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At the onset of any program we should be more interested in education than in training. Training involves learning how to perform a task, while education means understanding the why or importance of the task. While both are necessary for a successful program, education will yield a stronger, more involved team. Unfortunately, many companies focus too much on the initial “button pushing” aspects when introducing a new technology.

Education encourages workers to become more invested in the tasks and success of the reliability program. It can transform the group into game changers in the area of reliability and cause them to question what is currently occurring within the program, to recognize opportunities and strive to improve.

While education is vital, it comes with great responsibility. Leaders of reliability programs should expect their employees to return from a reliability course with a better idea of how condition monitoring can effectively increase equipment reliability and be willing to provide the required support to take full advantage of the education gained.

Is there a difference between education and training? You bet!

How quickly the reliability programs succeed is highly dependent on the initial foundations that are set for it.

Take your Alignment, Condition Monitoring and Ultrasound programs to the next level!
Let LUDECA field experienced instructors and Certified Reliability Leaders (CRL) coach and train you in the fundamentals and skills you need to utilize your tools to the fullest and implement the benefits of precision maintenance in your facility.

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

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

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

Guest post by Fred Schenkelberg, Reliability Expert for FMS Reliability
In a previous posting (Five Steps to Building a Better Reliability Culture”, posted on 10/06/2015), I discussed equipment reliability, reliability engineering, and reliability management. But this Holy Trinity of reliability does not operate in a vacuum. To create a sustainable reliability program within an organization requires an understanding of its culture as well as its structure.
Every organization or product is different. The technology, expectations, and environments are all different. Consider two organizations, each of which has a reliability professional well versed in a wide range of reliability tools and processes. One of these professionals provides coaching and mentoring across the organization and encourages every member of the team to learn and use the appropriate tools to make decisions; the other performs nearly all the reliability work independently without support or consultation with team members. It is easy to see that the first organization’s team, being empowered to make decisions about reliability, will be better equipped to meet its reliability goals. 
Thus differences in the basic culture of an organization can lead to vastly different approaches to how reliability is incorporated in its operations. The organization that incorporates reliability into its internal processes starting from the design phase will inevitably experience fewer failures and make more efficient use of its design team and suppliers. How the reliability professional functions within an organization has a strong impact on its culture.
The organizational structure of an organization is also intertwined with its culture. There is no single organizational structure that leads to improved product reliability performance over any other structure. Both centrally and distributed reliability teams have successfully created reliable systems. Even the presence or absence of reliability professionals on staff is not an indicator of reliability performance.
Top-performing organizations use a common product reliability language and possess a culture that encourages and enables individuals to make informed decisions related to reliability. Individuals across the organization know their role to both use and share information essential to making decisions. There is an overriding context for reliability decisions that balances the needs to meet customer expectations for reliability along with other criteria. Alignment exists among the organization’s mission, plans, priorities, and behaviors related to reliability.
Equipment reliability is not the only element that benefits from a proactive culture. Whether top-performing organizations enjoy a proactive culture that naturally includes reliability activities to make decisions or evolved while improving product reliability to become a proactive organization with collateral benefits for other areas of running the business remains unclear. The latter is more likely, since it takes leadership to build and maintain a proactive organization, although some organizations focus on building a proactive reliability program and develop the benefits later in other functions of the business.
Moving the organizational block around the organizational chart may have some value, although it is not directly related to improving reliability. It entails a more fundamental change than developing the reporting structures to transition from a reactive to proactive reliability program.
Once a group of people get settled into a routine way of accomplishing something, it is not a simple matter to change the process. Doing so requires overcoming organizational inertia. For reliability professionals to implement reliability improvements, overcoming this inertia entails working closely with key influencers, making the current reality visible and accessible, and celebrating successes. Although every organization is different and every situation warrants its own approach, these three paths to overcoming inertia may facilitate implementation of any proposed changes.
Overcoming organization inertia is one crucial aspect of changing a reliability culture. Some organizations tend to react to reliability issues. Prototype testing and downing events continue to surprise the team. The worst organizations fall into a cycle of always finding someone to blame. Better organizations set out to work to understand the problem and quickly resolve the issue. Some have better ‘fire departments’ than others. However, responding more quickly is often not the best way to deal with reliability. The very best organizations prevent issues from creating surprises in the first place.
Understanding the reliability culture is the first step to change it.

