I want my customers to be successful, every one of them. Yet there are times I can see the writing on the wall and I know as hard as I might try to show them a clear path to what it takes to be successful they have their own plan. Some of them are so complex that people become confused just trying to make sense of them, and others get so hung up in the minutiae of even the simplest of steps like listing a 3 part failure mode they will word-smith themselves to a point where folks just give up. I find myself asking “why do people have to make what is really so simple into something that appears to be complex?”



The reality is the work it takes to have all the right things in place to achieve world-class maintenance and reliability results is simple. I know because I have been involved with implementing each one first hand as a maintenance and reliability professional and now as part of my job as a RCM Practitioner. To make it work you simply need willing professionals, strong leadership, a solid plan and the discipline to stick to that plan.

This being said, if your one of the many who are struggling or one of many who are just starting this “journey”, place all of the excuses you have heard aside and read on with an open mind. My plan is to list each requirement, let you know why each step is important, tell you what it takes to get it done and list the roadblocks you’ll need to avoid to be successful.

  1. Build the Foundation – This is the first step and it is by far most important, at the same time it’s the step that most sites mess up right from the very beginning. You will need three things complete and in place to build this foundation; first is your Equipment Hierarchy. I would estimate that 90% of the sites I have visited over the last 15 years have non-functional Equipment Hierarchies that end at the system or subsystem level, or have a Bill of Materials (BOM) attached to the system without listing assets and/or components. Your equipment hierarchy is the base of your foundation, nearly everything you do will depend on how well you set this foundation. How important is it? ISO made a standard regarding what it should look like (ISO1424) and the puzzle here is why so many try to cheat this first step. You have to walk your equipment down, take pictures, and build your hierarchy to the asset and component level. The second part of the foundation is the Criticality Analysis so if 90% of the sites I have visited have an incomplete hierarchy, how can they have a functional criticality analysis? Criticality Analysis is performed at 3 levels, System Criticality, Asset Criticality and Component Criticality (RCM/FMECA) and the goal here is to be able to Plan and Schedule all types of work as well as make sound decisions on spare parts and to do this effectively we need to understand the criticality of each asset. Two things typically stand in the way of getting this done, first is a hierarchy that ends at the system level, the second is an abbreviated methodology that results in little to no resolution regarding the criticality ranking. As an example if your site has 10,000 assets and your criticality ranking only allows a score of 1 to 5 or A,B,C the range of criticality makes it impossible to complete the third part of our foundation; Planning and Scheduling. In order for a maintenance organization to develop and deliver a complete maintenance strategy they have to be able to plan and schedule work and this is where most companies struggle. Why do they struggle? Because in most cases they have a criticality ranking system that only allows for 5 levels of separation between the least, and most critical jobs. With this much work lumped together they spend hours trying to determine what should be done, why it might be perceived as important and in the end they carry a huge back load of work. In order for planning and scheduling to work for 10,000 assets you would need a criticality ranking of 0 to 100. Do that hierarchy and criticality ranking right the first time and planning and scheduling become much easier. The biggest road blocks you will find in setting this 3 part foundation will come in the form of money. People who are short sighted will quickly recognize that there is no immediate return on investment for spending time on the foundational elements. You may even need to start this step unfunded in order to get your arms around what it takes to walk down the equipment, build a solid hierarchy, and perform the criticality analysis.
  2. PM Evaluation/Optimization (PME) – It doesn’t get much simpler than PM evaluation, this is a house cleaning tool and while I find a large percentage of companies with messed up hierarchies, just as many have somehow figured out how to load their current CMMS with a high percentage of useless PM’s. To make it even worse, when the time comes and they recognize that they need to reset the foundational elements, they turn around and dump this junk right back in on top of it! The nice part about PM Evaluation/Optimization is it will have a very quick return on investment and if frees your maintenance craftspeople up to work on more important things. The problem with PM Evaluation/Optimization is those who don’t have a full understanding of all the tools in the reliability tool kit try to do too much with PME and the next thing you know they are templating the 1 PM they wrote to clean a motor that operates in a dusty environment to every motor at their site. The reality is PME is good for cleaning house and getting rid of PM tasks that were created for components where PM will have no impact on the failure mode, and for recognizing and cleaning up PM’s where someone though the entire world knows what check the pump means.
  3. Operator Care – Here we are worried about how we are going to get our arms around all that needs to be done in the world of maintenance and reliability and I have to go and drag operations into the business! The equipment operators are our first line of defense when it comes to maintaining our equipment and they need to be engaged in what they need to do to properly start up, shut down, perform product changes and operate the equipment. Operator care will not only help to educate our operators on how our equipment was designed to run, but it will also help to eliminate a large percentage of failure modes that result from improper operation of the equipment. Operator care involves both the operators and the maintenance craftspeople and will also provide a quick return on investment as well as free up more time for craftspeople to focus on proactive maintenance tasks.
