Wrecking a Mature PdM Program
The phone conversation starts with the words “Doug, I’ve got a big problem and I’m hoping you’ll be able to give me some insight as to how to resolve it.”
The call comes from a long-time client and someone I consider a friend. We not only worked together to start RCM effort at his company, we’ve hunted, golfed and attended a few sporting events together. Someone who if I’m working in his part of the country or just driving through I make a point to make a call so we can get together to and catch up on our lives.
“I’ve got a new manager who is looking to kill our PdM program, he says we spend more looking for things than we do actually finding things. He’s even working on a business case that shows last year we had 3 full time guys committed to doing PdM rounds, what the three of them found combined in terms of Potential Failures and what it would have cost the company if we had just run those assets to failure. We worked hard to build this program, purchase the equipment, train the people, get them out doing the rounds and showing the business case for addressing all the Potential Failures we found early on. This is all going to come back to haunt us. He wants to halve the inspection intervals on all technologies this year, and completely eliminate MCA and Vibration Analysis next year. The guys in my PdM group are going nuts! They’re already looking at job postings on LinkedIn! I’m hoping you’ll have some ideas on how I can talk some sense into this guy. We worked our tails off to get where we are today. I’d hate to see one person cause it all to fall apart!”
So… Tom, how are your wife and kids doing? Have you had any more Grandkids since we talked last?
“You think this is funny don’t ya! Come on, this is serious!”
Nope, just trying to see if I could get you to scream louder than you have been. Look, I’m not going to say what you are going through is normal because most companies don’t even get to the place where you guys are today before they start looking for the next silver bullet that is going to solve all their problems. You have a mature effort. Your group has been working together more than 10 years and you didn’t get where you are today by just saying I want to buy a bunch of PdM equipment and I want to train a half a dozen guys in the different technologies so we can better maintain our assets. How did you get where you are today?
“We built a business case base on all the failures and secondary damage we were seeing over a decade ago. But the data is different today, we don’t have the failures and secondary damage we used to have because we work a lot smarter than we used to.”
I get that. So, tell me what happens if you stop looking? What happens if tomorrow I stop looking altogether or I take the risk to change my inspection interval from 30 days to 90?
“Come on! I already talked to him about this! We might miss some failures and that is his point, if we actually stopped looking, last year we would have missed out in a few motor failures and maybe a half a dozen gearbox failures. IF you look at the cost of each incident, combine them all together we spent more looking to detect the failures than we would have had we just run them to failure.”
And that business case included secondary damage to surrounding components if we did nothing to detect potential failure?
No! Man, that’s it! I can’t believe I didn’t catch that! Oh my God it’s so obvious!
Tom? You’re not out of the woods. You need to think about this. Secondary damage isn’t a sure thing and while you did detect point P and I assume you replaced each of these items before they failed, some would argue that they never actually failed so secondary damage is cost avoidance.
So what are you going to give to make this right?
“I don’t understand?”
You have a very mature PdM program and a Maintenance organization that supports it by ensuring they do all the right things to ensure is aligned, balanced, torqued and so on. As a result, your I-P interval has increased substantially from 10 years ago. You need to look at optimizing your PdM and PM intervals based on that 10 years of history. Remember we talked about this during the 3 years you were working on critical equipment RCM’s? Well if you want to keep that PdM program healthy you need to begin optimizing your inspection intervals. When we started, we used industry standard intervals for vibration, MCA, Ultrasound and IR. Now you need to use that 8 to 10 years of failure history and put it to good use. So, get busy and you know where to find me if you need any help!
Hey Doug, thanks! By the way, no new Grandkids but we do have one on the way. My wife is going crazy! Listen, I’ll call you in a couple of weeks and let you know where we are going but I suspect this is the answer I was looking for. Thanks man!
My Dad told me a long time ago that people who work hard have good problems. Things like what should I do with my money? Where should we go on vacation? Should my daughter accept the scholarship to Harvard or Cambridge?
I guess this was one of those examples. I’ll just keep working hard and hope to someday be faced with one of these difficult dilemmas!
Doug Plucknette, Principal & World-Wide RCM Discipline Leader at Allied Reliability Group is a Reliability Engineering Consultant and Published Author of “Reliability Centered Maintenance using RCM Blitz™ and Clean, Green and Reliable. Having created the RCM Blitz™ Methodology he has been an RCM Practitioner and Trainer for over 20 years. Doug resides in Spencerport, NY and can be reached at 585-329-7040 by phone and email firstname.lastname@example.org