

Toyota have been in Australia since 1958 and the most Australian car they built is the last one. One that nobody (aside from the Police) buys. 

The Sportivo Aurion has a foot operated park brake, simple somewhat creaky plastic centre console and the illusion of sport seats. For that it should be burned at the stake.

Conversely, the torque steer is diabolical which requires and rewards all your attention, whilst the suspension keeps everything flat and responsive. The eye seering red paint and insectoid projector headlamps make baby jeezus cry and you can fit adults in the back seat. 

Moreover, there is a sunscreen on the back window that I can retract at the push of a button so I can flip you off when you mouth profanities at my round-a-bout skills. 

It's real world practicality mixed with actual real world feels and I miss it. Even my wife misses it! If it was a wagon, we'd probably buy it.

Imagine how much we are going to miss it's compatriots when they all die come October.

I think I need a bundy.

See more of this and some historic Toyotas on my IG tag (it's a link, just click it->): #TOYOTAREKISHI

If you're crazy enough, buy an Aurion here: For $44k some people will think you're the po po and the rest of society will think you're responsible.

Find me here: 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Swings and Roundabout Numbers

Loflyt Calculatron Numbers: 2016

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec (av) YTD Nov 2016 Est
Toyota 12453 16191 17849 16567 17201 22083 17465 18560 16716 16348 18162 17235.91 189595 206830.9 1
Mazda 10016 10205 10228 8461 9608 12455 8460 9258 12009 7921 9825 9858.727 108446 118304.7 2
Hyundai 7001 7701 9700 8643 9005 12300 7603 6536 9319 8704 7991 8591.182 94503 103094.2 3
Holden 6824 7340 8355 6710 7405 11376 7071 7667 8564 7521 7750 7871.182 86583 94454.18 4
Ford 5504 6656 6481 6842 6584 8316 6894 6849 7280 6508 6827 6794.636 74741 81535.64 5
Mitsubishi 5007 6681 6519 4178 6154 8726 5412 6136 6701 5227 5875 6056 66616 72672 6
Nissan 5563 5989 5811 4044 5585 6781 5304 5616 5177 5543 6341 5614 61754 67368 7
Volkswagen 4241 4922 5316 4732 4565 5933 4193 3893 4380 4869 4862 4718.727 51906 56624.73 8
Subaru 3405 3538 4825 3156 4002 5135 3356 3362 4050 4140 4141 3919.091 43110 47029.09 9
Kia 3116 3067 3366 3025 3542 5170 3555 3710 3687 3543 3573 3577.636 39354 42931.64 10
Mercedes-Benz 3099 3236 3728 3303 3373 3942 3180 3295 3565 3477 3584 3434.727 37782 41216.73
Honda 2898 3279 3421 2107 2663 5265 3198 3090 3783 3404 3502 3328.182 36610 39938.18
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec YTD Nov
Hilux 2341 3261 3897 3384 3675 4613 3136 3311 3209 3352 3839 3456.182 38018 1 41474.18
Corolla 2758 3455 3612 2959 3333 4427 3427 3554 3423 3210 3245 3400.273 37403 2 40803.27
i30 1852 2461 4198 4143 3771 6432 2216 1864 2741 2718 2514 3173.636 34910 3 38083.64
Ranger 2418 2655 2960 2973 3115 4078 2874 2964 2903 3217 3410 3051.545 33567 4 36618.55
Mazda 3 3722 3354 3145 2512 3243 4112 1501 2818 3491 2191 2877 2996.909 32966 5 35962.91
Commodore 1242 2331 2559 1908 2255 3054 1874 1952 2366 2101 2088 2157.273 23730 6 25887.27
CX-5 1750 2156 2252 1675 2117 2643 1933 1902 2662 1612 1956 2059.818 22658 7 24717.82
Camry 3049 2172 2458 2135 2957 12771
Triton 2165 2740 2021 2858 2246 12030
Accent 2034 1726 2189 2009 1995 9953
Tucson 2065 1849 2209 1845 7968
Golf 1692 1752 1811 1753 7008
Nissan Entrail 1991 1655 1938 5584
Colorado 1691 2397 4088
RAV4 1825 1766 3591
Navara 1670 1752 3422
CX-3 1604 1744 3348
Land Cruiser 1982 1982
ASX 1781 1781

