Reliability success: All in the details

Aug. 6, 2015
In this Big Picture Interview, Marie Getsug says if you want common-sense solutions to reliability issues, give everyone a seat at the table.

Marie Getsug is a senior consultant for maintenance and reliability services with Commissioning Agents Inc. As a technical and discipline lead with CAI, she works to promote maintenance and reliability professionals and OEMs as stakeholders in front-end planning (FEP) for capital projects and demonstrate how the foundational principles of ISO 55000 asset management standards – leadership, value, alignment, and assurance – make asset management everyone’s responsibility.

PS: You have 25 years of experience in the maintenance and reliability field. You organized and chaired the SMRP Pharma and Biotech shared interest group four years ago. You’ve developed training courses on reliability concepts. What have you learned about what it takes to be a leader in the reliability field?

MG: Defining and being guided by the purpose, goal, mission and vision shared by the entire leadership team absolutely needs to become priority over what you are doing with your own discipline and the team you represent. I’ve been a maintenance and reliability manager for decades, and when I first served on a senior leadership team, I sat on it with the mindset that I’m going to protect my team and their interests related to maintenance and reliability.  I was very protective of my team, as I think a lot of people are. You have this natural tendency to protect your team, but at the same time by doing that you could be sacrificing the potential good of everyone. It becomes clear that if you’re going to be a really strong leader and pull the whole company or firm together that you have to represent the leadership team in a way that is even more strongly represented than what you would do for your own team. So you cannot in any way, shape, or form diminish the decisions that are being made at the senior leadership level.

PS: Could you give a quick definition of what design for reliability means to you?

MG: Design for reliability is really about looking at a project from an entire lifecycle approach. There are three aspects to DfR: designing out failure modes; ensuring the design is maintainable, reliable, cleanable, operable, etc.; and leveraging current M&R specifications and standards, unless a new technology can demonstrate value from straying from them.

I think a lot of times especially young folks get out and they look for the most amazing technological solution to a problem. Their efforts become very focused on the asset or the technical solutions that might be available. What design for reliability does is it adds a couple of elements. One is, what does the project team need to do to design this project to fulfill the project’s objective and make it user-friendly?

I’ve seen where you can’t literally open a door because it’s right slammed up against a wall or you can’t move a gear box because it interferes with the ceiling. So it’s about maintainability, reliability, accessibility, cleanability, operability and just having those factors consciously included in the concept, initiate, and design phases.

DfR also involves designing out failure modes – especially those on like pieces of equipment so as to learn from previous experience.  In addition to these, it includes honoring what is already established in that particular plant. So if a maintenance and reliability team has standardized (use of a particular line of products) and they have all of the training and all of the spare parts and everything set up in the plant to support those specific items, then if you’re not mindful of that and you go in and put in something completely outside of the standards of what that team is used to, then it presents a whole lot of additional challenges for training, for stocking spare parts, and for having to relearn the system.

Gaining and documenting those maintenance and reliability specifications and standards helps to make sure each project, when it is handed over to the maintenance team to take care of it for the rest of its life, that it’s built and designed around what they already know unless there’s truly some major benefit to putting in something new.

PS: To get this done, M&R really has to have a seat at the table during planning and design of these projects.

MG: Absolutely. Everyone’s interests at the table are valid. And if you understand the interests behind each individual, then being able to leverage every single one of those interests becomes a whole different approach to problem-solving.

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