Harold Robinson & Associates

Operations Management Specialists

Business Coaching, Root Cause Analysis, Maintenance Management, Risk and Reliability Engineering, Lean Manufacturing, Work Study

About Harold Robinson

Harold is an experienced Business Coach and Management Consultant, specialising in Operations with emphasis on Root Cause Analysis, Maintenance Management and Lean Manufacturing. He is a qualified engineer with a BSc Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from Wits.

He has been consulting and training for over 35 years, working with a variety of prestigious clients including large manufacturers, academic institutions and development organisations. His focus has however, been in manufacturing and engineering organisations, and he has managed factories with products varying from lifts and electric cables to sweets. His objective is to help people enjoy their work by using logic and creativity to improve the way they do things.



Harold has trained hundreds of business people in Operations Management topics such as Production, Maintenance, Inventory and Project management, as well as Industrial Engineering. What sets his training apart is that it is focused on the practical application of techniques through the use of case studies that he has taken from real life situations. When he runs in-company training he encourages the use of projects from your workplace.

Allow Harold to assist your organisation to identify areas of opportunity for productivity improvement, and to implement these to increase your competitiveness. This will enable your employees to initiate sustained improvements in their working environment.

Through working with your people, Harold is able to obtain an understanding of what they are trying to achieve and the operational issues that they need to deal with. This is done through:

Business Coaching

Harold will work with you and your managers to achieve your organisation's business objectives.With his vast experience he will challenge you to improve the operation and help you manage the projects that you are working on.


Use Harold to analyse a problematic business situation for you and advise you on the way forward.

Training and Facilitation

Whether you want formal classroom training, or have Harold facilitate improvement teams, the content will be directly applicable to the work place. He uses case studies and problems from your work situation to demonstrate techniques that can be applied immediately after the training.

Organisations he has assisted

Afrimat Limited Amka Products
Assmang Khumani Iron Ore Mine Dept of Water Affairs and Forestry
DRDGold Ergo Ford Motor Company
Glass SA Hulamin
Ingwe Coal Lafarge Cement
Legal Aid Mondipak
NPC-Cimpor Namibia Development Corporation
Nestle Sasko Bakeries
Shell Smiths Manufacturing
Supreme Springs Transnet Pipelines
UCL Sugar Mill University of Zululand
  • "Harold's training has been very practical and delegates have derived substantial benefit from it. We will continue to use him for further training and I recommend him strongly for any training in your company."

    Kevin Kruger - Technical Director, DRDGOLD ERGO

  • "Harold's training was well structured and effectively delivered."

    Zunaid Alli - Head of Operations, AMKA PRODUCTS

  • "Delegates have learnt substantially from Harold's training and are applying the principles and techniques taught."

    Johan Bisschoff - General Manager Engineering, AFRIMAT

  • "Harold Robinson has a genuine love for what he does. I found his courses to be thorough, insightful and relevant."

    Michael Mullineux - Junior Engineer, AFRIMAT

  • "Delegates enjoyed Harold's relaxed style of presentation that encouraged active participation."

    Andries van Heerden - CEO, AFRIMAT

  • "Harold is able to work with people at all levels, the advice he gives is well thought out and considered. I strongly recommend him for any consulting assignment."

    Mark Veness - Production Director, EDDELS SHOES (Pty) Ltd

  • "One of the highlights of his in-company training was the inclusion of problems that delegates brought from the plants - it really helped them understand the principles and techniques."

    Mathura Brijlall - Group Risk Manager, NPC CIMPOR

  • "I would like to offer my thanks for the professional way in which you conducted the training. The courses not only met but exceeded our expectations."

    Christo Booysens - Superintendent Planning, ASSMANG LTD

  • "I would not hesitate to recommend this course to any company looking to improve their problem solving ability."

    Zaheed Yacoob - SHEQ Manager, MONDIPAK PINETOWN

  • "We believe that you met the course objectives as well as our expectations."

    Samah Elsadig Awad - Training & Development Manager, SAYGA FOOD INDUSTRIES

  • "Harold's training and coaching reviews have been most beneficial to us. He communicates well with everybody in the Company and we appreciate his practical approach."

