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Culture and Management

  • 70/30 Phenomenon

    by Christer Idhammar

    When you ask front line supervisors or team leaders if all people in their teams are performing to the same standards or if some are doing more work and achieving more results than others, you will often get the same answer. All over the world, the most common answer, after some analysis, verifies that about 30% of the people do 70% of the work. This is not only true for front line people like mechanics and electricians, but also for planners, engineers, and other salaried employees. However, our focus in this column is on the front line of maintenance. 

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  • A Maintenance Weight Loss Program

    by Michael Lippig

    The Conundrum
    Conceptually, losing weight is a matter of eating less and exercising more. However, most attempts usually fail and we often gain weight. Similarly, healthy maintenance practices are very basic. Yet again, most organizations fail to apply them successfully. Success or failure with a weight loss plan has many elements in common with the application of sound maintenance principles and may help us avoid some common traps and failures. This maintenance management article will hopefully provide some guidance.

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  • Are most maintenance organizations overstaffed?

    by Christer Idhammar

    Yes, I think that most maintenance organizations are overstaffed, not necessary with own staff, but they use more total maintenance hours than necessary. Total maintenance hours include your own internal hours, overtime hours and contractor hours. As an example a newsprint mill or a linerboard mill making 600,000 tons recycled paper per year on two machines is very good at less than 0.3 total maintenance hours per ton while most operations we have been working with are using about 0.5 total maintenance hours per ton.

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  • Can Your Mill Produce the Right Results?

    by Christer Idhammar

    This is a summary of a part of a presentation by Christer Idhammar, president of IDCON, INC. Raleigh NC, during the 15th annual Pulp & Paper Reliability and Maintenance Conference and Exhibit in Atlanta 5-8 November 2001.

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  • Do You Listen When Your Equipment Speak to You

    by Torbjörn Idhammar & Michael Lippig

    Do you listen to your motors complaining about overload? Do you see your pump packings crying a flood? Do you hear you bearings whine about contaminated lubricants? Do you notice your steam system that coughs excessive condensate and it’s complains about strained elbows? 

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  • Does Rapid Change of Maintenance Performance Exist?

    by Christer Idhammar

    Does rapid change of maintenance performance exist? If change is equivalent to sustainable improvements the answer to this question is “No”.  My experience has shown that 90% of improvement of maintenance performance is about people and 10% is about technology and processes. This does not mean that technology and design of processes are not important. It is very important to design the right processes for people to enable them to become more productive. But that is the easy part in an improvement initiative; this part might take only five to ten percent of the effort in time and money.

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  • Headcount Reduction

    by Christer Idhammar

    Not long ago I was involved in a reliability and improvement initiative in a big plant. As always, the improvement initiative was received with skeptics, many other initiatives had come and gone with various results during the last fifteen years. These initiatives, management declared, would be different than the previous ones. It had now been decided that it would be a long term reliability improvement initiative, not only a cost cutting exercise.

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  • Health care of humans and maintenance of equipment, is there a correlation?

    by Christer Idhammar

    If we maintain equipment right, we will benefit fewer failures and break downs and a longer technical equipment life. Many case studies have proven this fact. In previous columns I have shown case studies covering the strong correlation between high reliability and low maintenance costs of equipment. In this column I will discuss another aspect of maintenance and how this might prove the same phenomenon including longer life.

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  • How do you successfully manage maintenance; what is the connection between workflow, people and technology?

    by Owe Forsberg

    Management’s responsibility is to develop a process that the organization can follow in their daily job to execute or perform their work. The process can, in short, be described in the following way:

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  • Improve Basic Work Systems First

    by Christer Idhammar

    Many organizations spend too much time searching for—and starting implementation of—new reliability and maintenance concepts, and very little time on implementation and improvements of what they just started.

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  • Is people your most valuable resource?

    by Christer Idhammar

    “People are our most valuable resource” is most probably the correct political statement to make, but is this true? I do not think it is not true and in this article I will explain why I think so.

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  • Joint Reward System Drives Results and Teamwork

    by Christer Idhammar

    One of the reasons many reliability and maintenance improvement initiatives fail to deliver sustaining results is lack of team work between and within departments. It is still common that operations and maintenance do not work as the team they should be. The engineering department is sometimes described as “the black hole” by the maintenance staff. “This is where we send drawings to be updated, and we never see them again” is not an uncommon comment.

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  • Leadership in Maintenance Workshop Worship?

    by Torbjörn Idhammar

    I just returned from a few weeks in Sweden where I met with various clients and potential consulting  partners. In every discussion it became clear that we at IDCON work very differently compared to other consulting firms in Europe.

