Monthly Archives: January 2017

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Author: Jason Ballentine

Many organizations believe that making sound maintenance decisions requires a whole lot of data. It’s a logical assumption — you do need to know things like the number of times an event has occurred, its duration, the number of spare parts needed, and the number of people engaged in addressing the event; plus the impact on the business and the reason why it happened. ????????????????????????????????????????

A lot of this information is captured in your Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). The more detail you have, the more accurate results you can get from maintenance scenario simulation tools like Isograph’s Availability Workbench™. Unfortunately, your CMMS data may be lacking enough detail to yield optimal results.

It’s enough to make anybody want to throw his or her hands up and put off the decision indefinitely. If you do, you could be making a big mistake.

No matter what, you’re still going to have to make a decision. You have to.

The truth is, you can still do a lot with limited or poor quality data, supported by additional sources of knowledge. Extract any and all information you have available, not just what is in the CMMS. Document what you’ve got, then use it to make a timely decision that’s as informed as possible.

Don’t get caught up in the fact that it’s not perfect data — circumstances in the real world are hardly ever ideal. In fact, as reliability engineers, most of the data we get is related to failure, which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid. Actually, if we are tracking failures, having less data means we are likely doing our jobs well because that means we are experiencing a low number of failures.

The bottom line is: we can’t afford to sit and wait for more data to make decisions, and neither can you.

Gather as much information as you can from all available sources:

CMMS

In an ideal world, this is the master data record of all activities performed.  As discussed previously, that is almost never the case; however, this is an important starting point to reveal where data gaps exist.

Personal experience and expertise

There’s a wealth of information stored within the experience of people who are familiar with any given piece of equipment. Consider holding a facilitated workshop to gather insight on the equipment’s likely performance. Even a series of informal conversations can yield useful opinions and real-world experiences.

The Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

Most OEMs will have documentation you can access, possibly also a user forum you can mine for additional information.

Industry databasese.g., the Offshore and Onshore Reliability Data Handbook (OREDA) and Process Equipment Reliability Database (PERD) by Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS)

Some information is available in these databases, but it’s generic — not specific to your unique site or operating context. For example, you can find out how often a certain type of pump fails, but you can’t discover whether that pump is being used on an oil platform, refinery, power station or mine site. Industry data does, however, provide useful estimates on which you can base your calculations and test your assumptions.

Capture all these insights in an easily accessible way, then use what you’ve learned to make the best decision currently possible. And be sure to record the basis for your decision for future reference. If you get better data down the road, you can always go back and revise your decisions — after all, most maintenance strategies should remain dynamic by design.

Don’t let a lack of data paralyze you into inaction. Gather what you can, make a decision, see how it works, and repeat. It’s a process of continuous improvement, which given the right framework is simple and efficient.

Availability Workbench™, Reliability Workbench™, FaultTree+™, and Hazop+™ are trademarks of Isograph Limited the author and owner of products bearing these marks. ARMS Reliability is an authorized distributor of those products, and a trainer in respect of their use.

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Author: Jason Ballentine

As with any budget, you’ve only got a certain amount of money to spend on maintenance in the coming year. How do you make better decisions so you can spend that budget wisely and get maximum performance out of your facility? ??????????????????????????????????????????????

It is possible to be strategic about allocating funds if you understand the relative risk and value of different approaches. As a result, you can get more bang for the same bucks.

How can you make better budget decisions?

It can be tempting to just “go with your gut” on these things. However, by taking a systematic approach to budget allocation, you’ll make smarter decisions — and more importantly you’ll have concrete rationales for why you made those decisions —  which can be improved over time. Work to identify the specific pieces of equipment (or types of equipment) that are most critical to your business, then compare the costs and risks of letting that equipment run to failure against the costs and risks of performing proactive maintenance on that equipment. Let’s take a closer look at how you can do that.

4 steps to maximize your maintenance budget

1.  Assign a criticality level for each piece of equipment. Generally, this is going to result in a list of equipment that would cause the most pain — be it financial, production loss, safety, or environmental pain — in the event of failure. Perform a Pareto analysis for maximum detail. 

2.  For your most critical equipment, calculate the ramifications of a reactive/run-to-failure approach.

  • Quantify the relative risk of failure. (You can use the RCMCost™ module of Isograph’s Availability Workbench™ to better understand the risk of different failure modes.)
  • Quantify the costs of failure. Keep in mind that equipment failures can affect multiple aspects of your business in different ways — not just direct hard costs. In every case, consider all possible negative effects, including potential risks.
    • Maintenance: Staff utilization, spare parts logistics, equipment damage, etc.
    • Production Impact: Downtime, shipment delays, stock depletion or out-of-stock, rejected/reworked product, etc.
    • Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Impact: Injuries, actual/potential releases to the environment, EPA visits/fines, etc.
    • Business Impact: Lost revenue, brand damage, regulatory issues, etc.

For a more detailed explanation of the various potential costs of failure, consult our eBook, Building a Business Case for Maintenance Strategy Optimization.

3.  Next, calculate the impact of a proactive maintenance approach for this equipment

  • Outline the tasks that would best mitigate existing and potential failure modes
  • Evaluate the cost of performing those tasks, based on the staff time and resources required to complete them.
  • Specify any risks associated with the proactive maintenance tasks. These risks could include the possibility of equipment damage during the maintenance task, induced failures, and/or infant mortality for newly replaced or reinstalled parts.

