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Perhaps you, too, have seen a storeroom packed full of startup spares (usually two wear parts or parts that, in the past, failed due to “random coincidence”). In any event, “random coincidence” is how my car dealer’s service manager explained things not too long ago, when a critical engine part on my vehicle failed 4,500 miles after it had been replaced. (If these details seem somewhat familiar, note that I highlighted this situation in an Oct. 14, 2019, column. Here, I’m expanding on that discussion.)

Click Here to Read Heinz Bloch’s Oct. 14, 2019, Newsletter Column
“Accepting the Improbable Is Not Best Practice”

Shortly after the service manager’s explanation, I wrote to one of the manufacturer’s top managers and opined that such random coincidences are about as improbable as finding orange groves above the tree line in the Colorado Rockies.

This personal experience prompted me to explain how a leading world-scale petrochemical plant handled an analogous situation in 1980. The plant designated specific reliability professionals to investigate when the parts in its storeroom were probably designed and if automatic reordering caused weak components to continually find their way into the facility.

Chances are that a weak or failure-prone part was involved in one of your recent “random coincidence” events. Your computerized re-ordering system might still be delivering technologically outdated, antiquated parts into your storeroom. That, in turn, then simply starts another cycle ending in parts failure.

Random coincidences are not as common as individuals who advocate the status quo would have you believe. Because most of us subscribe to all failures having causes that can be found and remedied, the appropriateness of installing parts identical to those that have just failed should be questioned.

Future failure avoidance is often linked to upgrading parts and letting the automatic reordering system obtain those upgraded items, if available. Close cooperation between reliability professionals and storeroom personnel is the first step in the process.

And remember: One of the key roles of a reliability improver is to investigate recurring failures, determine if upgrading is possible and, if the answer is in the affirmative, determine what payback is likely to result.TRR

For additional reading on this topic and others related to areas of reliability, availability, and maintenance,
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Heinz Bloch’s long professional career included assignments as Exxon Chemical’s Regional Machinery Specialist for the United States. A recognized subject-matter-expert on plant equipment and failure avoidance, he is the author of numerous books and articles, and continues to present at technical conferences around the world. Bloch holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and is an ASME Life Fellow. These days, he’s based near Houston, TX. Email him directly at heinzpbloch@gmail.com.

Tags: reliability, availability, maintenance, MRO, spare parts management