World-class process plants and manufacturing facilities follow these management principles when organizing and carrying out reliability-related initiatives.
Adopt common terminology and definitions. To be successful, any facility-wide program must work to establish common language and consistent definitions for all operators to use when describing, classifying and prioritizing different equipment issues and failure modes. “Every maintenance technician describes equipment failures in different ways,” says José Baptista, Global Reliability Technology Manager for ABB Full Service. “It’s important to create systematic failure codes and insist that all plant personnel use them consistently.”
“This will also help plant operators to prioritize which failures must get attention first,” adds Rosales. “Without this, if you ask ten different people ‘What types of failures constitutes an emergency for you?’ you’ll get ten different answers.”
Implement standardized practices and procedures. “Even the reliability performance of the best-designed plants will deteriorate as procedures, practices and personnel change over time,” says Ginder. The ability to implement standardized procedures serves two general purposes — it ensures consistent operation and maintenance of critical equipment from day to day and from shift to shift, and it helps to minimize the loss of institutional knowledge and expertise that often results from personnel turnover. The use of standardized practices is also key to helping the facility to become self sufficient in terms of maintaining improved reliability over time.
Move from reactive to proactive maintenance techniques. Good maintenance and reliability is what differentiates ordinary industrial facilities from world-class facilities. “At the end of the day, if you are not confident that you can start up, operate and shut down your operations, you won’t be able to meet your customer’s demands,” says Ginder, adding: “If you don’t properly address the reliability issues at your facility, you will always be plagued by higher costs and unexpected delays and downtime.”
“Depending on the nature of each equipment component or system — and its criticality to the overall facility operation — the facility must develop a comprehensive plan and decide which maintenance strategy to apply to each component,” says Baptista. Different strategies include preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, condition-based monitoring and maintenance, fixed-term replacement and refurbishment, and operate to failure.
In general, the use of proactive maintenance techniques allows operators to identify when equipment performance is starting to decline so they can intervene early. The criticality analysis discussed earlier will help operators to plan the most logical approach for each component or system.
Get the most of your maintenance management systems. Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) Systems are widely used by operators of complex process industries operations and discrete manufacturing facilities to track and document equipment maintenance and reliability activities. Operators can then use this information to improve equipment performance. When used to their fullest capabilities, CMMS and EAM tools can help plant personnel to make best use of the operating, monitoring and failure data (for instance, enabling condition-based monitoring to support preventive maintenance), and to track and document successful practices so that they can be disseminated more broadly throughout the facility or implemented at other locations.
Reliability is not just about how equipment is maintained, it is also about how equipment is operated – so involvement in the process and understanding of the outcomes by process operators is essential in achieving world class reliability.
Strive for continuous improvement. In all capital-intensive process and discrete manufacturing plants, equipment performance will deteriorate over time. “It’s not that operators necessarily start out with poor processes or practices, but over time, with ups and downs in prevailing market conditions creating budget pressures, or changes in management philosophy or personnel turnover, equipment performance can deteriorate,” says Rosales. This underscores the importance of both a rigorous, systematic approach to reliability management, periodic review and ongoing training and certification to ensure continuous improvement. One useful rule of thumb is to allocate 4% of labor hours to continuing education, using a mix of classroom training and in-house coaching.
“Facilities must strive for continuous improvement,” says Baptista. “If you are still having failures, you must revise your maintenance strategies some more.”
Check back next week to learn if reliability programs are money well spent. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic.