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Reliability Engineer

What does a reliability engineer do? How is a reliability engineer different from a maintenance engineer? Take a look:

  1. The task of a reliability engineer is to prevent failures. This is a strategic task.
  2. The task of a maintenance engineer is to quickly restore the failure to an operable condition. This is a tactical task (often driven by adrenalin for timely restoration).

Both jobs have elements of each other. Each engineer must know about each other’s tools to adequately perform the task.

An analogy exists between tasks in most fire departments around the world when you consider the preventive tasks of the fire marshal and the tactical tasks of the firefighter.

Reliability engineers are to the fire marshal as maintenance engineers are to the firefighters.

Think of reliability engineering tasks as clean hands jobs. Think of maintenance engineering tasks as in the plant jobs.

Download copies of both the reliability engineer and maintenance engineer descriptions for three levels of jobs.

Reliability Engineer Job Description

Entry Level

Summary:

Originates and develops analysis methods to determine reliability of components, equipment and processes. Acquires and analyzes data. Prepares diagrams, charts, drawings, calculations and reports to define reliability problems and make recommendations for improvements. Conducts analysis of reliability problems and investigates to determine the required reliability approach for a particular situation, with consideration given to cost limitations for equipment uptime/downtime, repair/replacement costs and weight, size and availability of materials/equipment. Determines cost advantages of alternatives and develops action plans that comply with internal/external customer demands for reliable processes/equipment to avoid failures.

Typical Education: B.S. degree in engineering, statistics, mathematics, or equivalent

Typical Experience: Entry level with zero to two years’ experience

Position Responsibility:

Gathers and examines basic reliability data from field studies or database and correlates the data for analysis using well-defined engineering techniques, principles and procedures.

Performs detailed/routine engineering calculations involving relatively simple tests on less complicated system details where ingenuity and high-level judgment are not required.

Initiates elemental engineering studies into equipment/process failures and presents analysis details to more experienced engineers for approval/feedback to gain in-depth experience and improve judgment for advancing to higher level jobs.

Assists others in root cause failure analysis to avoid future failures.

Works under supervision of other engineers and receives guidance in the use of standard company procedures for use in reliability analysis specific to the product/process.

Follows company safety and health guidelines and other company policies.

Performs other work as assigned.

Maintenance Engineer Job Description

Entry Level

Summary:

Originates and develops analysis information to rapidly repair equipment by studying operating and repair manuals. Acquires failure data and prepares maintenance plans for restoring equipment to operating condition in a minimum amount of time. Prepares general diagrams, charts, drawings and spare parts requirements for maintenance planners. Makes recommendations for improving the repair cycle. Provides manning level forecasts for supervisors and estimates duration of outages. Determines cost advantages of alternatives and develops action plans that comply with internal/external customer demands for timely repairs of processes/equipment.

Typical Education: B.S. degree in engineering, industrial arts, equivalent trade school associate degree, or former maintenance craft background supplemented by night school training

Typical Experience: Entry level with zero to two years’ experience

Position Responsibility:

Gathers and examines basic maintainability problem data from field studies or database and merges data into well-defined repair techniques, principles and procedures.

Performs occasional detailed/routine engineering calculations involving relatively simple criteria on less complicated system details where ingenuity and high-level judgment are not required.

Initiates elemental engineering studies into equipment/process repair time and presents analysis details to more experienced engineers for approval/feedback to gain in-depth experience and improve judgment for advancing to higher level jobs.

Works under supervision of other engineers and receives guidance in the use of standard company procedures for use in maintenance analysis specific to the product/process.

Follows company safety and health guidelines and other company policies.

Performs other work as assigned.

Reliability Engineer Job Description

Intermediate Level

Summary:

Originates and develops analysis methods to determine reliability of components, equipment and processes. Acquires and analyzes data. Prepares diagrams, charts, drawings, calculations and reports to define reliability problems and make recommendations for improvements. Conducts an analysis of reliability problems and investigates to determine the required reliability approach for the particular situation, with consideration given to the cost limitations for equipment uptime/downtime, repair/replacement costs and weight, size and availability of materials/equipment. Determines cost advantages of alternatives and develops action plans that comply with internal/external customer demands for reliability processes/equipment to avoid failures.

Typical Education: B.S. degree in engineering, statistics, mathematics, or equivalent

Typical Experience: Entry level with three to 10 years’ experience

Position Responsibility:

Works under general direction of project engineers or section head, or under general administrative instruction in performing detailed reliability studies and calculations of component/system reliabilities.

Considers impact of costs on recommended action plans for avoiding/correcting problems during the design phase or remedial action for correcting reliability problems on installed equipment; performs root cause failure analysis to help prevent failures.

Plans and performs engineering research, design development, or manufacturing/process engineering assignments, including responsibility for major subsections of complex projects using general engineering practices influenced by the general theme of reliability principles.

Estimates engineering personnel needs and coordinates and supervises the use of other engineers and technicians to accomplish the objective of cost-effective reliability improvements for projects.

Recognizes that assignments are broad in nature and require appreciable originality and ingenuity to complete them and considerable latitude for unreviewed actions or decisions.

Follows company safety and health guidelines and other company policies.

