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Managing for Reliability: Part 2

World Cement,

Computerised maintenance management system (CMMS)

A CMMS is an essential part of the reliability department as it is the tool that will facilitate much of the department’s work. However, it should be remembered that the installation of such a system on its own will not improve the reliability of the plant and that the system will only be as good as the information that is put into it and how well trained the users are. A successful reliability strategy needs to produce detailed information, which should be made available to all of the engineers. This information should include, but should not be limited to, such items as inspection schedules, job plans, history, equipment details/specifications, shutdown plans, work requests and work orders. The system must also have the ability to produce reports to allow the performance of the whole department/plant to be accessed. There are many such software packages on the market – some of which have been developed purely as maintenance packages and others have their roots as an add-on to ERP systems.

Root cause analysis

To improve the reliability of the plant it is essential to discover the true, underlying cause of a process stoppage and find a solution that will eliminate the cause of stoppage for good. One of the simplest processes to follow is root cause analysis (RCA), which can be applied to any type of incident. Top performing cement producers will as an absolute minimum conduct an RCA investigation into every kiln stoppage in order to determine the true cause of failure. This then allows them to put corrective measures in place. Without any type of formal process to investigate kiln stoppages, it is commonly seen that a small group of people will look at the problem and form conclusions as to why the failure occurred, based on no or very few hard facts. In most cases where this happens, the wrong conclusion is reached and the same failure occurs again and again.

Reliability tools

The tools available to the engineering department to assess the condition of the equipment have developed greatly over the years. Both online and handheld vibration analysis should now be the norm and the plant should be well equipped with all the necessary tools for the inspectors to carry out their task.

Key performance indicators

The reliability department – like any department on the plant – must have a method to measure its progress in improving reliability and to set future targets. As a minimum, the plant should be targeting the utilisation factor and the reliability factor for the mills and kilns and comparing these against international best practice. The plant should not necessarily aim to achieve these in one step (and this would be almost impossible), but a steady progression with ambitious but achievable targets should be set. In addition to this, the plant should track mean time between stops for the equipment. This KPI takes into account both the number of running hours and the number of stops and therefore brings a focus to both eliminating stoppages as well as increasing the number of hours that the plant runs.


The implementation of a reliability strategy, and therefore the results of the implementation, will take time and it is essential that the plant stays committed to achieving the results instead of lapsing back to the old ways of operating. The company should carefully plan the implementation and fully commit to it. Appointing a “champion” of the reliability strategy at executive level is often a good way of showing continued support to the plant personnel, whilst also ensuring that the programme remains on course. The implementation will cost the plant in both human and financial resources, but the potential benefits in terms of profit improvement are immense, especially in a sold out market.

Part 2 of 2. Find part 1 here.

Written by Mark Mutter, Jamcem Consulting, UK. This is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the September 2013 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can view the full article by logging in.

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