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M-News Edition 13
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M-News - the Maintenance Newsletter

Edition 13, April 2001

Welcome to the thirteenth edition of M-News. This is a free newsletter on topics of interest to Maintenance professionals, brought to you by the Plant Maintenance Resource Center.

We aim to bring you the latest news and views on what is happening in the world of Maintenance. If you wish to receive notification of future copies of this newsletter by email, please register here. If you have any feedback on the newsletter, or have something to contribute, please send me an e-mail.


In this edition...
Feature Article - Examining the Processes of RCM and TPM
Feature Article - Condition Monitoring in the 21st Century
Feature Article - Weighing the Options of Chiller Maintenance
Survey Results - Root Cause Analysis
Current Survey - Maintenance Salaries
Other Maintenance Newsletters
Book Review - Reliability, Maintainability and Risk, by David J Smith
Root Cause Analysis Books
On the Lighter Side - Engineering Humor

Feature Article - Examining the Processes of RCM and TPM

This article, contributed by Ross Kennedy of The Centre for TPM (Australasia) ( comparies RCM and TPM, and explores whether the two approaches are compatible This article can be read at

Feature Article - Condition Monitoring in the 21st Century

I presented this paper at the International Maintenance Management Conference in Sydney, Australia last November. It outlines some of the challenges and opportunities that exist for users and providers of Condition Monitoring equipment and services in the 21st Century, based on my recent experience as National Manager for a Condition Monitoring organisation. It can be read at

Feature Article - Weighing the Options of Chiller Maintenance

This article, contributed by Mark Harbin of ESS (, gives some practical tips in how to review, explain, estimate and present all of the various avenues an owner can take with their CFC chillers. This article can be read at You will require the free Adobe Acrobat plug-in to be installed on your computer to read this article.

Survey Results - Root Cause Analysis

The results of this recent survey are now available at The key findings are:

  • 59% of respondents indicated that they used some form of Root Cause Analysis process
  • Of those who indicated that they used some form of Root Cause Analysis process, 79% indicated that they used formal, structured processes
  • Those using formal processes considered that the overall effectiveness of their approach was significantly better than did those people using informal processes.
  • Supervisory and technical staff are more likely to be involved in Root Cause analysis than shop floor personnel.
  • The greatest benefits appear to be in the area of improved Equipment Availability and Reliability, but users of Root Cause Analysis processes reported benefits across a wide range of parameters.
  • 60% of respondents indicated that they used external consultants to assist with their Root Cause Analysis implementation, and those that used external consultants were slightly more likely to report that their Root Cause analysis process was more effective
  • 55% of respondents indicated that they used software to assist with their Root Cause Analysis process, and those that used software were significantly more likely to report that their Root Cause analysis process was more effective
  • 59% of respondents used the TapRooT approach to Root Cause analysis
  • Most of those that used commercially available approaches considered these approaches to be effective, but those that used other approaches were less satisfied with the effectiveness being achieved.
  • Significantly, 25% of all respondents indicated that they were considering implementing a new or revised Root Cause approach.

Current Survey - Maintenance Salaries

Responses to the Plant Maintenance Resource Center survey on Maintenance Salaries have been a little slower than anticipated. Accordingly, I have extended the deadline for participation in this year's survey until April 30. All submissions are totally confidential. If you haven't responded yet, please do so, and tell all your friends and colleagues who work in the field of Maintenance. You can register your response, or view the results to date at For the results of last year's survey, visit For the results of the 1999 salary survey, visit

Other Maintenance Newsletters

Yes - there are other Maintenance-related newsletters available via e-mail. They each have their particular features, and this article outlines some of those that are available.

