10 nuggets to make reliability a reality at your plant

May 19, 2014

Stop making excuses and become reliable

Whenever I attend a conference — and I attend quite a few — I always try to come home with a nugget or two that I can use. This past week was nugget-rich, as I attended co-located events, Reliable Asset World and Ultrasound World X, in Florida. You can read stories and view videos of what happened here (http://www.plantservices.com/articles/2014/live-coverage-ultrasound-world-reliable-asset-world/), but one of the many excellent presentations that resonated with me was given by Allied Reliability Group Principal Doug Plucknette, who, not coincidentally, had written a recent article on high-tech solutions for high-tech assets (http://www.plantservices.com/articles/2014/high-tech-solutions-for-high-tech-assets/).

In Florida, however, he was offering 10 ways to improve equipment reliability today. Let the nuggets loose!

“Change starts with and depends on you” — that was the one that rang true right out of the gate. So simple and so eloquent. “A ‘no’ answer only means you didn't present a good enough business case,” said Plucknette, and we all know how important it is to justify the cost of new technologies or tools by building the business case. “Lead by example,” he continued. “Success starts and depends on good data and determined people. Reinforce the correct behaviors, and make work fun. Ignore excuses.”

And there it was. Excuses are one of the most common hurdles to implementing a reliability culture in a plant. They’re the list of reasons why reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) won’t work. Plucknette reminded us of a few:
My boss doesn't support this.
We're so far behind, what's the point?
The operations group doesn't get it.
We don't have the tools or training to start.

“We need to start talking about business cases,” explained Plucknette. “If you're an ultrasound technician, what can you do? Today's PdM tech is thrown into the job with little training and no experience. Expectations are high. The plus side is it's a relative easy technology to learn how to use. Change depends on you. People need to step up.”

Plucknette recommended starting with some basic blocking and tackling:
Do what you say you're going to do.
Bring data to support the need for change.
Rally and reinforce supporters.
Publish all successes to build the business case.
There's so much you can do without having to say, "I need more money."

And here’s his list of 10 things you can do at your facility. 10 nuggets just for you, like a McDonald’s chicken pack, but much healthier for you and for your machinery.

1. Attain Level 1 Certification
Learning is power. Certification is proof of knowledge. Understand applications and settings. Eliminate mistakes. That's what training and procedures are for. Reinforce success and publish results. People like recognition. It gives you credibility for what you do.

2. Walk Down and Identify
To be effective, you have to have routes and you have to have accurate lists of your equipment and components. Routes require an accurate equipment/component list. Follow ISO 14224 Hierarchy to component level, so everything will upload appropriately into CMMS; if your technician doesn't know about this stuff, get training for the tech. Identify components to inspect via tool that matches component types or failure modes to technology.

3. Build the Business Case for PdM
The business case can be developed through airborne-ultrasound wins. Air leaks, compressed gas leaks, defective steam traps — just on air leaks alone, you can typically build the business case for all of the other PdM technologies. In one day, you can find enough air leaks. Identify, quantify, tag, and repair. Advertise your wins and remember the technology doesn't build the business case; you do. When you show a manager that there's a return on investment, things start to change. This doesn't last forever. When you do it once, you'd better be ready to do it again in a year.

4. Get on It and Stay on It
Stay on those routes and do compressed air and gas surveys. The job is never done. These can be performed with minimal resources by floor, area, process, or equipment. Use photos, trend dewpoint and energy required to meet settings. Fix those leaks, and your energy usage goes way down.

5. Get Into the Lube
Train lube technicians in ultrasound. Ensure they have the equipment to do the job right. Identify the number of grease under/over lube failures over the past year as a baseline for year-over-year comparison. We need to know where we started because this is a slow progression. Things are getting overlubricated all the time. We need people to understand precision lubrication. Eliminate failures through proven technology combined with precision lubrication best practices.

6. Enlighten Your Electrical Group
Who is approved to work with high-voltage equipment? Check NFPA 70E training for safe practices and required PPE. Understand arc flash, the causes, using airborne ultrasound to identify arcing, tracking, and corona. Identify the failure modes that cause arc flash. Post information on arc flash incidents. Keep it fresh. In North America, there are two deaths per week due to arc flash.

7. Get Involved With RCM and RCA
PdM technicians make both tools better. It helps to increase use of technologies to identify potential failures. It improves understanding of how processes and equipment were designed to work. It helps others understand the business case using PdM. We need PdM folks out there explaining why the tools are important.

8. Discover New Applications
We need driven people. Advancements in technology are dependent on those who are driven to discover more. Good technicians follow routes and standard uses. Great technicians do all of the above and play/experiment to find new applications. Great companies allow testing to prove this out; this is a win-win. Start talking with other people and looking for new ways to apply the technology.

9. Achieve Additional Certifications
Become at least Level 1 certified in four technologies. You need to be able to assess reports and interact with technicians who use the other technologies. Identify failure modes that can be covered by PdM. Look for other technologies to verify a finding.

10. Share the Knowledge
Who is that guy with the fancy instrument? Take the time to show people and build understanding. You have to be social. Write papers and articles. Present successes and struggles at conferences. We learn far more from the people who are actually out there doing it. Be active on LinkedIn and Twitter. Get involved in those discussions. Learn and share actively. Find a mentor, or be a mentor. We all continue to learn.

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