    Mike Bowley - Manager, SASKO BAKERIES

  • "In all his dealings, Harold's advice has been sound. He is able to communicate at all levels in the company, and his training has been extremely well received."

    Kylie Griffin - HR Manager (MDWT Champion), PFK ELECTRONICS



Business Coaching for Results

WHY COACHING? Business coaching helps people become more effective in order to make business more effective. It has emerged in recent years as a popular and effective way to develop leaders, because organisations find that it keeps them focused on the bottom line. The success of coaching is borne out by these quotes from Global Leaders and the Media:


“Does coaching work? Yes. Good coaches provide a truly important service. They tell you the truth when no one else will.” Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric

“Business coaching is attracting America’s top CEOs because put simply, business coaching works. In fact, when asked for a conservative estimate of monetary payoff from the coaching they got, managers described an average return of more than six times what the coaching had cost their companies.”  FORTUNE Magazine

"I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable."  John Russell, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson Europe Ltd

While many of us accept the benefits of training, we underestimate the power of coaching. The Centre for Management and Organisational Effectiveness found that training combined with coaching leads to an 88% increase in productivity versus 23% from training alone. 


Your investment in coaching will result in huge benefit for your business as people start to better:

Clarify work goals and develop  concrete action strategies

Recognise and develop new leadership competencies

Improve any specific area of performance

Contribute to the development of others, which in turn will contribute to the development of the organisation

Provide support to anyone who needs to fulfil a new role or take on greater responsibility

Individual business owners, managers and leaders will: 

Build confidence for going into major situations, dealing with crises or handling conflict

Articulate ideas and messages and communicate them effectively at all levels

Develop the ability to work with diverse and different types of people

Reduce their feeling of isolation and stress with an objective sounding board when making high-level decisions


“The best coaches really care about people. They have a sincere interest in people.” Byron & Catherine Pulsifer

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise personal and professional potential. It’s about bringing out their expertise, creativity and resourcefulness.

We subscribe to the ethical guidelines and core competencies developed by the ICF, Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA) and SA Business Coaches. This means that coaching is provided in a safe, confidential and professional environment.


We are qualified to coach in a variety of business types and situations. However, with our vast experience in manufacturing, engineering and mining companies, we specialise in coaching people in technical and operations disciplines:

Business owners of engineering and manufacturing companies

Engineers and engineering managers

Manufacturing managers, supervisors and team leaders

Supply chain and logistics managers and specialists

Maintenance managers, engineers and supervisors

Mine managers, engineers and supervisors

Non-technical managers working for technical organisations


Contact us for an obligation-free complimentary coaching session or if you have any queries.

Continuous Improvement with Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis is a wonderful technique to eliminate long-standing problems in your business. Achieve a sustained problem-solving culture through a step by step implementation. Assistance will be provided in the design of a problem-solving structure, the training of people and the coaching of teams.

Maintenance and Reliability Management

Increase your equipment uptime and reduce maintenance costs by developing effective maintenance practices. Use the latest reliability engineering techniques combined with world-class maintenance to achieve enormous improvement gains. Professional on-site consulting and training services or a combination of both are available.

Operations Management Consulting

Business Process improvement, Production Management, Inventory Management, Supply Chain Management and World Class Manufacturing techniques adapted and applied to your business.

Work Study

Use work measurement, method study and activity sampling techniques to analyse what your staff are doing. This will facilitate improved productivity and manpower planning. Ever wonder what the people in indirect or overhead departments such as finance, design, planning, marketing and human resources actually do? Through the analysis of work volumes and business processes you will get to know what they are doing, and what changes need to be made to ensure that their efforts are directed at the objectives of the business.

Lean Manufacturing

Just-in-time techniques are used to eliminate waste from your manufacturing processes and enable you to offer your customers better quality and more reliable lead times. You will also improve your profit margins. Your staff will learn how to identify waste and non-value added activities, and apply lean manufacturing techniques such as creating flow, pull production and visual management.