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  • Let's Kill Wrench Time Studies!

    by Torbjörn Idhammar

    For a while, I thought that the whole "wrench time" concept was dead. But, I was wrong. Over the past year, I've worked with two organizations that had to perform a wrench time study. And more than ever, the concept is featured in articles and at conferences. My guess is that consultants and educators are keeping the concept alive. For you out there in the plants, I want your opinion (see the bottom of this article to reply).

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  • Maintenance Management Legends

    by Torbjörn Idhammar

    There are many paradigms and legends surrounding maintenance management in plants. Often, the legends are known to be untrue, but people live with them because it is politically correct, or simply convenient. To be successful in improving equipment reliability and maintenance management, plants must break the legends that exist in their organizations. Some of the legends will be addressed in this article. You may find that these legends are uncomfortably close to describing how your plant operates.

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  • Morning Meetings - Maintenance Planning and Scheduling

    by Christer Idhammar

    All over the world, most mills have morning meetings. As a consultant, I have been asked to sit in on many of these meetings, and my conclusion from these experiences is that most of them are not very effective or meaningful to the attendees. 

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  • Practical implementation of production reliability

    by Torbjörn Idhammar

    If you want to improve production reliability in one or more facilities, it is important to have a clear picture of the goal(s).  At first glance, this may seem as a given, but I suggest that you ask yourself some questions or even perform self-analysis by asking a number of people in your facility.

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  • Practical Tips for Reliability Improvements

    by Torbjörn Idhammar

    A few years ago I was doing a follow-up visit to a mining company in Kazakhstan with about 67,000 employees. IDCON had been hired to implement better maintenance work processes at one of their smelting plants. Our joint plan was to start by implementing planning, scheduling and preventive maintenance (PM)

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  • Reliability and Maintenance Implementation Model – Step I.

    by Christer Idhammar

    This column is the first in a series of articles about the implementation steps you need to take if you want to be successful in improving reliability and maintenance, sustain that improvement and after that continue to improve.

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  • Reliability and Maintenance Implementation Model – Step II.

    by Christer Idhammar

    This column is the second in a series of articles about the implementation steps you need to take if you want to be successful in improving reliability and maintenance, sustain that improvement and after that continue to improve.

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  • Reliability and Maintenance Implementation Model – Step III.

    by Christer Idhammar

    This column is the third in a series of articles about the implementation steps you need to take if you want to be successful in improving reliability and maintenance, sustain that improvement and after that continue to improve in the future.

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  • Reliability and Maintenance Management Beliefs Part 2

    by Christer Idhammar

    Read part 1 and Part 3

    In my previous article, I mentioned that IDCON has a belief system that guides our business and the work we do for our clients.  You must develop and communicate your beliefs to your organization. These beliefs will guide your organization on its journey towards your goals. 

     

    Belief 9.

    Rapid and sustainable change does not exist in maintenance because the change process is “90%” about people and behaviors.

    Is rapid change possible in a maintenance organization?

    If change is equivalent to sustainable improvements the answer to this question is no. Why? In my experience 90% of improvement of maintenance performance is about people and 10% is about technology and processes. This does not mean that technology and design of processes are not important. It is very important to design the right processes for people to enable them to become more productive. But that is the easy part in an improvement initiative. This part might take only five to ten percent of the effort in time and money.

    What takes time is to make an often-undisciplined reactive organization to work in a disciplined process. Your organization might have many maintenance heroes who value the recognition they receive when they repair a broken down piece of equipment. They might also be rewarded by overtime pay because of the logic that equipment is more likely (76%) to break down when the full maintenance crew is not in the mill.

    Technology is also very important. To acquire the right tools for vibration analyses, precision alignment, and hand held computers etc. is easy because most maintenance people love gadgets and tools. The challenge is to implement the use of the tools in a disciplined process. It might be basic things like taking action to plan and schedule correction of failures in equipment discovered early by any of these tools. To make that process work is what takes time. It might include changing the mindset of requestors of maintenance work to not request a higher priority on work than necessary because it will drive the organization into a reactive mode. It might require to update bills of materials so planners can plan more efficiently etc. It will require a close partnership between operations and maintenance so priorities of work are done based on what is most important for the business. These are just some few examples to demonstrate that 90% of effort to improve maintenance performance is about people.

