Guest post by John Lambert at Benchmark PDM

Recently I have been seeing the P to F interval curve popping up a lot on my LinkedIn feed and in articles that I have read. It was a concept that I was first introduced to when I was implementing Reliability Centered Maintenance into the Engineering and Maintenance department at the plant where I worked at the time. It was a great idea, that if done correctly is a maintenance benefit. Why, because it’s cost savings and cost avoidance. Let me explain this.

Fig 1. The P to F Interval Curve.

The P to F curve was used as a learning tool for Condition Based Maintenance. The curve is the life expectancy of a machine, an asset. The P is the point when a change in the condition of the machine is detected. The F is when it reaches functional failure. This means that it is not doing the job it was designed to do. For example, if it were a seal that is designed to keep fluids in and contamination out and is now leaking, it’s in a state of functional failure. Will this put the machine down? Probably not, but it depends on the importance of the seal and the application. This is an important point because the P (potential failure) is a fixed point when you detect the change in condition but the F (failure) is a moving point. Not all warnings of failure put the machine down very often you have options and time. Consider this: If I have a bucket that has a hole in it, it is in a functional failure state. But can I still use it to bail out my sinking boat? You bet I can!

Failure comes at us in many ways and obviously, we have many ways to combat it. If you detect the potential failure early enough (and it can be months and months before actual failure) it means that you can avoid the breakdown. You can schedule an outage to do a repair. It’s not a breakdown, the machine hasn’t stopped, it’s no downtime. This is cost avoidance and the plant can save on the interrupted loss of production because of downtime costs.

There are a lot of examples of cost avoidance and also of cost savings. For instance, at the plant I worked at we used ultrasound to monitor bearings. We detected a very early warning in the sound level and were able to grease the bearing and the sound level dropped. We saved the bearing of any damage, and we saved a potential breakdown so this is cost savings. Even if there is some bearing damage, the fact that we are aware of and monitor the situation lets us avoid any secondary damage.

It’s one price to replace a seal and it’s more if you have to replace a bearing in a gearbox. However, it can be very expensive to have to replace a shaft because the bearing has sized onto it and ruined it. Secondary, ancillary damage can mount up very quickly if you don’t heed the warning you are given with the P of potential failure. This warning of potential failure gives you time before any breakdown. The earlier the detection, the more time. Time to plan, and view your options. And what people tend not to do is failure analysis while the machine is still in service. A failure analysis gives you a great start on seeking out the root cause but starts right away, not when the machine is down.

Condition monitoring or as it’s often called Condition-based maintenance (CBM) does work. However, for me, there is a downside to this and I will explain why shortly. CBM is based on measurement, which is good because we all know to control a process we must measure.

Fig 2. You may see the P to F curve compartmentalized like this one (see sections below). However, the whole curve is the life expectancy of the machine and we monitor it using Condition Based Maintenance techniques.

Consultants (and I’m guilty) like to put labels on things and you may see:

1. Design, Capability, Precision Maintenance
2. CBM, Predictive Maintenance
3. Preventive Maintenance
4. Run to Failure, Breakdown Maintenance

For me, the P to F interval curve starts when the machine starts. That means Design and Precision Maintenance is not in the curve and this happens before startup. A small point but it takes away from the interval meaning.

We use predictive maintenance technologies in CBM. Vibration, Ultrasonic, Infrared, Oil Analysis, NDT (i.e. pipe wall thickness), and Operational Performance. They are all very good technologies, yet it is a combination of cross-technologies that works best. As an example, vibration may give you the most information yet ultrasound may give you the earliest warning on a high-speed bearing. And then there is oil analysis which may be best for a low-speed gearbox. It all depends on the application you have which dictates what’s best for you. A lot of time and effort was placed on having the best CBM program and buying the right technology.

This, I believe, lead to the maintenance departments putting the focus on Condition-based maintenance! This I think is wrong because we still have failure. This means that CBM is no better than Predictive Maintenance. This doesn’t mean that I don’t recommend CBM, I do. To me, it’s a must-have but it does not improve the maintenance process because you still have machine failure. Machine failures fall into three categories Premature failure, Random failure, and Age-related failure. We want the latter of these. We know from studies that say that 11% of machine assets fail because of age-related issues. They grow old and wear out. This means that 89% fail because of some other fault. This is a good thing because it gives us an opportunity to do something about them.

