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Listen to Episode 87

Brian and Paul take a trip to the North Pole to talk about ways Santa and his team of elves can improve their operations with new technology.

In Episode 87, you’ll also learn:  

  • What to do if the Santa’s sleigh isn’t working 

  • How to be proactive and prepare for Christmas delivery 

  • Modernizing toy distribution systems and asset systems 

  • How Santa can run everything when there is less magic 

  • Ways to increase uptime 

  • What KPIs should be on Santa’s dashboard? 

Show Notes: 

Show Script:

Brian  
I'm Brian McDonald coming to you from Dude Solutions and today joining me again on the podcast is Paul Chance, our Senior Manufacturing Advisor here at the Dude. Paul, how you doing today? 

Paul Lachance
I'm doing great, Brian, it's always awesome to be here. Thank you.

Brian
So today's special podcast has a holiday theme. Now we completely understand there are a number of different religious and cultural celebrations around the holidays. However, today we are going to poke fun at Santa Claus and take a few maintenance and operations lessons from him and his crew. So Paul, are you ready?

Paul Lachance
I'm ready. 

Brian  
We came up with a couple of hypothetical situations that Santa may encounter around the time of Christmas. And none of these are ones that we've pulled off any storylines or anything. It's just what we came up with and what the kind of maintenance challenge would be around that. So the very first one is that Santa has got everything loaded up to go in the sleigh and the sleighs not working for whatever reason. So what kind of advice would you give Santa's on how he could not have this problem?

Paul Lachance  
Yeah, this is this is a good it's good hypothetical situation that will directly correlate to any manufacturer who it's 'go time,' you're at a critical juncture in producing or using your assets, and they don't function correctly. You know, the example of I don't think Santa is ever actually missed delivery of these presents to the good boys and girls around the planet. But what we don't know is what happened behind the scenes that moment when they're trying to get off the ground and that sleigh is not working. Probably what would have happened is the maintenance elves would have jumped right on that situation and probably come in and, and Jerry-rigged it and save the day and they were able to deliver and they were able to deliver those presents. What bothers me about manufacturers, and I'm hoping theoretically that Santa Claus, and all those elves that work with him, would would think of this is let's not let that happen next time. But let's come up with a proactive culture so that we can maybe build a preventive maintenance plan, do some testing, make sure we have the parts we need. So the inevitability of a problem occurs, but at least we can deal with the problem and in a perfect world, we make sure the sleigh is going to be operating correctly before we go to fire the thing up.

Brian  
Yeah, the thought of having to get those elves out there at the last minute. You know, you might not make it by midnight. There's so many things that could go wrong. It's a bit chaotic. 

Paul Lachance  
Well, I'm sure Santa was pretty stressed out. And you know, I'm sure the elves were too. But that's the great thing about maintenance team members, they come in and save the day. Often cases, they're the unsung heroes of facilities. I mean, we don't want to have to come in on those critical situations and always be fighting fires and saving the day, you want to try to create an environment where that doesn't happen in the first place. But when it does, you know, they raised to the level to go ahead and solve the problem. And the stakes are obviously pretty big on December 24.

Brian  
So that's a good example. The other hypothetical situation we talked about is looking around the toyline and distribution system and how that's been, say, modernized a bit and where there's opportunity for it to even you know, become more upgraded and efficient in how it delivers.

Paul Lachance  
Yeah, I mean, when I envision the North Pole and that the environment where these elves are all diligently working creating these toys. And they're probably starting a lot earlier than we realize, probably starting after they take a little break after the Christmas rush is over. But they start making those toys and distribution systems and the asset, the production assets. I'm sure in the old days when everything worked on magic, theu didn't need to do this. But in a modern environment, there's all kinds of technologies that can be used to make these organizations more efficient. Often we hear about this industrial Internet of Things, these IoT sensors that can be embedded in facilities and the assets and the distribution systems. And they're not necessarily just for maintenance, they're there for production aspects and so forth. But the maintenance operations can benefit from that. So that these toys can be created in an efficient manner and be ready on time.

Brian  
I think what's also really neat about the new sensors and IoT sensors is, this is going to be giving them information during that whole production timeline that could last six, eight months or be perpetual, depending what the situation is. So that they're not getting down to the last minute or the last three or four weeks before they don't have time to make up last production. Because I think that's always, you know, times always like that fourth dimension, you can't ever recuperate, you got unlimited supply. If you're not monitoring the production aspect with some intelligent sensors and such to help you kind of alert you when things are going to go wrong or steering to go wrong.

Paul Lachance  
Yeah, I'm always you know, when when we see when you walk into your local Target, and you start to see the all the Christmas stuff starting to show up and you're like, 'Oh, it's that time of year.' It's always way too early for me personally. But what you don't realize is that stuff has been planned and created through the whole course of the year leading up to that and that's got to be no different at the North Pole. That they are getting ready to create their products through the course of the year. So, efficiency, and I think IoT sensors and in the modern facility and that technologies and that's in there is to the benefit of that production process. And again, that does correlate to how we can do maintenance as well. At the end of the day, if they're making their toys and all of a sudden, there's some sort of a problem one of the assets or the distribution system, and an alarm work order shows up on their on their desktop, or even better yet on their mobile device, so that their maintenance elves can come in there and address it, it just will make that process be so much more smooth.

