From chaos to clockwork: The Drive to Peak – Route 5 Failure

Paul Boughton

You are invited to join Roald Rodseth on the Drive to achieve Peak performance

The asset has failed! It is no longer working like a ‘Clock’ and ‘Chaos’ is about to erupt. It is no longer able to perform its required function and nobody likes this situation to arise. The consequences of these failures are many and painful at that.

How did this happen? There are multiple reasons and they are varied but often large failures have small beginnings. Figure 1 illustrates the point.

The impact of machine defects is discussed here. Refer to the lower (green) section of Fig. 1. This is where it all starts with a physical asset which has no defects. It is able to perform its function with no negative impact on the operation of the plant. This is shown on Fig’ 1 as ‘None’.

Unfortunately as the enemy of assets  - wear -  does its work, hidden defects begin to form. These are defects that are difficult to detect but which, nevertheless, are present. They are shown labelled ‘Hidden’ in Figu’ 1. To the unsuspecting, all seems well as the asset is still performing as desired.

As wear takes its further toll, the size of the defect increases to the point at which it becomes visible, hence the name ‘Visible’. Although the defect is clearly visible, it again has no impact on the operational capability of the asset.

Unfortunately further decay in the condition of the asset will probably lead to visible collapse of parts thereof. Often even in this condition, the asset is able to perform its function. This condition is termed ‘Collapsing’.

A point will soon be reached where the condition of the asset will start affecting its functionality and failures thereof will negatively impact on the product and the rate of production. Refer to the upper part of Fig 1. (coloured brown).

As the condition deteriorates, the asset will cause noticeable interruptions to the production process - hence the term ‘Interrupting’. These may initially be minor in nature but will increasingly become problematic.

A point will soon be reached where these interruptions become a serious problem. The function of the asset will be seriously impeded – hence the name of the phase.

Chaos has arrived. This situation is unacceptable and will end in a catastrophic situation.

The lesson to be learnt from this is that hidden failures need to be identified as soon as possible and that they need to be dealt with in order to prevent a small problem becoming a large one. 

Roald Rodseth is Managing Director, Radiant Operations International (Pty) Ltd in conjunction with DesSoft