Use Harold’s practical training to get people to learn principles and techniques that can be used immediately and are directly applicable to their workplace. All the training is accompanied by practical examples with case studies and problems from your organisation to demonstrate the application of the material.

Training courses are adapted for your company. Harold also provides follow-up coaching and facilitation after the training course has been completed. 

Root Cause Analysis

Apply root cause analysis and problem solving techniques to reduce and eliminate chronic problems that are thwarting your organisation’s efforts at achieving sustained improvements and profitability. During this two-day course, participants will learn to target their problem solving actions so that their efforts are more profound and far-reaching and will implement lasting solutions to the problems.


During this workshop, proven Root Cause Analysis (RCA) techniques will be applied to practical case studies. After the course, delegates will be able to:


·         Apply the techniques learnt to their work situation

·         Start solving repetitive problems

·         Achieve substantial performance improvements


Where will the techniques be applicable?


·         Reducing plant and equipment downtime and improving availability and OEE

·         Investigating incidents and improving safety

·         Resolving customer complaints and improving customer service

·         Reducing product defects and improving quality


Participants will also apply the learning to a problem from their own workplace, and will gain a practical insight into RCA.


They will know how to target their problem solving actions so that their efforts are more profound and far-reaching.


The course duration is two days. One day will be spent learning the techniques and applying these to case studies.


Delegates are then given two to three weeks to apply the techniques to a problem from their workplace, which is followed by a feedback session on the second day of training.



The Problem Solving Process – the seven steps in the RCA process          


Initial Evidence Collection and Analysis – how to begin with the RCA


Defining a Problem - making sure that you have sufficient information to fully understand and appreciate the situation and not jump to premature conclusions    


Information Sources and Resources – preparing a plan to gather information and where to find it


Pareto Analysis - your problem solving efforts should be directed where they will have the most effect. This section helps you to prioritise projects


The Flow Process Diagram - how to do a graphic presentation of a process or a sequence of events


Control Barrier Analysis - how effective are the aids we put in place to stop failure from happening


Change Analysis – determining how a failed process differs from one that hasn’t failed


Five Why Analysis – a cause and effect determination process which forms the basis of most problem solving techniques


Logic Tree – an extension of the 5-why process which is useful for more complex problems


Corrective Actions and the PDCA Process – what actions are required to prevent the problem from recurring and how to get commitment to these actions?


Communicating your Findings – the written and verbal communication of the team’s findings to management, colleagues and other interested parties


Organising for Root Cause Analysis – How do we go about making sure that RCA is done throughout the organisation in a structured, sustained manner? Who decides which problems to solve?


The RCA Team – selecting team members and the effective operation of a team

Root Cause Analysis Training Videos

Watch Harold's two 10 minute YouTube videos on Root Cause Analysis: MINOR CRACKS...MAJOR DISASTERS and WHAT IS ROOT CAUSE?


Click here to watch Minor Cracks…Major Disasters

Click here to watch What is Root Cause?

Maintenance and Reliability Analysis for Industrial Equipment

Become expert at managing your assets more cost effectively through using a combination of statistical and engineering maintenance techniques to predict performance and manage it better. The course duration is three days and covers state-of-the-art reliability engineering principles to improve your overall asset performance.


Reliability Engineering has become a critical tool for the asset management and maintenance of industrial equipment. It involves techniques and procedures  to analyse the   performance   of   the   equipment  and   to reduce failures and downtime. This will have a direct positive impact on profitability. Delegates will concentrate on understanding and managing these techniques, defining how to bring financial returns to the organisations which implement them, and how to avoid the problem areas. Case studies and workshops will be used throughout to keep the discussions on a very practical level so that delegates may apply the techniques to their own work environment.


Course Objectives


Failure Prevention in recent years has become closely related to Reliability Engineering, which can add great value to an organisation's maintenance and operations functions. In this course delegates will:


• Learn and understand the nature of industrial equipment failure

• Use practical examples relating to equipment typical of their own work-site

• Understand how reliability engineering can be used to develop preventative maintenance plans

• Learn how to use statistical tools to predict equipment failure

• Learn how to determine inspection intervals

• Use Root Cause Analysis and continuous improvement to enhance reliability

• Discuss conditions that need to exist in the organisation to achieve improved reliability


The three day course concludes after delegates have developed their personal reliability improvement plan for their workplace.





