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com
Mai nt enance and Rel i abi l i t y
For decades, reliability scholars
have been stressing the importance
of prioritizing new maintenance thrusts and
investments based on need. The word they
like to use is “criticality.” For any given
machine, how critical is its reliability? What
if it failed suddenly and catastrophically?
What would be the consequences — lost
production, expensive repairs, fatality?
Criticality is the logical starting point for all
reliability initiatives.
There are many different ways to enhance
reliability and improve the quality of mainte-
nance. The best options should be risk-based.
After all, if it doesn’t reduce risk, why do it?
Why spend an incremental dollar to enhance
a machine’s reliability if it doesn’t yield
multiple dollars in return?
There’s also priority. What should be
done frst, second and third, and what
should not be done at all? How do you
know which machines return big dollars for
enhanced reliability, which machines return
marginal dollars and which machines
return nothing at all?
Once you understand machine criticality
and a machine’s risk profle, you can work
smarter to customize improvements. For
guidance, look to the Pareto principle,
which states that 20 percent of the
machines cause 80 percent of the reliability
problems. Which machines are these?
In addition, consider that 20 percent of
the causes of failure are responsible for 80
percent of the occurrences of failure. Which
causes are these? It’s about precision —
precision maintenance and precision
lubrication. It’s also knowing how to make
wise, risk-informed choices.
AS I SEE IT
A New LOOK at
CRITICALITY Analysis for
Machinery
LUBRICATION
JIM FITCH NORIA CORPORATION
Figure 1. Machine Criticality Factor (MCF)
(Relates to the consequences of machine failure)
I’ve written previously about the Optimum
Reference State (ORS). This is the prescribed
state of machine confguration, operating condi-
tions and maintenance activities required to
achieve and sustain specifc reliability objectives.
As stated, defning the ORS requires a defnition
of the specifc reliability objectives for a given
machine. Defning the reliability objectives
demands an understanding of failure modes and
machine criticality.
This reminds me of the plant manager who
told me years ago that he decided the best way
to solve his lubrication problems was to put
synthetic lubricants in every machine. Do you
think he got the result he sought? Does paying a
premium for synthetics guarantee a premium
return in machine reliability and maintenance
cost reduction? Do synthetics offer forgiveness
for negligent and shoddy maintenance? Is this
wise decision-making?
Understand the Reliability-Risk
Connection
The probability of machine failure needs to
be inversely proportional to risk. There’s no
better example than commercial aviation.
Because the consequences of failure are
extremely high (death), the probability of failure
must be equally low (extreme reliability). It is the
only practical means to hedge risk. Those respon-
sible for maintenance usually have little control
over the consequences of failure (often limited
only to early detection technology). However, reli-
ability maintainers frequently have considerable
control over the probability of failure. Indeed, you
can use risk and criticality to develop a master
plan for lubrication-enabled machine reliability.
This will be the focus of this article.
Let’s begin with a list of common lubrica-
tion and oil analysis decisions (all attributes
of the ORS) that can be customized (opti-
mized) by understanding failure modes and
machine criticality:
• Lubricant selection, e.g., premium vs. econ-
omy-formulated lubricants
• Filtration, including things such as flter
quality, pore size, capture effciency, location
and fow rate
• Lubricant preventive maintenance (daily PMs)
and inspection strategy
• Lubricant delivery method selection and use
(e.g., circulating, auto-lube, mist, etc.)
• Oil analysis (which machines are included
and which are not?)
Machinery
Lubrication
Machinery
Lubrication
Machinery Machinery
Lubrication Lubrication
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MACHINERY LUBRICATION
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Machinery
Lubrication
March - April 2013 | 3
FAILURE OCCURRENCE FACTOR (FOF)
FAILURE
OCCURRENCE
FACTOR
METHOD A.
MACHINE RELIABILITY HISTORY IS KNOWN
METHOD B.
MACHINE RELIABILITY
IS UNKNOWN
1 Never
Machine has long history, has never been known to
fail and is showing no signs of impaired reliability.
2 Very Rare
Machine is highly reliable, and past failures have
been extremely rare (15+ years of service life).
3 Rare Machine can go more than 10 years without failure.
4 Infrequent
Machine has been known to fail but only after 5 or
more years.
5 Occasional Failures can occur in the time range of 3 to 8 years.
6
Common
and Likely
Failures are likely after 3 to 5 years’ service life.
7
Somewhat
Frequent
Failures tend to occur after 2 to 5 years’ service life.
8 Frequent Failures tend to occur after 1 to 3 years’ service life.
9
Very
Frequent
Failures occur frequently in 0.5 to 2 years’
service life.
