Purchasing a condition monitoring tool is one step in your journey to implementing a reliability program. Proper training on how to use the new technology, planning the work correctly, ensuring the work is completed on schedule and done so correctly is critical to success. Just as important is understanding the risks associated with your equipment, especially when it fails. A criticality assessment along with failure modes and effects analysis will help you understand those risks and determine where to focus your maintenance activities.
I recently spoke to a plant engineer that had purchased alignment equipment and vibration equipment from LUDECA. He had performed several alignments and collected baseline vibration data. The decision was made to start aligning machines that required maintenance and this was a wise choice to ensure failure modes were not inserted into equipment during routine maintenance activities. Unfortunately, this facility had not performed a criticality assessment on their machinery! It turns out that the plant had a catastrophic failure on a piece of equipment that was vital to the overall production processes of the plant. The first comment made was “why did we have this failure when we recently invested in alignment and vibration equipment?”
You must fully understand the risks to safety, production, environment, and profits that your equipment imposes on your facility. As you can see from the example above, not understanding these factors may lead to continued equipment failures and their undesired consequences. To ensure that you do not continue to experience maintenance failures requires that you fully comprehend the risks that each piece of equipment entails. Had this facility understood the failure modes and the (criticality/risk) impact each machine posed, they would have been able to focus their maintenance efforts where they were most needed to keep the plant efficiently operational.
As part of this endeavor, it is important to apply condition monitoring (vibration analysis and properly targeted alignment, among other things) on the equipment within your plant, because it is extremely difficult to be reliable without doing so. However, you must understand how and where to direct those efforts to ensure that unwanted risks are reduced. Understanding how your equipment can fail (FMEA), the consequences of those failures (RCM or risk assessment), and what equipment is most important to keep your plant operational (criticality assessment) are all important to ensure that your maintenance efforts are properly focused. These efforts may avoid the experience this facility had and prevent your plant from experiencing the same unwanted effects.