Failure Behaviour of Machines and Components


Why it is important to understand the nature and consequence of failure

Hazard rates, failure patterns and life determination of machines

Functional and potential failure


Maintenance Tactics


How maintenance tactics assist in managing failure and improving reliability

Best practices in maintenance tactics


Reliability engineering concepts


Basic definitions and the need for reliability

Elements of operational reliability analysis

Selected reliability improvement process steps


Practical Approach to Engineering Maintenance


The need for effective equipment maintenance

Getting the basics right: Proper operation, cleaning, lubrication and basic maintenance

Establishing maintenance as a business process

Fundamentals of TPM and OEE


Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) Techniques

Introduction to CBM

Basic techniques

Selecting CBM techniques for equipment


Fundamentals of Risk Based Inspection (RBI)


Introduction to RBI

RBI methodology

Applying risk management principles

Establishment of an inspection program


Availability of Equipment and Systems


Availability of repairable system

Determining system availability

Availability of series and parallel networks


Fundamentals of Data Collection


Collection of maintenance data

Errors in data collection

Obtaining information from data


Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and Continuous Improvement


Common RCA methods

Applying RCA to improve reliability

Keys to the successful application of RCA


Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)


Common use of FTA application

Role of FTA in decision making

Constructing FTA diagrams


Using Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) to design a Maintenance Plan


RCM technology and concepts

Identifying candidates for RCM analysis

RCM process and FMEA


Quantitative Methods for Evaluating Maintenance Data


Statistical techniques

The Weibull distribution and its application in reliability


Developing a Reliability Improvement Plan

Maintenance maturity matrix

Developing the reliability improvement plan

Maintenance Planning and Scheduling

Get more out of your maintenance workforce and contractors through the application of best maintenance practice, and planning and scheduling techniques. This three-day course takes the delegate from a basic understanding of equipment failure and maintenance strategies, to detailed planning and scheduling of the maintenance tasks required.


Maintenance Planning and Scheduling is a three-day course which defines the core principles of maintenance management, such as failure behaviour and maintenance tactics and tasks.

Delegates learn how to determine planned maintenance requirements. Thereafter, they will learn to scope a job to determine the requirements and convert it into a comprehensive maintenance instruction.

Delegates will also learn how to develop systems to manage different types of maintenance tasks and their documentation and ensure that equipment history is available.

Long term and short term manpower planning is covered, as is prioritizing and scheduling the work to be done.

This is followed by shutdown planning and the course ends with defining the roles of the maintenance planner and other role players in the planning of maintenance.





What maintenance actually is and why it is becoming so important


Failure behaviour

What we mean by failure, what causes early life failure and the different patterns for end of life failure

Definition of potential and functional failure and how they can be used for planned maintenance

Using the RCM decision tree


Tactics and tasks

Determining the optimum maintenance tactics and associated tasks

Using an FMEA to develop preventive and predictive maintenance tasks


Scoping the maintenance task

Determining all the resources required to carry out the task and estimating the cost


Manpower planning

Calculating the long-term capacity requirements and determining the short-term manpower capacity available



Determining the priority of jobs and scheduling with the available manpower capacity


Work and document management system

Defining maintenance tasks and the documentation to communicate these and the optimum flow of information and developing a comprehensive system


Shutdown management

Whether the shutdown is planned for a few hours or a few weeks, effective planning can save us substantial time and money


Planning and scheduling roles

What are the roles of the different parties involved and what should a maintenance planner’s job description look like?

Essential Maintenance Management

Essential Maintenance Management concentrates on fundamental principles of maintenance management, such as failure behaviour and maintenance tactics and tasks. The course duration is two days, during which time delegates will learn how the organisation can move from a reactive maintenance environment to a proactive one.


