The Role Of Operations And Maintenance 638f90fccf685

How to gain control over your maintenance processes: The role of operations and maintenance

Dec. 6, 2022
George Williams and Joe Anderson of ReliabilityX explore the interconnected roles of operators and maintenance workers.

Plant Services Editor in Chief Thomas Wilk hatched a plan with George Williams and Joe Anderson to create a podcast series titled “Assets Anonymous.” The idea was for each monthly episode to address one aspect of how to gain better control over your maintenance processes and ultimately drive improved throughout and greater profitability.

All episodes are now available at, and this month’s cover story draws from each episode to deliver an extended sample of the advice shared by Joe and George. This is part five of our six-part series.

Step 10: What Will Maintenance Do About It?

What does maintenance do about the things they are identifying with their criticality analyses and the failure modes?

GW: The first step is to identify your risk mitigation strategy, right? So the short term of that is, what's my PM or PdM strategy to help either understand that a failure mode is about to have a catastrophic event on my P-F interval, or that I need to replace wear components at some interval of time based on duty cycle or time, or however that may shake out.

Now, there's all kinds of standards around that, then questions associated with that: “Can I engineer it out? If I can't engineer it out, can I predict it? If I can't predict it, do I do some scheduled intervention, whether that is a preventive maintenance activity for wear components or a scheduled restoration, or a failure finding task?” So, failure finding task – something against the hidden failure mode, like a generator transfer switch, something you'd never know if it's going to work until you actually need it. You're testing it to see if it already failed. You are not testing it to see if it will work when you need it. And so a failure finding task.

So all of those things, and then eventually run to failure and the development of a spare stocking strategy, all of those things get vetted out based on cost. What does it cost if I run this at this failure mode? The failure, what does it cost? If I can predict it, what does it cost? And then the most cost effective strategy gets implemented.

JA: And then you can develop a maintenance budget around all of those tasks because you have a cost, and that's zero-based budgeting. But yeah, you have to be really good to get to that point.

Step 11: What Will Operations Do About It?

What are you seeing operators step up and do, either what they were doing before the pandemic or the special tasks you're seeing them take on?

JA: That's the main point, right? Defect elimination starts with cleaning. You clean to inspect. It's kind of like having a dirty engine in your car and you have an oil leak. You have no idea where that oil leak's coming from. You just know that it's leaking. Where if I had a clean engine, I had a piece of my head gasket missing, I would know immediately where that piece of the head gasket was missing due to the oil leak. And it allows you to get a little deeper into where the issue is occurring.

The other piece is that cleaning prevents breakdowns. And this is what people don't understand. I always give an example of a motor. A motor has a fan on the back of it and all of these fins, and that fan actually blows air over the fins to cool the motor so that you keep it at a certain temperature so that you don't start destroying the insulation. Well, they say 1/10 of an inch of dust on a motor reduces its life by half, which is next to nothing when it comes to dirt, and yet all we have to do is take our little ShamWow and wipe it off every now and then, and we can extend the life of the motor.

Picture in some of these facilities how filthy some of this equipment is, and you want to know why your motors are going out every three months or every six months, why your bearings are contaminated and destroyed all the time? All that starts with cleanliness, and that prevents further events from occurring as well as a lot of the little minor stops that happen.

The principles and practices are very simple. The complexity comes in, in that people thinking that there's no way it could be this easy, so we overthink things, we over-engineer things and we over-complicate things through a series of red tape and all this other things and get away from the simple basics that need to take place.

This story originally appeared in the November/December 2022 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.
About the Author

George Williams

George Williams, CRL, CMRP, is the founder and CEO of ReliabilityX and is a blackbelt in reliability. He has a master’s degree in reliability engineering from Monash University. Williams spent 16 years with a major pharmaceutical company, where he began as a technician and worked his way up to global asset management. In 2015, Williams’ global team won the Uptime Award for Best Maintenance and Reliability Program. In 2016, he earned recognition by SMRP as CMRP of the Year. He has earned certifications in vibration analysis, infrared thermography, ultrasound, motion amplification, and plant maintenance management. Williams is a published author and a recognized leader in reliability. He can be contacted at [email protected].

About the Author

Joe Anderson

Joe Anderson is a partner and chief operating officer for ReliabilityX. Joe helps companies reach their full potential through improvement gains and lowering costs, giving them a competitive advantage on their journey to excellence. As an active columnist in Plant Services magazine, Joe shares his over 25 years of experience in maintenance, reliability and management excellence in various industries with the world through his writing. He is a CMRP, CRL, CARO, MLT2, MLA1, LSSGB, IAM-55k, CRL Black Belt and was recognized as one of the top 50 leaders in the country by the United States Congress, being awarded the National Leadership Award. He has also brought humor to the world through his experiences, and it can be seen in the character creation of Captain Unreliability.

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