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1.   Recommended Reading.
2.   Reliability Manager/Engineer Job Description.
3.   Self Audits.
4.   Innovation – The Large and Small of It.
5.   A Case Study of Combining RCM and TPM Principles.
6.   Developing Suppliers that Provide Reliability.
7.   OEE v. Injury Rate.
8.   Contracting Maintenance – A Case Study.
9.   Reliability, Benchmarks, and Best Practices.
10.   Reliability and Share Price – Mutually Dependent.
11.   The Case Against Preventive Maintenance.
12.   Reliability and World Class Parts Inventory Management.
13.   Reliability and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM).
14.   Integrating Maintenance into Manufacturing.
15.   Reliability and Process Safety Management (Mechanical Integrity).
16.   Optimising the PM Process.
17.   Reliability and Product Mix.
18.   Reliability and Computerised Maintenance Management Systems.
19.   Reliability and Design/Capital Projects.
20.   The Making of a Top Plant Takes More Than Machines.
21.   Valuation of Human Capital.
22.   Lead Your Organisation with a Higher Purpose (Leadership – What Is It?).
23.   Using Life Cycle Costs in Capital Projects – Developing the Initial Business Case.
24.   A Tale of Two Plants.
25.   Understanding and Capturing Your Hidden Plant.
26.   Aligning the Organisation.
27.   Developing an Asset Management Strategy.
28.   CEO Compensation – Is it Fair?
29.   Succession Management.
30.   The Dysfunctional Organisation.
31.   Maintenance Practices vs. Injury Rate.
32.   Competing with Offshore Manufacturing.
33.   Manufacturing and the Economy.
34.   The Perils of Cost Cutting.
35.   Payback is Hell.
36.   Are We Putting the Cart before the Horse?
37.   Reliability and Excess Capacity.
38.   Reliability and Performance Measurement.
39.   Reliability and Self-Directed Teams.



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1. Recommended Reading. A list of recommended books and other articles that we think are worth reading. [Read article]

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2. Reliability Manager/Engineer Job Description. A description of tasks that a reliability manager, engineer or specialist could be expected to perform including: loss accounting, root cause failure analysis, managing the results of condition monitoring functions, overhaul/shutdown support, proactive support and facilitator/communicator. [Read article]

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3. Self Audits. Benchmark your plant against these best practice standards. Audits include (1) Management Support, Plant Culture and Teamwork, (2) Reliability-Based Design Practices, (3) Reliability-Based Operating Practices, (4) Spare parts/Materials Management Practices and (5) PM Practices. [Read article]

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4. Innovation – The Large and Small of It. One of the clarion calls in all businesses today is to innovate, they must develop or access the latest advance in technology, products, or processes, in order to gain a competitive advantage.  And yet, many companies are managing what they have already with only mediocre results.  How can you achieve advances through innovation in a climate of mediocrity?  In manufacturing companies, working to create innovative products, without having your basic practices in order in your plant is problematic at best, and nearly impossible at worst.  You might, by some accident or happenstance, but innovation and the attitude and culture that goes with an innovative company must permeate the organisation from the CEO to the shop floor.  This article describes how the “little” innovation on the shop floor is essential for assuring the “big” innovation in new product, market, and process development.  Published in Plant Engineering. [Read article]

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5. A Case Study of Combining RCM and TPM Principles. This is a case study of how one company doubled production throughput on their packaging line, and managed to put a major product launch back on track.  RCM and TPM principles are applied, and once failure modes are reviewed, the line is cleaned and inspected with a view to restore it to like new condition.  In the act of cleaning and inspecting we found innumerable small problems that were resulting in the packaging machines inability to function.  These problems were quickly corrected, doubling production in just two days. Published in Maintenance Technology. [Read article]

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6. Developing Suppliers that Provide Reliability.  Companies frequently ask suppliers of critical equipment about the reliability and maintainability of their equipment.   The questions cover a number of topics and often include queries about Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF), recommended spares, PM requirements, the role of reliability and maintainability in the design of equipment, and so on.  The author’s experience has been that the answers, while pretty standard, are often little more than “sales-speak”, and questions are often not sufficiently specific to solicit an adequate response.  This paper provides several common examples of questions put forth by buyers, and typical answers from suppliers, that are often less than satisfying.  So, to help achieve a greater sense of partnership, several additional questions and suggestions are proposed for the buyer and supplier, ones that should ultimately assure better reliability and maintainability, and lower costs.   Published in Plant Engineering. [Read article]

