Many of you watch or at least are familiar with the various Crime Scene Investigation (CSI ) television series where advanced forensic techniques are utilized to catch the criminals or “bad actors”.  When it comes to your “bad actors” from an equipment perspective, where is your CSI unit? What is your forensic approach to equipment failure?

Rather than simply accepting equipment failures, they should be literally treated like crimes against your organization.  These failures rob the organization of equipment availability and capacity, divert your Maintenance resources, consume spare parts, and steal profit. While you may not be able to prevent failures from occurring, at a minimum you need to understand why they occurred from a root cause perspective.

To do this, perform an autopsy on the failed equipment. Cut apart failed bearings or open gearboxes as examples. Inspect the components. Ideally, the Maintenance Engineering group should become your CSI Unit and investigate to understand the root cause.  In the event that the organization does not have the Maintenance Engineering function, you can develop a “champion” who is detail-oriented with strong mechanical skills. I don’t advocate rotating the champion function among many people as it takes time to develop the necessary skills.

Another resource for consideration is that many quality vendors provide a service of analyzing the failures so that you can both understand how the component failed, and often at no cost. In addition to vendors, there are a number of other resources available to you such as the Maintenance Engineering Handbook, and searching Google images on the Internet.

In the end, the goal is to understand the possible root cause(s) so that you can modify your practices to ensure the elimination of those potential failures from robbing your organization. If doing autopsies, what are some of the root causes and outcomes that your organization has identified? What other steps or ideas would you recommend regarding autopsies?

This was a guest post from Jeff Shiver, CMRP, CPMM of People and Processes, Inc.

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by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL