Learning to Crawl, Before You Can Walk and Run

Some Insights into the Current Status of Maintenance & Reliability Fundamentals

Let’s face it, we as engineers, maintenance staff, etc. all love technology and the newest gadget.  Our industry is never short of these new and shiny techniques, tools, sensors, etc.  Now, this new tech can lead to significant improvements in availability, OEE, or uptime.  But these are not the silver bullets many claim them to be… especially if the foundational elements are not in place.

I had the privilege to present two webinars over the past week and was surprised by some of the poll results.  The two topics were unrelated, but the poll results pointed to some interesting trends.   Now, for those true Reliability Engineers and Statisticians, these are not representative of all industries or industry in general.

Understanding Failure Modes & Having a Defined Strategy

During one of the webinars, I asked how was the maintenance strategy developed.  Was it using RCM, FMEA, Manufacturer Recommendation, or Other?  The results were somewhat surprising with over 65% stating they had used either RCM or FMEA as the tool to develop their strategy, with 29% still using OEM recommendations.  Now, these are not new tools, but they form the basis of any good program.  Also, you need to have an understanding of the failure modes and failure mechanisms to leverage technology like iIoT.

Leveraging the Power of Business Processes

During another webinar, it was found that 18% of the attendees were either using iIoT or were in the process of implementing iIoT.  These are the early adopters and are in place to gasp significant improvements in organizational performance… or are they?   After reviewing some factors to consider (business processes in place, failure modes identified, failure modes linked to the data collection strategy, asset hierarchy, data governance in place) before adopting iIoT, it was found that only 5% had these fundamentals in place.

Without having business processes in place, how will the potential failure be identified (using iIoT), communicated, planned, parts ordered, work scheduled and completed on time?  Also, what data is being collected when there is not an understanding of the failure modes and the indicators of that potential failure?

Business processes ensure that the intelligence gathered through data analytics (iIoT) can be actioned quickly and prevent the consequences of the failure.  Also, when including Root Cause Analysis with iIoT, the source of the failure can be investigated and eliminated, sustainably improving asset performance.

Collaborating with Operations

Even with using the best techniques (RCM, FMEA) to develop the appropriate strategy for the asset, there is still an issue with getting access to the equipment to execute the maintenance.  32% indicated that access to the equipment is a constant struggle, while 66% indicated that it sometimes is an issue.  This is a big indicator for me that maintenance and reliability are still viewed as a maintenance department only activity, and asset performance is not an organizational objective.   Only with true collaboration can asset performance be driven sustainably across the organization.

Closing Thoughts

So, what does all of this have to do with learning to crawl before you can walk and run?  Well, it comes down to having the basics in place such as business processes, roles, and responsibilities, an understanding of failure modes, etc.  Without these foundations in place, a new CMMS, iIoT implementation, Data Analytics or technology will likely not have significant or sustained improvement in your maintenance, reliability or asset management program.   It is only when the foundations are in place, that the newest tech or techniques can be sustained.

So, before you dive into the newest trend in asset management, stop and think about if you have the foundations in place and are they working.  If not, invest the time in them first, before spending valuable time and resources on the latest tech.

If you need help in educating your staff on Maintenance & Reliability best practices, please contact jkovacevic@eruditio.com for assistance.  Eruditio offers the unique iBL (inspired blended learning) curriculum that separates their training apart from all others.

I’m James Kovacevic
Principal Instructor at Eruditio
Where Education Meets Application
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