Category Archives: Maintenance Strategy Optimization

Reliability Summit View Available WorkshopsYour company is going through an asset management initiative and they need ‘reliability engineers’ to support this new focus.  One day your title begins with ‘Maintenance _____’ and the next day you come into the office and the title on your door now reads ‘Reliability _____’.  Undertaking new asset management initiatives as a newly titled “reliability engineer” can be daunting.

Reliability Engineering isn’t typically something one would go to school for or get a certificate in, so what does an R.E need to know?

Your “toolkit” as an R.E. should consists of various methods that you can employ with the goal of optimizing maintenance strategies to achieve operational success, including:

  • root cause analysis
  • reliability centered maintenance
  • failure modes and effects analysis
  • failure data analysis
  • reliability block diagrams
  • lifecycle cost calculation

To be successful at increasing the reliability of your plant, reliability practitioners should utilize these ‘tools’ that can deliver the best results, applying them based on the type of problem you’re facing.

Approaching Maintenance Strategy Optimization with Your Toolkit

It’s essential for a newly appointed reliability professional to be aware of common maintenance issues. The more time maintenance personnel spend fighting fires, the more their morale, productivity, and budget erodes. The less effective routine work that is performed, the more equipment uptime and business profitability suffer.

Here’s the good news: An optimized maintenance strategy is simpler and easier to sustain than a non-optimized strategy, resulting in fewer issues and downtime. It’s easy for organizations and new reliability engineers to be intimidated by the idea of maintenance strategy optimization. An important tip to remember is that small changes can make a huge difference. Maintenance optimization doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult, nor does it have to be a huge undertaking. By creating a framework for continuous improvement and understanding the methods to employ, you can ultimately drive towards higher reliability, availability and more efficient use of your production equipment.

Join us at the Reliability Summit, May 8-11, in Austin, Texas to learn the essential tools in a Reliability Engineer’s toolkit and how to apply them to achieve operational success.

Attendees will learn: 

  • History of Reliability
  • Introduction to Reliability Concepts
  • Benefits of a Reliability Based Maintenance System
  • Performance Measures
  • Definitions of Terms and Measures in Reliability
  • Introduction to Reliability Engineering Methods
  • Failure Mode and Effects Analysis
  • Failure Data Analysis
  • Reliability Centered Maintenance
  • Maintenance Optimization
  • System Availability Analysis
  • Lifecycle Cost Calculation
  • Problem Reporting
  • What Tool When
  • Key Factors for Success
  • Key Steps in a Reliability Program
  • Summarizing the Business Case for Reliability

This is one of many workshops attendees can select to attend at the Reliability Summit. For a full list of workshops, please visit our Reliability Summit 2018 website.  

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If your maintenance activities have a large proportion of reactive repairs then the costs of maintaining your assets are larger than they need to be, because the cost of performing unplanned maintenance is typically three times the cost of performing maintenance in a planned manner. Furthermore, if your system is reactive, it is a sign that you are not managing failures. Your biggest costs may be catastrophic failure, systemic failure or equipment defects.Proactive x Reactive creative sign with clouds as the background

These major meltdowns or one-off events can cost millions of dollars in reactive repairs, lost production and/or major safety/environmental impacts. If you need to lower the cost of maintenance this is an area you can make a significant impact on the P&L.

Proactive maintenance – which is aimed at avoiding such scenarios – is a much more cost-effective approach.

First, what is reactive maintenance? Put simply, it is any maintenance or repair done to a piece of equipment after a failure event. If a gear-box grinds to a halt and your maintenance team rushes to repair it, they are engaging in reactive maintenance.

While the immediate cost of such maintenance may seem low – a day of labor and the purchase of a new part for the machine – the flow-on costs associated with downtime, lost production can be much higher and there is a greater risk of safety and environmental incidents during the shutting down or starting up of equipment.

In companies where reactive maintenance is a large proportion of work performed, there are many hidden costs carried by the business such as higher inventories; premium rates for purchasing spare parts; higher stocking levels for critical spares; more wasted time queuing for tools, materials, and labor; higher overtime levels; more plant downtime; interruption to customer orders; stockouts; offspec quality.  The organization and management system has a short term, busy focus often under budget pressure, variations in production, and lots of “things to do”.

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On the flip side, proactive maintenance takes a preventative approach. It involves making assets work more efficiently and effectively so that downtime and unexpected failures become a thing of the past. It’s also about trimming unnecessary expenditure from asset management budgets. From a bottom line perspective, it’s about boosting the assets’ contribution to earnings before interest and tax (EBIT).

Strategies associated with proactive maintenance involve understanding and managing the likelihood of failures, some of the common analytical methods to understand the impact of failures on the business include:

  • System Analysis – to understand the way equipment failures can impact the availability and production capacity of a system; it allows the analyst to identify and eliminate potential bottlenecks in a system, and thus increase plant capacity
  • Criticality Analysis – to rank equipment by the likelihood and severity of failure impact on key business objectives, so you can then channel maintenance resources into the more critical pieces of equipment
  • Maintenance Benefit Analysis – to evaluate a maintenance plan and identify areas where maintenance is either not needed or not optimal.
  • Spares Optimization – to find the optimum level of spares to hold in-stock, which balances the cost of not having spares available versus taking up storage space on-site
  • Repair Vs Replace Analysis – to predict or track the cost of repairs against the cost of replacement, so it becomes clear when to replace assets for best value
  • Root Cause Analysis – to analyze the root cause of failures and focus resources on eliminating their reoccurrence, not just fixing the symptoms time and time again.
  • Vulnerability Analysis- to systematically review all aspect of the operation in a way to discover tomorrow’s failure, so it can be eliminated in a planned fashion.

As these strategies attest, proactive maintenance is about much more than building a schedule of ongoing maintenance tasks. By understanding and managing failure the maintenance resources can be directed to those areas that require attention in a planned manner, you can actually save significant amounts of money into the long term.

And, above all, it is important to remember that a culture of reactive maintenance is not ideal. In fact, unplanned reactive maintenance is one of the key symptoms that your maintenance strategy isn’t working.

Learn more by downloading our guide: 5 Symptoms Your Maintenance Strategy Needs Optimizing