As more and more organizations seek to improve their maintenance, many are shifting from the reactive ‘repair-focused’ maintenance models to more proactive ‘reliability-focused’ maintenance which includes things like tracking, identifying, and eliminating failure, maintenance planning and scheduling, reduced downtime, reduced costs, continuous improvement, and similar.
Alright … this needs a lot of context. English electronic music artist ‘Fatboy Slim’ released his ‘You’ve come a Long Way, Baby’ album in 1998. Its cover art was a photograph of an attendee at the 1983 ‘Fat People’s Festival’ in Danville, Virginia. And perhaps due to its ‘heritage,’ the album’s cover was changed to an image of a bookshelf for North American listeners. But the rest of the world got to bask in its magnificence.
So what is particular about this photograph? The subject is a larger than average human (as you would expect noting where it was taken). And he is wearing a shirt emblazoned:
I’m #1 so why try harder?
I am not writing this as a commentary on human value versus instinctive stereotypes. Far from it. There are plenty of people who are ‘better than all others at something’ that do not have sleek chiseled physiques. [Read more…]
I was recently talking with my colleague Fred Schenkelberg from FMS Reliability (this conversation can be heard here), about a plane that he had never heard of. Most of the world hasn’t heard of it. And there is a reason you probably haven’t either. The plane in question is a case study on how to design something to fail.
There is no question that standardizing processes, techniques and best practices has contributed greatly to technological evolution. Just writing down or passing on what has worked well in the past helps anyone’s learning process. But there are many problems associated with this approach when blind obedience kills critical thinking.
When is the biggest ‘improvement’ in the reliability of a new ‘type’ of product? This is a very broad question with no doubt lots of answers that aren’t wrong. But what we do know is that the more experience we have with building something, the more reliable it gets. And this effect is most marked at the start of the product’s life. [Read more…]
InnoCentive CEO Dwayne Spradlin wrote in this article about how many companies in a rush to develop something new and innovative try to solve a problem that they want to solve rather than the problem the customer wants to be solved. He quotes Albert Einstein who once said
If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.
Imagine you are not feeling well and you go to a doctor. When you sit down in the doctor’s office, he doesn’t even look at you. Instead, he has a book opened on the desk and starts reading it aloud. You sit there without being examined, listening to a list of medicines, activities, exercises and diet changes. The doctor then looks up and says that you need to do all of them. Take all the medicines. Change all your activities. Start doing all the exercises. And completely change your diet. [Read more…]
In the late 1970s, Hewlett Packard was a company that valued quality compliance, certification and awards. But the then Chief Executive Officer noticed a problem. He (on a hunch) initiated an analysis of ‘quality related expenses.’ He wanted to quantify the cost of defects and failure. The results were terrifying. [Read more…]
In 1995, the United States Department of Energy (DoE) funded research into Princeton University’s Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). PPPL was developing plasma fusion techniques, and the research in question focused on quality assurance within the laboratory. It was investigating the utility of a new type of quality assurance: on that was performance-based. [Read more…]
Why Your Operators Need To Be Part Of Your Reliability Program
You drive your car (almost) every day, you will immediately notice a new noise, vibration, or feel to the car. Once you detect this you would report the issue to your mechanic (or if yourself and do the repair), and he would investigate the issue. The repair would be made and the car returned to you.
This same approach is what should be happening in your plant. The operators of the plant equipment, operate the equipment every day and know the equipment. Any changes or variation in the equipment or process would be noticed by them and should be reported to the maintenance department.
Based on this approach that we use every day with our cars, why is it that in many plants the operators do not notify maintenance of changes? Or the notifications go unused or not acted on? [Read more…]
Two rockets launched from Earth in November 2013. They carried a total of 61 small satellites from 20 different manufacturers. A satellite that is less than 500 kg in mass is considered ‘small.’ But small satellites are unique in many other ways. Old and ‘big’ satellites are massive, multi-billion dollar machines that take years to build and are the ‘only shot’ at achieving a mission. A ‘big satellite’ that stops working is a disaster. If a ‘small satellite’ fails, there can be many others floating around Earth to pick up the slack. [Read more…]
I am a parent of two young children. As a result of my experiences as a mom, I feel that parents make great Reliability Engineers because there are so many shared skill sets. Please enjoy this lighthearted comparison to start your week out with a little humor.
First, I have to point out the development of a brand new Reliability Engineer requires the same skills of lubrication and vibration that the conception of a child requires. [Read more…]
RCA Templates Can Be Used
In my last article, RCA Templates Use or not?, I discussed templates and suggested that while beneficial for many things, they may not provide as much value for those doing RCA’s. This is because for any specific effect, the variability in the cause tree is significant and difficult to predict. This doesn’t mean that there are no options to utilize templates to help speed up the process, but perhaps not in the way that people might be used to. [Read more…]
Asking Questions is Reliability Engineering
Finding solutions is reliability engineering too.
Have you noticed that finding solutions often requires just the right question, the proper framing of the issue, the query that reveals the problem and solution?
One of the best ways to lead a team and provide a focus on reliability performance is to ask the right questions.
Understanding objectives, risks, and failures is what we primarily do as reliability professionals. We work with teams to achieve or improve reliability performance.
We ask questions. [Read more…]
One for the (Reliability) Books
The GM Ignition switch failure case history should be required reading for all reliability engineers.
It is rare to have insight into any internal company history of serious electronic and electromechanical failures. Failure analysis and the causes of electronics or electromechanical systems failure can be a difficult investigation for any manufacturing company. Disclosure of the history and data is rarely if ever published due to the potential liability and litigation costs as well as loss of reputation for reliability and safety.