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7. OEE v. Injury Rate. This article demonstrates how manufacturing excellence, as measured by overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), and injury rate, go hand in hand.  Three companies are reviewed, and as OEE increases, injury rate declines.  Correlation coefficients range from 0.6 to 0.9, demonstrating that if safety is not an option, then manufacturing excellence should not be either.  Published in Plant Engineering. [Read article]

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8. Contracting Maintenance – A Case Study. This is a case study of one company=s efforts to reduce maintenance costs by consolidating contractors.  This was done in conjunction with a major layoff.  Productivity was perceived to be too low, and costs were perceived to be too high. Maintenance was not considered to be a core competency.  The results were less than sterling.  When the contractor arrived costs more than doubled in the first quarter, but have since declined. After considerable struggle, total maintenance costs and plant uptime are now back to where they were two years ago.  This case study reviews the lessons learned, and suggests a best practice approach for contractors.  Published in Maintenance Technology. [Read article]

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9. Reliability, Benchmarks, and Best Practices.  Reliability and its relationship to benchmarks and best practices are reviewed.  Benchmarks alone are not sufficient to achieve world class performance.  Best practices must be implemented to achieve benchmark performance.  Bottlenecks, and capacity, can shift dramatically depending upon equipment reliability within a production process, and those effects are cumulative in reducing capacity.  Minor shortfalls in reliability practices can have a major impact on performance. Published in RELABILITY magazine. [Read article]

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10. Reliability and Share Price – Mutually Dependent. Demonstrates how most companies have a "plant within their plant", which is available by improving maintenance (reliability) practices to reduce downtime (both planned and unplanned), and improve capacity, while concurrently reducing costs.  These improvements can directly yield increased market share, revenues, profits, and share price.  Published in the SMRP newsletter. [Read article]

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11. The Case Against Preventive Maintenance. This is a case study of how one company combined TPM and RCM principles and methods to create an improved process for reliability improvement.  The process begins with RCM at a strategic level, and then proceeds to the equipment level, at which point the principles of the two methodologies are combined.  The process has been well received, and has facilitated a much greater sense of teamwork and common purpose at the plant.  Published in Maintenance Technology. [Read article]

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12. Reliability and World Class Parts Inventory Management.  Reliability and inventory management go hand-in-hand.  This article describes a process for systematically analyzing and reducing parts inventory, while increasing reliability and capacity.  Published in Plant Engineering. [Read article]

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13. Reliability and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). This article reviews how a reliability based strategy (which works very well stand alone) is very supportive of, and integrates well with, Total Productive Maintenance.  Each "pillar" of the TPM strategy is reviewed and their relationship to reliability methods.  Indeed, to become fully effective, TPM must integrate reliability methodologies.  Published in Plant Engineering magazine. [Read article]

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14. Integrating Maintenance into Manufacturing. Teams need common objectives, strategies, rules, practices, and a coach who can guide the team, foster a teamwork culture, and ultimately assure the team's success.  The reliability based maintenance and manufacturing strategy, which is fact-based, goal-oriented, and requires extensive co-operation between maintenance, engineering, production, purchasing, and human resources, represents a strategy for integrating the maintenance team into the manufacturing process.  The strategy itself consists of minimizing reactive maintenance through the comprehensive integration of preventive (interval based), predictive (condition based), and proactive (root cause based) maintenance technologies and methodologies.  With this strategy the goal is to maximize production capacity, minimize production costs, allowing the company to be the low cost producer of its products.  Published in AIPE magazine. [Read article]

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15. Reliability and Process Safety Management (Mechanical Integrity). OSHA 1910.119, Section (j) requires a mechanical integrity program to preclude the release of hazardous materials from any given site.  The application of a reliability strategy ensures not only reliable equipment, maximum capacity, and minimum cost, but also as a natural consequence, meeting OSHA's mechanical integrity requirements.  Published in AIPE's FACILITIES magazine. [Read article]

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16. Optimising the PM Process.  Most PM schedules are set on a "best judgment" basis, follow manufacturers specifications, or on occasion are based upon sound statistical analysis.  This article describes a process for using RCM principles to optimise PM activities.  Essential to this is segregating various PM's into manageable categories, analyzing their statistical basis and various failure modes, determining ways of mitigating the need for PM, e.g., condition monitoring, better statistical analysis and trending, etc., and ultimately streamlining the entire PM process for better resource utilization, reduced costs, improved equipment reliability, and improved asset utilization.  Published in Maintenance Technology magazine. [Read article]