  4. Reliability Centered Maintenance/RCA, Failure Modes Based Tools – With the quickest return on investment outside of Airborne Ultrasound, RCM and RCA are usually the tools most companies start with first. The failure modes based tools are the tools we use to get to root or cause of the problems that cause us pain and the nice part about RCM and RCA is when we get our maintenance and operations folks engaged in using the tools, the problem solving techniques used in both can be applied to any failure you have at your plant. The problems people experience as they begin to use the tools is they can take a bit of time to master and to be good at them requires fair amount of structure and discipline. Add to that those who feel the need to find someone to blame for nearly every significant failure and soon you have folks who would rather do anything but attend a RCM or RCA meeting. The key to these tools is to identify causes, develop mitigation strategies, and implement/perform them as soon as possible. When I say soon, we can easily complete a good sized RCM/RCA in a week and if we have set that foundation we can easily complete the implementation in 3 weeks. To get this moving takes a leader, someone who has a genuine interest in improving the reliability of your assets and someone who is highly respected by managers, tradespeople and operators.
  5. Condition Based Technologies (CBT) – Holy smokes, did I just create a new acronym? I have to admit I have never become attached to the other names attached to the technologies, worst of all being PdM! The reality is the technologies have never predicted anything, they detect a specific condition/conditions that would indicate a component/part is in the process of failing and that failure at some point is eminent. So why do we need CBT? The technologies continue to grow as do their uses add this to fact the cost of each in terms of training and actual engagement continues to get lower. When I first began performing RCM in the late 1990’s, 28% of the failure modes identified in a RCM analysis could be detected by an applicable and effective On-Condition Task, that number today is approaching 40% and in the near future could be as high as 50% or more. The reality is the test period for answering the questions; do these technologies work, should have been over in the late 1980’s yet some seem to struggle with the commitment still today. Where cost was the largest roadblock 20 years ago, today it’s simply training within all levels of your company so that folks understand how the technologies work and why it is important to plan, schedule and complete the corrective maintenance identified by the technologies. I would also be remiss if I didn’t say one other thing that makes companies reluctant to invest in the technologies is some have been burned by over application. You can do too much CBT and spend more money than what is needed but this again comes back to training. Start with the basics, Airborne Ultrasound, Infrared Thermography, Vibration Analysis, Oil Analysis and Motor Circuit Analysis.
  6. Reliability Measure – I tried like heck to make this the 5 things you need to achieve sustained results but I would be a fool if I didn’t stress the importance of measuring where you started as compared to where you are today. When it comes to showing the results and proving a return on investment, no tool is more powerful than Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) combined with Total Effective Equipment Performance (TEEP). The problem is most people totally mess these measures up by trying to apply them at a site or plant level and when you do this the numbers are meaningless. OEE/TEEP are designed to be applied at the asset level or machine level. Again if you have laid that solid foundation, you should know exactly what assets are in the top 20%, start measuring there and this is where you would also apply your RCM and RCA tools to equipment based losses on critical assets! So what gets in the way here? Time and method, it takes time to measure and most aren’t sure where to get the numbers in terms of the method. The reality is OEE/TEEP are quite simple, again don’t let your team get bogged down in the details, pick a method and descriptors that work and get started. Don’t waste your time trying to calculate MTBF for every asset at your site and stay the heck away from complex reliability statistics. Always remember the most effective solution is the simple one, start here first and I am willing to bet it will work!

So there you have it, start wrapping your arms around these 5 and you will be well on your way. In fact, I don’t have to tell you how you will know because the changes will be that obvious. The change that comes about through application of these tools and techniques make everything we do in business easier. Reliable assets cost less to maintain, they make production scheduling simple and attainable and as a result maintenance planning and scheduling falls right into line. The trick is simple, set the plan in place and stick to it. Don’t get bogged down in meaningless details, (I worked with a customer recently that spent 6 months discussing/arguing what their hierarchy should look like, something I resolved in 1 30 minute leadership team meeting that showed them this is what it will look like and 2 weeks later they had all of their equipment listed) and don’t let others slow you down or confuse you with complex tools, training and meaningless exercises once you have begun to move forward. The truth is your problems are not at all complex so why should your solutions be any different?

If you happen to be one of the many who are struggling or just getting started I hope what you just read helped to clarify and simplify what so many believe is complex. If you are interested in learning more please feel free to visit my website www.rcmblitz.com or my blog at www.rcmblitzblog.com


6 Responses to The 6 Things Every Maintenance & Reliability Program Needs To Achieve Sustained Results

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    Hi eliable there

    This is a great article!

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