Fixed and improved… better than new!

Picture of a broken piston and connecting rod ...

Why did it break down?

When faced with failures it is important to empower your maintenance and operator employees to look for opportunities for improvements. Only by constantly focusing on how one can get better one can improve and this is a focus point that can never be lost.

In manufacturing facilities it is always a core focus point to produce, so too often when a failure occurs the environment and ambiance around the failure instantly go into “get it running again as soon as possible” mode. Unfortunately, with this attitude, companies are losing a lot of improvement possibilities. When facing a failure it is wise to take a step back and understand what caused the failure (using for example the 5x why method). Once the failure has been properly documented and a clear understanding for the root cause of the failure has been established then it is possible to put in place measures to prevent it from happening again.

The measures for preventing re-occurring failures can be for example an improved PM/PdM activity, measuring something that will indicate the failure mode. It can be a revised operating procedure, improving the way to operate the process or machine. It can be a re-design of components, machine or process. This list can be extremely long… improvements can take on many forms.

The core message to take from this short Blog is that when faced with a failure and don’t take the time at that moment to improve you will always be struggling with the same failures over and over again.

Take some time now to save a lot more time later.

Condition monitoring, is it a modern day Crystal ball?

Cartoon about a fortune teller contacting the ...

Do you see a failure in my future? Can I plan for it? When will the failure start to affect my manufacturing performance?

The short answer is : “No”.

We do not only have one “Crystal ball” when it comes to condition monitoring, we have many, for example :

  • Vibration Monitoring & Analysis
  • Motor Current Analysis & Monitoring
  • Acoustic Emission Monitoring & Analysis
  • Thermal Imaging Monitoring & Analysis
  • Oil Monitoring & Analysis

The list could go on but I will stop for now.

I have through the years gotten to know all these and more methods of condition monitoring, I would like to say that they are all great. Some people might disagree with me when I say this and want to express that the only great condition monitoring technique is this … or that … technique. Like with many “opposing” technologies, their representatives like to point out their superiority in some way over other existing techniques. However the fact is that all condition monitoring techniques have their weak and strong points.

When implementing a condition monitoring program it is smart to use the different techniques to confirm each other or go deeper into the analysis of the problem. For example if oil analysis reveals unusual fragments of metal you could use the vibration measurements to further analyse what it is that is wearing or breaking down.

The challenge is quantifying the problem. Production wants to know, understandably, how long they can run the equipment before the failure appears in less production. Maintenance planning also wants to know how long time they have to plan the repair. Just like the people who visit the lady with the Crystal ball we all want to know when things get better in any way people want it to be better. The problem is that this is knowledge the team will get with the years of running the Condition Monitoring Program. This knowledge is very much based on the experience of each plant in their operating context of their respected processes.

Another challenge is that there is always the possibility of unusual loads, unusual operation of equipment and other aspects that can not be foreseen, even with all the great condition monitoring techniques to our disposal.

In conclusion I can say that the investment in condition monitoring is well worth it for most manufacturing plants. However it takes resilience, patience and perseverance to get the condition monitoring program to a place everyone wants it to be right out of the gates.