At AstraZeneca, maintenance can take its place in decision-making


Digitalisation is approximately 90 percent about people and 10 percent about technology. That’s why leadership is extremely important, says Jerry Johansson, who is Head of Engineering, Maintenance & Asset Management at AstraZeneca in Södertälje.

How is AstraZeneca working with digitalisation and maintenance?

– Since we have very high requirements for quality and for documentation, we collect a lot of information in our databases. We can then use that information. In other words, we have good existing systems for collecting data. Thanks to ordinary sensors embedded in the process, we have been able to find things and see connections that we did not see before. For example, we have found out that we could have identified a pump failure 50 days before the pump actually broke. So we can see that the technology works, and we are prepared to test it to a greater extent. There are more digital maintenance solutions just around the corner.

What do you see as obstacles along the way?

– One of the big challenges is understanding what we see. The basic problem is still a human one, it concerns our limitations. If we do not understand the basics, for example about how a machine works, we will also be unable to interpret the signals we find. Digitalisation is approximately 90 percent about people and 10 percent about technology.

How do you get people on board?

– This is where leadership comes in. We must simply be visionary and drive the development forward by challenging, stimulating and motivating our employees. Then we leaders must dare to let go. I think we are good at this at AstraZeneca; we cannot and should not try to do everything ourselves as leaders. We must also dare to challenge our processes and working methods.

In what way does good leadership create the conditions for good maintenance?

– At AstraZeneca, we have a vision that we should not have stoppages due to lack of maintenance. We will have stoppages, but only when we have chosen to drive towards stoppages. The leader’s role is to coach and to lead constantly, to take us towards the vision.

For example, it is important to come back after a breakdown and ask yourself why it happened. We work on this a lot, to connect the vision with everyday life.

astra-zenecaWhat challenges do you see ahead?

– How do we combine the digital journey with BAU (business as usual)? How can we reverse the process so we can find time to make changes before we have saved time? It must be made clear that digitalisation costs resources and we must dare to invest. It is only then that we can accelerate the digital journey. The big challenge is how to get it on the agenda and how we can incentivise investments in maintenance and digitalisation. How do we shift the focus from the maintenance budget to an understanding of the impact of maintenance on the company’s performance?

Have you succeeded with this at AstraZeneca?

– This is not easy, but I think we are heading in the right direction. Above all, maintenance operations are playing an increasingly important role in decisions. We understand that maintenance is important, even if it is not always on the agenda. My mission is to move it forward on the agenda, and to get the business to increase its understanding of how the function of the component/system affects the whole.

What will be required of maintenance in the future?

– It has to be more flexible. Maintenance will correct the gaps in production. We will also need to step up and take a big leap forward in competence – so that we will really be able to make use of the available technology and take advantage of the information our machines give us. This will be an interesting journey.

Digitalisation is one of the focus areas for Underhåll, the Maintenance Fair, which takes place on 10-13 March 2020 at the Swedish  Exhibition & Congress Centre, Gothenburg. Jerry Johansson will participate as one of the speakers on Friday, 13 March. He will then explain more about how to create the conditions for good maintenance with good leadership. You can find more information about Underhåll, the Swedish Maintenance Fair and its programme here

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