    During all my years in the reliability and maintenance management business I have seen so many, and done so many, well written plans and Power Point presentations and often seen lacking true implementation of these plans. Most organizations know what they need to do so that is not the big issue. The big issue is to make the system and processes you designed and agreed upon work. I call this phenomenon the “Know-Do gap”. I have also worked with many organizations that have reached excellence in reliability and lower costs. The common denominator for these organizations is that they close the “Know-Do Gap”, they think long term and clearly define the best practices, they consistently communicate these practices, they provide the right tools and consistently execute these practices long term. 

     

     

    Belief 10

    Operations, Engineering, Maintenance, and Stores must work in a partnership to reach excellence.

    Most organizations we work with think they work in a close partnership between these departments, but not many do. This is often reflected in in the way performance indicators are used. Operations are measured by the quality tons produced, maintenance by the cost of maintenance, engineering by on time and within budget for projects and stores by turn over and value of inventory. These examples of performance indicators do not promote a partnership between the departments.

    If you agree to Belief 1: “Cost reduction does not generate improved reliability. Improved reliability results in lower cost”.Then you have set the foundation to a reliability driven organization and the common lagging performance indicator should be production reliability. Production reliability is how many quality tons manufactured divided by capacity tons: or Quality performance x Time performance x Speed performance. If production reliability is used as the common goal for operations and maintenance it will drive a different mindset. E.g. it will be less important to record lost production by department. Instead the organization would focus on eliminating the root cause of the problem. It will also lead to that, as a leader, you would focus more on development and documentation and implementation of the processes that drives better reliability followed by lower costs, instead of focusing only on the cost of maintenance.

    The manufacturing cost per ton will override the maintenance cost per ton. This will encourage operations employees to participate in maintenance work and vice versa. As an example: Where it is practical, operators will do a big part of basic inspections and essential care of equipment. Shutdowns can be changed but only as a joint decision between operations and maintenance etc.

    Stores will not only be measured by inventory reductions in money. Instead inventory reductions will be done concurrent with measurement of service level to maintenance (right item available at the right time.) 

    Engineering will include reliability and maintainability considerations in specifications and design of equipment and make procurement decisions based on life cycle cost over 10 years or more.

    If you agree with belief 10 you cannot only say that: “now we shall all work together as equal partners in a reliability partnership”, you need to define, document and communicate your beliefs, and then design all work processes according to these beliefs.

    Picture 2 Reliable production (or manufacturing) is the common goal for operations, engineering and stores in a reliability driven organization

     

    Belief 11.

    Lost production reports shall record where and what, then ask why to solve and eliminate problems

    In most organizations the operations department is viewed as an internal customer to the maintenance department, and the maintenance department view themselves as a service organization to the operations department. This working relationship is often reflected in the lost production reports. Lost production is reported by department e.g. Operations, Mechanical, Electrical and Instrumentation etc. This serves no purpose more to find someone to blame. It is also very often wrong because it frequently reports the symptom instead of the cause of the problem.  E.g. an electric motor failed and caused lost production. This is often reported as down time due to electrical problem, but the cause to the motor failure can be something different. If you want to create a partnership between operations and maintenance the common goal between these two departments is reliable production. (Belief 10).

    This belief shall be documented and reinforced in a mission statement. An example of a production, or manufacturing mission statement could be. “In a partnership between operations and maintenance we shall safely deliver continuously better production reliability”.  Then all work processes, including lost production reports, must be designed according to the mission statement.

    Instead of reporting lost production by department it should be reported where, when, what happened. A trigger is set to filter what events shall go through a Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE) activity. In a RCPE process the first step is to clearly describe the problem in a problem statement, then ask “why?” or “how can?” the problem occur. This process will help build a partnership. Also notice we talk about problems, not failures. The term failure will lead thoughts to equipment and maintenance, while the perm problem is more inclusive of everybody.

    The next article I will give you the last 4 beliefs but in the meantime if you have questions, feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Align your organization’s beliefs

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  • Reliability and Maintenance Management Beliefs Part 3

    by Christer Idhammar

    Read part 1 and Read part 2

    These are our last 3 core beliefs that guide our business and philosophy when working with our clients.  What you should notice is that they support several of the other beliefs. 

    Belief 12. Keep things simple.

    As stated in belief 9- sustainable improvements in reliability and maintenance performance is “90%” about getting skilled people to work in a disciplined system. The technology part is important and easy to get people interested in (e.g. to buy a new handheld data collector for equipment condition monitoring can be interesting), but to use it in a disciplined system, report failures, plan correction of found failures, schedule execution of correction of failures, report what was done, and to use this information to avoid repetition of the failures, is more of a challenge.

