What does reliability improvement of physical assets mean?
To answer this question we must first understand what we mean by reliability?
The word reliability conjures up different meanings for different people. To some it might mean quality. For others it might mean safety. While for some it might mean integrity. And for some it might mean a long and useful life of a machine.
That might seem very confusing.
Hence, in short, the word reliability means — “Whatever a user wants of his/her physical assets.”
If that is so, then reliability improvement would simply steer us towards problem solving activities that would help an user of physical assets achieve his/her desired intention.
However, solving problems to improve reliability or MTBF can be quite daunting. This is because the upper limit of reliability of machines is practically set during the design and manufacturing stage. So, to improve reliability during the operation stage is quite difficult though not impossible.
But solving problems to improve reliability during operation can be complex. Hence the entire process of problem solving has to broken up into manageable chunks and executed in a step-by-step manner.
However, the end results of improving reliability of a machine would be:
- Relax — to continue in an operational mode as long as possible. This is achieved by ensuring that a machine loses minimum energy during running.
- Resilent — to make a machine work with minimum stress under varying conditions, interactions and contexts. This is done by modifying interactions and initial conditions to extend the MTBF to a level — dictated by business goals.
- Rejuvenate — to make and keep a machine in a healthy state of performance without disturbing production and production cycles.
Behind all these activities the most important factor that is essential is the application of human awareness. Without it, success of a reliability improvement project is simply not possible, whatever the tools, techniques, process or methods might be.
How do we recognize, develop and apply human awareness is a million dollar question?