Culturally Shifting to Top Quartile Reliability Performance

Whether driving down the road in your car or operating your manufacturing facility, the safest times are when operating at steady-state conditions. It’s the times in transient states, such as startups, shutdowns, turning at intersections, etc. where the probability of incidents increases.

Emerson's Nathan Pettus

In an Uptime magazine article, The Cultural Shift That Can Save Lives, Emerson’s Nathan Pettus describes the importance of the journey to top quartile reliability and improving safety, profitability and overall operational performance.

lifesaving-culture-shiftNathan opens noting how we tend naturally to overestimate our abilities and we have high hopes for positive outcomes. This optimistic thinking extends into our work, and for reliability professionals it can lead to overestimating the reliability of the equipment.

He notes that:

…probably close to 75 percent or more of Fortune 1000 CEOs would rank their company in the top 25 percent of all companies when it comes to reliability and safety. But, of course, only 250 of them would be correct. Ultimately, safe and reliable operations come through design diligence and careful planning, and these only come through individuals’ behavior.

The practice of reliability has its own tribal language:

…overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), availability, P-F curves, mean time between failures (MTBF), mean time between repair (MTBR), etc., are all important, but they are engineering definitions.

It’s important to use language that is inclusive and understood by everyone who has a role in making the plant safe, reliable and efficient.

This is the concept behind the “Big R” known as reliability. It’s looking at reliable operations across the whole enterprise in a holistic way. Everyone and every department plays a role in making their workplace trusted and reliable. This should be a critical goal in every facility because you simply cannot have safe operations unless you have reliable operations.

To achieve the Big R, you first:

…have to start in small ways, say “little r” reliability. Implementing both Big R and little r reliability is critical to performing in the top 25 percent of your industry peers, or achieving top quartile reliability.

Achieving top quartile reliability performance means that:

…plants in the top quartile spend only 34 percent on their maintenance budgets compared to their peers. This is counterintuitive, but true nonetheless. Reliable plants do not need to fight reactive-based fires, which, as you know, cost a ton of time and money… Additionally, top quartile performers see about 16 percent more production each year than those in the bottom 25 percent… It is an undisputed fact that plants with the highest availability due to reliable equipment also have the best safety records. The two go hand in hand and correlate explicitly.

Nathan recommends a path forward in achieving top quartile reliability performance:

Most facilities will need to take smaller steps, such as working the oil analysis process into some documented order, or ensuring there is a reliability training system in place for human resources to educate employees. Each and every tactical progression sets an example and has potential for positive impacts beyond the initial intentions… Simply ensuring in the next budget cycle that there are line items to repair or improve older equipment, or selecting new vendors based on quality metrics versus just price are two small examples of how you can start this journey.

He shares 5 simple steps:

  1. Understand what you have (i.e., what equipment and processes exist in your facility or business);
  2. Know the current state (i.e., health) of that equipment or process;
  3. Recognize what that state tells you to do (i.e., what action should be taken?);
  4. Take that action;
  5. Repeat.

Read the article for more on changing the culture and getting everyone down the path to safer, more reliable and efficient operations. You can also connect and interact with other reliability and maintenance professionals in the Reliability & Maintenance group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

Posted Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 under Asset Optimization, Reliability.

One comment so far

  1. jonasberge says:

    Digital transformation of work practices is a cultural shift. Technology can help the plant maintenance to become more predictive and less reactive. By collecting acoustic, temperature, pressure, flow, and vibration data etc. once a minute to once an hour using wireless sensors instead of weekly or monthly by portable testers and manual reading, and by analyzing it automatically, the maintenance planning becomes more predictive. Learn how from this essay:

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