10
Chronic and
Certain
Failures are expected in less than 1 year’s
service life.
Complete The Reliability
Elements Quotient
Figure 2. Use this table to determine the Failure Occurrence Factor, corresponding
to the probability of failure.
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AS I SEE IT
• Oil sampling frequency (weekly, monthly, quarterly, never)
• Laboratory and test slate selection
• Oil analysis alarms and limits
All of these decisions and activities must be within the scope of
the Optimum Reference State. For this reason, the importance of
criticality should not be taken lightly. However, a practical means
of assigning a value to criticality, customized to machine lubrica-
tion and tribology, has largely been elusive. In fact, the felds of
lubrication and tribology raise unique issues and questions related
to criticality that aren’t typically addressed and aren’t common to
other types of machinery.
Calculating Overall Machine Criticality
Overall Machine Criticality (OMC) is a risk-profle assessment
that can be calculated to a single numerical value. The OMC is
what you seek to know and control. The lower the OMC, the lower
the risk. The OMC is the multiplied product of two factors: the
Machine Criticality Factor (MCF) and the Failure Occurrence
Factor (FOF). The MCF relates to the consequences of machine
failure, which combines both mission criticality and repair costs,
while the FOF relates to the probability of machine failure. This
probability is highly infuenced by maintenance and lubrication
practices and therefore is far more controllable.
Machine Criticality Factor
A simple method for estimating the Machine Criticality Factor is
shown in Figure 1. It requires an understanding of mission criticality
and repair costs. While you could call these SWAGs (educated
guesses), it is far better to guess using a logical method than to apply
dartboard science or do nothing at all.
The MCF is scaled 1 to 10, with 10 corresponding to extreme
criticality (high risk). You start by answering the question of mission
criticality. Machines that are process-critical can accumulate huge
production losses as a result of sudden and prolonged failure.
Extremely high mission criticality relates to safety (injury or death).
In the event there is minimal business interruption or safety risk,
there might still be high repair costs. Although many processes have
redundant systems or standby equipment in the event of failure,
these systems don’t mitigate the cost of repair, which can be
millions of dollars in some circumstances.
The fnal consideration is the current or potential use of early
detection technology (predictive maintenance) to annunciate
alarms of impending or precipitous failure events. In such cases,
both downtime and the cost of repair can be substantially reduced.
Oil analysis (wear debris analysis), vibration analysis, bearing metal
temperatures, proximity probes, motor current, etc., are all tech-
nologies that can offer real beneft in reducing the Machine
Criticality Factor (see the adjusted scale at the bottom of Figure 1,
which applies only if effective early warning systems are used).
Failure Occurrence Factor
As mentioned previously, the Failure Occurrence Factor relates
to the probability of machine failure. This can be estimated from
the machine’s failure history or statistical analysis of a group of
identical machines. Machines that are inherently prone to failure
Figure 3. An example of a pre-ORS Reliability Elements Quotient.
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MACHINE CRITICALITY FACTOR
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
F
A
I
L
U
R
E

O
C
C
U
R
R
E
N
C
E

F
A
C
T
O
R
1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
3 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30
4 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40
5 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
6 6 12 18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60
7 7 14 21 28 35 42 49 56 63 70
8 8 16 24 32 40 48 56 64 72 80
9 9 18 27 36 45 54 63 72 81 90
10 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
AS I SEE IT
Color Risk
Remediation
Required
Red
Extreme
Risk
Immediate
Amber High Risk High Priority
Yellow
Manageable
Risk
As Soon as
Possible
Green Minor Risk
Continuous
Improvement
Blue Low Risk None
Figure 4. The Overall Machine Criticality
(OMC) matrix includes the Machine Criti-
cality Factor on the X-axis, the Failure
Occurrence Factor on the Y-axis and five risk
zones, each represented by a different color.
(bad actors) get the highest rating on a scale of 1 to 10. High
FOFs usually correspond to extreme and chronic conditions (see
the table in Figure 2). If you have good historical knowledge of the
machine’s reliability, then use the descriptive rating scheme
(Method A) under the “Machine Reliability History is Known”
heading. If machine reliability is unknown or uncertain, go to the
Reliability Elements Quotient (REQ) in Figure 3 (Method B). This
is a scoring system that shows what causes and controls failure in
lubricated machines. Most importantly, it reveals the funda-
mental strategy for optimizing machine reliability.
Reliability Elements Quotient
The REQ (Figure 3) tallies fve critical elements to arrive at a
customized composite score that will be used for the FOF in Figure
2. It gets down into the weeds of what causes a greater or lesser
likelihood of machine failure. Let’s discuss these elements, starting
at the top and working our way down.
