Reliability Engineering Articles

  • Ordering a new piece of equipment? Make sure you answer these 20 questions

    One of the biggest challenges I faced as a manufacturing plant reliability engineer (RE) was managing new equipment that had been installed in my area of responsibility without my knowledge or input. Several of those assets jumped to the top of my list of bad actors.

  • FMEA: The Heart of Equipment Maintenance

    The primary purpose of an equipment maintenance plan (EMP) in a manufacturing facility is to minimize the impact of unplanned events on safety, the environment, and business profitability. The reliability tool best serving as a vehicle to achieve and sustain EMP goals is the failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA). Optimum long-term cost of ownership is typically a result of an effectively facilitated and thoroughly implemented FMEA.

  • Is There Value in Identifying Criticality of Spare Parts?

    For more than a decade we have been coaching our clients to identify their critical spares at the earliest possible opportunity – ideally when an item is first ordered and/or set up in the system – and review them on a periodic basis to keep the information up to date.

  • Is Your Asset Hierarchy Out of Order?

    Asset hierarchy structure is one of the most basic elements of a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). It’s also often overlooked. When we evaluate a company’s asset infrastructure, the CMMS hierarchy often scores poorly when assessed against best practices, and setting up the hierarchy properly ends up as a part of many project scopes. Here are some of the issues I’ve encountered when working on these projects

  • Anyone Can Become More Proactive, Even Without Expensive Equipment

    By Scott Hoff, Life Cycle Engineering
    My former boss liked to say, “If you keep doing the same thing but expect different results, that’s insanity.” Doing firefighting maintenance and hoping for a different outcome, that’s insane.The issue might be financial: “There’s no money in the budget to buy a vibration analyzer(or some other predictive tool).” Another common roadblock is: “I don’t have enough manpower to do proactive maintenance.”

  • Involving Operators in Your Equipment Maintenance Plans

    The success of your equipment maintenance plan (EMP) will depend on how involved operators were in its development and implementation. Are operator experience and abilities underutilized in your organization for the purposes of improving and sustaining asset reliability? Even if you don’t have an operator care (OC) program in place, you should consider operator care’s mitigation capabilities when a strategy is required to lower risk to the value stream. EMPs are also a great way to show the value that operators bring to the reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) team. Cross-functional collaboration is necessary to develop effective operator inspections. Operators are in a perfect position to develop, test and institutionalize routine equipment care and inspection tasks.

  • One Skill That Takes Good Engineers to Great

    If you’re good at root cause analysis, you can learn from your mistakes. If you’re great at root cause analysis, you can prevent mistakes from happening. The concept of analyzing failures and tragedies to prevent them from occurring has been around for centuries. In fact, this is really the foundation of many legal systems and regulatory entities. When the United States government enacted the Pure Food and Drugs Act in 1906, and effectively created the Food and Drug Administration, this was in response to public health being negatively impacted by dangerous or misbranded food and drugs. People who had serious diseases needed scientifically tested medicines with controlled ingredients and dosages – not snake oil.

  • Preparing for a Root Cause Analysis

    The effectiveness of a root cause investigation is predicated on several elements, but the time spent preparing for the subsequent analysis is the most important. A thorough preliminary investigation, identifying the right team members, and anticipating problems at the analysis meeting could mean the difference between a highly reliable asset and recurring failures. To drive this point home, consider the analogy of assembling a puzzle.

  • Integrating Risk Analysis into Deferred Maintenance Decision Making

    With constant pressure to reduce maintenance costs as well as short-term budget constraints, asset managers are often compelled to continue operating aging assets while deferring maintenance and investment. As the consequences of such decisions are rarely immediate, it can seem relatively harmless to skip a PM or eliminate repairs/upgrades from an outage schedule. In fact, deferring maintenance and investment will often result in the desired outcome (cost reduction) in the short term, further reinforcing the practice.

  • Failure Codes to the Rescue: A Reliability Engineer’s Experience with an Unsuccessful FMEA

    I was recently asked to perform a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) at a large food processing facility. This piece of equipment was similar to about 40 other assets and we were excited about being able to leverage this FMEA as a template. Furthermore, we were going to be able to extend this to other facilities that this client operated across the country.

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