These numbers come from a very famous study by Nowlan and Heap (Google it!) that was commissioned by the US Defense Department. It doesn’t mean these numbers are an exact reflection of every industry but the study but it has stood the test of time and I believe it has led to the development of Reliability Centered Maintenance. But let’s say it’s wrong and let us double the amount they say is age-related (full machine life expectancy). That would make it 22% and 78% would be the number of random failures. Even if we quadruple, it’s only 44% meaning random is at 56% and we are still on the wrong side of the equation. The maintenance goal has to be to get the full life expectancy for all their machine assets.

In order to get the full life expectancy for a machine unit, I think you have to be assured of two things. One is the design of the unit which includes all related parts (not just the pump but the piping as well). The other is the installation.

Fig 3. The most important part of the life expectancy of a machine is the design and installation of the machine.

If you’re like me, and you believe that Condition Based Maintenance starts when the machine starts then you understand that there is a section of the machine’s life that happens before. You could make an argument that it starts when you buy it because, as we all know, how we store it can have an effect. However, what is important at this stage is the design and installation of the machine. In most cases, we do not design the pump, gearbox, or compressor but we do size them so that they meet the required output (hopefully). We do quite often design the piping configuration or the bases for example. All of which is very important but the reality is that maintenance departments maintain already-in-place machine assets. So, although a new installation, requiring design work is not often done, installation is. Remove and Refit is done constantly. And the installation is something that you can control. In fact, it’s the installation that has the largest influence on the machines’ life. The goal is to create a stress-free environment for the machine to run. No pipe strain, no distorted bases, no thermal expansion, no misalignment, etc.

Precision Maintenance was a term I first heard thirty years ago. It’s part of our M.A.A.D. training program (Measure, Analyse, Action, and Documentation). It’s simple, it means working to a standard. Maintenance departments can set their own standards. However, all must agree on it and adhere to it. This is the only way to control the installation process. This is the way to stop random failure and get the full life expectancy for your machine assets. The issue is that we do not have a general machinery installation standard to work to. Yes, we can use information from other specific industry sources such as the American Petroleum Institute (API) or the information from the OEM (both of these are guidelines) however nothing for the general industry as a whole. Well, this is about to change. The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) has just approved a new standard that is about to be published. I know this because I worked on it and will be writing about it shortly.

If you look at the life cycle of a machine, we need to know and manage the failure as best we can. If we only focus or mainly focus on the failure, we will not improve the reliability of the machine. We cannot control the failure. What we can control is the installation and done correctly this will improve the process giving the optimum life for the machine.

I sell laser alignment systems as well as vibration instruments. If a customer were to buy a vibration monitoring tool before they bought a laser system. I would think their focus is on the effect of the issue, not the cause. What do you think?

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

Belts are a critical part of the design and function of belt-driven equipment. The majority of belts never reach their intended design life due to improper selection, storage, and installation. Unfortunately, this results in compromised equipment operation, lost capacity, and increased costs. Do not condemn your equipment to death through improper belt installation practices. Below are some guidelines to help your facility ensure belt-driven equipment reliability:

  • Follow all site-specific safety procedures.
  • The same basic installation steps are required for both synchronous and V-belts.
  • Loosen motor mounting bolts or adjustment screws.
  • Move the motor until the belt to be replaced is slack and can be removed easily without prying or any other means of force. Prying off a belt or chain can damage a sheave or sprocket and increase the risk of injury. Never use a screwdriver to remove belts, because this may damage belt cords, sheaves, and sprockets.
  • After removal, inspect the old belt for unusual wear that may indicate problems with design or maintenance issues.
  • Visually inspect and replace sheaves or sprockets that have excessive wear, nicks, rust, pits, or are bent.  Grooves that appear “shiny” or polished could indicate heavy wear and should not be ignored.  Never sand or scrape groves.  Doing so will insert points of wear leading to a premature belt or sheave failure.
  • Sheave gauges should be used to measure for excessive wear and determine if sheave replacement is necessary.  Total wear should not exceed 1/32 in or 0.8 mm.
  • Sheaves and sprockets should be checked for proper alignment.  A laser alignment tool is the recommended means.  Most major belt manufacturers recommend a nominal tolerance of 0.5 degrees.  However, better alignment tolerances should be achieved if possible.  The table below can be used to determine proper alignment. For maximum resolution, always mount the laser alignment tool on the smaller sheave and the targets on the larger sheave.  Ensure that the alignment tool being used can indicate misalignment in all three degrees of freedom (axial offset, horizontal angularity, and twist angle).