  • LUBE-TIPS is a free email newsletter published twice a week. It aims to take the mystery out of proper machinery lubrication. Anyone responsible for machinery operation, design or maintenance will find this free newsletter very useful. To get the next issue sent to you, simply send an email to: to give the newsletter your email address. No subject or message is needed. To see back issues of the newsletter, visit the Lube-Tips web site at
  • If you happen not to have visited and - or you may find it convenient to do so in the next few minutes or days. Those are friendly sites and once there, you can also subscribe to their NewsLetter.
  • The Reliability Center, Inc. issues a monthly e-mail newsletter containing a variety of items, including links to popular sites, and articles relating to Maintenance and Reliability. Visit to subscribe to their newsletter.
  • Another on-line publication we highly recommend is the "Maintenance Resources On-line Magazine." This monthly publication is available free to plant engineering, maintenance and reliability professionals. To subscribe go to: To access previous issues of this magazine, which has been published since February 1999, please go to:
  • This is not exactly a newsletter, but has launched an online Reliability & Condition Monitoring Conference. Presentations include voice narration and a series of slides. To log onto the conference go to and click on the R/CM¹ links or go directly to the conference at
    • I am sure that there are many other Maintenance-related newsletters. Perhaps you have your favourites. If so, let me know and we will include them in a future newsletter.

      Book Review - Reliability, Maintainability and Risk, by David J Smith

      First, let me declare my bias - I am not a strong believer in the validity of Weibull analysis and other statistical techniques at a practical level, in a Maintenance environment. This book comes strongly from the statistical analysis "camp" of engineers. So it was with some scepticism that I started to read this book. However, by the end, I can honestly say that this book is excellent, and that all Maintenance engineers who want a good, practical text which covers the principles behind Weibull, and other reliability modelling techniques, should read it.

      The author, David Smith, is a past chairman of the UK Safety and Reliability Society, and is clearly eminently qualified and experienced in the field. This shows throughout the book. The writing style is very readable.

      The book starts by giving a brief outline of the history of safety and reliability technology, and outlines definitions for some key terms. It then moves on to a section on interpreting failure rates (which includes a good explanation of Weibull, its applicability, and its weaknesses). The next section focuses on Reliability prediction and modelling techniques, and covers all of the major modelling techniques commonly in use, including Markov Analysis, Reliability Block Diagrams, FMEA, QRA and others. Specific mention is made of issues relating to human reliability, and software reliability. Finally, it includes a section relating to Legal, Management and Safety considerations, written from the perspective of a supplier who is being asked to guarantee performance of an equipment item or system after it has been installed.

      Mr Smith clearly has an instrumentation and software background, and it is in this area that statistical modelling techniques perhaps have the greatest likelihood of impact from a Maintenance perspective. RCM techniques, in these areas, tend to state that instrumentation or software failures are not predictable, nor (generally) does their probability increase as the item becomes older, and so, if the risk of the failure is not tolerable, then the RCM decision diagram tends to default to a "Redesign" - either mandatory or optional. In this situation, then Reliability modelling techniques can be useful in assisting to determine which "redesign" is most likely to lead to an acceptable reduction in the level of risk.

      Nevertheless, the author is quite clear about the limitations of the technique. He points out the dangers of using generic failure data, drawing on publically available data from 4 sources to illustrate that failure rates for the same electronic component, operating at the same temperature, can vary by as much as 20,000%, or 20 orders of magnitude. Equally, he states that, when generating your own failure data and applying Weibull that "a satisfactory result will not be obtained with less than at least six (failure) points. On the other hand, as long as you are aware of the limitations of the approach, then there may be situations that making an educated guess is better than making no guess at all.

      Later in the book (afficionados of the SAE standard on RCM JA1011 take note) he introduces a technique called "Quantified RCM", which involves using statistical modelling and calculation to balance the cost of unavailability with that of excessive maintenance. We won't go into the debate here, except to say that this approach is not "RCM" as defined by JA1011, and, given the above admissions regarding the accuracy, and availability, of failure data, this (albeit short) chapter is probably best left unread.

      Nevertheless, there is a lot of valuable information in this book. Those involved in Reliability Modelling would find it a useful desk reference which they would keep coming back to again and again.

      You can purchase this book from The Plant Maintenance Resource Center, in association with, at

      Root Cause Analysis Books

      If the results of the Root Cause Analysis survey have whetted your appetite, you may wish to consider reading one or more of the following books on Root Cause Analysis

      For details on all of these books, and many more, visit

      On the Lighter Side - Engineering Humor

      Q: What is the definition of an engineer? A: Someone who solves a problem you didn't know you had, in a way you don't understand.

      I hope you have enjoyed this newsletter. All feedback, comments and contributions to future editions are very welcome (as are enquiries about sponsorship of this newsletter).

      Alexander (Sandy) Dunn
      Plant Maintenance Resource Center

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