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Swings & Roundabouts 2016 Australian Car Sales

Swings & Roundabouts 2016 Australian Car Sales

01 January 2017

Mick McWilliams
(twitter and Instagram)

So 2016 is over, and what a kick in the teeth it was. Volkswagen copped the first blundstone to the cake hole for telling porky pies. They’re still licking their wounds and have been ordered to pay out a whopping $19 billion AUD settlement in the US alone. Investigations are on going and many heads have rolled.

The biggest kick in the teeth locally was the closures of both the Holden engine plant at Fishermans Bend and the end of Ford manufacturing in Australia. This year we waved good bye to an Australian icon....

It’s dark times for the Australian industry, but it is unlikely that Ford sees it that way. On the back of strong sales of the Australian designed and Thai built Ranger, Ford has turned the sales tide which had seen them drop around 7000 sales in each of the previous 2 years.

According to the LOFLYT Calculatron, Ford will stack on a mammoth 10,000 sales over their 2015 result. In a vote of confidence in Ford Australia’s design capability, $500 million has been injected into Broadmeadows to ensure its position as one of only three global engineering centres is maintained. 

It’s up and up for the Blue Oval. Now that they are free to advertise the Mondeo, this will be their greatest test yet. Can the Euro sourced FWD offering take the place of the Falcon? Even half a slice of the Camry pie would be most welcome.

The results of the Top Ten brands hold few surprises. The extensive support and dealer network continues to pay dividends for Toyota Australia, who don't make leaps and bounds, but manage to maintain position in a fragmenting market. Mazda continue to impress with their SUV offerings. This years CX-3 debut was another outstanding contributor to the Zoom-Zoom portfolio.

The top ten Brands in Australia look like this:

That’s a big kudos to Kia breaking into the top ten for the first time. Tail end charlie for the last three years, Honda improved on a dismal 2015, but failed to catch the hard charging and highly awarded Korean.
Honda also finish behind 11th placed Mercedes-Benz, who continue what seems to be a never-ending assault of new and updated models (and segments).

There aren’t too many surprises, when it comes to most popular models either. Again, it's Toyota at the helm, with the Hilux and Corolla battling it out for the most sales in Australia. No doubt Toyota will trumpet the success in both breathes: most popular passenger car and most popular truck. (I have Hilux by around 600 sales).
There were more Corollas put on Australian roads this year than Hondas (yes all of the Hondas).

Short of a Christmas miracle, Hyundai i30 continues to kick the Mazda 3 around despite this generation of the South Korean having been on the market longer than its Japanese competitor. Coming home a strong third, the i30 continues to focus unpretentiously on solid value for money, and delivers on that promise with a wide range of options to their bread and butter compact.

Ford Australias brightest star, the Ranger, is looking at a fourth place finish, breaking over 36,000 sales for 2016. Highlighting the importance of the utility, if you remove Ranger volume, Ford Australia would be battling with Subaru for eighth place.

Mazda 3 may yet pip the Ranger at the post, but it’s been struggling internally against the rise of the CX-3 compact SUV.

The Commodore continues to post consistently higher than the Mazda CX-5 but in the end there could be less than 1000 sales difference between the two. Had the CX-5 won, it would be the first time an SUV has beaten the last remaining big local.

So that’s it, according to the Loflyt Calculatron. 1-2% growth for most of the top ten brands, double digit growth for Ford and Kia, with Holden and Volkswagen the biggest losers dropping 8% and 6% respectively.            
Of the top ten brands, only Hyundai, Kia and Subaru manage to feature in the Australian market month after month without a light commercial vehicle/truck/ute. 

As the mining industry dwindles further, will the new year tell a different story? 

Holden will cease production at the end of the year so can their new SUV line up arrive in time to keep them in the top 5?

Will the debut of the next generation i30 push Hyundai past Mazda into the second slot?

So many questions and so many reasons to watch 2017 unfold.

Here's the numbers: LoflytCALCULATRON