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Why Defect Elimination Is Effective

Although the business of asset management in today’s terminology has a complexity that serves to solve numerous challenges faced by facility managers, this complexity is borne out of simplicity. Thus, the key to effective asset management is a more simplistic approach that, in turn, eliminates the need for more complex solutions. Your business, after all, is to keep your machines healthier for a longer period of time. By doing so, you enable higher availability and lower costs for both operating and maintaining, as well as capital reinvestment.

Defect elimination (DE) is one of the more straightforward factors that can render immediate and significant savings. To effectively apply DE in an industrial setting, it’s important to fully understand the nature of the failures impacting your machines. The two methods for analyzing and mitigating machinery failures are: a proactive approach, such as reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) or failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), and a reactive approach, such as DE or root cause failure analysis. As RCM practitioners, your team fully understands the value of using RCM for analyzing critical and complex systems, but there is a similar understanding that RCM spends a great deal of time and resources anticipating failures that may never happen in the life of the machine.

Through extensive analysis of work history across numerous industries, a few basic truths bolster the use of a method that focuses on what has happened rather than what might happen. For example, in process industries, such as power generation, water treatment, chemical manufacturing and so forth, 80 percent of corrective maintenance labor hours are typically spent on less than five percent of the assets. In industries that are more facilities based, such as manufacturing lines, airports, universities and such, the percentage increases to approximately 15 percent based on industry research. Additionally, patterns show that the same equipment receives consistent levels of attention year after year, indicating the same problems repeat themselves over and over again unless the defect is identified and eliminated.

Thus, based on this knowledge, it’s safe to conclude that a very large percentage of problems and their associated costs are driven by a very small number of failure modes. By identifying these failures through proper use of failure codes, careful documentation of corrective work and simple Pareto analysis of work history, one can quickly dedicate resources to fully analyze, identify the causes and then minimize or completely eliminate their occurrence, or in the worst case, facilitate the proper direction to prepare for a subsequent occurrence.

Of course, identification of the issues faced is only part of the defect elimination process. The plant must develop mitigation actions that are cost-effective and quickly implemented, with impacts of the efforts tracked and reported. Thus, DE can be the most impactful and defensible approach to keeping your machines running at the lowest possible cost through a simple solution. After all, if you don’t make the effort to understand history, you’re almost sure to repeat it.

Insight by Jim Oldach

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Terrence O'Hanlon

Terrence O’Hanlon, CMRP, and CEO of® and Publisher for Uptime® Magazine, is an asset management leader, specializing in reliability and operational excellence. He is a popular keynote presenter and is the coauthor of the book, 10 Rights of Asset Management: Achieve Reliability, Asset Performance and Operational Excellence.

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