by Yolanda Lopez

Guest post by Fred Schenkelberg, Reliability Expert for FMS Reliability
Equipment reliability is not the sole responsibility of the maintenance engineer but results from nearly everyone in an organization making decisions that move toward the desired reliability performance. As a reliability professional, I often find it necessary to explore ways to leverage my knowledge of these areas to change the culture within an organization to create a sustainable program that achieves reliable systems time and again.
Proactive organizations are those that work to prevent problems associated with reliability before the product reaches the prototype line stage, let alone a production line. Reactive organizations wait until fails occur, then deal with the consequences. If you are in an organization that tends to react rather than prevent, consider how you should set about changing the culture. Effecting change by itself can often be difficult, but I offer a few ideas that can be useful as you confront this challenge.

  1. Reflect the current situation back to the organization.
    An assessment that examines the current way the organization includes reliability in its discussions and decisions creates a picture of the process, tools, and attitudes that form the current culture concerning reliability. Is the organization simply saying ‘reliability is important’ and then focusing on other priorities? This often occurs when reliability is difficult to measure whereas cost is directly measured. How are tools such as FMEA and ALT being used in the organization? Are they used to just satisfy a checklist or to prioritize work and understand specific failure mechanisms? In either case, the degree to which the organization selects and uses tools to make decisions reflects its overall culture.
    By creating a short report that includes what the organization does well, areas for improvement, and specific recommendations, you can make the current program visible and available for examination. See the ebook Reliability Maturity: Understand and Improve Your Reliability Program available for free download.
  2. Create a vision of what could be.
    With respect to changing a culture, what would success look like? How would you know that the culture has actually changed? You need to be specific and include concrete examples of what technicians are saying, uptime graphs, comments from co-workers, etc. By painting a strong sensory image of what it will feel like when the culture has changed, you make the need for change compelling.
  3. Map the steps needed to attain the goal.
    A compelling vision is the goal, but it is insufficient to motivate change across your organization. A road map or plan detailing both obstacles and milestones can help. The idea is to show how to get started. Explain the first step and how that will lead to the steps necessary to achieve the objective. For changes to an overall reliability program the steps may include improved data analysis, changes in ways data are requested from vendors, creation of a reliability/availability model, and starting to use HALT or FMEA.
  4. Set expectations.
    Within a larger organization expectations should be set for key individuals (e.g., change agents, respected individuals, and community links). This creates a very clear connection between their role in the organization and the proposed changes. A handful of influential individuals working together to achieve change can very likely achieve success in effecting change.
  5. Provide support and encouragement.
    Change is hard work. It involves personal risk, learning new processes or techniques, and moving away from the known to the unknown. Change does not occur with a single meeting or announcement but is an ongoing process. Some best practices include continuously encouraging attempts to move along the proposed path; answering questions, providing training, and shoring up confidence, checking in regularly with key change agents; rewarding successes, and highlighting value obtained along the way.
    The improvement resulting from a change in a reliability program today does not immediately reduce downtime, for example. Often, a significant delay ensues before the benefits are realized. Providing tools and processes to estimate future value is essential. Changing reliability culture may take the coordination of one person and the support of a small team. The change of the conversation to include data, value, and customer reliability expectations may be sufficient to significantly prevent reliability problems. Effecting change will not be easy and will take some time to accomplish. Often, several cycles of equipment improvement projects are needed to create permanent change.
    With a clear assessment of the current situation, a vivid vision for the future, a basic guide to get everyone started, and the regular addition of your energy to continue making progress, change is possible.

