Asset Reliability Begins With Your Operators


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If you are thinking your operators are not important in helping with the management of asset reliability, think again. You cannot achieve an optimal state of asset reliability with the operators. This is a Great article on this topic.

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Asset Reliability Begins With Your Operators

  1. 1. A DIVISION OF ALLIED RELIABILITY GROUP Reliability Begins With Your Operators By: Doug Plucknette, Worldwide RCM Discipline LeaderThe Role of Reliability Centered Maintenance in improving reliabilityIn today’s economic environment where companies around the world are tightening the financial belt toimprove costs and performance, the key performance indicators of equipment and process reliability havebecome an important area for companies to build focused initiatives to improve reliability and reduce costs.While some companies got an early start in building reliability efforts the vast majority is just now gettingeducated in the benefits that equipment and process reliability can bring to their business. Those who haveworked in the field for years understand that word reliability means more than just having equipment andprocesses that run when needed; reliability has a direct effect on nearly every aspect of your business. Reliableequipment costs less to maintain, reliable equipment produces higher product quality, reliable equipment ismore energy efficient and most important reliable equipment and processes by far suffer less health, safety andenvironmental incidents and accidents.One of the time proven ways to improve equipment and process reliability is to perform Reliability CenteredAnalysis (RCM) on your critical assets. Developed in the 1970’s as a tool to build a complete equipmentmaintenance strategy for commercial aircraft the RCM process has transformed how companies view andperform maintenance around the world. From food and beverage to pharmaceuticals our customers arelearning the value that a thorough Reliability Centered Maintenance analysis can bring to their business withresults that have improved productivity by 27% while at the same time reducing maintenance costs by a similaramount.*One of the keys to getting the most from your RCM effort is having a cross-functional RCM team that includesmaintenance tradespeople, process engineers, PdM (Predictive Maintenance) technicians, and often overlookedequipment operator.The role that the equipment operator plays in the RCM analysisIn my over fifteen years of experienc instructing and facilitating RCM (Reliability Centered Maintenance) thequestion I am asked most often is this; “This RCM process uses the word Maintenance and I’m an equipmentoperator, why am I here?”© 2013 GPALLIED 1 A DIVISION OF ALLIED RELIABILITY GROUP
  2. 2. A DIVISION OF ALLIED RELIABILITY GROUPThis question opens my favorite discussion in regard to Reliability Centered Maintenance, the importance inhaving Operations deeply involved in the RCM process from start to finish. Simply stated, RCM does not achieveits full benefit without involving key operations people in the process. Completing a RCM analysis withouthaving an experienced and respected equipment operator involved will always result in an incomplete listing offailure modes, and poorly detailed failure effect statements that lack important details in regard to what ouroperators experience when a critical failure mode occurs that could help us determine the actual cause andmitigate the failure.So, how important is the operator when it comes to performing a RCM Analysis?I tell my customers that I refuse to conduct a RCM analysis without an experienced equipment operator. If yourthinking your operations people are not important in helping to develop your equipment maintenance strategythink again. They are not only important in helping to develop the strategy; your strategy is incomplete if theoperator is not a part of your equipment maintenance plan!This is the point where in my mind I see the engineer/operator of this train reach over and apply the hand break.Just as things were beginning to roll along quite smoothly we are about to come to a complete and abrupt stop.While that question in regard to being an equipment operator and how does that apply to Reliability CenteredMaintenance is the most popular, the question most feared is what comes next.You don’t really expect the operator to actually perform maintenance tasks do you?The room is now silent and it is now quite clear that while we all understand why we need to have operatorsinvolved in the RCM analysis it is not clear at all why operators need to perform maintenance tasks. In fact whatis quite clear at this moment is the operator not keen on performing any maintenance. He/she is after all theequipment operator not a maintenance technician. And, the maintenance people don’t want the operatortaking away any of their tasks because of the fear that giving up certain tasks could cost someone their job. Thetrain this is my RCM introductory meeting has now stopped and it is at this point I begin to discuss somecommon real life examples of equipment operators we can all relate to and how they are involved in andperform regular maintenance tasks.  State examples of the importance operators play producing exception results in reliability and equipment performance (Airline Industry, NASCAR, Manufacturing Equipment come to mind here)How many of you folks watch NASCAR?Who is the operator if the race car?Is he or she at all in any way involved in the maintenance of that car?© 2013 GPALLIED 2 A DIVISION OF ALLIED RELIABILITY GROUP
