What are five habits of great reliability engineers?

The five habits of great reliability engineers are:

  • Identifying priorities,
  • Finding root causes,
  • Exploring new solutions,
  • Using good data,
  • And shepherding implementation.

Identify Top Priority Issues

If you made a list of all your reliability-related issues, you’d probably have a very long and unwieldy document. Great reliability engineers must identify critical issues and tease out the top priorities. Start with looking at things like critical equipment with the highest repair records, unmet KPIs, and where your facility is spending the most amount of money. Delve deeper into unplanned failures, missed manufacturing deadlines, and unmet production targets and ask yourself what is causing those issues.

Find the Root Cause of Problems

Once you’ve identified your top priorities, you’ll have to find a way to get to the root cause of the problem. Root cause analysis using a series of five “why” questions is one way to tackle this challenge. Ask “why” a machine is failing. If the answer is due to excessive vibration, you look at why the machine is vibrating. That might lead to to discover that components are improperly lubricated. Continuing this process, you may discover that the root cause of the problem is faulty oil. Fixing this issue, then, will solve the priority issue of asset breakdown.

Think Outside the Box

This tip may sound cliché, but for reliability engineers working in a conservative and status-quo-focused environment, this can be a difficult challenge. Reliability problems span a variety of industries and companies, and those engineers who can look outside their own companies and markets will have a greater scope of solutions to choose from. Take the time to attend conferences or talk with other reliability engineers about their problems and solutions; you’ll be surprised at what you can learn.

Use Quality Data

If your facility has incomplete, outdated or poor data, it will be difficult to improve reliability. However, if a quality CMMS is available, be sure to mine that data as much as possible to get the information you need. Studying maintenance patterns and repair histories of critical assets can give you what you need to make smart maintenance decisions.

Invest in Training and Implementation

Finally, it’s important to share your findings with team members who can implement them. Explain through hands-on demonstrations, data, and examples why your facility needs to change. Without the buy-in of maintenance managers and technicians, you cannot implement reliability on an ongoing basis.

Tip: To learn more about what makes a reliability engineer great, click here.

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