Brian  
The next hypothetical situation we came up with is Santa's workshop runs on magic, right? But the supply magic has run out. So now he has to operate his workshop the same as anybody else on the planet. So I'm Santa, and Paul I'm coming up to you and I'm like, well, I've lost my magic. What do I do?

Paul Lachance  
For the record, I think we're going to make sure if there's any kids listening, Santa's workshop still runs at least partially on magic. 

Brian  
Yeah, it's still running on magic. This is a hypothetical.

Paul Lachance  
Right. But is it enough? And so, I looked at some interesting statistics. In 1960, there were 1 billion children on this planet. By around now, there's almost 2 billion children on this planet, we're going to have to assume that some of them are naughty and Santa Claus is not going to stop there. But that's a heck of a lot of additional kids. In a span of time that you got to figure that the production capabilities of the North Pole factories there probably have had to increase dramatically. And so is magic enough, maybe but if it isn't, there are all kinds of great technologies and efficiencies that we can do. You don't necessarily have to directly scale your production capabilities to match up with that demand. Maybe you can be more efficient. A big one I always go to is increasing your uptime. If your uptime was 87%, and hopefully with magic, Santa's workshops are better than 87%, but let's just say it was you got to get that up to 90, 92, 94, 96%. You'd be amazed how much increased productivity you get out of your assets by just having better uptime and it's a much more cost effective way of approaching that. But if you're going to try to do more with what you have to work with, CMMS is a great way. Your maintenance operations and improving that is a great way because that will ultimately contribute to increasing your uptime. So some examples might be the ability to always know on your dashboards, your maintenance elves, for example. He or she can look at their dashboard every day and see how many work orders are ongoing. Are they properly prioritized? Do I have the right people on the right jobs because you're trying to really streamline and make those processes more efficient. Another example might be the ability to notify whenever there's an issue around a work order, why not? Are you properly requisitioning the appropriate people, even contractors? I mean, I have to imagine on the North Pole if you need a contractor that might be you want to make sure you're efficient about it. Maybe Mr. Heatmiser is one of the guys that you call on if you're having problems with your HVAC systems. But notification of appropriate staff and those things to really streamline and optimize I think can be can be very helpful. And again, with the ultimate goal of increasing that uptime.

Brian  
I would hate to see the added cost of service fee for a maintenance call to the North Pole.

Paul Lachance  
Well, Mr. Heatmiser is probably local, and maybe there's some local Intuit type that can also assist in the process.

Brian  
We've got to make sure he doesn't need any real extreme specialist for a part that's only made like the other side of the planet or something.

Paul Lachance  
If I were Santa, or I was Santa's Director of Maintenance, I would save the magic for those scenario. 

Brian  
There you go. 

Paul Lachance  
That would probably be the best way to do it. But you know, another one we can we can look at is mobility. You know, in the old days, they didn't have those mobile devices, or maybe they did at the North Pole, they're probably on the cutting edge of all these technologies up there. But those mobile devices and have those maintenance elves right there in the workshops where Santa's elves are making those toys, and knowing what work orders are coming up and how you can address them and use the camera and the video abilities of these of these devices to really help streamline that process.

Brian  
I would love to see what Santa's dashboard looks like. From a couple of different perspectives one, like what's, what's the color theme and all that, you know, how does how does he kind of probably got some really cool design elements on the borders, but exactly how you know what KPIs is he using and how is he displaying those?

Paul Lachance  
Well, from a maintenance standpoint, KPIs and there's a variety of them, but things like schedule compliance, am I getting to my preventive maintenance and again, this is an all-year project. It's not just December 24, but am I getting to my preventive maintenance? Do I have my spare parts on hand for those? For that preventive maintenance? Are there any safety work orders or emergency work orders, things of that nature? How long is it taking me to get to these work orders but KPIs, key performance indicators, and dashboard charts and so forth can be a great way to catch problems before they sort of spiral out of hand. So I imagine Santa though however, probably does have some creative ones like forecasting production of how many naughty kids there are and good kids there are that might impact and tie into your production.

Brian  
There is probably a ratio, that it will affect the production line, the volume of the production.

Paul Lachance  
And that's no different than how manufacturers work today. There's a correlation between demand and production and that will also tie in with your maintenance operations. If demand is up, you're going to have to make sure you maybe have more spare parts. So there's a sort of a dance that happens between the production elves, the maintenance elves and Santa, Mrs. Claus.

Brian  
Inventory,  warehousing all the different things you need.

Paul Lachance  
Exactly, especially because it's the North Pole. I mean, you know that getting these parts is not necessarily easy. 3D printing, however, maybe some day, Santa and the team will really take advantage of.

Brian  
So I want to thank Paul for coming in today talking a little bit about hypothetical situations that Santa and his elves may encounter. 

Paul Lachance  
Thank you, Brian. It was an interesting and fun way to look at maintenance operation, so I appreciate it. I want to wish everybody Happy Holidays!

Brian  
Yes, definitely. We want to wish all of our listeners a Happy Holidays. And until next time, I'm Brian McDonald at Dude Solutions.

Thank you for listening to the Operate Intelligently podcast produced by Dude Solutions. You can reach us by emailing dspodcast@dudesolutions.com or check us out on the web at dudesolutions.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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