Essential Maintenance Management is a two-day course which concentrates on the core principles of maintenance management including failure behaviour and maintenance tactics and tasks.

One of the highlights is the interactive simulation game in which delegates are required to choose maintenance tactics in a competitive environment. Not only is the game a lot of fun, but fundamental learning is gained.

Principles and methods discussed for managing maintenance are just as appropriate for senior production and operations staff; the course provides an ideal communication environment where engineering and operations can gain insight and share experiences to develop a common objective.




What maintenance actually is and why it is becoming so important

Failure behaviour

What we mean by failure, what causes early life failure and the different patterns for end of life failure

Definition of potential and functional failure and how they can be used for planned maintenance

Using the RCM decision tree

Tactics and tasks

Determining the optimum maintenance tactics and associated tasks

Using an FMEA to develop preventive and predictive maintenance tasks

Equipment capability and reliability

How do we determine equipment capacity? Why it is important that we do

Understanding the concepts of reliability, maintainability and availability and how we can use these

Maintenance simulation game

Operating in teams, delegates get to put concepts into practice and compete to see who uses the maintenance tactics to best effect.

Measuring the maintenance effort: commonly used kpi’s

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

Using leading and lagging indicators to measure the maintenance effort

Maintenance review: assessing our maintenance maturity

What do world class companies do?

Assessing our maintenance performance

Lean manufacturing

Improve the profitability of your organisation by eliminating wasteful practices through the application of tested lean techniques such as lead-time and work-in-process reduction and pull production. Over two days, participants will apply the learning by analysing their own workplace and implementing improvements.


Lean thinking is a widely adopted customer-facing improvement approach that can greatly simplify processes and improve performance in both manufacturing and service organizations. Effectively applying Lean principles and tools can significantly improve productivity and reduce waste and associated costs. At the same time, these tools drive an improvement in customer service and satisfaction levels.

This intensive two-day program gives participants a practical, hands-on, learning-by-doing experience applying Lean methodologies in a simulated environment. Participants will develop basic skills in how to use Lean tools to achieve continuous improvement.


Introduction and History of Lean

  • Definition of Lean
  • The History of Lean
  • The Benefits of Lean
  • Defining Value
  • Key ideas supporting Lean Process Improvement: value, waste, variation, complexity, continuous improvement
  • The concept of Flow in a Process
  • The Concept and Impact of Pull

Waste Elimination

  • Introduction to the Seven Wastes
  • Muda, Muri, and Mura
  • Recognising Waste at the Workplace
  • Documenting Wasteful Activities
  • Developing a Lean Mind-set

Lean Techniques

  • 5S
  • 5W-2H
  • 5 Why Analysis
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Pareto Diagrams
  • Cause-and-Effect Diagrams
  • SIPOC diagrams
  • TAKT Time
  • Flow Rate:  Constraint (Bottleneck) Management
  • Kanban
  • PDCA
  • Genchi  Genbutsu
  • Single Piece Flow & Batch Reduction
  • Changeover Reduction
  • Work Cell Design
  • Workload Balancing & Demand Levelling
  • Standard Work
  • Visual Management
  • Kaizen

 Implementing and Sustaining Lean

  • Obtaining “Buy-in”
  • The Starting Point
  • Transferring Knowledge
  • Leader Standard Work (LSW)
  • Leader Task Boards
  • A3 Coaching
  • Process Performance Boards
  • How Meetings can be used in a Lean Environment
  • Sustaining Lean Efforts


Do you need someone to reinforce or introduce Root Cause Analysis, Reliability Engineering or Lean Manufacturing? Whether it is for a conference or an in-company meeting we will deliver a presentation to fit your agenda. 

Some suggested topics are listed below. These presentations will be customised in terms of subject, content and duration.  Please contact us to discuss your requirements.


How to achieve massive performance improvements through repairing the cracks in your business.


Business catastrophes seldom happen without warning; in most cases the cracks were evident, but were either ignored or not observed.

How do some organisations have substantially fewer disastrous safety or quality incidents than others? It’s not luck or good fortune. They systematically address the cracks in the business that lead to the major disasters.

