Those famous words from Apollo 13 Pilot Jack Swigert, while actually misquoted, still apply to so many things today that they have become a very common phrase.  I used the phrase recently with a customer who was looking to optimize both the frequency of his proactive maintenance tasks and his spare parts. This can be a good idea when your organization has reached a level of maturity where you are completing ALL of your PM and PdM tasks on schedule AND you are completing the corrective actions that result from performing these tasks.

However, it has been my experience that less than 1% of the clients I have worked with over the last 15 years are ready to optimize their task frequencies or optimize their spare parts using Weibull statistics.  The number of companies looking to do just that though is now in the 50-60% range, and this creates a real problem.

The problem here is twofold. First, we have the customer who would like to optimize and is clearly not ready to do so because they still have an emergency and demand maintenance workload that exceeds the amount of planned work they are able to complete.  Attempting to optimize their task frequencies will only make them more difficult to schedule and, therefore, less likely to be completed.  These are often the same companies who might have a PdM program in place but still elect to run the asset to failure even with clear evidence of a potential failure condition.  Add to this optimization of the spare parts stocking strategy and we now have a disaster waiting to happen: the failure of an asset where the technology clearly indicated a potential failure, the results are ignored, the asset fails, and you now no longer have the part on hand.

The second part of this problem sits at my end of the equation; we offer both the service and the tools to provide this optimization and it puts you-know-who in a very odd position.  John J. Customer sees his growing maintenance and reliability effort as mature, ready to tackle any challenge; the data from his OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) and his planning and scheduling shows different.  Then you advise old John J. that you don’t believe they are ready and guess who is insulted?

To put this into simple terms, and remembering that this is just MY opinion, the use of Reliability Statistics can be a great help to a mature organization, one who has high and sustained OEE numbers, and organizations that complete over 90% of their planned workload each month, including PM, PdM, and corrective tasks.  If your organization is not ready, it is equal to putting roller skates on a toddler who is just getting ready to take his/her first steps.  This, by the way, is no different than attempting to implement Lean Manufacturing without first making your equipment reliable.  It does NOT work!

So, if you would, please take my advice: leave the fancy statistical tools for the day when your reliability effort is so strong and mature that the OEE numbers are high and sustained, you haven’t had the need to quickly gather a team to perform an RCA in some time, and your entire leadership team not only understands the value of your PdM program but works together to schedule corrective action when potential failures are first detected.

And finally, what Apollo 13 Pilot Jack Swigert actually said was “Houston we’ve had a problem here.”  Very close to the line they used in the movie, and with that said, I am sure we all would rather avoid problems in the first place!

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One Response to Houston, We Have a Problem! Are You Really Ready for Weibull?

  1. Larry Tyson says:

    Mr. Lucky, if you have a subscription to UPTIME MAGAZINE, I performed an RCA, R&M, RAM and somehat an RCM using the Fuel Control for a Military TURBOFAN JET ENGINE. I took 165 FAILURE MODES, REDUCED to 7 with a Primary and Secondary FAILURE MODE. The FUEL CONTROL (FC) had caused a significant amount of IN-FLIGHT ABORTS (IFA), a direct Impact on Safety. I published in the JUNE/JULY 2011/OCT-NOV2012, and my last article will be published OCT/NOV 2013. My procedures are probably very close to yours. Thanks for your time.

    V/R,
    Larry Tyson///904-317-1613///PMA-272 Support

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