Effective Reliability Improvement

April 21, 2017

It is quite common in mining and resource industries to include a reliability engineering function as part of the maintenance team. Bluefield has, over the past several years, assisted clients to get the most from this function. Our approach to enabling the reliability teams to be effective and obtain sustainable improvements is based on practical experience.

One example of this experience was a failure on a CAT D11R track dozer where the track broke due to a failed pin. The reliability team performed a standard RCA and followed the standard reliability improvement process that they are trained to follow. At the back end of the process, which took a couple of weeks and many man hours to complete, the improvement actions were presented. In total there were 15 improvement actions including but not limited to redesign of the track pin.

The Bluefield approach to these types of problems is to first identify the failure mode, in this case, the failure mode was already known. After the failure mode is known Bluefield will then identify whether the current strategy includes a task or tactic to manage this failure mode. In the case study, the site had a hot pin checking task to manage the failure mode. The reliability engineer, when asked about the current strategy, was not sure what it was and had to investigate further. This investigation subsequent to the RCA only took a few hours. It was identified that the hot pins checks had stopped being performed several months prior as the supplier of the service had realised the reports were not being actioned on site and saw it as a waste of time.

The learning for the site reliability team was that the first step after identifying the failure mode is to interrogate the current strategy and tactics. After some time, with coaching from Bluefield specialists, the site team was able to quickly and effectively implement actions to prevent failures and the reliability function was able to deliver the business benefits that are intended. (Of course, the site based engineer has moved on to another role since that time so the learning may occur again in the future)

Bluefield can not only assist businesses to increase the internal resource effectiveness, but also to provide an ongoing reliability management service that achieves the business cost and reliability improvements in a practical manner.