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Critical of Analysis

The reliability team conducted a meeting and met with representatives of the various departments of a facility, such as safety, quality, operations, engineering, maintenance, and even the plant manager. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce asset criticality. Among the agenda items were explaining its purpose, how it can be applied, reviewing/establishing definitions, setting up the guidelines for performing the analysis, and scheduling the analysis.

Upon reviewing the agenda, the maintenance supervisor spoke up and stated, “This is a waste of time. We know what’s important.”

The operations supervisor also chimed in with, “No one has time for this.”

The reliability lead replied with, “Well, what do you view as critical?”

“When something breaks down, it’s critical,” replied the operations supervisor.

The reliability lead then asked, “So, everything is critical, all of the equipment is critical?” Both the maintenance and operations supervisors nodded in agreement.

The reliability lead brought up the plant’s control screens and the CMMS and focused on a system with a heat exchanger and two feed pumps. The system only needs one pump for the system to function.

“What’s the most critical asset in this system?” asked the reliability lead.

The operations supervisor sneered, “Obviously, the heat exchanger.”

The reliability lead took a deep breath and stated, “That’s interesting. Last month, pump #2 went down, pump #1 was brought online with minimal disruption to the system. An emergency work order was issued to repair pump #2, pulling two mechanics off their rounds for most of the shift. After the repair, we didn’t switch back to pump #2. Three weeks ago, it was observed by operators that the heat exchanger was leaking and reported it in the CMMS for repair, but it wasn’t acted upon. Last week, the gasket failed and damaged one of the internal coils, putting the entire system off-line for nearly a day while we waited for the coil to be delivered. We were able to repair the pump because we kept the pump’s parts in stock, but we don’t stock coils for the heat exchanger due to their turnover. We don’t identify any spare as critical because everything is viewed as equally important. So, when the coil came up for stock review, nothing and no one was in place to stop us from removing it from stock. We treated a redundant pump as critical as the heat exchanger without taking the steps to ensure the heat exchanger was supported. When we treat everything as critical, nothing is critical.”

By this time, the plant manager spoke up, “Why didn’t we address the leak?”

“Because work orders are put on the schedule based on date and availability,” replied the maintenance supervisor.

After a moment of silence, the plant manager stated with a shocked and slightly annoyed expression, “We are all going to actively participate in putting this in place.” The meeting got underway.

Brendon Russ

As the Lead in the Americas for Reliability and Asset Management, Brendon’s responsibilities include oversight of Reliability Engineers and work with leadership to demonstrate the value of Reliability and Asset Management. Over nearly 20 years, Brendon has developed and overseen programs such as preventive maintenance, root cause analysis, condition-based maintenance, reliability focus design, capital projects, CMMS implementations, SAMP development, cross industry baseline/gap assessments, and OT/IT convergence projects. Brendon has received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, a Master of Business Administration, a CRL-BB, and various certifications in various condition-based maintenance and non-destructive technologies

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