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17. Reliability and Product Mix. Product mix can have an extraordinary effect on equipment reliability, production capacity and overall asset utilization.  In many plants, a small percentage of products will make up a very large percentage of sales, e.g., 10% of products make up 90% of sales.  Yet delivery times are held constant for all orders, resulting in frequent changeovers, equipment cycling, and extraordinary levels of downtime, making it very difficult for the manufacturer to be the low cost producer of its products.  This article describes a process for analyzing the effect of product mix, including opportunity cost, and putting in place a strategic plan for improvement. Published in AIPE's FACILITIES magazine. [Read article]

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18. Reliability and Computerised Maintenance Management Systems. This article provides a case history of how one company managed to effectively implement a CMMS, overcoming an array of obstacles, getting management and staff buy-in, and ultimately reducing operating costs by several millions of dollars.  Published in RELIABILITY Magazine. [Read article]

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19. Reliability and Design/Capital Projects. Much of the reliability in a manufacturing plant is established at the design phase of the plant.  However, more often than not the operating and maintenance experience of existing manufacturing facilities are not sufficiently considered when implementing new projects.  This paper details a process for assuring incorporation of operations and maintenance experience into the process to assure maximum manufacturing uptime. Published in RELIABILITY Magazine.
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20. The Making of a Top Plant Takes More Than Machines. Alan Greenspan is reported to have said that original wealth comes from mining, agriculture, and manufacturing.  Consistent with this, economists also report that for every job in manufacturing, there are 3-5 jobs elsewhere, in manufacturing support services, in restaurants, hotels, car dealers, department stores, repair shops, and so on.  So, we must have a strong manufacturing base to create original wealth, and build a strong economic base from which to assure a strong national economy.   This article demonstrates that to compete with foreign (low labour rate) countries, we must be more productive.  But, if our wages are 10x those of foreign plants, we may only need to be twice as productive, due to other costs that are as high or higher for foreign competition.  This 2X productivity should be achievable, and is essential.  Published in Plant Engineering. [Read article]

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21. Valuation of Human Capital. Most companies, while acknowledging the contributions of its employees – 'our people are our most important asset', often do not hesitate to dispose of those assets in a downturn.  Nor do they think of the acquisition (or disposal) of human assets in the same way or with the same thoughtful planning or strategic value as they consider their fixed capital assets.  A parallel is developed between the acquisition and valuation of human assets and capital assets, especially as the similarities relate to disposal of human assets.  It is also recommended that companies use similar valuation and decision making processes and a model for those valuations is provided. Published in Plant Engineering. [Read article]

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22. Lead Your Organisation with a Higher Purpose (Leadership – What Is It?). This article reviews several leadership models and offers comment on each, and a summary of their common characteristics.  Models covered include those by Warren Bennis, Larry Donnithorne, Peter Koestenbaum, Jim Collins, Peter Wickens, and of course, the author.   Published in Plant Engineering. [Read article]

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23. Using Life Cycle Costs in Capital Projects – Developing the Initial Business Case. Lower life cycle costs often require more capital to be spent up front. How much more is justified? This article offers a model for determining the initial business case for applying life cycle costing principles in developing new capital projects. Published in Reliable Plant Magazine. [Read article]

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24. A Tale of Two Plants. This article reviews two nearly identical plants, e.g., very similar technology, age, number of people, products, etc., but which achieved very different results. One achieved superior performance, while the other very poor performance. What made the difference? The better plant had excellent leadership and a focus on improving processes and doing defect elimination; the poorer plant had poorer leadership and a focus on cost cutting more so than improving processes. Costs are a consequence of your processes and this tale illustrates that concept exceptionally well. Published in Plant Engineering Magazine. [Read article]

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25. Understanding and Capturing Your Hidden Plant. This article uses a case study to illustrate the value of your hidden plant. ABC company is currently growing rapidly in a growing market. It is considering how to expand its production capacity to meet this growing demand. Options previously considered included buying or merging with a competitor or expanding through major capital investment. This article demonstrates the value of the hidden capacity in current assets, in the competition’s assets, so that expansion capital is minimized. Published in Uptime Magazine in September, 2008. [Read article]

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26. Aligning the Organisation. M Edgar Schein makes a key point that groups within organisations inherently compete with one another, for rewards, executive attention, capital, and so on.  Given this, it is critical that we align the organisation to a higher purpose, so that when conflicts arise, any group can revert to that higher level issue.  This paper describes the reason aligning the organisation is so important, and how it can be accomplished. [Read article]