Note 1: Check and correct any run-out conditions prior to belt installation.  Tighten bolts in the proper sequence to prevent axial run-out.
Replace all belts on multiple belt drives with new belts from the same manufacturer. Never replace a single belt or a portion of a multiple belt drive. Mixing old and new belts will create unevenly shared loading and lead to premature belt failure and/or sheave wear.

  • When installing the new belt, ensure that enough clearance is available to slip the new belt(s) over the sheave or sprocket. Never pry or use force to install the belt(s). Never use a screwdriver to roll belts into position, because this may damage belt cords, sheaves, and sprockets.
  • Adjust the motor base until the belts are tight. The motor should be checked for soft foot conditions using a feeler gauge or other suitable means and corrections made if required. No reading of soft foot should be greater than 0.002 inches or 0.05 mm.
  • Use a tension gauge or sonic tension meter until the correct tension is measured according to specifications.
  • Rotate the belt drive by hand a few revolutions and re-check and adjust belt tension as necessary.
  • Re-check the sheave or sprocket alignment and re-adjust if necessary.
  • Secure motor mounting bolts to the correct torque specifications.
  • Replace equipment guards and follow any other site-specific safety requirements to return the equipment to operation.
  • Upon equipment startup, listen and visually inspect for any unusual vibration, noise, or heat. Other corrective actions may be required (lubrication, tension adjustment, etc.) to ensure equipment is ready for proper operation.

Note 2: Contact the belt manufacturer and provide the drive information to receive the most accurate tension information for the required operating loads.  Belt tension charts may specify more tension than is required by the application.  The proper tension for the belt is the minimum tension required to prevent the belt from slipping at maximum load.  A good guideline in the absence of any other information is to use a spring scale and press down on the belt in the approximate center of its span (on the tight side), to deflect the belt 1/64″ per inch of span length and observe the force required to do so. If you are not sure of the belt span length you may also use the center-to-center distance of the pulleys, which will be similar. Tension the belts until the force required for this deflection equals the belt manufacturer’s maximum recommended force values for the specific belts you are using.

Note 3: Belts should not squeal on startup when adjusted to proper tension.  This can be an indication that the drive is not proper for the application. 

Note 4: A run-in procedure may be required for V-belt drives or other installations to ensure optimal belt life and equipment reliability.  It is recommended to check and adjust belt tension under full load after 20 minutes, 24 hours, and 48 hours of operation to properly seat the belts in the sheave grooves.  Consult belt manufacturer and engineering specifications to determine if a run-in period is required and the length of time.

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

Hopefully, your company has global, regional and facility resources dedicated full time to reliability initiatives.

These resources are necessary to help ensure improvements in maintenance, equipment run-time, capacity, profits, and much more.

The question you and your organization should be asking is “who is the reliability leader in your organization”?

The answer may seem simple but could be quite surprising when given serious consideration. The answer should be “everyone”. The truth is that most implementation efforts in a facility or company fail. Unfortunately, this is very true for maintenance and reliability improvements. The reason is that not “everyone” is committed to the effort. Sustainable reliability requires understanding and dedication from many different groups within an organization. Supply Side, MRO Stores, Engineering, Procurement, Maintenance, Management, Operations, and Training must all understand the strategic value in reliability efforts and cooperate with each other. Otherwise, failure and unsustainability may be guaranteed.

If the answer to the question is that the “Reliability Engineer” and/or “Global Reliability Leader” are the individuals responsible, then your journey may not be complete. Your organization should have training in place to demonstrate the value and create understanding in all of these groups about reliability. Procedures should be in place to ensure that proper reliability best practices are considered in the design, procurement, installation, operation, and maintenance. Failure to do so will result in increased life cycle costs of the equipment, reduced capacity, and reduced profits.

Remember that your maintenance department cannot overcome poor equipment design, installation, or operation.