4. Compare the relative risk costs between these approaches for each maintenance activity. This will show you where to focus your maintenance budget for maximum return.

When is proactive maintenance not the best plan?

For the most part, you’ll want to allocate more of your budget towards proactive maintenance for equipment that has the highest risk and the greatest potential negative impact in the event of failure. Proactive work is more efficient so your team can get more done for the same dollar value. Letting an item run to failure can create an “all hands on deck” scenario under which nothing else gets done, whereas many proactive tasks can be performed quickly and possibly even concurrently.

That said, it’s absolutely true that sometimes run-to-failure is the most appropriate approach for even a critical piece of equipment. For example, a maintenance team might have a scheduled task to replace a component after five years, but the problem is that component doesn’t really age -— the only known failure mode is getting struck by lightning. No matter how old that component is, the risk is the same. Performing replacement maintenance on this type of component might actually cost more than simply letting it run until it fails. (In these cases, a proactive strategy would focus on minimizing the impact of a failure event by adding redundancy or stocking spares.) But you can’t know that without quantifying the probability and cost of failure.

Side note: Performing this analysis can help you see where your maintenance budget could be reduced without a dramatic negative effect on performance or availability. Alternatively, this analysis can help you demonstrate the likely impact of a forced budget reduction. This can be very helpful in the event of budget pressure coming down from above.   

At ARMS Reliability, we help organizations understand how to forecast, justify and prioritize their maintenance budgets for the best possible chances of success. Contact us to learn more.

Availability Workbench™, Reliability Workbench™, FaultTree+™, and Hazop+™ are trademarks of Isograph Limited the author and owner of products bearing these marks. ARMS Reliability is an authorised distributor of those products, and a trainer in respect of their use.

In our previous blog article, “RCA Program Development: The Key Steps of Designing Your Program”, we provided a high-level outline of the eleven key elements that need to be defined in order to have an effective root cause analysis program in your organization. Now, in a series of articles, we’ll break down each of those eleven key elements into further detail expanding on the important considerations that need to be taken into account, starting here with your goals and your current status. bigstock-Group-of-three-successful-busi-68707195.jpg

  1. RCA Goals and Objective Alignment

So, the first question is, “What are we trying to achieve with the RCA effort?” The answer from an overarching perspective can be found in the organization’s goals and objectives. Every organization, and individual for that matter, has a set of goals and objectives that are used as yardsticks to measure both short and long term performance. It is critically important that the RCA effort be in complete alignment with the organization’s and individuals’ goals and objectives. We do this by using the goals and objectives to guide us in identifying the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the RCA effort and setting the Threshold Criteria (Trigger Diagram) for determining when a formal RCA must be performed. (Learn more about setting Threshold Criteria.) If the alignment is true, then there will be tangible, measurable improvement in goals and objectives achievement over time.

  1. Status of Current RCA Effort

Every organization will have some form of RCA in practice whether it is formalized, or ad hoc. It is worthwhile spending some time assessing the status, or maturity level, of the existing RCA process. Maturity level can be categorized in one of four general categories.

  • Level 1: Learning and Development
  • Level 2: Efficient
  • Level 3: Self-Actualizing
  • Level 4: Pro-Active

Level 1, Learning and Development, is where most organizations without a formalized RCA program find themselves.  Management recognizes a need for a formal problem solving method but the focus is primarily on training. There is little or no structure in place to support the trained facilitators and no well-defined KPIs or threshold criteria guidance. At this stage the organization will usually gain some organizational improvements from the elimination of problems, but in an inefficient “learn as you go” manner.

At Level 2, Efficient, formal RCA triggers and KPIs are in place and are aligned with business goals and objectives in advance of RCA training. This would include clear definitions of RCA roles and responsibilities as well as identification of supporting infrastructure such as RCA status tracking, effectiveness of implemented corrective actions and the like.

In the Self-Actualizing level, the effectiveness of the trained problem-solvers has matured through experience. Thus, their ability to solve organizational problems has resulted in a documented achievement of the program KPIs and resulting improvements to the organization’s goals and objectives. The organization is now in the continuous process of tightening the bandwidth of the KPIs to yield greater return to the bottom line. The RCA facilitators are now highly confident, efficient, and effective in eliminating impediments to achieving goals and objectives.

In the Pro-Active level, your organization has now integrated the RCA process into its core culture. Effective problem elimination is the norm and expected at all levels of the organization. People no longer look to place blame for problems but instead are focused on prevention and elimination. Return on investment for both monetary as well as health/safety/environmental issues is extremely high acting both as gratification and motivation. RCA has become a core competency within your culture whereby people are intolerant of ineffectively solving problems the first time and are finding pro-active ways to use RCA to prevent problems from occurring in the first place.

There are existing methods or surveys that can be used to determine an organization’s maturity level. Why is this important? Determining your current maturity level draws a line in the sand showing where you started, or took a renewed focus, in this journey of developing your RCA program. You can set goals around where you want to be over a period of time and look back to see how your program has actually evolved.

This article has given you a glimpse into the first two key elements but of course, there is more to setting up your RCA program for success. ARMS Reliability’s RCA experts can assist you with designing your complete RCA program or reinvigorating your current one. This of course includes assisting with determining the status of your current RCA effort and walking you through the process of establishing and aligning goals. Learn more about our recommended facilitated workshop and contact us for more information.

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