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27. Developing an Asset Management Strategy. A lot of articles have been published on asset management, and at the risk of being critical, they're typically maintenance management strategy documents "prettied up" by using the words asset management. While this is a good step forward, simply doing maintenance management will only slightly improve overall asset management, and falls far short of true asset management. Asset management requires among other things that we know what's required of the assets in the future by the business; and a strong operations leadership role in the operation and maintenance of the assets. This article discusses asset management from a broad business perspective. [Read article]

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28. CEO Compensation – Is it Fair? There is no such thing as a perfect compensation system. But, we can establish fundamental principles and guidelines that will support greater equity in compensation, and provide for greater probability of a company’s success. The concept that compensation must be internally equitable and externally competitive is offered as a guiding principle. Special emphasis is placed on applying this concept to CEO compensation, which does not often fit this model. [Read article]

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29. Succession Management. Succession planning typically has more to do with the revolving door used in most plants and businesses for the senior management. How many of us have seen a plant do well under one manager only to see it decline under another, or vice versa; and how many plants get a new plant manager every 1-2 years? How can we have stability in our operation when management is highly unstable? This article discusses the issue and how to achieve stability in the organisation through better succession planning. [Read article]

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30. The Dysfunctional Organisation. his article reviews data which suggests that most organisations are very poorly aligned, and hence dysfunctional. For example, it will be impossible to achieve world class performance if only 20% of employees see a clear connection between their role and the organisation’s goals. [Read article]

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31. Maintenance Practices vs. Injury Rate. This article clearly demonstrates that improved maintenance practices will reduce injury rate. If you truly believe that safety is your top priority, then improving maintenance practices should also be your top priority – they’re mutually dependent. [Read article]

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32. Competing with Offshore Manufacturing. This article demonstrates how you can compete with cheaper manufacturing labor typically offered by various foreign countries, typically Asian manufacturers. It takes effort and improved productivity, but it is reasonably achievable in most industries. [Read article]

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33. Manufacturing and the Economy. Many people think of manufacturing as less than glamorous, and some often refer to manufacturing as a “dead-end”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Manufacturing creates original wealth, which results in consequential wealth, and is at the heart of the wealth on a nation. We ignore and/or give short shrift to manufacturing at our own peril. [Read article]

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34. The Perils of Cost Cutting. Cost cutting has almost become a demagogic. It has the sweet allure of success, but it carries with it many perils. Cost cutting works, sometimes, but the data strongly suggest that more often than not, it does not work. We’ll explore the data on cost cutting, and we’ll look at a model that outlines when cost cutting is more likely to work. We’ll also looks at a model for determining what your people are worth, as opposed to what they’re costing. Hopefully, this will help you understand better the perils of cost cutting, and when you should and should not use it. [Read article]

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35. Payback is Hell. Many capital projects at manufacturing plants, especially the relatively small ones, often use a simple “payback analysis” to justify the project. While perhaps reasonable for a first cut review, this approach may not be the best method for any given project, as the following example demonstrates. A more rigorous life cycle cost analysis may be the best choice for the business. [Read article]

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36. Are We Putting the Cart before the Horse? We’ve all heard numerous times the old phrase that we should not “put the cart before the horse”. Obviously, the admonition in this old saying is to do things in their proper order, since doing things out of order is ‘hard on the horse’, and little progress is made. Unfortunately, many manufacturers seem to be putting the cart before the horse, that is, selecting and applying an improvement tool, before getting certain foundational elements in place that will assure each tool’s effectiveness and sustainability. [Read article]

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37. Reliability and Excess Capacity. Excess capacity should never be used as an excuse for poor reliability and maintenance practices. Many times manufacturing plants will have "excess capacity", that is, capacity in excess of their market demand. More often than not this excess capacity is used as a basis for poor reliability practices, and results in excessive costs. [Read article]

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38. Reliability and Performance Measurement. Joseph Juran said “If you don't measure it, you don't manage it.” If you measure it, it will improve. Therefore, it is critical the measures selected be the correct ones, and that they be effectively communicated. This article describes a case history of a company which achieved exceptional results by implementing a process for measuring and continuously improving their manufacturing methods. It provides guidance for an active, participative management style for most organisations in assuring continuous improvement. [Read article]

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39. Reliability and Self-Directed Teams. Teams need common goals, strategies, rules, practices, and a leader or coach who can guide the team, foster a teamwork culture, and ultimately assure the team's success. The reliability based strategy for maintenance and manufacturing is fact-based, goal-oriented, and requires extensive co-operation between maintenance, engineering, production, purchasing, and human resources. It represents a strategy for creating self directed work teams, and integrating the maintenance function into the manufacturing process. [Read article]


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