What is Personal Reliability Excellence?

By R. Keith Mobley, CMRP, Principal, SME, Life Cycle Engineering

Two words reliability and excellence, used separately or together, are popular topics of discussion. The concept of reliability is usually discussed in the context of capital assets and too often tends to focus on the perceived relationship of maintenance performance to asset reliability. Occasionally these discussions will expand to include the role of production or operations, but most remain focused on maintenance and the physical assets that make up a plant’s installed capacity. To me, this is shortsighted because it fails to understand that reliability is a much more complex issue that cannot be resolved by maintenance—or even within dock-to-dock operations.

Excellence, on the other hand, is used to describe a definitive measure of the performance level of everything and anything. Applied functionally and globally, the term defines a perception of top quartile or best-in-class performance. Properly applied, both reliability and excellence are valued measures and provide the foundation for goals that all should pursue. However, there are other, more important uses for the combined term, Reliability Excellence®, a much more personal one.

If you have been challenged to resolve a problem, whether dealing with physical assets or with under-performing business functions, you know that two fundamentals must exist before acceptable performance can be expected: reliable processes and execution. The former mandates standard work that enables consistent execution of process. The latter requires people who universally follow the standard work. Without these two fundamentals, one is dealing with an unsolvable, infinite variable.

Few recognize the critical importance of the reliability of human assets, but if one thinks through the parameters of reliability it is obvious that reliability is impossible without it. One can have state-of-the art physical assets and best-in-class processes but without reliable employees—the entire workforce—reliability excellence is not possible. It is the workforce—from the boardroom to the factory floor—that truly determines reliability. Deferring maintenance, operating production systems outside their design envelopes, and most of the factors that result in poor reliability are decisions made by the workforce—the human factor. Unless and until the reliability of each individual within the workforce is addressed and resolved, Reliability Excellence is not possible.

Each of us should also constantly strive for Reliability Excellence in both our private and public lives. Reliability, defined as the quality or state of being reliable, is a trait that we all believe defines us. But does it really? To be truly reliable, one must, without exception, exhibit the highest levels of dependability, responsibility and trustworthiness. That means one must meet or exceed the expectations of others as well as oneself.

While this may sound simple enough, in reality it is exceedingly difficult. To be reliable, one must in many cases put aside personal interest and focus on meeting the needs of others. With few exceptions, our reputation for being dependable, responsible and trustworthy depends on how we interact with others. Personal Reliability Excellence therefore includes always treating others with respect and seeking win-win outcomes to every challenge that comes our way.


Keith Mobley has earned an international reputation as one of the premier consultants in the fields of plant performance optimization, reliability engineering, predictive maintenance and effective management. He has more than 35 years of direct experience in corporate management, process design and troubleshooting. For the past 16 years, he has helped hundreds of clients worldwide achieve and sustain world-class performance. Keith can be reached at [email protected].    

© Life Cycle Engineering, Inc.


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