  3. 3. A DIVISION OF ALLIED RELIABILITY GROUPThe discussion usually starts with the driver drives the car and the mechanics and pit crew maintain the car butwithin a minute or two someone brings up the fact that the driver communicates several things the race teamthroughout a race in regard to how the car is performing, and how it holds the track in and out of the turns.Could this information passed from the operator to the race team be considered Maintenance?How about flying? How many people in this group have ever flown on a jet for vacation or business?Who is the equipment operator of that jet?Does the pilot perform any maintenance tasks for his aircraft?This conversation is easy as most everyone has seen the pilot walk around the aircraft and performs visualinspections of the equipment before the passenger’s board. Once the visual inspection is complete the pilot andco-pilot work to complete the pre-flight procedures or checklists. Safety and reliability are extremely importantto this industry and as a result there are several items that need to be checked each to ensure the aircraft is fitfor operation. While the pilot is indeed our equipment operator, it is quite clear that they perform severalimportant maintenance tasks each and every time they operate the equipment. The airline pilot also receivessome very intensive training on how to start, operate and shut down the aircraft along with detailed instructionsand training on how to handle and address critical component failures.Types of failure modes identified by equipment operators that are often overlooked when operators are notincluded as part of the RCM TeamThe reality of why equipment operators need to be part of your RCM effort comes down to the identification offailure modes. While your maintenance mechanics and engineers can typically do a thorough job at identifyingthe mechanical and electrical failure modes associated with the components within your system, they will fallshort in identifying the process related failure modes that the operators deal with and experience in the day today operation of your equipment. While we would like to believe that most of our equipment is automated andcontrolled through a PLC the reality can sometimes be very different and we rely on the operators training andexperience in starting up, operating equipment, shutting down the equipment and performing equipment andproduct changes. In reviewing failure modes identified in the typical RCM analysis, twenty-eight percent of thefailure modes identified address failures resulting from how we operate our assets and equally important, thesefailures are often are the most frequent in occurrence. Without the participation of the operator theseimportant failure modes would surely be overlooked and continue to impact the reliability of your asset.The value operators bring in writing good failure effect statementsAn important part of every analysis is identifying and recording the failure effects that result from each failuremode. It is through the failure effects that we determine the consequence to our business should the failureoccur and while our maintenance and engineering team members are well suited to identify the effects thefailure will have on the component or part being analyzed they often struggle to identify the effect each failurehas on our overall process. Each failure effect statement should include the following information:© 2013 GPALLIED 3 A DIVISION OF ALLIED RELIABILITY GROUP
  4. 4. A DIVISION OF ALLIED RELIABILITY GROUP  Events that lead up to the failure for wear based components/parts and components/parts that have a useful P-F interval  First sign of evidence that the failure has occurred. It is here where the operator in most cases will be able to identify the alarm that results from the failure or the indication they receive that failure has occurred.  The secondary effects or damage that results from the failure mode. While again our maintenance people will do an outstanding job of identifying the mechanical and electrical collateral damage we will need to rely on the operators experience to identify how the process is affected.  Events required to bring the process back to normal operating condition. While some may consider this in most cases to be a simple statement about shutting down, troubleshooting and replacing or repairing a part, we will again rely in the operator to identify critical effects regarding how to best avoid secondary damage that could result from improper shut down following the failure.With a well written failure affect statement we look for one more piece of critical information to help determinethe consequence of the failure mode; the down time that results from the failure mode is best determined bythe operators input in regard to how long it takes from the time the failure occurs and the equipment is shutdown to the time the process is again restarted to normal operating condition.The role operators play in making sound RCM task decisionsAs the team moves forward to identify mitigating tasks the operator will again play a key role in helping toidentify operator care tasks, as well as tasks that can be performed by the operators during equipment start-up,shut down and product changes as well as operator care tasks that can be performed on their daily rounds.Experienced operators are also valuable in the development of tasks associated with process monitoring orprocess verification including control logic changes, process data trending, as well as warning and shutdownalarms. Process verification is one of the most cost effective and reliable forms of PdM; by using the PLC tomonitor, trend and alarm key process variables such as pressure, temperature, flow, amp draw and vibration thesystem essentially becomes a condition based monitoring tool all the while your equipment is running. Nearlyfifty percent of process verification tasks have been identified by the operators participating on the RCM team.As time moves forward and technologies improve the role and involvement of operators in the effort tocontinuously improve equipment reliability will surely increase. Innovations in hand held data loggers the last10 years have made the simple the ability to develop precise operator rounds where critical pressures,temperatures and conditions can be entered for trending as well as immediate feedback.© 2013 GPALLIED 4 A DIVISION OF ALLIED RELIABILITY GROUP