The top 5 signs of a reliable plant

Having visited hundreds of manufacturing plants in the last 15 years, someone recently asked me if there were any traits the most reliable plants all had in common. I have listed below the top 5 signs of a reliable plant.


Having visited hundreds of manufacturing plants in the last 15 years, someone recently asked me if there were any traits the most reliable plants all had in common. I have listed below the top 5 signs of a reliable plant.Courtesy: Mother PackersSign 1 – The plant is clean. The plants that are top performers are clean all of the time, clutter is unacceptable, and the tasks required to keep the plant clean are routine business. The reason I refuse an immediate tour is that I know the plants who understand reliability are clean all of the time. If someone insists on an immediate tour, I know they have had their people working their tails off to clean up the plant over the past few days. If I wait for just a day or two, the clutter and filth will return. The last part of every plant tour I do will also include the dumpsters, and if they are overfilled, I know a massive clean-up took place.

Sign 2 – MOC (Management of Change) is in place. For each and every RCM analysis I do, I ask for equipment drawings and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) manuals. The plants who understand what it takes to be reliable can easily produce these documents, and with a quick review, one can also see that they have been updated to show revisions. Those who are struggling will have a hard time producing these documents and what they can produce does not represent what is actually in the field. Truth be known, most companies have an MOC process but a large percentage do not actually follow through with the process. Reliable plants understand that without current drawings, manuals, and information, mistakes will be made in operating, maintaining, and troubleshooting.

Sign 3 – Reliability is measured. I know I am in for a good week when I ask a group if they know the reliability of the asset we are about to perform an RCM analysis on and they have an answer. Plants that understand reliability measure OEE/TEEP (Overall Equipment Effectiveness/Total Effective Equipment Performance) on their critical assets and actively seek to improve and stabilize reliability using proven tools and methods. Plants that struggle with reliability “don’t have time to measure reliability”, measure it at the plant level, or change one or more of the components of the measure to make their numbers look better.

Sign 4 – SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) are in place and followed. This seems like a simple concept. A company spends a fair amount of money to purchase and install a manufacturing asset, so one would think the first thing on a manager’s mind would be to protect that asset by ensuring that SOPs are written and become part of our everyday business. Of the companies I have visited over the past 15 years, every one that had SOPs in place also had the other four signs of a reliable plant. Plants that fail to have SOPs use every excuse in the book to explain why they feel they are not needed or important. When they are done giving excuses, I ask them if they would ever fly an airline that felt the same way. Should pilots be allowed to just start up, take off, fly, and land the aircraft the way they think is best, or is there a valid reason for the checklists and SOPs they follow each flight?

Sign 5 – Maintenance is planned/scheduled and performed. Plants that are reliable understand the importance of maintenance, and as a result, the planning, scheduling, and performance of maintenance is part of their routine business. They are able to plan, schedule, and complete better than 90% of their maintenance work throughout the year. While they still have emergency unplanned outages once in a while, they represent less than 10% of their workload. On-Condition Maintenance (aka Predictive Maintenance (PdM) or Condition Based Maintenance (CBM)) represents 40% or more of their maintenance workload and PM (Preventive Maintenance) is in the range of 7% to 10% of their work. The companies who struggle with planning, scheduling, and performing routine maintenance will never achieve the level of reliability they need to accomplish Lean Manufacturing or work in a Just-In-Time environment. While they might dabble with On-Condition tools such as vibration analysis, airborne ultrasound, or infrared thermography, they won’t have the discipline to plan and schedule corrective maintenance prior to suffering the collateral damage that goes along with running to failure.

I would be foolish not to include a comment that one thing all reliable plants have in common: strong leaders who have an appreciation for the people who are committed to continuously improving on each of these 5 categories. Great leaders set goals, provide direction, and create a working environment where people share in their success.

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Welding ergonomics, 2017 Salary Survey, and surge protection
2017 Top Plant winner, Best practices, Plant Engineering at 70, Top 10 stories of 2017
Pipe fabrication and IIoT; 2017 Product of the Year finalists
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Setting internal automation standards
Knowing how and when to use parallel generators
PID controllers, Solar-powered SCADA, Using 80 GHz radar sensors

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me