Once a production line is installed and commissioned and the optimum maintenance program instituted, the stage is set for attaining maximum reliability possible at anytime in the life cycle of that design configuration. It may take time to bring the plant up to maximum throughput and quality as final bugs are worked out, infant failures are dealt with and personnel learn the details of operations and maintenance. However early in the life cycle of machinery we intuitively believe that we can expect the best from it.
From then on in the life cycle, reliability can be affected by many factors. Maintenance practices, configuration management, aging and training will be discussed in conjunction with rules that follow in future tips.
The effect of management decisions can be subtle and not well appreciated until too late in many cases. The most common decision I've experienced is to increase throughput beyond nominal design in an effort to get the maximum return on the investment in the line. The increase in productivity that results in short term is more often than not, paid for as components begin to fail because they were not designed for higher levels of production.