Reliability Initiatives

Reliability is a culture propagating throughout the industry. When successful, a Reliability Program is proven to decrease safety risks, diminish unscheduled downtime, increase efficiency, improve production, and reduce costs. The key here is saving money and reducing risk. There are few competitive advantages between rival businesses in a global economy and a world full of information. This is where this cultural change can make a difference. If a company can increase production or reduce the amount of scrap (waste or rejects) by a small percentage, it could mean the difference between closing the doors or keeping the business profitably open. A successful reliability program can get you there. Here at LUDECA, we believe in this concept of reliability, and how modern shaft alignment and condition monitoring technologies and practices can fit into this culture.

  1. Roles in reliability: Often the responsibility for reliability in the plant falls on the shoulders of the reliability engineer. Although he or she was hired to oversee reliability, they are usually the leader in the effort of taking the company into the proactive maintenance environment. For a reliability program to succeed, it takes the concerted effort of all its employees to achieve the goal. Let us look at how different departments can affect the reliability of your plant.
  2. Maintenance: This is the department that keeps the plant running. Maintenance technicians are the eyes and ears of the plant. They know the equipment, its behavior, and its habits. They are familiar with the daily issues throughout the facility. When trained properly and given written and detailed procedures, they can be the team that keeps the reliability program afloat. Maintenance should be listened to, incentivized to report problems, and suggest improvements, be involved in planning and setting goals. This will ensure buy-in and give the reliability effort a meaningful chance of success.
  3. Production, Sales, and Marketing: Equally important is involving the Production and Sales teams. These departments can hinder a successful reliability program, especially if their priorities do not mesh with reliability priorities. These are the departments bringing in the revenue. It is very difficult to opt to stop production to perform an “unnecessary” preventative maintenance task. If the sales department is selling every widget that the factory can make, then pausing production would mean losing money short term to lower costs long term. When these teams are on board with the reliability program, and understand its long-term goals and constraints, they can work within that framework to maximize production to the entire company’s strategic benefit.
  4. Engineering: Engineering is the brain of the plant. Typically, this department owns the biggest percentage of the reliability effort. If engineering designs a flaw in the system, no amount of maintenance can fix that problem. The reliability and maintainability of a system needs to be designed into it from the get-go.
  5. Operations: Operations is the heart of the plant. This is the team that keeps things flowing. Operators play an integral role in plant reliability. They can detect changes in processes as they occur, which can be early indicators of potential failures. However, operating the equipment outside of its designed context, or performing the wrong start-up procedures could be a cause of premature failures.
  6. Management: Management is a key player in the implementation of a reliability program. They will be the ones allocating the money and resources towards the development and sustenance of a good program. They must thoroughly understand how Operations, Production, Maintenance, Stores MRO, Planning & Scheduling, all mesh, and work together so that their management decisions foster an environment where these departments work with each other and not against each other.

The plant is a network of complex systems with numerous assets in each system. The responsibility of making a cultural change and improving uptime should not fall on one individual. With the input of all departments and the successful fulfillment of each of these roles, a reliability program has a much higher chance of succeeding.

5 Steps to Building a Better Reliability Culture

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by Adam Stredel CRL