Sneak preview: Cut through the confusions of maintenance and reliability at Ultrasound World

In about a month, I'll be heading back down to Clearwater FL for one of my favorite events, the Reliable Asset World / Ultrasound World co-located conference. This year the event team has keynotes lined up from GE and Amazon, and a workshop on “The Lies, Fabrications & Confusions of Maintenance & Reliability” presented by Shon Isenhour, founding partner for Eruditio.

As a preview of the event, I had the chance to talk with Shon recently about what attendees can expect from his workshop.

PS: Shon, in your opinion, who owns reliability?

SI: Reliability has to be owned by nearly everyone in the organization. In that way, it is a lot like safety. But, let us not jump directly to getting everyone involved in the party. Let’s start with getting our operations leadership to understand the part they play in both reliability, availability and maintenance cost.

We should create an understanding of the relationship and the needs of both parties for reliability improvement. This will help us to form our first partnership. Once we have them on board we can expand and bring others into the fold. 

PS: What are some other common points of confusion about reliability?

SI: In my workshop I will take attendees through many of them in detail but here are a few that seem to be pretty common:

  • The differences in planning and scheduling,
  • What root cause analysis is and how much they need to do,
  • The differences in asset criticality and the criticality found in a FMECA,
  • And the fact that predictive maintenance does not predict.  

PS: What is one thing reliability practitioners can do to foster a stronger reliability culture?

SI: Sell, sell, and sell! You have to show the organization your proactive finds and catches, and the events you prevented. It's easy for the organization to see the firefighters restoring production when it goes down, but it's very hard for them to celebrate the failure that never happened. Help them by keeping records, sharing those examples, and getting them involved in prevention not reaction.

PS: What are some things MRO Stores and material management practitioners can do to foster a stronger reliability culture?

SI: Work in lock step with the reliability and maintenance organization to ensure like kind replacement, improvements, and materials changes that don’t introduce new failure modes, and that we constantly have an eye for lifecycle cost not just the purchase price.

PS: What is one thing mangers can do to foster that culture?

SI: Don’t say one thing and do something else. At the end of the day, the organization is watching you and everything you do and if you look reactive, don’t appear to be following the process, and are not chasing after the vision then no matter what you put in an email or on a poster, they will follow what you demonstrate.

PS: Last question: What exactly is so funny about the (I)-P-F curve?

SI: We will save the funny part for the workshop but, one major issue is the misinterpretation of the curve. The curve is a model based on probability, not a defined path, and there is a different curve shape for each failure mode the asset could experience. We don’t know what the exact shape is and we cannot predict the curve or point F without mounds of data. The problem is if we as reliability professionals have mounds of failure data on each failure mode then we typically get fired for unreliability.

I'm looking forward to the event and seeing everyone. If you have some reliability lies you want to share please feel free to send them to