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

The Potential to Failure Curve (or P-F Curve) gives the user information on how an asset behaves before a failure occurs. This example is focused on failure due to misalignment. The goal of a reliability-focused plant is to be as far to the left on the curve as possible. While some companies are doing predictive maintenance work in an effort to reach the left side, many companies today are on the right domain of the curve, doing reactive work.  Being in the reactive domain—putting out fires as they say— increases maintenance costs. This forces a company to perform unplanned work causes unscheduled downtime, and higher costs to expedite parts. Using technologies like ultrasound, thermography, and vibration analysis will catch an asset in a pre-failing state. This allows time to plan and schedule the repair to take place. However, with the right processes in place, the technician should recognize the misalignment of the machine before it causes components to fail. The ultimate goal is to be so far left on the curve, that it is off the chart, at the point where all the efforts (flat and rigid bases, accounting for thermal growth, eliminating soft foot, precision alignment, etc) are made so that the machine never runs misaligned.

by Adam Stredel CRL

Guest post by Shon Isenhour, CMRP, CAMA, CCMP, Founding Partner at Eruditio LLC

So if you could sum up the common areas of focus during reliability improvement efforts what would they be?
The thought behind this blog post was if someone asks us what we are doing or what all is involved in a reliability improvement effort, how can we give them the scope in a concise, and memorable way. This could be used early on in the discovery or kick-off phase to outline without overwhelming.

I have listed nine things that I would focus on and they all start with P for ease of remembering:

Predictive Maintenance
Using technology to understand equipment condition in a noninvasive way before the functional failure occurs
Example: Vibration, Ultrasonic, Infrared

Preventive Maintenance
Traditional and more invasive time based inspections which should be failure mode based
Example: Visual Inspection of gears in a gear box

Precision Maintenance
Doing the maintenance craft to the best in class standards to prevent infant mortality
Example: Alignment, Balancing, Bolt Torquing

Clear series of steps to identify, prioritize, plan, schedule, execute, and capture history with who is responsible for each
Example: Work Identification Process, Root Cause Process. Work Completion Process

Problem Solving
The process for understanding the real causes of problems and using business case thinking to select solutions that reduce or eliminate the chance of recurrence
Example: Root Cause Analysis, Fault Tree, Sequence of Events

Prioritizing of Work
The process of determining sequences of work as well as level of effort using tools like equipment criticality and work order type
Example: RIME index

These are the processes required to have the right part at the right time in the right condition at the right place for the right cost
Example: Cycle counting process, proper storage procedures, kitting process

Planned Execution
This piece is about taking the identified work and building the work instructions, work package and collecting the required parts, and then scheduling the execution.
Example: Job Packages, Schedules, Gantt Charts

This is where we deal with the change management and leadership portion which is required in order to truly make a change to the organization
Example: Situational Leadership, Communication Planning, Risk Identification, Training

So here are my nine “Ps” that you can share as early communication to get your organization on board with your reliability efforts and develop the Profit we all want.

What would you add?

by Yolanda Lopez

How do you obtain the desired return on your assets?  Availability, maintainability, and reliability are foundational elements required for a proper return on your equipment. Condition Monitoring is a tool that can help you build these elements and obtain the desired returns.  Condition Monitoring can be completed while equipment is running to maximize uptime and help provide better overall reliability.  Conditional changes can be identified before functional failures that result in downtime occur, preventing other unwanted consequences.

Unneeded work can be avoided (unnecessary PMs, failures, etc.), and better planning and improved scheduling achieved through CM.

Use Condition Monitoring as a means to build a solid foundation for your facility!

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

Does your maintenance staff have to wait on parts, wait for the equipment to be available, search for tools to do their job, work lots of overtime, travel long distances to the job, etc? Most maintenance staff work in pairs.  This means that when you see one of your maintenance staff struggling to do his job, then his counterpart is struggling as well. What is the result?  You may have a hidden cost (twice the labor) that you did not realize!

What can you do to avoid this?  Make sure that your work is correctly planned.  Job plans should be created, and be accurate and available.  The required parts should be staged once the work is planned.  Machine drawings, special tools, permits, etc., required to complete the maintenance activity should be identified in the job plan and be available as part of the job kit.  Once all of this is done the work should be scheduled.  These steps will help your maintenance staff focus on work and not on searching for the resources they need to complete their assigned maintenance tasks. You will save money and have more reliable equipment.

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

PM’s can be costly!

Did you know that equipment PMs (Preventive Maintenance) tend to become more expensive over time?  Why does this happen?  For example, additional maintenance steps tend to be added to a PM as time passes.  The machine configuration (design installation) changes and the PMs are never updated to reflect these modifications.  Some PMs are not written correctly in the first place.  All of this means that unnecessary maintenance is performed on your machines costing a lot of resources and money for a very long time. These are just some of the reasons PMs can be costly.

