How to Balance Reliability vs New Tech
Chris and Fred discuss how we balance … or incorporate new technology with reliability. Is reliability something that only comes with legacy or age? … as in old technology? Can you make a product that is based on new technology and have it reliable? … are these concepts mutually exclusive? If we look at this from an ‘asset management’ perspective, there is a movement out there that we need things like increasingly sophisticated sensing technology to ensure reliability, availability, throughput or whatever it is we are trying to improve. From a ‘developmental product’ perspective, does new technology mean ‘all bets are off’ when it comes to reliability? Well … we talk about these things in this podcast.
Join Chris and Fred as they discuss the role new technology plays in reliability, availability or whatever metric you are wanting to maximize. If you are an ‘asset manager’ who is looking after a plant or a building of complex machinery, new technology often means new ways to monitor or sense equipment state. If you are a design engineer, new technology often means that you can design a product that can do new things in new ways. But what does that mean for reliability?
- Engineers need to demonstrate an understanding of the business plan. A manager will need to feel like you have thought through any proposal you have to implement new technology. Investing (for example) $ 100 000 in a new machine that does ‘something new’ means you need to understand the likely return on that investment. You are wasting your time if you haven’t made the connection … or don’t want to.
- Does your new technology actually have anything to do with the failures we see? A thermal gauge or imager might sound great. But is heat causing failure? Or do your components increase in heat prior to failure? … and if yes, does this apply to our system? Blindly implementing something that seems cool won’t work.
- If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? This is an often used phrase … but it can be over used. Because using a machine or product that ‘works’ can limit scope for incremental improvement. As is the case for many ‘mantras’ … balance needs to be applied. Horses and buggies still work very well. But there are things that work better.
- Changing something – no matter how small – can have unintended effects. So new technologies can have negative ramifications that weren’t anticipated. But this could be down to not thinking things through – not the technology itself. Simple design changes can accommodate a new technology – as can understanding that new industries may tolerate things like higher maintenance loads.
- New technologies to you might be old technologies in other industries. This can be good or bad. We talk about how a supplier that has had success in one industry tries to branch out into a new industry using a product based on a ‘proven’ technology. But if this supplier refuses to understand that their new customers have different business demands (which could be as simple as tempo), then failure is inevitable. But, if this supplier is open, honest and stresses how they will adapt to the customers in the new industry, then you could see revolutionary change. It is all about the culture of the supplier, the designer, or the advocate organization of the new technology.
And by the way … you have to change. Standing still is actually going backwards … unless your competitors are standing next to you.
Enjoy an episode of Speaking of Reliability. Where you can join friends as they discuss reliability topics. Join us as we discuss topics ranging from design for reliability techniques, to field data analysis approaches.