Reliability or safety first?

In an asset intensive environment an integral part of Reliability is Safety, in other words when reliability increases so does the safety.


It is always a pleasure to see that when reliability initiatives are starting to have a positive effect on equipment, people and processes the safety Key Performance Indicators (“KPI’s”) go up as well. But why does this happen and which is coming first? Is it the safety or reliability? I say reliability comes first then safety, people become more comfortable and positive in their respective roles because the processes are under more reliable control and safety is one of the positive side effects of reliability.

Let’s take a look at the illustrated scenario below:

In a Reactive Maintenance environment:

  • Safety is very instinctive in nature; that is to say when a problem arise instincts are what drives the situation more than anything else. Instincts say that one can react to the problem in a particular way, unfortunately often ignoring or not noticing the dangers that are present.
  • Reliability, if that definition can be used in this situation, is almost nonexistent; that is to say there are no failure mode focused or planned maintenance activities and therefore the maintenance activities are all reactive or break down maintenance.
  • Behavior is all reactive; in a reactive maintenance regime it is close to impossible to expect anything else.

In a Planned Maintenance environment:

  •  Safety is enforced; through planned maintenance activities safety procedures are most often enforced through the planning process.
  • Reliability is scheduled; scheduled maintenance activities can support reliability initiatives. Focusing maintenance activities on failure modes, therefore preventing failure obviously contributes to increased reliability. However one needs to be mindful that too much planned maintenance can backfire. Focusing on the wrong maintenance activities (the ones not focusing on the failure modes, etc.) will not help and last but not least the maintenance induced failures also contribute to less reliability.
  • Behavior is guided; through the planning process safety procedures are usually a part of the Planned Maintenance procedures and thus enforced.

In a Pro-active Maintenance environment:

  • Safety is embedded; in a pro-active environment safety conscience is a second nature. Embedded in all levels of the organisation, responsibility for safety is everyone’s role and viewed as an added value to the business.
  • Reliability is Continuously Improved; in the Pro-active maintenance environment maintenance activities are not only performed, they are always performed in a way that focuses on how they can be improved. It also focuses a lot on condition monitoring and only intervening when failure modes are measured as trending up.
  • Behavior is self disciplined; in a pro-active maintenance environment the behaviours are self disciplined to focus on reliability continuous improvements with embedded safety in all aspects of the maintenance and production environment.

As can be seen above the development of Reliability and Safety have a strong correlation. Focusing on increased Reliability will promote the right behaviours and result in better safety KPI’s. In addition to all these great benefits to the organisation it will also have a positive impact on the productivity and therefore profitability, which is always a good added benefit to any initiative.

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EAM & CMMS Systems, 10 times more data in the system or 10 time less done with the data available?

 

The road to success in using information systems is a difficult one to navigate. When an implementation of a system is started some assumptions are made about what is needed from the system, how it will help with decision-making, how it will help with execution  of maintenance activities and many other factors. The maintenance environment is a complex environment to begin with, then on top of that it is an environment that is constantly presenting itself with new challenges and changing operational conditions. The markets change as well as many other external factors, the knowledge is leaving from the manufacturing environment because of aging workforce as well as more competition for the remaining workforce with knowledge and experience and the list could go on and on.

At the core of information systems is the gathering of data, it needs to be reliable data so that the decisions from that data are based on solid foundation. Without reliable data the decisions made can not be reliable. The way data is collected is extremely important, wherever there is manual input you are introducing an element of risk for mistakes being made. Wherever the data is collected automatically there is an element of failure or calibration error introduced in the collection process. There are also many other factors that are necessary to remain vigilant about.

To answer the question headed in the Blog, today we have the capabilities to store extreme amounts of data in our systems and databases. So too much data is probably not an issue in most cases. Navigating through that data can be challenging but the most important thing about the data should be that it needs to be reliable and accurate! If there is too little done with the data, probably in most cases it is possible to improve how the data is being used. In helping with good quality decision-making it takes time and a lot of thoughts to develop, it is an investment that can be quick to return a profit.

I hope that you have enjoyed the read and if you have any comments or questions please don’t be shy to post them below or contact me directly. Thank you for reading and hopefully sharing.

How long do I have left?

One of the biggest challenges in condition based maintenance is answering the big question of production managers when you inform them of a detection of a failure mode.

When a PdM technician tells a manager, I can see that we have a problem in this bearing, or something similar, the question that is most often asked is : “When will it fail?” or “How long do I have left”.

Answering this question usually involves the intuition of the Maintenance PdM technician, how well does he know the machine, how well is he familiar to the operational environment, are there new operators on the machine, will there be new operators on the machine, will there be a change in the maintenance procedures affecting the failure mode that was detected by the condition monitoring… and the list could go on and on… and on… and on…

The period from the P-F points on the failure curve are dependent on too many immeasurable variables to be able to say, for example : “You have one month before this bearing will break down!”.

It is often extremely tempting to express an opinion of how long the period will be from P-F on the failure curve, however there must always be a “grain of salt” with it, so that the production “side” is aware that this is not a guaranty at all.

Another point to consider is that once a failure mode is detected almost always there is an element of waste added in the process, more power is needed to do the same. There are leaks, internal or external, that are wasting energy, etc.

The point of all this here above is that as soon as a failure mode is detected steps should be taken to plan a repair of the failure. This is the foundation of precision maintenance.

When analyzing what went wrong, to prevent further failures from the same source, focus should be given to the Installation point, because before the P-F curve we have the I-P period, that is the Installation to Point of failure detection point… but more on that later.

I hope that you have enjoyed to read this post and will leave a comment.

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.