April 22, 2016

The Anatomy of CARE

Fluid Life’s CARE program provides clients with a structured approach to maximize the benefits that can be captured from oil analysis as a predictive maintenance technology. The program includes highlighting which oil analysis results are the most critical by distributing reliability alerts to the client’s planning and maintenance teams, guidance on corrective actions, providing reminders as to what is yet to be done, and capturing the value of those corrective actions that have been completed.

Ultimately, the Fluid Life CARE program is intended to support a client’s Maintenance & Reliability (M&R) maturation to a state where a philosophy of Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) has been adopted. This reliability culture occurs when predictive maintenance technologies, planned maintenance events, and reactive maintenance practices are employed in a manner that is most profitable for the client’s organization.

As with many types of improvement initiatives, participation in Fluid Life’s CARE program can take many shapes, and what a client gets out of the program is closely correlated with how much effort is expended. Fluid Life tailors its CARE program based on how “mature” a client’s M&R practices are when they start the program, and how quickly their culture changes and adapts as improved practices are adopted.

These improvements can be identified and monitored by what requirements a client has with regards to how reliability alerts are responded to, in terms of both quality and accuracy, as well as how quickly that feedback is provided.

There are multiple levels of engagement that can be selected when beginning a CARE program and modifications that can be made as a client’s M&R practices mature:

The Beginner

Some clients simply prefer to be informed when the oil analysis test results from one of their assets has indicated that something is going awry, and do not dedicate the resources to provide feedback to the creators of the alerts with how (or if) issues will be addressed, and what problems are (or aren’t) found when any corrective actions are executed.

New samples with poor results, from assets that have already been alerted, have their pre-existing alerts superseded in order to limit the total number of reliability alerts open at any given time. However, a record is maintained of how many times a given asset has been alerted for a given problem. This is a bare-bones approach to the CARE program, with minimal effort expended towards continuous improvement.

Monitoring how many recurring issues exist (how many problems have been identified multiple times, and the average amount of time it typically takes to resolve a specific issue with an asset) can provide motivation to direct more effort towards responding to issues identified by reliability alerts.

The Intermediate

There are some key improvements that can be made upon the practices outlined at the beginner level. With a focus on reducing the number of recurring issues and the time it takes to resolve issues, the timeliness and quality of the feedback provided becomes more and more important. It is important for the client to follow up on how often reliability alerts are not responded to appropriately and why (or, occasionally, by whom). It is only by providing this valuable feedback in a timely fashion that the CARE program can improve, reducing frustrations for the users, and increasing the value the program can provide.

It is also at this level of M&R maturity that clients begin to capture in their computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) which work orders correspond to reliability alerts, and when these work orders have been completed.

Additional support will be required from senior management to ensure that the value of reviewing and responding to problems identified by reliability alerts is clearly understood at all levels. Incentives and penalties for not responding in a timely fashion may need to be created and the consequences to the company, assets, and employees for non-compliance should be made apparent. In essence; if alerts are not responded to, there is an increase in risk that is being adopted by the company that may result in more frequent failures, greater costs, losses of productivity, reductions in profit, and as a consequence, reductions in compensation and possibly employment of the client’s employees.

The Advanced

The next step in the maturity process is adopting the practice of verification of the effectiveness of the corrective actions performed, while still maintaining a high level of compliance to goals related to timeliness and quality of responses to identified issues. This means that in addition to tracking when a work order related to a reliability alert is closed, also reviewing the content of the work order to ensure that appropriate corrective actions have actually been taken, and that the work order wasn’t simply closed to remove it from work order backlog. Additionally, this also means waiting for an oil sample following the corrective maintenance to come back with the symptoms resolved prior to closing the reliability alert and capturing a cost savings.

The World Class

The final level in the M&R maturity process with regards to the CARE program is focused on continuous improvement. Not only should the best practices of the previous levels be incorporated into this level (monitoring recurring issues: monitoring the timeliness, quality, and accuracy of feedback; verifying the appropriateness and completion of selected corrective actions), but special focus should be made to discuss the responses to the reliability alerts to improve the effectiveness of the CARE program. This includes recording the rationale for when corrective actions are not taken, identifying when the corrective actions planned and/or taken were insufficient to address the problem identified (for example, changing the oil when a component is wearing may not resolve the root cause of the issue), and modifying the reliability alerting process to better fit the client’s needs.

Regardless of the state of the client when they begin the CARE program, each level of engagement captures significant return on investment. With consistency and discipline of effort, each client can improve the value of their maintenance and reliability program.

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier – not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson