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Improving Reliability through Maintenance

By on May 12, 2013

Once an asset is designed and manufactured and delivered to provide service, the reliability issues get centered towards maintenance. Maintenance now has to play an important role towards reliability. But how?

  • Monitor and record the performance of the asset at intervals to be decided based on the critical application.
  • Look for any abnormal signs
  • Interact closely with the designer for corrective action of the abnormal signs
  • Role of maintenance in reliability is a closed loop exercise and called Reliability Action Plan
  • Reliability issues originates due to design, manufacturing, maintenance lapse, quality lapse in the material used, misuse, tampering, theft etc.
  •  The Maintenance Action Plan will never take you to the center of the reliability issue but directs you towards that.
  • Maintenance system is so large involving man, material, method, multiple operating agencies that there is always the possibility of a wrong entering into the system. Role of maintenance is to find out this ‘WRONG’ at the earliest opportunity before it becomes an epidemic.

Define Reliability Action Plan

“To investigate, find, plan & implement solutions to prevent equipment failure in a planned manner, monitoring each and every action and review at intervals thus improving reliability.”

Steps in Action Plan

  • Investigation
  • Finding Solution
  • Planning and Implementation
  • Review
  • Conclusion

Reliability action plan is always dynamic.


Investigation is a specialized skill and shall be performed by knowledgeable person having trait of intelligence, perseverance, patience, temperament and knowledge of design and manufacturing etc.

Keep in mind while investigating, that equipment is never designed to fail, still it has failed, therefore, there must be a reason

This will motivate the investigator for the purpose

A checklist of questions to begin with may start in this manner:

  • Check the failed component with a design data / drawing for its manufacturing features
  • Is it RDSO approved source or governed by ISS?
  • Why equipment installed at other locations has not failed?
  • How the equipment has performed in the past?
  • Are there inbuilt design features to improve reliability?
  • Has the protection worked and if not why?
  • Is redundancy provided?
  • What are schedule inspections and how it is done, and whether it is possible to arrest its failure by timely inspection?
  • What is the Statistical Analysis?
  • Discuss with the staff maintaining the equipment for brain storming
  • Discussion with designer and manufacturer and testing for conformance to specification

Cause of failure will surface out.

Finding Solution

  • The solution to the problem is always found in two ways Short term for immediate relief and long term as a permanent solution.
  • The short-term solution is in the form of a check, increase in the frequency of checks, premature replacement, premature overhaul etc
  • Long-term solution is found in consultation with the manufacturer and designer. Long term solution shall be one and only one. Some long term solution may be
    • Equipment not required
    • Relocation of the item, its connection, fitment etc.
    • Protection towards unforeseen environmental condition
    • Redundancy
    • Strengthening
  • Service performance should be evaluated not only for its nil failure but also its sustainability to perform during perceived life.
  • Every step in this exercise shall be watched carefully with proper record keeping.
  • A solution requiring optimal time, money & manpower will only see the end of a long tunnel.
  • The modification shall first be implemented on a trial basis. Accelerated test about the effectiveness of the modifications shall be assessed with proper record keeping.

Planning and Implementation

Planning is an exercise to execute the final solution and may involve following steps:-

  • Assessment of quantity, time and cost
  • Agency to perform the job
  • Counseling of staff for two different situations of execution of work departmentally or contractually
  • Detailing of work
  • Expected improvement
  • Communication with the designer

And most important is ‘precautions’ to be taken while implementing the modification


No action plan is perfect and it may succeed or fail therefore review with an open mind at intervals is necessary. Implementation of the wrong action plan may cause continuous deterioration, redoing on part/whole lot and damage to the system.  The review shall be done by evaluating regularly the following:

  • Total work to be done, progress and work still to be done
  • Target for the balance
  • Constraints during implementation
  • Review on precautions planned before and during the implementation
  • Performance of modified equipment as compared to non-modified


  • Investigation and Finding solution are the most important part of an action plan to succeed in its first attempt.
  • This role has to be played jointly by Maintenance Engineer, Designer and Manufacture.
  • Monitoring of the performance of an equipment and write feedback to the designer / manufacturer by Maintenance Engineer is a very important aspect.

This is the surest way to succeed as a Maintenance Engineer with a positive contribution to improve designs and manufacturing


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