Companies are always struggling to find the nonexistent “silver bullet” for increasing reliability and equipment performance while reducing costs. Short-term and long-term solutions can increase reliability, asset availability, utilization, quality and capacity, but they’re not easy or simple. Look at the barriers that hold a plant back.

First is the belief that a failure means the equipment is broken. That’s wrong. A true failure of an asset is when it no longer meets the function required of it at some known rate or standard. For example, if a conveyor that’s supposed to operate at 200 meters per minute and can’t, it has a functionally failed.

Second, in many cases, when an asset fails, no one in maintenance seems to understand that it failed. Maintenance doesn’t get involved when quality or production rate issues arise.

Last, many maintenance departments don’t know the equipment’s performance targets and don’t understand why it’s important to know them. This isn’t a maintenance department failure. It’s a breakdown revealing misaligned goals.


If your equipment operates below defined Performance Targets,

establish a policy of immediately engaging the Maintenance Department


 Overcoming these barriers is essential to rapid reliability improvement. An understanding of and focus on functional failure by all plant personnel leads to rapid results. Focus on aligning the total plant on meeting each asset’s performance target Post the targets and current rates to publicize performance gaps to both maintenance and operations. Both organizations must accept responsibility for eliminating the performance gap.

Achieving rapid breakthroughs requires you to define what constitutes as a “Failure”.

According to the Nolan and Heap Study at failure is:

 “an identifiable deviation from the original condition which is unacceptable to a particular user”

 A reactive company might say failure means the conveyor is broken or stopped because of mechanical problem. A proactive company says the conveyor no longer performs the function required. A partial functional failure has occurred when it’s supposed to operate at 200 meters per minute, but can only run less than that rate. A total functional failure indicates it stopped because of an equipment problem.

If you are not familiar with the PF Curve (see figure 1) it is time to get acquainted. “P” is the point a defect or abnormality begins degrading a component, part, etc. and failure has begun, if not eliminated through parts replacement, restoration, adjustments, etc. catastrophic failure or total functional failure will occur. “F” is the point at which Catastrophic Failure occurs. If management cannot accept a catastrophic failure then the PF Curve methodology must be embraced. The key is to identify a defect or abnormality as early as possible before the defect reaches Point “F”. Embracing the PF Curve Methodology allows us has time to plan and schedule maintenance work without interruption to production or operations if the Maintenance Strategy “Run to Failure” is not acceptable.

Once a failure begins it can result in production rates to decrease, create pressure losses, quality issues, and ultimately a total functional failure which means the equipment is broken. At this time emergency maintenance must be applied at the wrong time, with higher cost, and loss capacity. Using the methodology of the PF Curve allows management to control equipment (rate, capacity, quality, and uptime) rather than the equipment controlling management.

PF Curve -11Uncover your “hidden plant” that provides the gains you need. If your equipment operates below defined performance targets, establish a policy of immediately engaging the maintenance department. Focusing on equipment performance targets is the key to rapid asset reliability gains.

 Have you ever heard the old saying?

Its not what you know that will kill you, it is what you don’t know that will”

It is applicable to reliability issues. Getting to the rapid break-through in plant performance is just the beginning of a long journey. Don’t be satisfied with the reliability results you gain by following my advice. Continue onward by applying Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) methodology to zero in on “optimal reliability at optimal cost.” I didn’t say use RCM (other it is preferred); I said RCM Methodology, Failure Modes and Effect Analysis, Failure Modes Mapping, etc.  They’re different methodologies, so learn about them and how they can foster rapid performance gains.

Just remember, some people have made short-term, rapid performance gains. Most, however, have only sustained their performance. If you would like further information about rapid breakthroughs in performance, send me an e-mail. My final plea is that our companies wake up before it’s too late.

Please post your comments.


2 Responses to Achieve Breakthrough Performance Today – Optimize Production Capacity

  1. George Mahoney says:

    Identify your defects as early as possible on your PF curve. The sooner you recognize you have a defect, the more time it will leave you to effectively plan and schedule your work.

    It will also prevent the ancillary damage caused by catastrophic failures like safety / environmental issues or massive structural damage.

    Most importantly, It will also allow production to shut down on it’s own terms as opposed to the equipment’s terms.

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