RCM and FMEA functions usually cost more money upfront and tend to be avoided as a result.  However, these functions can clearly identify what maintenance actions should be performed on equipment and guide you to steps that will avoid maintenance issues. Condition Monitoring is another tool that works directly with RCM and FMEA functions to reduce PM activities and drive better equipment performance and reliability.  These activities may cost more upfront versus a PM but will be much more cost-effective in the long run.

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

Can a Reliability Engineer or Reliability Manager make a facility or organization reliable? This is a very important question that may be worth discussing within your organization to ensure proper expectations and success.
A more practical definition of reliability may be:

Equipment performs the way you want it to when you want it to”.

Reliability is very easy to define, stuff but achievement of this simple goal is complex and unfortunately unattainable for many organizations. Reliability requires a holistic approach that involves the complex interaction of Maintenance, see Operations, Supply Chain, Engineering, Procurement, Management, Process, and Vendors. Consistency, focus, and strategic implementation directly correlate to the success of any effort and this is true for your reliability efforts. Therefore, a consistent and strategic top-down focus is required from management and throughout each of these groups. Organizational misalignment leads to competing groups and will make sustainable reliability within your organization extremely difficult, and maybe even impossible to achieve.
Reliability Engineers and Managers can support reliability through leadership, training, tools, etc. However, the answer to the question is that everyone within your organization is responsible for reliability. It is critical that everyone within an organization understands this and that reliability is made a goal for each of these groups with defined metrics to track understanding and achievement.

So, who owns equipment reliability in your plant?  The answer is Everyone!

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

Most companies focus on repairing equipment after some functional failure has occurred and getting the equipment operational again. Is that the primary focus of your facility? Different studies have been completed by different organizations, which, while the percentages are different, all point to some very consistent and vital information. Design (engineering), installation (contractors, internal resources) and operation of the equipment all introduce equipment defects and drive reliability in your facility. Maintenance cannot overcome poor design, installation, and operation. Your maintenance staff can only deal with (repair) the consequences.

Your reliability efforts should be focused on preventing the introduction of defects in your equipment. This will help ensure equipment reliability leading to lower maintenance costs, increased capacity, and other positive results. Ensure that your equipment is designed, installed, and operated with reliability in mind. Make sure that you focus on the prevention and elimination of equipment defects as well.

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

WIP is an acronym for “Work In Progress”. An example of WIP is when the widget must progress through different production processes that change fit form or function before reaching a stage of final completion and readiness for shipment to the end-user. Work management is required to ensure the widget moves through these stages at the proper time and under the correct conditions. Most production facilities have some type of WIP that is followed.

Maintenance activities must follow a WIP process to ensure success as well. As the graphic below illustrates maintenance work should start out as a maintenance request and progress through the critical stages shown below before competition. Each stage must be closely monitored to ensure that bottlenecks do not exist or stages are bypassed as the work is started and executed.
The goal is to ensure that the Right Work is done at the Right Time and in the Right Way. Feedback and work history make the final steps in the execution process to help ensure any improvements are known and implemented.

Do you WIP your maintenance process to ensure proper execution of work?

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

Management and co-workers do not always understand why Condition Monitoring (CM) Analysts spend so much time in an office looking at a computer screen. What are they doing? What does that have to do with condition monitoring activities, equipment repairs, and reliability efforts? Why are they not in the field collecting data?

Why are they not working on equipment maintenance? Unfortunately,  these misconceptions often result in a perception that CM Analysts are not doing their job and they are pulled back into routine maintenance activities or assigned other work tasks.

The reality is that four critical steps must be consistently completed by a CM Analyst for the program to be successful. First, valid data must be collected with the CM technology at proper measurement intervals. Second, the collected data must be properly analyzed. Third, the findings must be promptly reported in a meaningful way to those responsible for planning, scheduling, and completing the CM results. Fourth, the database(s), measurement methods, and equipment information must be constantly updated. Additionally, routine research is required to ensure that proper measurement and analytical techniques are being applied, needed information is available, etc.

Successful completion of the critical steps outlined above requires time in an office environment using a computer. Not allowing your analyst(s) this necessary time will ensure failure and result in needless reliability issues. An old rule of thumb is that for every hour a CM analyst spends in the field it will require an hour in the office processing that data, reporting the findings, etc., as explained above. The time in the office can vary depending upon how well the CM database is set up with proper alarms and measurement criteria. In addition, the analysis software, CMMS software, and other resources can be a critical factor in determining how much office time is required.

The point is that an analyst requires office time to properly process, report, and maintain his CM efforts.