by Yolanda Lopez

What seems like a “great idea” at the moment can often lead to regret and unwanted consequences later. This is true when it comes to equipment reliability and condition monitoring. What “great ideas” can a facility have today that can lead to unwanted reliability consequences later?  Unfortunately, the choices are many!
Determination of condition monitoring intervals can be one of those “great ideas” that is regretted later.
It is possible to apply condition monitoring more often than is actually required to detect conditional changes in equipment, resulting in extra expenses being incurred. Conversely, it is possible to monitor equipment too infrequently for important conditional changes to be noticed on time and failures occur. It can seem like a great idea to base condition monitoring frequencies upon arbitrary intervals, available manpower or some standard sampling frequency (such as 30, 60, 90, 180 days.) Each of these could prove to be an unfortunate decision taken on behalf of your reliability efforts. Make sure your condition monitoring frequencies are based upon the P-F interval. The equipment will usually let you know how often condition monitoring technologies should be applied and the P-F interval is a measurement of that. The appropriate sampling frequency can be determined with some effort and will ensure that you have no reliability regrets later.
Also read our blog called: “How do you set your condition monitoring intervals?

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

A hidden failure is not obvious under normal circumstances. Hidden failures can expose your facility to increased risks that may have serious consequences. The sources within your facility for hidden failures may be many. A good reliability program will give special consideration to these types of potential failures and their associated risks.
Have you considered that the software used within your facility may lead to hidden failures in a sense? Your software may lack documentation,  reporting and analytical capabilities. Data may be hidden,  improper diagnostics made, or corrective action not taken based upon the information, etc., all of which can lead to equipment failures. Intentional misuse of the information may be possible as well without the ability to apply proper oversight.
Make sure the software you use properly collects, stores and reports information of value that can be used to drive your maintenance and reliability efforts. Make sure that the information is correctly analyzed and appropriate action taken. Otherwise, your software tools may give you indications of problems that go unmitigated until costly failures occur.

by Trent Phillips CRL CMRP - Novelis

One of the first rules of good engineering practice is the KISS principle. KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple stupid”. Basically,  this means that most things function best if they are kept simple. It is often believed that expensive complex activities/functions are required to improve equipment reliability. Improving equipment reliability can be complicated and expensive in certain situations. Thankfully,  this can be the exception and not the rule within your facility. Don’t focus excessively on the complex and expensive reliability functions you cannot complete and thereby overlook the fundamental things that are required to keep your equipment reliable.
What reliability improvements can you make in your facility that do not require expensive or complicated actions? Start with the “basics” such as:

  • Align (shaft, coupling, etc.)
  • Balance (rotating components: fan blades, impellers, rotors.)
  • Tight (eliminate looseness and excessive vibration.)
  • Lubricate (correctly—not too much or too little!)
  • Inspect
  • Apply condition monitoring
  • Understand where your efforts should be focused

Don’t wait until the equipment has been installed and is operating. The basic functions listed above must be included in the specification, design, purchase and routine operation of your equipment. Failure to address these vital aspects from the beginning through operation of your equipment will result in higher maintenance costs and reduced equipment reliability.
Often fundamental reliability functions are not completed due to a lack resources, understanding, time, funding, etc. Ensure that your engineering, maintenance, production, purchasing and management teams understand and routinely employ these fundamental maintenance practices to keep your equipment reliable from the beginning.
Watch video tutorial about Reliability Basics