    Technology is the only thing that has changed significantly in the last 50 years. The principles on how to manage maintenance are pretty much the same. New names on well-known concepts occur frequently and this can be very confusing to people.

    The picture below describes what many recognize has occurred in their companies over the years.

    Figure 1: Constantly changing terms/Ideas creates confusion.

    Perhaps it started many years ago when a new manager implemented “Planned maintenance”, this lead to short, but not sustained improvements. The next initiative, often with a new manager, was “Predictive maintenance”. Again short-term results were generated. When results disappeared the next action was to implement TPM (Total Productive Maintenance). Then this initiative failed to give the significant sustained results that had been expected it was time to enter into AM (Asset Management) and then RCM (Reliability Centered Maintenance), RBM (Reliability Based Maintenance), 5S, Six Sigma, Total Production Reliability (TPR), Lean etc.

    Nothing is wrong with these initiatives but it is of vital importance to stick with one holistic system and clarify the difference between the system and the tools used to enhance the system performance. Almost all initiatives were instigated by changes in management. Best performing organizations have documented and implemented best practices for reliability and maintenance and over time consistently executed these practices better and better. While seeing results every year, after two to seven years they have been rewarded with break-through results.

    Because of the confusion all these concepts and tools it is important to simplify as much as possible. Successful organizations have done that and focused on continuously improving the basic processes: Prevention, Inspections, Planning, Scheduling and Execution of work.

    Belief 13: The holistic system with its processes and elements can be supported by other tools and supporting processes.

    A holistic overview of the reliability and maintenance management system, processes, elements, tools and supporting processes can be described in the model below.  

    Figure 2: The System

    Describing the System

    The market drives the production plan and all maintenance work requiring shut down of equipment must be coordinated with the production plan for best time to be executed.

    When maintenance work is planned and then scheduled you have set the process people work in so they can execute work safer and cost effectively. To plan work efficiently you must have access to an up to date technical database including Bills Of Materials (BOM) and other information.

    After work is completed it should be recorded as to what was completed, parts and material used, update information to BOM and other valid information. The recorded information shall be used to continuously improve using Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE).

    However, most organizations do not work in the “Circle of Continuous Improvement” they work too much in the “Circle of Despair”. This means that they React to problems on a short notice and bypass the planning and scheduling of work. Repairs will, therefore, be done with low quality. Because of this, failures will be repeated and it will be necessary return to do the work again and the circle repeats itself. To get out of this “Circle of Despair” you must set up the processes for Prevention, Condition Monitoring, Prioritization, Planning of work, and Scheduling of work, Execution of Work, Recording of executed work, and how to do RCPE.

    An example of a process is Planning and Scheduling, or the Work Management Process. It contains several steps and starts with Work Request then Priority of Request etc. as seen in picture below.

     

    Figure 3: Planning and Scheduling or Work Management process

    Confusing Tools with The System

    Tools can be used to improve the processes in the holistic system. To avoid confusion and the “program of the month ailment”, it is very important that tools are not mixed up with the holistic system. To be successful you must have a very well established holistic system including its processes. Tools such as 5S, Six Sigma, Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) etc. are good and very useful when used in the right environment. Implementation of only a tool will only result in temporary non-sustainable improvements. The holistic system and processes must be in place to supportsustainability and continuous improvement.

    Belief 14. Always explain What, Why and How

    People do not mind change, but they do not like to be changed, (Belief 7). Any improvement initiative is a selling process. You must have a clear vision of what the improvement initiative entails and why it is necessary to do it. You might have a clear idea of how it is going to be done, but after explaining the what and the why it is effective to ask people involved in the improvement initiative to come up with ideas on how they think it can be done. Focus first on getting an agreement on “The right things to do” then discuss how to do it. It is easier for people to agree on the right things to do then on how to do them.

    Many organizations put too much emphasis on change management and make this more complicated than necessary. We often hear “We already do this” and this might be true. Most organizations do most of the elements of best reliability and maintenance practices, but most can do these elements better. Of course there might be an element of change with some people, but as most of the improvements we talk, are common sense and nothing new, the change management element should not be neglected but not overdone.

    It can also help to describe, “What good looks like” and present a picture of what the future will look like. For example

    • Production Reliability improved by 3%
    • Maintenance cost down by 15%
    • Very few maintenance people on late shift (24/7 operation)
    • Majority of basic equipment done by trained operators

     

    Belief 15. Execution is key to success

    The elements of a maintenance management system have not changed much since the 1960s. Technology such as computerized maintenance management systems, predictive maintenance tools have changed dramatically and are today much better and more affordable. Since the 1970s industries has moved away from fixed time overhauls and replacements of equipment components to more condition based maintenance.

