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The Road to Maintenance and Reliability: What You Need to Know [Part 1]

by mark west, director of reliability

Road to Maintenance and Reliability

5 Reliability-based Questions for Your Organization

When it comes to maintenance and reliability, how can you achieve world-class results? The concept is simple: maximize the availability of equipment for the least possible cost— but how do you accomplish it?

Here are five (5) reliability-based questions for your organization to consider on the journey to accomplishing maintenance and reliability best practices.

1- Why Doesn't Good Maintenance Equal Good Reliability?

Mark West
Mark West, Director of Reliability

Designing for Reliability

Good maintenance, including the proper and timely execution of well-written and well-conceived preventive plans, does not always equal good reliability. There is a reason for this: the design of the equipment itself.
Your equipment cannot be maintained to be more reliable than it was designed to be. You can redesign it or change parts to a better design, but then it is no longer the same equipment. That is why the correct design is important to consider before construction. Ask yourself these critical questions:

  • When was the last time your company reviewed the life-cycle costs of equipment already in operation to help decide what new equipment should be purchased?
  • Do you talk to the people that maintain equipment to get their input about how it could be made easier to maintain?
  • Do you run a RAM analysis or set standards for reliability and availability of equipment to suppliers?

Precision Maintenance

We’ve identified that poor design hinders reliability. Now we need to address a touchy subject that may result in a finger pointing back at ourselves. We often put in the work, complete the required FMEAs, know what will fail and when, have detailed instructions on how to perform inspections and repairs, but still have failures! Perform a self-evaluation right now:

  • Do you have personnel trained and qualified to do the specific work you are asking them to do?
  • Do you have an alignment standard?
  • Do you have a vibration standard?

The reality is that we often let our workforces down by not giving them the training and guidelines required to perform precision maintenance.

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2- Who Is Responsible for Reliable Operations?

Our Maintenance Department Needs Help

What if I told you that maintenance only accounts for about 20% of failures? The other failures come from two places: design and operations.

Operator care is a vital part of maintenance. Think about the relationship that you have with your car. Many of us do some amount of maintenance and monitoring for our vehicles—we watch them carefully for odd noises and warnings; we may even change our own oil and brakes. While for many of us it stops just before we become a full maintainer and operator, the point stands that if we can do this for our own cars, why can’t it be done in our workplace?

If we wait until maintenance knows about a problem, it is generally past a simple repair, similar to running your car out of oil. Operations must realize that the equipment belongs to them and the maintenance department is there for support. If the equipment fails, we all fail together. Who does your organization hold responsible for breakdowns?

3- Do You Have Procedures for Asset Management Practices?

A Treatise for Organizational Alignment and Continuity

Whenever I am told, “We don’t have a procedure for that,” the next words are generally, “Our people know what they are doing.” But what happens if your people are not here tomorrow?

Procedures standardize and align work to ensure everyone does the same job in the same way so that a consistent output is produced. They also allow qualified personnel who are unfamiliar with your organization to be effective from the start. In addition, procedures can be written to pre-make decisions so that action can be taken rapidly, and lag time can be avoided. Do you need to write or update any procedures to align your asset management practices?

4- Is Your Organization Aligned to Support Reliability Excellence?

The Power of Organization

The journey to reliability excellence mirrors the journey to improved safety. Good safety records don’t manifest from hiring a group of safety experts and calling it a day. It takes a shift in organizational culture, supported by senior management, to become a reality. Safety becomes the responsibility of everyone in the organization, and each person is empowered to act if they have a concern.

Reliability will take the same level of involvement from senior management. Understanding the benefits that reliability excellence brings to an organization is a vital first step. Implementing best practices in maintenance and reliability will result in lower operating costs and increased availability, creating a competitive advantage for your company. It also results in safer working conditions and increased employee satisfaction by addressing the risks associated with asset failure. How have you demonstrated these benefits to your senior management?

5- Where Should Your Organization Start?

Introduction to Master Asset Lists

So, where should you start? A master asset list is made up of the maintainable assets within the boundaries of your facility. Your organization needs to pre-define maintainable assets, which should meet at least one of the following:

  • Is it regularly maintained to preserve the function for which it was acquired?
  • Is it within the scope of regulatory requirement to track maintenance history?
  • Is it repaired rather than discarded when it fails?
  • Does it provide a level of detail desired or required for analytics?

This list will form the basis for all further reliability-based maintenance processes, work reporting and analytics. Do you have a master asset list ready to support your reliability journey?

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