Otherwise, the CM program is certain to fail. Provide time for the analyst(s) to do the job being asked of them or don’t be surprised when these efforts fail.

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

As Published by BIC Magazine December 2015 issue

A world-class reliability program is not achieved overnight,  yet you must start somewhere. Your first step is to vest your entire human capital in its success. Reliability is a culture,  not a goal, and it flows from the top down.

Therefore, executive sponsorship with integrity and enforcement is a must. Obtain buy-in to the culture of reliability from everybody in your organization, or the effort is doomed to fail. Start with this realization, and your reliability effort will ultimately succeed, and you and your stakeholders will reap its rewards.

The reliability workflow must be well organized and underpinned by a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). Let’s look at how it works in a world-class program.

Ultrasound analysis detects a bearing fault in a critical motor early in the P-F curve. The analyst enters this data in the CMMS and trends it. The analyst decides to request a work order with recommendations. This is Stage 1 in the work order process.

The work order is now reviewed by both maintenance and operations, thereby ensuring buy-in from operations as well. This is Stage 2. This review process ensures only truly needed or valuable work is approved. Also, older open work orders can be combined with this one to further streamline planned activity on the asset. For instance, an earlier work order was created to align the machine, but the work was never carried out, resulting in the bearing damage the ultrasound analyst has now detected. The review process would catch the older open order and add it to the present order. This would prevent the millwright from going out to align the machine tomorrow only to have a repair technician go out the following week and repair the motor but do no alignment on it. This review process tries to eliminate inefficiency, duplication, and detrimental work sequences.

Stage 3 assigns the work order to the maintenance planner for action. Only approved and truly necessary work enters the planner’s backlog. The planner ensures work is properly prioritized. Two things are needed: The criticality ranking of the asset (ascertained from systems’ criticality analysis) and its operational criticality. Both of these factors can be multiplied together to create a more accurate prioritization of the workflow. The planner creates a new work plan if needed and should consult with maintenance supervisors and technicians; valuable insights may be gained into what parts, tools, and equipment should be specified in the work plan. Next, the planner orders the maintenance, repair and operating materials (MRO) spares, and tooling required to complete the job and verifies the parts are available and kitted (best practice). The planner should not concern himself with scheduling.

Now on to Stage 4: assignment to the scheduler. The scheduler allocates the HR and necessary time to accomplish the task, with a cushion for unforeseen complications. He too should consult with the maintenance supervisor and technicians to obtain cooperation and buy-in to the schedule. Coordination with operations is crucial. Operations  “owns” the equipment and must sign off on the schedule to bring the asset down.

Stage 5 assigns the order to the appropriate maintenance and electrical supervisors, who in turn assign specific tasks in the work plan to their respective repair technicians, electricians, and millwrights, and verify MRO spares has delivered the parts kit to the proper location.

Now the work order enters Stage 6: the work execution phase. Once the technicians have completed the work, they report to their supervisors, who return the asset to active duty status in the system. Operations is notified the asset is ready for service, and MRO spares is notified of any unused parts and supplies that should be returned and reintegrated into the MRO spares inventory. Technicians and supervisors should feed their observations and data into the CMMS system.

Stage 7 sees the ultrasound analyst performing follow-up data collection on the asset to ensure all is well. The work now goes back to the planner to be formally closed. This ensures all important data has been accumulated and distributed within the system, enabling key performance indicators to be updated.

As good data accumulates, reliability engineering will use it to improve the entire reliability and maintenance process, discover frequent failure patterns, identify training needs, drive out defects, streamline production and help to improve the design process. As the plant becomes more efficient and productive, greater resources can be allocated to defect elimination and strengthening condition-based maintenance technologies, further impelling the transition to a proactive, reliability-centered culture. Reliability is a never-ending journey of continuous improvement.

by Alan Luedeking CRL CMRP

Guest post by Jeff Shiver, Founder of  People and Processes, Inc.

As a maintenance planning and scheduling professional, I am often asked how to schedule maintenance activities when production is 24/7 or 24/6. An important question is whether the 24/7 operation is driven in part by a lack of reliability or if the organization is proactive and actually capacity constrained. In either case, the challenge is finding windows for work with the equipment stopped or shut down.

