Three Steps to Improved Reliability

Aug. 15, 2012
The name of the maintenance game is developing a plan for reliability, one that ensures manufacturing assets perform as they should, when they should.

The end result of poor maintenance is never a surprise: Don’t maintain your vehicle’s brakes and eventually they will fail. Don’t brush your teeth; eventually they will fall out. The same holds true with plant equipment. Don’t maintain it and costly breakdowns are inevitable.

The name of the maintenance game is developing a plan for reliability, one that ensures manufacturing assets perform as they should, when they should.

  1. Start by developing a maintenance strategy for each asset, says Niklas Brodd, who leads the U.S. full-service business for automation technologies provider ABB. The company also provides reliability services.

    As part of the maintenance strategy, he says:

    • Map out your assets. Know what you have.

    • Determine the criticality of each piece of equipment. The more critical the equipment is to your operations, the more rigorous the maintenance activity is likely to be.

    • Put in place appropriate predictive and preventive maintenance activities.

    • Recognize that no reliability program is flawless and breakdowns will occur. Therefore, be certain to have in place a root-cause analysis program to determine why the breakdown occurred.
  2. Brodd advises investing in planning and scheduling to assure you manage labor, labor hours, materials and tools in the most cost-effective manner. And it’s not simply a software solution of which he speaks. “When ABB optimizes maintenance-planning-and-scheduling functions, we spend less than 1% of the time on software, and more than 99% on coaching, training, and process and data development,” he says.
  3. Finally, avoid actions that promote a culture of rewarding the “hero” who races in to save the day when equipment breaks down, yet ignores the personnel steadily performing the actions needed to prevent breakdowns in the first place.

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