A reliability engineer is a professional who is responsible for ensuring that equipment and systems operate reliably. They do this by reducing the incidence and severity of unplanned downtime and failures in systems, equipment, and other assets. A reliability engineer works to identify and fix problems before they cause failures, and develop strategies to improve system uptime. If you’re looking for someone to help you keep your business running smoothly or lower maintenance costs, a reliability engineer may be the answer. By designing systems that are more reliable, these engineers help to ensure the smooth operation of businesses and reduce the costs associated with unscheduled outages.
What Does a Reliability Engineer Do?
A reliability engineer can assist with several areas of maintenance, lubrication, and organizational systems. They generally focus on three main things:
- Loss Elimination
- Risk Management
- Life Cycle Asset Management (LCAM)
When an asset has unusually high maintenance expenses or a business experiences an unexpected drop in production, loss elimination comes into play. A reliability engineer tracks these costs or losses, determines the root cause, and creates a plan to eliminate them.
A reliability engineer is a key player in ensuring that an organization’s strategic objectives are met. They help make sure organizations’ environmental health and safety, asset capability, lubrication management, quality, and production meet their goals. This begins with identifying potential hazards or risks, and solving them before they become an issue. Furthermore, there are several risk management tools a reliability engineer will use, including failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), preliminary hazards analysis (PHA), fault tree analysis (FTA), event tree analysis (ETA), maintainability information (MI), and criticality analysis (CA) to name a few.
Life Cycle Asset Management
From design and installation to decommissioning and replacement, a reliability engineer is essential. They are skilled at thinking ahead and planning to reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO) for every asset. When you plan mindfully from the early stages of asset procurement and installation, you can make a big impact on the life cycle cost.
Reliability Engineer vs. Maintenance Engineer
You may be wondering if a reliability engineer is different from a maintenance engineer. While they have many similarities and would work together, the two roles are different. Reliability engineers play a strategic role in your organization with the goal of preventing failures. Alternatively, maintenance engineers have a more hands-on role with the goal of maintaining and restoring after failures. Maintenance engineers are responsible for fixing any problems with the physical plant of your organization. They’re typically more involved in daily work, while reliability engineers stay at a high level and focus on preventing failures from happening before they have to be fixed by maintenance staff.
The Benefits of a Reliability Engineer
For organizations that produce products or provide services, ensuring the reliability of equipment can be vital to success. If a company has invested in new technologies for their production process and it comes with risks associated because they are unfamiliar with how things work, then there could potentially be serious consequences if something goes wrong. The goal of a reliability engineer is much more than just working toward flawless operation. They ensure that critical assets for production and safety perform at peak levels.
As your business grows, the importance of asset reliability grows along with it. This is because you’re typically working with more equipment or a faster rate of production, which increases the likelihood of equipment breakdown. For large facilities, an adverse effect on operations can result from asset breakdowns in any one area. Depending on the scope of your organization, you may want to seek out a reliability engineer who specializes in your area. For example, if you want to focus on improving your lubrication management, then someone who has additional training or certification in lubrication would be ideal.