CRL 1-hr: Nov 7 Introduction to Uptime Elements Reliability Framework and Asset Management System

Uptime Magazine caught up with Susan Lubell and Ricky Smith, authors of the recently published book, “Root Cause Analysis Made Simple.” They shared some of the most frequently asked questions regarding root cause analysis (RCA) that are asked by not only maintenance practitioners, but also their production operations teams and management, who they need to support them in their work.

Q: Why investigate failures? In other words, why bother with RCA?

The goal for any RCA is to prevent the recurrence of failures and/or to minimize the consequences (effects) of a failure. Unexpected equipment failures are not normal and should not be tolerated.

There are three main reasons or consequence categories to guide our investigation of failures: health and safety consequences; environmental consequences; and financial and production consequences. Some companies choose to add a fourth category focused on reputational risk. All failures that pose a risk to safety or the environment must be investigated. Addressing chronic or repeat failures that have a financial or production consequence can result in bottom-line savings for all types of facilities, such as manufacturing, oil and gas, mining, hospitals, food production, etc.

Q: Will RCA really make a difference?

Maintenance technicians and professionals are frequently too busy fixing repetitive problems and not spending enough time preventing failures. We need to break out of this reactive approach to maintenance to improve not only the safety and reliability of our facilities, but also to reduce our production costs.

To put things into perspective with a simplified business case, if a company produces 100,000 items per day (e.g., liters of soda, barrels of oil, tonnes of coal or fertilizer, boxes of cereal, etc.) with a profit margin of $1/item, then a 0.1 percent improvement in the volume produced per year translates into an additional $365,000 per year of profit. From an operating perspective in a continuous processing facility, 0.1 percent equals approximately nine hours of additional production time per year, based on 8,760 hours in a year.

Is it possible to achieve an extra nine hours of production per year from your facility? What benefits would you see from refocusing your maintenance staff on preventing failures, completing predictive maintenance routines and analyzing asset health instead of constantly executing repairs on a rush basis.

Q: How do I perform an RCA?

There are four fundamental steps to performing an RCA:

  1. Quantify the magnitude of the problem;
  2. Perform the analysis using the appropriate technique;
  3. Develop a list of options for solving the problem;
  4. Document the results and implement recommended actions.

The payback from performing an RCA comes from implementing the recommended actions and ensuring they have stopped the cycle of a repeat failure.

Q: Who needs to be involved?

Once the decision has been made to conduct an RCA, the next question is typically who should participate. The RCA typically brings five to six knowledgeable people together as a core team to investigate the failure using evidence left behind from the failure event. The composition of this team should stress complementary skills with an understood common purpose of identifying the root cause of the failure.

Q: What is the most important step in performing an RCA?

Preserving the broken parts and evidence!! Information, including operating parameters, broken parts and components, and documenting what people heard, smelled, saw and felt, is absolutely critical to conducting an RCA. In the haste to get the facility back up and running, valuable evidence is quickly lost. Take pictures and preserve the broken parts as you’re dismantling and repairing the equipment. Even if you later decide that an equipment failure isn’t worth investigating, you’ll have the luxury of making this decision in the future and not regret a hasty decision made while dealing with the failure’s aftermath.

Here’s a diagram that demonstrates when you achieve return on investment (ROI) on your RCA efforts. Many people think that it’s when you investigate, but it’s actually when you prevent recurrence that your efforts pay off.

Download Article

Upcoming Events

August 8 - August 10, 2023

Maximo World 2023

View all Events
80% of newsletter subscribers report finding something used to improve their jobs on a regular basis.
Subscribers get exclusive content. Just released...MRO Best Practices Special Report - a $399 value!
IMC-2022 Who's Who: The World's Best Run Companies

The International Maintenance Conference (IMC) provides a fresh, positive community-based curated experience to gain knowledge and a positive perspective for advancing reliability and asset management through people, their managers, the strategy, the processes, the data and the technology.

Uptime Elements Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis is a problem solving method. Professionals who are competent in Root Cause Analysis for problem solving are in high demand.

Reliability Risk Meter

The asset is not concerned with the management decision. The asset responds to physics

Why Reliability Leadership?

If you do not manage reliability culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening!

Asset Condition Management versus Asset Health Index

Confusion abounds in language. Have you thought through the constraints of using the language of Asset Health?

Seven Chakras of Asset Management by Terrence O'Hanlon

The seven major asset management chakras run cross-functionally from the specification and design of assets through the asset lifecycle to the decommissioning and disposal of the asset connected through technology

Reliability Leader Fluid Cleanliness Pledge

Fluid Cleanliness is a Reliability Achievement Strategy as well as an asset life extension strategy

MaximoWorld 2022 Conference Austin Texas

Connect with leading maintenance professionals, reliability leaders and asset managers from the world's best-run companies who are driving digital reinvention.

“Steel-ing” Reliability in Alabama

A joint venture between two of the world’s largest steel companies inspired innovative approaches to maintenance reliability that incorporate the tools, technology and techniques of today. This article takes you on their journey.

Three Things You Need to Know About Capital Project Prioritization

“Why do you think these two projects rank so much higher in this method than the first method?” the facilitator asked the director of reliability.