FREE copy of the Uptime Elements Implementation Guide once you subscribe to Reliability Weekly

The search for failure modes is very similar to the search for failure mechanisms except it is more specific. As we have discussed in other chapters of this book, a properly executed design should include design elements that prevent the susceptibility of components and subcomponents to failure mechanisms that are present in the environment where the asset is being used. When a failure mode occurs, its presence should be viewed as an exception or a mistake. If the asset has been created by professional designers, failure modes should be truly few and far between.

Despite the best efforts of designers and builders of assets, complex systems typically contain a number of instances where components or subcomponents are susceptible to failure mechanisms present in the working environment and that susceptibility results in one or more chronic failure modes.

While the presence of a failure mode or several failure modes in an asset may appear to be a failure on the part of the designer, that is only one possible cause. Frequently, assets are used in a different way than they were intended. They may be used in an operating environment that contains different failure mechanisms. The asset may be used at higher rates or at greater loading than designed. Assets may simply be operated or maintained in a more strenuous manner than intended. In any case, the realities of real-life application of the asset will determine the failure modes that exist. It is up to the owner and operator of an asset to identify all those failure modes and take steps that will apply some form of intervention before the failure modes can cause an asset failure.

Preventing failures require that the owner of assets identify all the failure modes that are present and take some form of action to prevent the failure modes from causing an asset failure. Prevention can take the form of a permanent fix that eliminates the deterioration being caused by the failure mechanisms. Prevention also can take the form of some combination of predictive maintenance and preventive maintenance that will identify when action must be taken and what action must be taken to avoid failures.

The news media seems to be full of stories about instances where failure modes have been allowed to proceed, causing failures that result in injuries, fatalities, or environmental insult. After some investigation, it is often concluded that failures were the result of “accidents” or “nature,” rather than the failure of the owner to identify the presence of failure mechanisms and the resulting failure modes. This conclusion is improper in that identifying failure mechanisms and failure modes is one of the responsibilities of owners who operate assets that expose individuals or the environment to risks.

Tip from Critical Connections: Linking Failure Modes and Failure Mechanisms to Predictive and Preventive Maintenance by Daniel T. Daley

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!
Internet of Things Vendors Disrupting the Asset Condition Management Domain at IMC-2022

Internet of Things Vendors Disrupting the Asset Condition Management Domain at IMC-2022 The 36th International Maintenance Conference collocated with the RELIABILITY 4.0 Digital Transformation Conference [East]

Asset Management Technology

The aim of the Asset Management technology domain is to assure that IT/OT systems are focused on creating the value from the assets and that the business can deliver to achieve organizational objectives as informed by risk.


TRIRIGAWORLD AWARDS honors excellence in space optimization and facility management, A event to further advance asset management

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. The world’s best-run companies are connecting the workforce, management, assets and data to automate asset knowledge that can be leveraged for huge beneficial decisions.

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