Performs other work as assigned.

Maintenance Engineer Job Description

Intermediate Level

Summary:

Originates and develops analysis methods to determine maintenance demands for components, equipment and processes. Acquires and analyzes maintenance data. Prepares diagrams, charts, drawings, calculations and reports for avoiding maintenance delays and makes recommendations for improvements. Conducts analysis of maintainability problems and investigates to determine the outage required for the particular situation, with consideration given to cost limitations for equipment uptime/downtime, repair/replacement costs and weight, size and availability of materials/equipment. Determines cost advantages of alternatives and develops action plans that comply with demands for timely repair of processes/equipment.

Typical Education: B.S. degree in engineering, industrial arts, equivalent trade school associate degree, or former maintenance craft background supplemented by night school training

Typical Experience: Entry level with three to 10 years’ experience

Position Responsibility:

Works under general direction of project engineers or section head, or under general administrative instruction in performing detailed maintainability studies and calculations of component/system downtime. Helps establish good maintenance practices.

Considers impact of costs on recommended action plans for avoiding/correcting problems during the design phase or remedial action for correcting downtime problems on installed equipment.

Plans and performs engineering research, design development, or manufacturing/process engineering assignments, including responsibility for major subsections of complex projects using general engineering practices influenced by the general theme of reducing downtime.

Estimates engineering personnel needs and coordinates and supervises the use of other engineers and technicians to accomplish the objective of cost-effective outage improvements for projects.

Recognizes that assignments are broad in nature and require appreciable originality and ingenuity to complete them and considerable latitude for unreviewed actions or decisions.

Follows company safety and health guidelines and other company policies.

Performs other work as assigned.

Reliability Engineer Job Description

Advanced Level

Summary:

Originates and develops analysis methods to determine reliability of components, equipment and processes. Acquires and analyzes data. Prepares diagrams, charts, drawings, calculations and reports to define reliability problems and make recommendations for improvements. Conducts an analysis of reliability problems and investigates to determine the required reliability approach for the particular situation, with consideration given to cost limitations for equipment uptime/downtime, repair/replacement costs and weight, size and availability of materials/equipment. Determines cost advantages of alternatives and develops action plans that comply with internal/external customer demands for reliable processes/equipment to avoid failures.

Typical Education: M.S./PhD degree in engineering, statistics, mathematics, or equivalent

Typical Experience: More than 10 years’ experience

Position Responsibility:

Works under broad administrative instructions; provides in-house consulting activities to advise and counsel personnel on a variety of complicated processes/procedures, supported by detailed calculations and guided by cost-effective decisions and recommendations.

Plans, conducts and directs engineering research and development projects of major significance that are very complex in nature and require expert application of advanced engineering knowledge from several different fields; resolves difficult root cause failure analysis to prevent future failures.

Designs and develops new and unique engineering methods and procedures, special equipment, innovative test procedures and special analysis of failure techniques, and communicates these advanced concepts in detailed technical reports that are used in the supervision and education of lower level reliability engineers.

Represents the company at outside discussions and technical forums while working with a wide latitude for unreviewed actions and decisions expected from a seasoned engineer.

Follows company safety and health guidelines and other company policies.

Performs other work as assigned.

Maintenance Engineer Job Description

Advanced Level

Summary:

Originates and develops analysis methods to determine maintenance demands for components, equipment and processes. Acquires and analyzes downtime data. Prepares diagrams, charts, drawings, calculations and reports to define downtime problems and make recommendations for reducing outages. Conducts an analysis of downtime problems and investigates to determine the personnel/equipment required for the particular situation, with consideration given to cost limitations for equipment uptime/downtime, repair/replacement costs and weight, size and availability of materials/equipment. Determines cost advantages of alternatives and develops action plans that comply with customer demands for outages of processes/equipment.

Typical Education: B.S./M.S. degree in engineering, industrial arts, or equivalent

Typical Experience: More than 10 years’ experience

Position Responsibility:

Works under broad administrative instructions; provides in-house consulting activities to advise and counsel personnel on a variety of complicated processes/procedures, supported by detailed calculations and guided by cost-effective decisions and recommendations. Establishes good maintenance practices and trains others to promulgate the concepts across the organization.

Plans, conducts and directs engineering development projects of major significance that are very complex in nature and require expert application of advanced engineering knowledge from several different fields.

Designs and develops new and unique repair methods and procedures, special equipment, innovative test procedures and special analysis of failure techniques, and communicates these advanced concepts in detailed technical reports that are used in the supervision and education of lower level reliability engineers.

Represents the company at outside discussions and technical forums while working with a wide latitude for unreviewed actions and decisions expected from a seasoned engineer.

Follows company safety and health guidelines and other company policies.

Performs other work as assigned.

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Paul Barringer

Paul Barringer, is a reliability, manufacturing, and engineering consultant. His worldwide consulting practice involves, reliability consulting, and training with a variety of discrete and continuous process manufacturing companies and service industries.

He has more than fifty years of engineering and manufacturing experience in design, production, quality, maintenance, and reliability of technical products. His experience includes both technical and bottom-line aspects of operating a business with an understanding of how reliable products and processes contribute to financial business success.

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