Can You Buy Reliability?

By Paula Hollywood

Industry Trends

According to CEO and publisher of and all-round asset management evangelist, Terrence O’Hanlon, “You cannot buy a reliability journey or you would have purchased it already!”  This is the first of a few laws of reliability O’Hanlon shared in the Digitization of Asset Performance Management Workshop at ARC’s 22nd Annual ARC Industry Forum.  In addition, he challenged the audience to transform their thinking to discover new ways of thinking about old problems in their journey to reliability.

Reliability for Everyone

Plant safety is the responsibility of everyone in the plant.  Most accept this mindset as gospel.  However, the answer to the question, Who owns reliability? is not as clear cut.  The first law of reliability is that just like safety, everyone is responsible for it, operations, purchasing, engineering, etc.  Decisions made by these departments and others contribute to the causes of unreliability because reliability is about what people do about it.  According to O’Hanlon, reliability is derived from the combination of people, processes, and technologies.  Reliability for everyone begins with everyone thinking and acting like a reliability leader. 

Real Mother of Invention

General wisdom is that necessity is the mother of invention.  O’Hanlon refutes this wisdom with his next law, “things sucking is the real mother of invention.”  Every organization is faced with the challenges of getting more out of their assets and doing so at lower costs.  Do it once, and you’ll almost certainly be asked to do it again, and again.  Most of us probably adhere to the sage advice, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in our personal lives, but what about at the plant level?  Most of the time the asset is not broken, but invading the boundary of a perfectly good operational asset to perform a time-based task can in fact induces failure 8–23 percent of the time, according to proven industry research such as that conducted by Nowlan + Heap.  The ability to assess asset health enables organizations to intervene only when necessary. 

The thing about reliability, according to O’Hanlon is that it is time disconnected, meaning C-suites looking for 6 or 12-month ROI on their reliability investment could be disappointed.  How much is 12 months of no unexpected down time worth or no incidents or accidents?  Yet the correlation between the investment and the result may be difficult to articulate.  However, take your eye off the ball and operations, quality or safety could deteriorate rapidly.  A long-term strategic view of assets over their entire lifecycle is recommended. 

Know Thy Enemy

The enemy of all manufacturers is asset failure, according to O’Hanlon.  The Nowlan & Heap research indicates, 77–92 percent of assets do not fail predictably or equally, but randomly.  O’Hanlon’s own research into manufacturing organizations indicates that most lack the body of asset knowledge to be effective asset managers, citing examples of non-existent asset registries, inability to tie preventive maintenance (PM) tasks to a failure mode, inability to identify critical assets, and lack of a formal understanding of asset failure modes.  Manufacturers who lack this critical asset knowledge will continually cede ground to the enemy.

O’Hanlon further stated that applying IIoT technologies for asset condition monitoring purposes in such an environment will fail to produce the desired result.  Asset knowledge is essential to the success of predictive maintenance (PdM) programs, the killer IIoT app, as it determines the appropriate monitoring technology for each asset component.  It is the combination of asset knowledge, rock solid work processes, and an engaged workforce that enables manufacturing organizations to leverage IIoT technologies to attack the random nature of asset failure.

How Much Does Failure Cost? 

O’Hanlon’s last law of reliability answers the question, how much does failure cost?  The answer:  The cost of the failure is based on when you make the decision to remove the failure mode.  (Author’s note:  Importance of asset knowledge and failure modes again!)  

Point of Failure Removal  X Cost
Design & component selection   1 X
Sub-assembly build   10 X
Asset build - assembled   100 X
Operations & maintenance   1000 - 10,000 X

The 10X Rule

He referred to the newly released, D-I-P-F Curve which illustrates where reliability tools and techniques should be applied to have the greatest impact on reliability.  Pushing the point of potential failure “P” further to the left on the curve will not only help to make assets more resilient to failure, but design better assets from the start.

This is the last in a series of blogs dedicated to the Digitization of Asset Performance Management and MOC.



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