by Trent Phillips

Guest post by Mitch Stansloski,  P.E., PhD., Founder and President of Pioneer Engineering
I find that in today’s economy, many of our clients have added, or are attempting to implement, an effective condition based maintenance program. These clients understand the value of this type of program over and above the traditional time-based maintenance strategies. However, it is important to note that if a program stops at this step, it is unlikely that there will be significant improvement in overall reliability or a large reduction in maintenance costs.
This may sound a bit shocking, but based on my 26 years of maintenance and reliability experience, it is absolutely true. Think about it this way: Using condition monitoring to find defects early will not reduce the number of malfunctions that would have occurred if the technology had not been applied. It will give the user time to prepare for the repair, which will save some unplanned downtime, and it will likely reduce the severity of the failure resulting in less repair cost as well. However, decreasing unplanned downtime doesn’t improve reliability, it only improves availability, which is not as valuable. In addition, the costs savings that result from a more minor repair will be offset by the costs of implementing the technology (e.g. instrumentation, software, computers, maintenance fees, etc.) and the manpower to operate it.
In order to improve reliability, the program needs to add steps which focus on reliability improvement. Rather than stopping at diagnosing and replacing a defective bearing for instance, the user needs to identify a root cause for the premature failure. Then the user needs to change how the asset is managed in order to prevent recurrence. If these steps aren’t completed, the replacement part will likely see the same shortened life. Changes to asset management could include revisions to:

  • Installation and setup procedures
  • Maintenance procedures
  • Operating procedures
  • Purchasing specifications
  • Spare parts requirements

Taking these next steps can move a “parts swapping program” facilitated by high tech condition monitoring into a true reliability improvement program.

by Ana Maria Delgado, CRL

Most of the time focus for reliability issues or improvements is placed on maintenance. Good equipment reliability requires that detailed attention be placed on several factors beyond your maintenance department and efforts. Good reliability processes and sustainability requires that focus be placed upon design,  purchasing,  stores (warehouse), installation, startup, operation and finally the maintenance of the equipment. Design, installation, startup and operation of equipment are responsible for a very large percentage of reliability issues.  However, these areas are commonly overlooked for equipment reliability improvements. For example, a reliability issue designed into equipment will require repeated maintenance on that equipment. Your maintenance department may have many equipment reliability issues that have been introduced into your equipment by these other sources. This will result in repeated efforts to maintain that equipment and the resulting expenses. Do not overlook these other areas of improvement in your reliability efforts.
Watch our Video Tutorial RELIABILITY BASICS for an overview of basic concepts to improve rotating equipment reliability and machinery health.

by Trent Phillips

You’ve got it,  so why not use it? What am I talking about? Besides your VibXpert vibration analyzer you probably have other tools that can be utilized with to deliver additional reliability information to your management and facility.
1. Visual inspections can be logged into your vibration routes to help your facility keep on top of a number of things,  like:
a. Transformer cleanliness
You can log the transformer as:

  • Clean
  • Slightly Contaminated
  • Dirty–Needs Attention
  • Very contaminated – (reduced cooling capacity!)

b. Motor cooling fin cleanliness (same as [a])
c. Plant area cleanliness

  • Clean
  • Slightly Contaminated
  • Dirty–needs attention
  • Very contaminated – possible safety hazard

d. Plant area fire equipment condition

  • Fire Equipment Ready!
  • Hose missing!
    1. Valve wrench missing!
    2. Nozzle missing!
  • Extinguisher missing!

e. Record pressure, amperage, megawatts, etc. from gauges.
The list of uses for visual inspections goes on and on. Each inspection can be trended and reported. Many facilities struggle to keep up with some very important equipment or conditions around the plant, because it may not be easily worked into daily routines. If you are already in a routine of collecting vibration data, then you should take advantage of visual inspections. Add all the value you can to your tours through the plant! Find out what the Maintenance Manager or Production Manager might be very interested in knowing on a regular basis and add it to an existing route!
2. Do you have a strobe light? You can use it along with the “Visual Inspection” process spoken of above, and do visual inspections on critical machine couplings even while the machine is in operation. Take great care to remain safe, while getting valuable visual inspection data.
3. Do you have an infrared thermometer gun? If so, you can connect it to your VibXpert to record critical temperatures during a route and trend them. These are just a few suggestions of additional value you may be able to add to your maintenance and reliability efforts from other tools already in your kit and through visual inspections and data logging activities.

by Mike Fitch CRL

7 Abilities of Reliability

Good equipment reliability requires that several abilities be taken into consideration for success:
1. Design-Ability: Most equipment is designed with the focus of being “on-time” and “on-budget”,  but not to be reliable.  It is very difficult for your Maintenance Department to overcome poor equipment design.  Poor equipment design will create recurring issues that will require repeated maintenance over the life span of the equipment.
2. Install-Ability: Equipment that is not properly installed will continually require maintenance resources to keep it operational upon demand.  Additionally, large amounts of equipment defects are introduced during the installation process.
3. MaintainAbility: Maintainability is a characteristic of design and installation.  The machine should be designed and installed so that maintenance activities can be easily completed in a timely manner restoring the equipment to its normal operating state, safely and with a reliability focus.
4. MeasurAbility: Equipment design, installation, operation and maintenance must be measured.  All of the “abilities” should be designed and implemented in a way that allows performance and adherence to be measured.  Otherwise, continuous improvement will be very difficult.
5. UsAbility: The equipment should be designed with its intended users (operations and maintenance) in mind.  The equipment must be efficient to use, easy to learn to operate and maintain.
6. AccountAbility: Create reasonable expectations that challenge people, provide them the required means (tools, etc.) to do their job, offer support and hold them accountable for their efforts.  Do not be oppressive!  Be rewarding instead!  A management style that is oppressive and punishes people for mistakes will create a work force that hides things.  A management style that rewards people for their successes will produce an environment of employees that want to make continual improvements.
7. SustainAbility: Consideration and planning should be given to the long term implementation and sustainability of any reliability program.  This includes ensuring that funding, management support, training, resources, etc. are provided continually and not just for a few months, or the first year, etc.  A large percentage of reliability programs fail because they are not implemented in such a way as to make them sustainable over the longer term.
Condition Monitoring can help with these aspects of reliability.  Condition Monitoring can help identify design related issues, installation related issues, maintenance tasks that should be completed, identify where processes tend to fail (accountability), etc.
Watch our ReliAbilities video tutorial

by Trent Phillips

You’re 17 times more likely to introduce defects during equipment startup than during normal equipment operation.  Additionally,  over 90% of rotating equipment has defects at startup that result in premature equipment failures.
Misalignment and unbalance are two of the most commonly overlooked conditions that lead to the unwanted statistical results referenced above.  Misalignment in equipment leads to increased vibration levels, bearing failures, coupling wear, seal failures, shaft fatigue, increased power consumption and other negative effects.  Unbalance in equipment can introduce structural related issues, bearing defects and other issues. Both conditions can create unwelcome safety concerns.  Additionally, both conditions can be present on the same equipment and working in concert can unfortunately amplify the referenced failure conditions.
So, how do you prevent misalignment and unbalance conditions from making your equipment part of these negative statistics and placing your company at financial risk?  The answer is to apply condition monitoring technology and procedures such as laser alignment, equipment balancing and vibration analysis to your equipment.  These condition monitoring activities will lead to reduced equipment downtime, reduced equipment failures, improved safety, reduced financial risks, increased equipment uptime, lower operating costs and increased profits for stakeholders.

by Trent Phillips

PUMPS & SYSTEMS • May 2012

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” ?— Frank A. Clark

“So easy that even a caveman can do it, ” as stated in a popular TV commercial, could easily be used to describe today’s predictive maintenance tools because they work so well. However, to be truly competitive, a company’s goals should go further than being satisfied with marginal improvements in machine reliability.
Achieving equipment reliability that is required for maximum profits is both realistic and obtainable for any company. Proper use of predictive maintenance (PdM) tools is a key factor in realizing such goals. This article provides solutions to overcoming obstacles and issues associated with monitoring machinery and using predictive maintenance tools—such as precision shaft alignment and vibration instruments.
Read my entire article Overcome the Obstacles to Successful Predictive Maintenance

by Bill Hillman CMRP