Ai generated image of a Lean factory floor
June 25, 2024
Ai generated image of a Lean factory floor
June 25, 2024
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Get to Know Our Consultants – Nick Brownsword

two people in high viz in an industrial wood yard

Nick Brownsword has over 25 years of experience in business improvement globally and locally. He’s worked for big clients like Fonterra, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Cedenco, Heinz, and Tranz Rail. He originally hails from the United Kingdom, has a background in mechanical engineering, and worked for many years in food manufacturing at Unilever. Nick led the Operational Excellence Team at Fonterra. That’s where he met Geerten. Nick has been with the Productivity People from its start 5 year ago.

Nick first visited New Zealand on his OE at 22, he fell in love with the place and decided he wanted to live here. So, on returning to the UK, he spent the next five years gearing up to immigrate.

With an extensive background in Total Preventative Maintenance (TPM), Nick believes that Preventative Maintenance (PM) is “mission-critical” for every organisation. In this article, we chat with him about why that is and why it’s so important for New Zealand businesses. Plus, we find out what he loves about living in Aotearoa.


Preventative Maintenance: Mission-Critical

 Preventative Maintenance is a structured approach to regularly checking and monitoring equipment and identify potential issues to avoid costly breakdowns. “It’s mission-critical because if you’re running a business and you’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and you don’t look after them, they are more likely to let you down or cause quality issues in the long run,” he says.

He likens it to visiting the doctor or dentist. “If you go for regular check-ups, and they can catch any minor issues early, you can avoid painful and costly issues down the track.”  If you want to run a stable operation, you should have good preventative maintenance systems in place. “That can range from, Basic Care at an operator’s level, knowing what a piece of equipment should sound, feel, and run like, or it could require a more technical approach, such as vibration analysis, oil analysis, or thermography.”


Boosting NZ’s Productivity

 Nick believes that by improving productivity, more New Zealand businesses will compete globally. “By helping them to improve their productivity, they can export more, and New Zealand can earn more export dollars, which helps grow our overall GDP. This means we can build more hospitals, schools, and employ more local people.”

One way to do this is by ensuring an organisation has good PM processes in place. This could include keeping a history of your equipment’s performance, hiring trained and qualified staff, and having a contingency plan. “It’s important to have trade staff that are technically competent. Having those basic skills developed at a high level is key because if you put a shaft on and it’s not aligned properly, it will wear the bearing within a very short time”.

One of the first things he talks about with an organisation is ‘critical spares’ — the components you hold on-site or at a local supplier in case something breaks down. “It’s common to hear businesses say, somethings broken and it’s going to take three weeks to get here from Germany. Then everything has to stop. So, one of the first conversations we have is ‘Do you have a contingency plan, and what might that be?’”


On Moving to New Zealand

 He says moving to New Zealand was “unquestionably the right thing to do. It’s been a great place to bring up kids, and from a professional perspective it’s provided huge opportunities to develop, contribute, and work with interesting organisations and watch them prosper and grow.”

When not working, Nick Brownsword and his wife can be found enjoying the outdoors. They are avid trampers and for the past 10 years have spent every summer enjoying road trips around New Zealand. “Most years we typically do a big loop around the South Island and combine that with exploring and tramping.” Raising kids in New Zealand has meant their children have developed that same passion. “We also enjoy skiing, and our kids have been tramping since they were six or seven. Our daughter is now a ski instructor and my boys are about to spend six-weeks skiing in Queenstown.”

One of his favourite places to visit in New Zealand is the Catlins. “It’s beautiful there. It’s got pristine native bush that runs right down to sandy beaches, and it’s not on the main tourist trail. We’ve visited it numerous times. We love it because you can have 3 kilometres of sandy beach all to yourself, unlike our friends who go on a holiday in the UK and there’s 8-million people on the beach.”

This article was written for Productivity People by Kristine Aitchison from Write as Rain.