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M-News Edition 20
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M-News - the Maintenance Newsletter

Edition 20, December 2001


In this edition...
Feature Article - Competitive Advantage by Ensuring Equipment Reliability
Feature Article - Training - The Backbone of Cultural Change
Feature Article - The Cost of Maintenance Can Send Your Business Broke
Feature Article - Finding the right mix of costs, risks & performance
Current Survey - Maintenance Budgeting and Cost Control
Book Review - Root Cause Failure Analysis, by R. Keith Mobley
Recommended Books
On the Lighter Side - Consulting Humor

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Feature Article - Competitive Advantage by Ensuring Equipment Reliability

Cummins India implemented an innovative approach to retain and enhance their business profitability. Simply put, they are ensuring that the equipment supplied by them to their customers perform as promised and make efforts to assure their customers to meet the desired reliability. This successful business model of Cummins India is now being copied and implemented by Cummins International in other countries. You can read this article at Note that you will need to have the free Adobe Acrobat reader installed to be able to view this file.

Feature Article - Training - The Backbone of Cultural Change

Role specific training is the missing ingredient in most projects, changes or implementations. Quite often the scope of a project will include training but this is generally ill defined or misdirected. In short without a well-defined and planned training regime any cultural change will not fully succeed. This article, from Daryl Mather can be read at

Feature Article - The Cost of Maintenance Can Send Your Business Broke

The total maintenance cost depends on the quality of the equipment you use and how much maintenance it requires. The smart business owner buys equipment that needs little maintenance and insures that the business' design, maintenance, operating and procurement policies and practices all work toward having long-running, long-lived, never-failing plant. This article from Mike Sondalini can be read at Note that you will need to have the free Adobe Acrobat reader installed to be able to view this file.

Feature Article - Finding the Right Mix of Costs, Risks & Performance

Another article from John Woodhouse which discusses the cost/risk trade-off. Cost/Risk decisions range from evaluating a proposed design change, determining the optimal maintenance or inspection interval, when to replace an ageing asset, or which and how many spares to hold. The decisions involve deliberate expenditure in order to achieve some hoped-for reliability, performance or other benefit. We may know the costs involved, but it is often difficult to quantify the potential impact of reduced risks, improved efficiency or safety, or longer equipment life. Historical evidence points to what is allowed to happen - we try not to gather the data about the other side of the coin: what would happen if we did not perform maintenance. RCM, TPM and other frameworks inject some common sense into the speculation, and provide some guidance on the questions of "What maintenance/ inspections/ replacements should I do, when?". They do not, however, provide the vital business justification step - how do determine the best combination of costs incurred, risks taken and performance achieved. You can read the full article at Wks Mgmt article.pdf. Note that you will need to have the free Adobe Acrobat reader installed to be able to view this file.

Current Survey - Maintenance Budgeting and Cost Control

This survey continues, and if you have not completed your response, it should only take a couple of minutes to complete. This time, we are asking you to share a few things with others about how your organization performs Maintenance Budgeting and controls costs. The survey closes on January 15, 2002. You can complete the survey, or view the results to date at

Book Review - Root Cause Failure Analysis, by R. Keith Mobley

Yet another book on Root Cause Analysis - the book market on this subject appears to be quite cluttered. Actually, the title for this book is somewhat misleading, because of the 308 pages in this book, only 44 pages discuss the Root Cause Failure Analysis methodology. Most of the remainder is made up of Equipment Design Evaluation Guides, and Equipment Troubleshooting Guides, which cover, in a generic fashion, equipment types including Compressors, Blowers, Pumps, Steam Traps, Inverters, Control Valves and others. The intention of the Design Guides is to provide the basic knowledge needed to understand the critical design issues which directly affect reliability. This includes some brief discussion of installation and operating practices. The main feature of the Troubleshooting Guides is a list of probable "failure modes", based on failure symptoms.

As you can probably tell from the emphasis on equipment-related issues, the focus of this book is on identifying equipment-related causes of failure. As such, it takes a very "engineering" outlook of Root Cause Analysis. While there is some, brief, discussion of non-equipment related failure causes (such as inappropriate operation etc.), this discussion is really not satisfactory enough for a book that aims to be a reference book on Root Cause Analysis. Given that recent NOSA statistics have indicated that over 70% of industrial safety incidents, for example, are caused by Unsafe Actions, not Unsafe Conditions - and that aviation safety statistics indicate that less than 15% of air crashes are caused by equipment failure, any Root Cause Analysis approach that focuses almost exclusively on equipment-related causes of failure will not satisfactorily address many, significant failures.

Also consistent with this "engineering" approach to Root Cause analysis is a strong focus on the analysis being conducted by a sole analyst who collects information by interview process and other means, and who then writes a report which "solves" the problem. Implementation issues are not discussed - and the reality is that this approach is a highly ineffective way of creating a "learning" organization so that failures do not recur.

In summary, if you were planning to buy this as your sole guidebook on how to perform root cause analysis, this book has some major weaknesses. It's strongest point, however, are the Equipment Design and Troubleshooting Guides, which may act as a useful reference guide for less experienced engineers.

You can purchase this book through (and simultaneously support the Plant Maintenance Resource Center) by visiting

Alternatively, two other books which we prefer as Root Cause Analysis texts are Apollo Root Cause Analysis - A New Way Of Thinking by Dean Gano, which was reviewed in M-News Edition 16(, and Root Cause Analysis, by Latino & Latino, reviewed in Edition 14 (

Recommended Books

Some of the books that have previously been reviewed on this site, and which we strongly recommend are listed below. Ron Moore's book, Making Common Sense Common Practice is particularly recommended as representing excellent value for money.

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

On the Lighter Side - Consulting Humor

In place of the usual Engineering Humor, the following story tickled my fancy.

Five cannibals get appointed as internal change agents in a company. During the welcoming ceremony the boss says: "You're all part of our team now. You can earn good money here and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat. So don't trouble any of the other employees."
The cannibals promised not to trouble the other employees. Four weeks later the boss returns and says: "You're all working very hard and I'm very satisfied with all of you. One of our janitors has disappeared,however. Do any of you know what happened to him?"
The cannibals diaavowed all knowledge of the missing janitor. After the boss has left, the leader of the cannibals says to the others: Which of you idiots ate the janitor?"
A hand raises hesitantly, to which the leader of the cannibals says: "You idiot! For four weeks we've been eating Team Leaders, directors, vice presidents and Project Managers so no-one would notice anything and you have to go and eat the janitor!"

Wishing you all a joyous festive season, and a prosperous New Year. 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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