Top Three Reasons Why Companies Don’t Measure Asset and Process Reliability

Top Three Reasons Why Companies Don’t Measure Asset and Process Reliability

 Top Three Reasons Why Companies Don’t Measure Asset and Process Reliability

Most companies don’t measure don’t measure asset or process reliability so when ask “how are things going” you will hear, “good” or “not bad”.  I am not sure what these statements mean to anyone. I created this maintenance tip so one can use it to help optimize throughput and total cost in any organization by defining the top 3 reasons why organizations don’t measure asset and process reliability.  Asset Utilization is defined as Actual Production divided by Ideal Production, for any given period of time. The difference between the two constitutes production losses, which incidentally are inherent in any manufacturing operation. 
Reason Number One: It is too hard to get the data. One needs to speak with Paul Barringer about this subject and he will tell you directly that process reliability loses are easier to obtain than asset reliability losses. Having participated in a few of these efforts the benefits out way the risk 10-20 times.  Process Reliability is not measured in most organization because it is not well known to most people. 
When one defines process reliability losses and asset reliability losses most of the time process reliability losses are significantly higher that asset reliability losses. This information allows for management to focus its effort with the higher opportunity.  I have seen the losses by production is 10-15 times higher than asset optimization losses. Asset Optimization is defined as Actual Production divided by Ideal Production for any given period of time. The difference between the two constitutes production losses, which incidentally are inherent in any manufacturing operation and asset optimization losses are inherent losses created by maintenance and reliability processes.

Here are a few examples on the types of asset reliability losses that occur.
  • Use of poorly store parts used in place of new ones.     
  • A maintenance organization not using repeatable procedures so everyone works on the same equipment to a known specification the results should be close. 
Reason Number Two: Most organizations have never identified the causes of process reliability losses. The causes are known and vary from one organization or site to the next. These losses  Paul Barringer stated: Process reliability is a method for identifying problems, which have significant cost reduction opportunities for improvements. It started with the question: “Do I have a reliability problem or a production problem?”  Paul has reviewed hundreds of processes and found only one that did not need significant improvements—thus the chance for finding a process not requiring improvement is very small. Sometimes the problems are identified with a root for maintenance improvements.  Very often the problems have roots in the operations/production area where losses are greater than asset reliability losses. 

Reason 1: Work orders don’t capture all emergency work. Many companies have rules such as, “A work order will be written only if the equipment is down for more than one hour.” This rule doesn’t make sense. Let’s say, for example, a circuit overload on a piece of equipment trips 100 times in a month. Many times, small problems lead to major asset failure. Don’t wait until a small problem becomes a big one. Start tracking MTBF and you’ll be on the road to reliability. Eventually, you’ll learn to manage your assets proactively according to their health. Then, you’ll see your MTBF improve dramatically.

Reason 2: Not every asset is loaded into the CMMS/EAM. This is a problem that makes writing an emergency work order impossible. If you’re not tracking every asset down to the component level, you can’t possibly identify any true reliability issue. Think about it this way; if 20% of your assets eat up 80% of your resources, wouldn’t you want to identify that 20%, the bad actors? Put all of your assets in your CMMS/EAM, track the MTBF and the bad actors will become obvious.
Reason 3: It isn’t important to measure MTBF because other metrics provide equivalent value. Yes, you can get asset reliability from other metrics, but keep it simple by using MTBF. Count the number of breakdowns (the number of emergency work orders) for an asset during a given time interval. That’s all it takes to learn how long the equipment runs (on average) before it fails.

Reason 4: The maintenance organization is in such a reactive mode that there’s no time to generate any metrics. They’re constantly scrambling merely to react to the latest crisis. But, taking a small step in the right direction – tracking just one measure of reliability – will reveal the 20% of the assets that are burning 80% of the resources. If you start with the worst actor, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can rise out of the reactivity quagmire.

For example, a plant manager who recently measured the MTBF for what he called his “Top 10 Critical Assets” was shocked at the results. He expected the combined MTBF for these assets would be around eight hours to nine hours. In the first month of this initiative, he found that the actual MTBF was 0.7 hours. You may find yourself in the same situation. You’ll never know the true reliability status on your plant floor until you begin measuring it.
Reason 5: There are too many other problems to worry about right now without being pressured to measure reliability, too. I’ve heard this many times and what it tells me is that the organization is in total reactive mode. This organization deals only with the problem of the hour. If 20% of your assets are taking 80% of your resources, dig yourself out of the problem by attacking the assets that cause the most pain – the “high payoff assets” that will respond to a reliability improvement initiative. We’ve got to stop fighting fires. The characteristics of adept firefighters include:
  • High turnover of personnel (mostly in production).
  • Maintenance costs that continue to rise.
  • Maintenance costs that are capped before the month ends  (“Don’t any   more money this month. We’re over budget.”) 
  • Every day is a new day of problems and chaos.
  • Maintenance is blamed for missing the production goals.
It isn’t easy to fight fires and initiate reliability improvement at the same time, but it can be done. Start measuring MTBF and attack the high-payoff assets. You can’t change a company’s culture from reactive to proactive overnight, but you can eliminate reliability problems one major system at a time. That’s where you’ll find a rapid return on investment. Change people’s activities and behaviors slowly and you’ll transition to a proactive culture.  Asset reliability is the key to keeping a company profitable, increasing its capacity and reducing its maintenance cost. In a future column, we’ll present some reliability improvement ideas.
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