The Golden Rules for Machinery Reliability
Mike Barkle and Ron Moore
You are probably familiar with life’s golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But have you ever wondered how any given machine, if it could express itself, would feel about this rule? What would it say? This article offers some speculative thoughts from the machine’s point of view, presented as the golden rules for machinery reliability.
Golden Rules for Machinery Reliability:
Golden Rule for Machinery Reliability Rule 1
With regard to design and fabrication, I am sized and designed for a specific purpose, mostly process parameters, so they need to be correct and for that purpose. I want to deliver my capability and be viewed favorably by both operations and maintenance. If I have a say and am pressed, I would reluctantly accept some purchasing compromises for the sake of price, but never lifecycle cost. With regard to design and fabrication, I am sized and designed for a specific purpose, mostly process parameters, so they need to be correct and for that purpose. I want to deliver my capability and be viewed favorably by both operations and maintenance. If I have a say and am pressed, I would reluctantly accept some purchasing compromises for the sake of price, but never lifecycle cost.
I need to be stored so I can maintain my like new condition. Some of my friends have been stored poorly, so when brought out for installation, they are really ready to go back to the hospital or even the boneyard. I hope you won’t do that to me. I really enjoy working hard for you, so please store me so I can be ready when called upon.
I will try really hard to withstand substandard installation practices, but please excuse me if I make more noise, generate excessive heat, consume more energy and cost more than you were expecting. After all, I can’t work well, run quietly and be energy efficient if defects were introduced during installation. By the way, many of my friends died shortly after a poor installation effort. It was so sad, not to mention expensive. I will miss them.
I really want to live a long life and make you happy during that life, but if I fall short of my expected lifecycle, please conduct a thoughtful review of why I died so early. I hope my autopsy would reveal any oversights with the original design, purchase, storage, installation, operation and maintenance. Most of my friends could benefit from that and live longer than me. They would likely appreciate that and you would, too.
During my life, if I need any work or repairs, I hope the maintenance technicians treat me kindly. I’m only as good or bad as their efforts dictate. Hopefully, they won’t shorten my life and create a situation that needs an autopsy.
In order for me to live a long time, precision installation and adjustment must take precedence over brute force. You should know I abhor hammers and appreciate things like micrometers and lasers. They help me to feel loved. You wouldn’t go to a doctor for a good beating, would you? Wouldn’t you want to be treated with care and respect? I’m the same way. For example, I just love to be in perfect balance, not to mention colinear or parallel shaft alignment. I also like to be securely mounted without any housing distortion. I’m really not a very good mover and shaker, except for the process stream, and dancing is totally out of the question.
All my fluids must be kept clean (oil is particularly dirty, even when it is brand new) and at the proper level, and neither too hot nor too cold. Like Goldilocks, my fluids must be kept just right. And, if I happen to be a pump, I much prefer operating at my best efficiency point or BEP. To do otherwise is a bit like you trying to run with a rope and weight tied around your belly or, alternatively, like running against a hurricane wind. You’d get tired and worn out pretty quickly. So do I.
While I really don’t like being the center of attention, especially if something is wrong with me that could have been avoided, I appreciate an occasional visit to check on my well-being and correcting the little things so they don’t turn into big things. Starvation, in the form of cavitation, is really a stressful thing if I was a pump. It just wears my heart out really quickly. I don’t want to die before my time.
Golden Rule for Machinery Reliability Rule 9
Finally, I’m not as dumb as you think; I respond well to kindness and care. If you follow all these golden rules, our relationship with be reciprocal. I’ll take care of you if you take care of me. I’ve been trying to tell you all this for a long time. We’re partners, even though you make the decisions and I can only respond. Take my advice: Apply Life’s Golden Rule!
Mike Barkle, CMRP, has been a Reliability Engineer with Infralogix since April 2016. He worked 36 years for AlliedSignal/Honeywell, where he contributed to the reliability program at the Chesterfield, VA, site that was recognized as CSI’s first “Program of the Year” award winner in 1990.
Ron Moore is the Managing Partner for The RM Group, Inc., in Knoxville, TN. He is the author of Making Common Sense Common Practice – Models for Operational Excellence, 4th edition; What Tool? When? A Management Guide for Selecting the Right Improvement Tools, 2nd edition; and Where Do We Start Our Improvement Program?, all from MRO-Zone.com, and of Our Transplant Journey: A Caregiver’s Story and Business Fables & Foibles, both from Amazon.com, as well as over 60 journal articles.