During the presentation, examples are used to show how anomalies that existed in organisations ultimately led to massive failure. We adjust to and live with these anomalies without realising how they reduce our ability to avoid failure.

Three levels of Root Cause are covered – physical, human and latent. Some Root Cause techniques will be discussed, and the five-why technique will be used by delegates on problems from their workplace.

Implementing problem solving on a continuous, sustained basis is a major challenge and there are certain ingredients necessary to do this. Each delegate will prepare his or her own action plan for their company or their department or section.

In just one hour, this presentation will change the way you view your workplace.


Routine meetings at all levels of business are often treated with disdain, not taken seriously and even abandoned. But they can prevent disaster and be a valuable source of problem solving and improvement ideas.


We spend a lot of time in meetings these days and most of them are mind-numbingly dull and boring. Many individuals manage to turn up to a meeting and contribute nothing other than a few disparaging remarks.

Team meetings can be an essential tool for the business. To achieve this, it is crucial that you make them productive, worthwhile and interesting to attend. You can do this by making sure that your meetings always include sharing information, solving problems or making decisions, creating new ideas, collaborating and learning and socialising.

In this presentation, we will show some examples of disastrous events that have occurred in organisations that could have been avoided with the use of a well-run, routine meeting. And we also look at reasons why they become a source of frustration rather than a useful business communication tool.

But, how do you turn your boring meetings around? What does it take to keep co-workers engaged during a meeting?

With a few simple tweaks, you could go from unexciting, ‘so-so’ meetings to meetings that actually make a difference.


Improved machine reliability is not a matter of luck; it is in the main dependent on how you operate and maintain the machines.


Imagine a world where our equipment is not reliable. We wouldn’t be able to plan. Or keep any promises on deliveries. Or be confident of our product quality. More than likely we would end up in a reactive fire-fighting mode where we just fix machines as things go wrong.

Does this sound like a familiar scenario? Some would say “Been there, done that!” And for others it may be a case of “Been there, still there!”

The level of equipment reliability has immediate influence on your business profitability through the direct and business-wide consequential impacts of failure. It is thus crucial that everyone in the organisation to have a common understanding of reliability and work at improving it.

For example, consider the impact of a buyer sourcing an inferior part. The  reliability  of  equipment  depends  on  the  reliability  of  its  individual  parts. For high equipment reliability each part must have far higher reliability than needed for the equipment. If the buyer doesn’t understand this, he will unknowingly compromise the overall equipment and ultimately the plant reliability.

If you are still in the “Been there, still there” situation, you will want all your managers to hear this presentation. During the presentation we will discuss what reliability is and what you can do to achieve reliability excellence.


“Insightful and a strong value added, all businesses should go through this.”


 “Insightful and a strong value added. All businesses should go through this.” - Paarl Media Gauteng

"A well-known topic but refreshingly and professionally presented with excellent anecdotes that encourages one to check personal mind-sets and adopt a more intensive approach to RCA" - Ergo Business Development Academy / DRDGOLD Ergo

“It was a great presentation, I particularly appreciated the interactive approach which gave me some insight into how other companies and their employees deal with the subject of problem solving in a real-world environment. It also highlighted how a consistent and structured analysis can overcome decision making based on assumptions and preconceptions.” - WIKA Instruments

 “The session was really a reminder into the power of proper root cause analysis. The examples that he provides are really simple but pertinent to our environment. The amazing thing is that when he drills into the root cause you can see that the actual fundamentals of the plant operation failed, which is very similar to what is happening with us.” - AEL Mining Services

 “The presentation was insightful and well presented. Thank you for your time.” It was impressive, had an involved audience, and gave some good food for thought.” - VR Steel

“Really enjoyed the interactive nature between everyone and hearing about the same problems that we are experiencing. The 5-why analysis made me realise that, as a company, we need to investigate problems properly and develop a pro-active approach instead of a reactive one. Very well presented!!” - Tanker Repair Division

Contact Us


  +27 82 443 5866 - Harold

  +27 82 873 9996 - Carol

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