  1. Failure to identify smaller windows for work
  2. Give work to operators
  3. Lack of partnership between the operations and maintenance group
  4. Get the work done right
  5. Make resources available
  6. The right focus on preventive maintenance (PM)
  7. Identify failure
  8. Act, don’t react
  9. Don’t defer PM tasks
  10. Failure to take advantage of unplanned downtime for proactive work
  11. Manage the backlog
  12. Lack of effective coordination between the crafts

For more details, please read the full article.

by Yolanda Lopez

Have you ever considered what your company’s definition of “maintenance” maybe?

Unfortunately, within many organizations “maintenance” is simply synonymous with “fix-it”. Maintenance is derived from the word “maintain” and that concept is critical for equipment reliability. Basically, your goal should be to maintain your equipment to some standard and functional ability. When equipment is allowed to reach a point of breakdown, then we have actually failed to maintain it.

How do we maintain our equipment to standards for performance, safety, quality, etc.? Here are four examples:

  • First is design.
  • Second: proper installation.
  • Third: good operation – Improper operations can result in breakdowns and the inability of a machine to meet the defined standards.
  • Fourth: precision maintenance skills, condition monitoring, planning & scheduling, and execution of the foregoing are required to maintain equipment and ensure it can meet functional requirements upon demand.

Always remember your maintenance department cannot overcome poor design, improper installation, incorrect operation of the equipment, and improper maintenance execution (poor craft skills, bad planning and scheduling, and so on). These things will result in repeated repairs (“fix-it”) and extra costs to meet the desired standards (operation, safety, quality, etc.) Properly maintaining equipment requires the involvement of many individuals and groups within your company.

Perhaps some discussion about the definition of “maintenance” may create opportunities for improvement within your company.

Visit our Knowledge Center for resources and tools to help you succeed when implementing and using our maintenance technologies! Watch our video tutorials, download infographics, plus explore other helpful information to reduce equipment failures and downtime. 

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

Have you ever been asked “How much longer will it run” or “Can we make our production schedule” or other ‘crystal ball’ type questions? These types of questions can be very difficult or virtually impossible to answer. They often place a reliability professional in a difficult position.

Some future indicators are (or should be) available to the organization that will help you answer the above questions when asked. Four of those indicators are:

  1. Preventive Maintenance (PM) Completion Rate
    Low PM completion rates directly correlate to increased future equipment maintenance work. High PM completion rates mean that needed equipment maintenance is being completed and future maintenance issues will be avoided.
  2. Ready to Work Backlog
    This is an indicator of preparedness and efficiency to complete maintenance work.
  3. Outage Schedule Compliance
    This is a very important metric to track and is an indicator of future maintenance work. A lack of adherence to outage schedules creates deferred equipment maintenance. This results in increased risks and the likelihood that equipment performance will decrease at a future time,  leading to lower capacity, increased downtime, and greater expenses.
  4. Equipment Asset Health Reporting
    Proper utilization of condition monitoring technologies like vibration analysis, IR thermography, lubrication analysis, ultrasound, and others are a proactive strategy to ensure that hidden failures become known and corrected before they result in equipment downtime or other unwanted consequences. Tracking these indicators together can provide insights into future asset health. A lot of “red” assets from these technologies will result in future unwanted equipment maintenance and unwanted downtime if corrective action is not taken. Additionally, this can be used to help prioritize equipment maintenance efforts if a good critical equipment ranking system is in place.

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

Who owns equipment reliability in your plant? The answer may surprise you. It is commonly thought that equipment reliability is owned by the maintenance staff in a facility. Is this true? Let’s look at all of the owners of reliability in your plant:

Engineering is responsible for the design of (and often oversees) the installation of new equipment. Your maintenance team cannot overcome poor design and/or poor installation of equipment. They will be tasked to routinely fix the issues that result from improper engineering efforts.

Sales and Marketing have a certain amount of control over equipment reliability. They can affect maintenance schedules, operational schedules, etc.

Purchasing and the storeroom contribute to equipment reliability by ensuring that proper parts are available and kitted when maintenance work is scheduled. Cheap parts, no parts, wrong parts, no kitting, etc., all contribute to maintenance and reliability issues in your plant.

Proper planning and scheduling are critical for equipment reliability. Otherwise, efforts can be misdirected resulting in reactive efforts and reduced reliability.

Operations can do certain maintenance tasks (operator-driven reliability) that allow the maintenance team to focus on more complex tasks and efforts that improve reliability. Operations may not allow proper time to complete required maintenance tasks and drive equipment to the point of failure through poor operation and contribute to reduced equipment reliability.

