A Devil’s Advocate’s Canard

Published December 12, 2012

In a recent presentation to an organization of reliability professionals, I put forth an educational concept that could release optimum value from the total cost of MRO operations. My talk included how to predict the future effect of MRO pricing on total cost of ownership and how to achieve positive effects for Maintenance’s ability to provide a reliable plant.

A proclaimed logistics engineer in the audience, with all smiles, averred that he liked to play the devil’s advocate. He proceeded to regale the audience as to how he was able to beat pricing from GSA and from corporate long-term agreements. When I asked him about the cost of attaining those prices, the cost of substitution, or the consideration of price vs. value, he waved me off by ranting about all the money he saved, “I showed those purchasing folks.” When I asked him who was doing his logistics work while he was doing Purchasing’s job, he kept repeating his premise that “Price is King” without acknowledging any of my retaliations… the way of most devil’s advocates.

In the REAL world of MRO, stores operations must be connected to maintenance reliability/lean programs in order for these programs to be effective at optimum. If the storeroom is unreliable, so are Maintenance programs and, in turn, so are the products produced.

If price is “King,” the parts supplied become inferior… They become the serfs of the kingdom and the kingdom is doomed.