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M-News Edition 47
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M-News - the Maintenance Newsletter

Edition 47, June 2004

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In this edition...
Feature Article - Creating an Asset Health Care Program
Feature Article - Root Cause Failure Analysis - An Integrated Approach
Feature Article - How a Photoswitch Saved My Job
Feature Article - Trends in Mobile Hydraulics
2004 CMMS Implementation Benchmarking Survey
Maintenance Management Benchmarking Survey Results
Recommended Books
On the Lighter Side - Engineering Humor

If you wish to receive notification of future copies of this newsletter by email, please register at If you have any feedback on the newsletter, or have something to contribute, please send me an e-mail.

Feature Article - Creating an Asset Health Care Program

A key question in operating any plant is this: Are we doing the right amount of maintenance? Are we doing the right type of maintenance? This article from Bradley Petersen of SAMIgives a step-by-step method to systematically develop an asset healthcare program, resulting in the necessary reliability to meet your business plan, at the lowest cost. You will find this article at Note that you will require the free Adobe Acrobat reader to be able to view this file.

Feature Article - Root Cause Failure Analysis - An Integrated Approach

This article by Herman Ellis of Qualitech Management Services is a compilation of the work of numerous researchers who have developed various approaches to the science of Problem Solving / Decision Making. It is an attempt to combine and integrate proven techniques into one GENERIC methodology that can be applied to ANY problem. Contrary to other, current, (very good) methodologies, this approach does not require a dedicated team, nor do they have to be experts in the subject matter of the problem. Indeed, it is our experience with hundreds of problem analysis sessions based on this model that the solutions generated during public programs attended by a cross-section of participants from different industries and cultures, significantly outperform those of private in-house courses. You can read it at Once again, you will require the free Adobe Acrobat reader to be able to view this file.

Feature Article - How a Photoswitch Saved My Job

The messages contained in this article from Larry Bush are:

  • anyone can make a mistake and,
  • when in doubt, check the factory specifications of the equipment you are working with.

Read the article at

Feature Article - Trends in Mobile Hydraulics

According to this recent article from Fluid Power Journal, there are two main trends in today's mobile hydraulics marketplace. One is an initiative by the major component manufacturers to increase market share with their customers through single sourcing. The other trend is to the use of environmentally friendly fluids in hydraulic systems. The article can be read at You will require the free Adobe Acrobat reader to be able to view this file.

2004 CMMS Implementation Benchmarking Survey

Our latest survey is on CMMS implementation. Another short survey that should not take too long to complete.

You can complete the survey, and view the results to date, at The survey will remain open until July 15, 2004, and full results will be published in our August newsletter.

Maintenance Management Benchmarking Survey Results

Our Maintenance Management Benchmarking Survey closed on May 15, with valid responses from 180 people. The key findings from this survey were:

Breakdown of Personnel

On average, the breakdown of personnel roles in the Maintenance Departments of those responding was:

  • Management/ Supervision - 13.3%
  • Engineering/ Technical Support - 11.3%
  • Planning, Work Management, Scheduling -10.4%
  • Crafts, Technicians, Trades, Labor - 61.6%
  • Other - 3.4%

In general, it appears that smaller organizations have a higher proportion of Management/Supervisory personnel in their Maintenance departments.

Maintenance Budget

On average, 24% of sites' operating budgets were allocated to Maintenance. There appeared to be little correlation between this percentage and organization size.

Maintenance Activities

The average organization allocates its maintenance budget to the following activities:

  • Reactive/Unplanned/Breakdown Maintenance - 25.8%
  • Planned Corrective Maintenance -19.9%
  • Predictive/Preventive Maintenance - 21.7%
  • Proactive Maintenance/Modifications - 10.5%
  • Overhead Costs - 12.9%
  • Other - 9.2%

Larger organizations tend to spend more money on Predictive/Preventive Maintenance than smaller organizations, and less money on Reactive/Unplanned/Breakdown Maintenance than smaller organizations.

Maintenance Maturity

The programs that have the greatest maturity are those relating to Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) and Maintenance Planning and Scheduling, although, even for these programs, as many as 20-30% of respondents considered their programs in these areas to be either Non-Existent or Infantile.

The programs showing the overall lowest degree of maturity are those relating to Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), Design for Maintainability/Reliability, and Failure/Root Cause Analysis, where between 43% and 53% of respondents considered their programs to be Non-existent or Infantile.

For those who wish to see the full results, visit You will require the free Adobe Acrobat reader to be able to view this file.

Recommended Books

Here are ten Maintenance-related books that we have reviewed recently, and strongly recommend:

Get more information on these and other books at

On the Lighter Side - Engineering Humor


The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates. Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tram ways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did they use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Okay! Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that's the spacing of the old wheel ruts. So who built these old rutted roads?

The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts?

The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made by, or for, Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Thus we have the answer to the original questions. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot. Specs and Bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's arse came up with it, you may be exactly right - because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses.

Now, when we see a Space Shuttle sitting on the launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank.

These are the solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at a factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.

The railroad line to the factory runs through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than a railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So a major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined by the width of a horse's arse. . . . .

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

Alexander (Sandy) Dunn
Plant Maintenance Resource Center

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