Changing the Maintenance Culture from Reactive to Predictive

IR Talk
The Snell Group

If you do an internet search on Reliability you’ll get thousands of hits with links to hundreds of sites for companies that are heavily vested in programs that apply multiple condition monitoring technologies to their assets. Despite the fact that reliability is in full swing across every conceivable industry, there are many companies and facilities that are still doing things the old-fashioned way.  This is typically seen as an annual infrared inspection of a handful of assets, usually only electrical, with no rhyme or reason to the approach.  You get the idea.

Moving from this old school of thought to the new school is not as easy as some think. Making this transition is often the greatest hurdle in changing the maintenance culture from reactive to predictive. One of the basic foundational elements of a reliability program is the establishment of inspection routes.  Building routes ensures that all of the equipment deemed worthy of inspection is actually covered.  Creating routes is a great initial step in building a program, and it is not that hard to do if you follow a few simple steps.

  • The first is to create a good equipment list.  It is surprising how many facilities do not have an idea of what they have tucked away here and there.  Often, building an equipment list requires a walk down of the entire facility.  You want to list all the equipment, electrical and mechanical, that you might even remotely consider worthy of inspection.  Everything you have needs to be inspected at some frequency. How often is the next step.

    Criticality assessment of the equipment on your list is the next step.  It can be done fairly easily, breaking equipment into five large categories;

5) critical, no redundancy
4) critical with redundancy
3) not critical, no redundancy
2) not critical with redundancy and
1) no criticality rating .  Sounds very broad, and at first it can be.  This idea is to crawl before you walk. There are a number of ways to assess criticality, but that is a discussion we will save for another tip.

Once you have a list of equipment and criticality assigned to each piece of equipment, break the equipment list down and arrange it by area and criticality.  Doing so helps you decide how often each component should be inspected.   For example, if you have a large electrical room with say 75 different pieces of equipment in it, not every apparatus in that particular room is likely to have the same level of criticality.  As such it is likely that some of the equipment in that room will need to be inspected more often than others based on criticality.

You could potentially then have a route for critical equipment in that room.  Call it “Electrical Room A.”  You could have a route for essential/non-critical items and another for non-essential equipment.  The inspection intervals for each of those three routes might overlap, so say every third trip into that room you inspect everything in it.

Feel free to fine tune your route as you go, but as a general rule you will want to run each newly established route a minimum of three times before you modify it.  The reason being that on your first go around you can decide to add or delete something from that route and then the second time possibly find something else. You want to manage the routes efficiently, so list additions and deletions and only adjust every so often.  It’s also a good idea to establish a management of change process so that there is central control of versions of the routes.  This way you won’t end up with multiple iterations of the same route in circulation. The length of the routes will vary depending upon the number of assets on the route.  It might be necessary for planning purposes to limit routes to a particular length. If the allotted time doesn’t allow for all of the assets to be inspected, a separate route may need to be added. This decision might require input from management or planning since it becomes a matter of allocation of personnel.

The transition from a reactive maintenance posture to a predictive one is a journey, and as such it takes time and a plan for getting there. Routes are part the roadmap for this journey, and as such are essential for successful navigation down the path of equipment reliability. Once routes are established for one technology, they can easily be adapted to others, and so the journey begins.

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