Management must set the direction and reinforce the achievement of reliability goals. Otherwise, equipment reliability will never be sustainable.

Maintenance staff must ensure that the work is done correctly (within specifications), on time, and with the correct focus. Efforts should be placed on identifying the correct work through Condition Monitoring and proper PM activities. RCM, FMEA, and other activities should be utilized that identify and drive out failure means and truly improve equipment reliability.

So, who owns equipment reliability in your plant? The answer is: Everyone!

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

Traditionally, company profits have been maintained and increased through three primary means:

  1. Increase the price of goods and services sold.
  2. Increase the amount of goods and services sold.
  3. Reduce the costs of goods and services sold.

Options 1 and 2 can be very difficult or even impossible to implement in a competitive market.  Therefore, option #3 may seem like the only viable option.  Reductions in costs can be accomplished in many ways.  Some are drastic attempts such as reducing product quality or the number of employees.  It is almost impossible for companies to achieve true long-term profit gains in these ways because those gains are usually short-lived.
What can you do to help your company increase profits in the competitive world we live in, and provide greater stability in your job? Reduce the costs of goods and services produced (option #2) in a way that you or your facility may not have previously considered. You can do this by:

  • Improving equipment reliability through implementing Condition Monitoring reliability practices (RCM, FMEA, RCFA, etc).
  • Ensuring the correct maintenance activities are planned, scheduled, and completed on time.
  • Ensuring that the correct spare parts inventory is available and kitted when the work is scheduled and executed.
  • Ensuring that value-added PMs are created and completed on the equipment.
  • Ensuring that reliability-based engineering is completed. Maintenance cannot overcome poor design and installation.
  • Ensuring operational activities that support maintenance and reliability are followed. Maintenance and Operations should work as partners and not as competitors.
  • Supporting those in your facility that are working toward these efforts.
  • Make sure that the right work is being done on the right equipment. This requires prioritizing based on a thorough understanding of equipment criticality, understanding how and why your equipment can fail, what really needs to be done to keep it operational upon demand, etc.

All of the above efforts can help your facility reduce maintenance costs and the cost of goods and services produced. This could be the difference between being the leader in your market or watching your job, profit and company suffer.

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

All machines and their components will exhibit wear at some point. This can lead to loss of function and require corrective action.

Wear particles are one of the most common sources of equipment reliability problems. They indicate that the oil is unfit and unreliable for operation in the equipment and will lead to damage to the equipment. These particles can give an insight into the type of equipment problems as well. The characteristics of wear are specific from machine to machine.

A facility in Texas lost key personnel in their condition monitoring program and experienced a gearbox failure. The plant was in need of a true online monitoring system for small and large particle quantities. They purchased the WEARSCANNER® oil particle distribution solution as a result. The WEARSCANNER solution not only counts and classifies but also has the ability to count low and high particle flow speeds which is of value to the customer.

The customer was able to adjust the different size classes in accordance with ISO 16232 and have the data fed directly into their control system.

WEARSCANNER installed and continuously monitoring critical equipment for lubrication problems
WEARSCANNER installed and continuously monitoring critical equipment for lubrication problems

One of the keys to equipment reliability is keeping lubrication clean, cool, and free of moisture. This facility purchased the WEARSCANNER solution so they can actively monitor the cleanliness of critical equipment.

by Alex Nino CRL

Certain technologies have been used for a very long time to identify corrective actions required to keep equipment operational and reliable. Vibration analysis, ultrasonic monitoring, infrared thermography, motor condition evaluation, and lubrication analysis are examples of these technologies. Many terms have been used to describe their usage within a facility. One term often used is “Predictive Maintenance”. Unfortunately, this term can be used in the literal sense with dire consequences.

Many facilities mix all of the required ingredients together to create a successful maintenance and reliability program. Regrettably, many others fail in their efforts. Two of the primary elements for success are predictive maintenance and work execution. The predictive maintenance effort may be quite effective at identifying conditional changes in equipment that should be addressed before functional failures occur. Those efforts will not be fruitful if the results are not executed. The predictive maintenance team has to generate work that is planned, scheduled, and executed. If the results of their efforts are not executed, then the facility will plainly predict costly failures that will be experienced by the facility. Basically, the effort will shift from “Predictive Maintenance” to “Predictive Failures”.

Make sure your facility is not predicting failures. Make certain the results of the predictive maintenance technologies are executed before conditional changes result in equipment failures.

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis