Simple Defect Elimination
PUMPS & SYSTEMS • July 2013
Defect elimination is a simple maintenance strategy with seemingly obvious value. However, how many facilities pursue it to the greatest degree of value? According to Webster’s online, a defect is “an imperfection that impairs worth or utility.”
The “utility” part of the definition is significant because every process industry professional focuses on uptime. If a machine has a defect, but it still works (still makes widgets) and that machine imparts defects into the widgets, the worth of that widget is reduced. Or if the machine still works, but production is slowed, the number of widgets produced over time is reduced. The worth of widgets sold is also reduced.
Defects cost money. If end users candidly investigate, they may see that they are investing money in keeping their defects. How? Money lost because the widgets are being sold at a reduced price or because the maximum number of widgets were not manufactured because of slowed production or downtime is money invested in keeping defects. Even worse, some operators are on long-term payment plans for their equipment, so they continue to invest in the same defects year after year.
The second part of the definition is elimination. According to Webster, eliminate means to put an end to or get rid of. The absence of a defect also means the absence of the investment required to sustain the defect. An asset that is free of defects is an asset that can be optimally profitable. Defect elimination usually requires an investment. Rarely does simply tightening a bolt or performing an equally trivial task fix an expensive problem.
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