7 Steps for a Successful Equipment Reliability Program

Most facilities recognize the importance of equipment reliability for increasing productivity and cutting costs. Unfortunately, very few succeed in implementing a sustainable equipment reliability program. The common challenges when implementing internal reliability programs are the complicated processes and difficulty sustaining the program.

In this article, we outline the seven key steps for the successful implementation of an equipment reliability program. We also discuss some recommendations that you need to consider for better and more sustainable results.

Equipment Reliability Program Definition & Importance

First, what is equipment reliability, and why do you need an equipment reliability program? 

Equipment reliability is the ability of an asset or machine to perform as prescribed without failure for a specific period and environmental conditions. Furthermore, equipment reliability can also mean the performance of the asset or machine or how long it operates as intended without breaking down or malfunctioning. 

An equipment reliability program is a plan of action that aims to achieve optimum equipment reliability. An equipment reliability program must identify the possible sources of failure and eliminate or at least minimize them and their effects.

A successful reliability program provides the following results:

  • Increased durability of assets
  • Good teamwork
  • Enhanced output
  • Improved product quality
  • Better customer service
  • Updated database of historical asset information
  • Greater safety and environmental compliance

7 Essential Steps of a Successful Equipment Reliability Program 

Step 1: Conduct a Criticality Assessment of the Equipment

Performing a criticality assessment lays the foundation of a successful equipment reliability program. A criticality assessment is a method that ranks all the equipment in a facility according to priority and risk of failure. Consider the following criteria when assessing the criticality of equipment:

  • Equipment quality and condition
  • History and frequency of failure
  • Effect on operations
  • Waste generated 
  • Safety and environmental effects
  • Downtime and repair time

When performing a criticality assessment, the facility assigns a group of representatives from different departments. This group should be led by a facilitator or leader and made up of individuals who know the role of each asset to the business.

During criticality assessment, the assessment group identifies every machine’s user (who uses it for operations) and keeper (who looks after it during maintenance). The assessment group should also include representatives from areas like finance, quality control, sanitation, human resources, and others having direct or indirect involvement in the reliability of the equipment. 

The criticality assessment should be able to answer the two questions below to define the functions of each asset or equipment:

Question #1: What do users expect from this asset?

  • Describe the primary function or the purpose of the equipment.
  • Identify other functions, safety conditions, usage recommendations, etc.

Question #2: How does this asset meet expectations?

  • Identify current issues and complaints from the users and keepers.
  • Collect recommendations from users and keepers.

Step 2: Develop a Maintenance Strategy

From the results of the criticality assessment, the group can now evaluate the many ways each asset fails. Using this information, they can develop a maintenance strategy to address the assets based on varying levels of criticality. The following are the ways to evaluate the failure modes of assets or equipment:

Optimize Preventive Maintenance (PM)

The group reviews the current maintenance task plans for each asset and identifies areas of improvement. Take note of the past failures and the issues raised by the operators and technicians who handle these assets.

Conduct Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) or Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

The group can further analyze how each asset fails using RCM or FMEA methods. These methods provide a risk priority number (RPN) which lets the group, or equipment reliability team, plan and identify actions to manage these failures. The RPN of an asset is based on failure detectability, severity, and occurrence.

Developing a maintenance strategy should also involve analyzing the advantages of each maintenance process or method against implementation costs. This analysis ensures that the strategy is beneficial as well as sustainable for the business’s resources.

Step 3: Establish the Team to Perform Reliability Studies

You may choose to keep the team members who executed Steps 1 to 2, but this stage is where you streamline your team. The purpose of step 3 is to identify a multidisciplinary team that can perform a comprehensive reliability study on a system or its assets. Make sure that the members of this team can address these seven basic questions:

  1. What are the functional requirements and performance standards of the asset or equipment based on its current operational conditions?
  2. What are the ways that this asset fails to perform its functions?
  3. What are the causes of each failure to function?
  4. What happens during the failure of this asset?
  5. What are the effects of each failure on the operations and goals of the facility?
  6. What are the ways to predict and prevent each failure?
  7. What are other solutions if predicting and preventing failure is not possible?

One department cannot answer all the questions above. Thus, the success of your reliability program depends on inter-departmental cooperation within your facility. 

Step 4: Implement an Operator Asset Care Program

An operator asset care program is also known as autonomous maintenance. This program assigns ownership to the users or operators of an asset or equipment. When implemented with a focus on equipment reliability goals, this program can be an effective tool for preventing failures and identifying possibilities for improvement. 

The main objectives of the operator asset care program are to: 

  • Create a workplace culture of pride and ownership
  • Establish a culture of continuous improvement
  • Maximize the overall operational performance of assets
  • Proactively detect, correct, and prevent deterioration and avoid failure

Step 5: Implement the Recommendations of Reliability Studies

This step is where facilities often fail to execute a follow-through of their reliability studies. Results will not happen if recommendations are not executed. Usually, the reliability team gets discouraged when tasks are too complex and challenging to manage and implement.

We recommend teams start execution with the simplest and most achievable steps. Breaking down complicated tasks and allowing enough time to complete each can also be helpful. Keep in mind that equipment reliability is a continuous process, and rushing into these steps will only lead to errors and chaos within your team and your program. 

We also recommend proper organization and constant updating of your progress. Keeping organized files and issuing updated reports help your team keep track of the implementation, thus motivating them to move forward with the execution of other, more difficult recommendations.

Step 6: Measure Equipment Performance 

In this step, you implement a system or process to record and analyze equipment performance. This system should tell you if your improvement steps and execution of reliability recommendations are effective. Most reliability programs fail due to the lack of effective and accurate systems that can measure equipment performance.

A Computerized Maintenance Management System, or CMMS, is a tool that can help maintain records and analyze data of asset performance such as:

  • Reliability studies  – FMEA, Root Cause Analysis, etc.
  • Downtime
  • Criticality Ranking or Score
  • Maintenance work performed on the equipment

Step 7: Monitor Success through Reports and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

Establishing KPIs and reports helps monitor success and identify other areas of improvement for your equipment reliability program. As mentioned, reliability programs are continuous and should adapt to the changes in your facility or company’s objectives.

Here are some KPIs that will help measure success and identify areas of improvement:

Create a Successful Equipment Reliability Program with Redlist

A successful equipment reliability program identifies potential failures and seeks to remove or lessen the effects of these failures. Thus, the availability and performance of your facility’s assets depend on the success of your equipment reliability program. And the success of this program depends on the effective and efficient execution of the steps outlined above.When it comes to the ever-complex equipment reliability program, your team needs all the help it can get. Redlist’s CMMS and Lubrication Management Software can be valuable tools for the success of your reliability program. Our authentic and reliable solutions help you plan, monitor, measure, analyze, report, and store all the necessary data for your program. With its customizable, user-friendly, and portable features, Redlist is a must-have for all your reliability needs.

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