    It should be obvious that an improvement plan is executed, but many plans are never implemented to completion before a new initiative starts. I have seen so many excellent plans and Power Point presentations followed by no action.

    Wasted Time

    The time it takes to develop a best practices document, define roles for the team members involved to lead the project, educate the team members, and agree on a common repeatable assessment methodology and strategy documents might be 5% of the total effort. To get acceptance from those who are going to implement might be 10% of total effort, the remaining 85% is On-The-Job training and coaching. Often the time is spent more on development and almost no time is spent on supporting execution through On-The-Job training and coaching.

    The only major difference I have seen between best performers and lagging organizations is that the best performers execute well-defined best practices. Most organizations know what they need to do, but they do not consistently execute the best practices better and better.

    Who will execute?

    A notice to managers: all improvement initiatives must be executed by the front line organization, until they do, no results will be delivered.

    Figure 4: The Front LIne Organization

    In an effective organization, there needs to be a function that collects and filters incoming work requests – the One Point of Contact or coordinator between Operations and Maintenance. Planning needs to be done by someone before work is scheduled for execution, this is often done by planners. Scheduling of work is often done by a front line work leader or supervisor. The work is executed by Crafts People and Operators.  

    All of our beliefs support our organization and our work with our clients. If your organization has questions about the Holistic System, best practices in the processes or the elements, or how to re-energize your reliability and maintenance management, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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  • Reliability and Maintenance Management Beliefs Part I.

    by Christer Idhammar

    Read part 2 and Part 3

    Excellent leadership is the very essential success factor for lasting results of any improvement initiative an organization undertakes, including improvements of Reliability and Maintenance performance.

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  • Selling Maintenance to Management

    by Torbjörn Idhammar

    We in maintenance often complain about how hard it is for us to "sell maintenance to top management". There are several things we can improve upon when we talk to top management. In this article, I will outline typical situations that I have seen in industry and offer some suggestions.

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  • The Cost of Doing Nothing

    by Michael Lippig

    The cost of maintaining the status quo is enormous. The status quo affects each and every one of us every hour of every day, at work and at home. We have come to accept doing nothing as a safe and acceptable alternative. We even make it the default solution.

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  • The Emperor's New Clothes

    by Torbjörn Idhammar

    Let us start this column with a short version of an old story.

    Once upon a time, an emperor was offered some fantastic clothes by traveling tailors. They told the emperor that their clothes were the most exclusive in the world — so exclusive that only wise people saw the clothes. The emperor accepted the tailors' offer; they took measurements and cut the expensive fabrics. When the emperor tried the clothes on, neither he nor any of his advisors and servants could see the clothes, but no one said anything for obvious reasons.

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  • The Lack of Execution

    by Christer Idhammar

    Recently I met a young and enthusiastic engineer who declared that “ We are already done with the reliability and maintenance management strategy, it is well developed and documented by a group in our company” “That sounds good “ I replied, “That means that you are done with about 5% of the work”. Somewhat disturbed he asked me what I meant with that. “Have you spent any time to educate, inform and implement the strategy in your plants?” I asked. The answer was negative and he asked me what I meant with that. 

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  • The Reliability Culture

    by Christer Idhammar

    Reliability is a term that has become more commonly used in the industry. Many organizations are using reliability to describe their predictive maintenance department. To me reliability has always encompassed the measurement of manufacturing efficiency and includes Operations, Maintenance, Engineering and Spare Part Stores as the major players.

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  • Top Management Culture Change

    by Christer Idhammar

    Anyone who has been involved in reliability and maintenance improvement initiatives will hear that a culture change in work practices is necessary to accomplish to become successful. Examples on the culture change people talk about include:

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  • What Comes First?

    by Christer Idhammar

    I often receive the question: what do we improve first? Do we start with Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE) or do we start with Preventive Maintenance and Planning and Scheduling?

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  • What is Reliability and Asset Management?

    by Christer Idhammar

    Reliability has become a buzzword commonly used to describe maintenance improvement initiatives. Several books have been written with titles such as Reliability Centered Maintenance, Reliability Based Maintenance, etc. In these books I have not yet found a definition of reliability. Many suppliers of predictive maintenance tools also use the term reliability to describe their products and services.

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  • Why many maintenance improvement initiatives fail to deliver expected results I. - Hedgehog or Fox?

    by Christer Idhammar

    It is not uncommon that many reliability and maintenance improvement initiatives fail to deliver expected results. Why is it so?

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