Case Study: Shiploader FMEA

August 1, 2019

By Mark O’Neill 

Bluefield’s practical approach to maintenance adds value to the FMEA process by identifying realistic failure modes and focusing on appropriate PM tasks. 

Failure Mode and Effects Analyses (FMEA’s) are an important input to developing and continually improving asset strategies. They allow sites to select appropriate maintenance tasks and frequencies, which in turn allows an optimal life cycle cost model and management plan. They are also critical to developing equipment strategies that are practical and manageable within their business systems. 

Bluefield was recently engaged by a globally diversified mining client to assist in the development of an FMEA for a critical ship loader. The project formed an early phase of the pilot project to implement their new reliability software and incorporate it into their asset management processes. 

Bluefield assisted in the build of the FMEA with the aim of smooth output into load sheets for the reliability softwareWe dedicated time at the beginning of the project, and at milestones throughout, to review the format and content of the outputs with the client and software rollout teams to ensure we met their requirements. 

The FMEA project highlighted several important lessons for us: 

  1. The quality of the available OEM documentation is critical to developing an effective and comprehensive FMEA. Without complete engineering drawings, operating and maintenance manuals, it’s easy to miss or under/overestimate the severity of failure modes. 
  2. Ideally, an FMEA should be developed before the equipment becomes operational. Not only will this provide the ability to develop preventative maintenance strategies and hold appropriate spares from the start, but it also allows quality documentation to be obtained from the equipment suppliers before they lose their project. (We’ve previously written about this in our Lessons Learned article on operational readiness). 
  3. The FMEA requires review at appropriately scheduled intervals to ensure it remains relevant and to capture learnings about the asset once it begins to operate. 
  4. Criticality assessment of individual systems of a complex asset such as a ship loader should be completed first to enable a targeted approach to FMEA as they are time-intensive to complete comprehensively. This is important because any failure modes that are missed won’t have their impact assessed, nor appropriate preventive maintenance tasks developed. 

We also learned that bringing a practical approach to maintenance adds value to the FMEA process by identifying realistic failure modes and focusing on appropriate preventative maintenance tasks. We look forward to hearing the results as the pilot progress continues.