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Maintaining Reliability: The Skills Needed to Succeed

Implementing a reliability program is not simply a software or technology purchase; nor is it just a checklist of items that must be completed to ensure you have reliable products and processes. A reliability program is a robust and complex learning and knowledge-based system unique to your products and processes. It is supported by leadership, built on the skills that you develop within your team, integrated into your business processes and executed by following proven standard work practices.

Improving reliability is done through the application of statistics, physics and engineering to your products and processes. Therefore, all reliability programs begin with people and the development of the skills and knowledge they need to learn. You then need to provide your team with the right systems and tools to support the work they need to perform. And finally, you must leverage the knowledge that your team gains to drive the improvements needed by your business to remain competitive and profitable in today’s global marketplace.

Launch Points and Return on Investment (ROI)

There are several launch points that a company might use to initiate a reliability program within their organization, for example:

  • A business need exists to reduce warranty costs and improve customer satisfaction.

  • A talented team of test engineers could easily be developed to improve your tests' capability to predict field reliability.

  • There is a need driven by product development/R&D leadership to design more reliable products.

  • There are opportunities for improving manufacturing equipment reliability and operational availability on the production side of the business.


For each launch point, there are tools and training that best fit that focus area to help alleviate the skills gap that many organizations find themselves struggling to properly manage. With time and investment, your organization can begin to unlock improvements in knowledge gained by applying reliability to your product and process data. These data-driven decisions culminate in tangible business results.

Examples of ROI from the 2015 Best Practices in Reliability study conducted by ReliaSoft (HBM Prenscia) will be provided. Survey respondents from a broad spectrum of industries (including energy and utilities, mining, materials, food production, aerospace, automotive, defense, healthcare and heavy equipment) shared the benefits that their organizations have gained from implementing reliability programs. Your ROI will be determined by your investment in leadership, people, support systems and tools, as well as the commitment you apply to your overall reliability journey.

Maintenance

Starting a reliability journey in maintenance is a very common-sense approach to building on the strengths of your maintenance team. Implementing reliability moves the maintenance team away from "firefighting" problems and toward problem prevention. Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) is a global standard process, recognized as the most efficient maintenance strategy, and it is the approach recommended by many industry experts.

 

Because reliability has an element of statistical application, the team will need to create a reliability engineering role. Organizations typically take one of two approaches to filling this role: a) hire asset management reliability engineers into the maintenance group, or b) leverage the skills in the continuous improvement (CI) group found in the plant and assign them to provide analytical support for maintenance as a priority of their standard work.

The final part of the team is composed of craftspeople with skills unique to the equipment and systems that exist in a given facility. It is this group of specialists that perform the preventive, predictive and corrective work of the maintenance organization.


Skills, training and tools to succeed

 

The reliability skills needed within maintenance begin with understanding the functions of the production processes. They also include the ability to perform root cause analysis to determine failure mechanisms. This includes the application of life data analysis to failure and wear-out data. In addition, there is a significant need for skills related to scheduling, planning and optimizing the prevention and prediction work, as well as the parts and resources needed to maintain the facilities.


Key software tools and training for this launch point include:

 

  • The RAM for Asset Management course that provides an overview of the ways in which reliability engineering concepts and methods can be applied for repairable systems analysis, maintenance planning, and optimization is crucial in educating team members on the critical items to ensure optimal asset health.

  • RAM-based software products are recommended to facilitate this analysis, as they can provide a comprehensive platform for system reliability, availability, maintainability and related analyses in a fraction of the time it takes to do these activities manually. Simulation and modeling functionality also allows for life cycle cost analysis, and critical concerns of downtime, throughput, bottlenecks and spare parts management are all available to the team quickly and easily.

  • At this stage, it is also recommended to invest in a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) solution to better understand the categorized risks and failures that have been identified at both the design and production stages. This FMEA process is best utilized when it’s incorporated into an RCM software product that facilitates the Reliability Centered Maintenance analysis approach for creating scheduled maintenance plans, as RCM and FMEA are incredibly important aspects of an effective asset management program.

  • Being trained on the RCM Principles and Applications and how to use RCM software to facilitate maintenance planning can help bolster maintenance practitioners’ expertise and confidence and ultimately free up their valuable time to prioritize and address other operational issues as they arise.

Operations

A newer reliability launch point is the application of reliability methods and tools within manufacturing operations. This approach is especially beneficial for high volume packaging lines. The focus is on eliminating stops that cause disruptions in production.


Skills, training and tools

 

The common skills for operation improvement include data management because CI team members often must pull data from enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems such as SAP. Life data analysis will be used to analyze stops and determine mean time to stop (MTTS) and mean time to repair (MTTR) metrics. Good problem solving skills are also necessary in order to root cause the failure mechanisms and drive irreversible corrective actions. Finally, team members will need to be able to perform system analyses to prioritize productivity initiatives.

 


Key software tools and training for this launch point include:

 

  • The RAM analysis software and training methods already mentioned are also critical to understanding and addressing reliability in operations, but another key focus drills all the way down to understanding failures at the component level. Tracking these failures through a web-based failure reporting analysis and corrective action system (XFRACAS) is crucial to ensure your organization has a true closed-loop process to identify and address failures, risk and safety.

  • The team needs to understand the importance of Weibull analysis, as it is the industry method for performing life data analysis for thousands of companies worldwide. A good Weibull software program supports repairable system analysis to analyze current event data and has specialized tools to convert system failure and repair data into times-to-failure and times-to-repair. This is a huge time saver that empowers engineers with the skills to transform their data into decisions.

Ensuring reliability by applying right business processes, systems, and tools

 

For a reliability journey, we reach our destination when products and processes perform their required functions without failure under required conditions for their defined useful life. Although we may never quite attain the ideal state, we can certainly work toward that achievement by developing skills needed and supporting our journey with the right business processes, systems, and tools. 

 

With instructors who offer a wealth of experience and knowledge, HBM Prenscia offers training courses that can help your organization reach its highest possible potential.

View our current training calendar and choose from a number of individual courses that provide hands-on learning experiences with industry-leading software tools and mentoring in the areas of durability, fatigue, reliability, and maintainability.

 

Training courses may also be held on-site for fast and efficient implementation of your program. 

 

Contact us to schedule an on-site training course at your facility today.

Ready to take your reliability program further?