• Machine Duty - Machine duty is a compilation of opera-
tional conditions that can induce premature machine failure.
Machines that score high are those that run at or beyond
rated loads (catalog loads), operate at high pressure, run at
high speed, are exposed to high shock loads or duty cycles,
and have other similar mechanical conditions.
• Lubricant Quality/Performance - Good lubricant selec-
tion extends machine life, while poor lubricant selection
shortens it. The beneft of good lubricants not only reduces
friction and wear but can also protect the machine from
corrosion, air entrainment, deposit formation and lubricant
starvation. Therefore, lubricant quality directly infuences the
probability of failure.
• Lubrication Effectiveness - More machines fail due to poor
lubrication than poor lubricants. Lubrication relates to a
range of activities and conditions including relubrication
frequency, relubrication method, controlling lubricant levels,
lubrication procedures, inspection methods and contamina-
tion control. For most plants, there is a large gap between
doing lubrication and doing lubrication right.
• Fluid Environment Severity - This is largely contamination
control related. Contamination compromises the quality of
the lubricant and the state of lubrication. It relates to what the
machine is exposed to in its work environment (and the
severity of exposure), plus the effectiveness of the machine in
excluding and removing contaminants from the lubricant.
Machines that are bombarded with dirt, water, corrosive
materials, ambient heat/cold and process chemicals have high
fuid environment severity.
• Early Warning Systems - Early warning technology also
impacts the probability of failure. This is done by catching
incipient failures or root-cause conditions that are the precur-
sors to failures. Oil analysis and comprehensive daily machine
inspections are extremely effective at providing early warning
to a host of problems.
The Reliability Elements Quotient is a scorecard that counts all
fve factors. For each element, the score range goes left to right,
from very low (far left) to extremely high (far right). The numerical
scale changes for each factor. The best way to use the REQ is to
circle the assigned score for each factor and then write the score in
the box to the right. The total score is tallied at the bottom. In the
example, this total is 8, which designates high failure probability.
Overall Machine Criticality Matrix
and De-Risking Your Plant
The OMC is probably best viewed as a matrix. This is shown in
Figure 4 with the MCF on the X-axis and the FOF on the Y-axis. The
intersecting box reveals the OMC value (multiplication of the MCF
and the FOF). The matrix has fve color zones which are actually
risk zones (the location of these zones on the grid can be custom-
ized). The highest risk is represented by the color red. Next is amber,
followed by yellow, then green and fnally blue (low risk).
Machines that fall in the amber or red zones are targeted for
immediate remediation. This is best done by reducing risk values
from one or more of the four “addressable” reliability elements (see
Figure 3), which are subcomponents of the FOF. These are lubricant
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quality/performance, lubrication effectiveness, fuid environment
severity and effectiveness of early warning systems.
This is exactly the purpose of the Optimum Reference State.
Figure 5 shows how key ORS performance attributes infuence the
addressable reliability elements that in turn infuence Overall
Machine Criticality. Everything is connected.
Additionally, failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) can be
used to assign priority to ORS attribute improvements. For more
information on FMEA as it applies to machinery lubrication, see
http://www.machinerylubrication.com/Read/17/fmea-process.
It makes sense that all reliability initiatives need to adjust
(improve) the OMC. This typically involves a range of modifcations
to the ORS performance attributes as shown in Figure 5. These can
include machinery modifcations, lubricant selection changes,
people skills improvements, procedure modifcations and others.
“Optimizing” the modifcation master plan through FMEA and
criticality analysis achieves the lowest risk profle or OMC at the
lowest possible cost.
An example of this is seen in Figures 6 and 7. By making modif-
cations to lubricant selection, lubrication methods, contamination
control and oil analysis, the Failure Occurrence Factor improved
from 8 to 1. For a machine that has a Machine Criticality Factor of
5, this brought the risk profle down from 40 (amber, high-risk
zone) to 5 (blue, low-risk zone).
What It All Means
In the January-February 2013 issue of Machinery Lubrication, I wrote
about the Technology Adoption Cycle and the impediments to adop-
tion of the Optimum Reference State. People, especially managers,
“go with what they know.” If they don’t understand risk and reward
as it relates to machine reliability, they will shy away from acceptance
and adoption. The state of lubrication continues “business as usual.”
This is a curse indeed, but one that can be remedied.
* Process design and control influence, not usually maintenance related
Figure 5. This table shows how the ORS performance attributes directly influence the elements in the Reliability Elements Quotient (REQ).
ORS PERFORMANCE ATTRIBUTES
ADDRESSABLE RELIABILITY ELEMENTS
MACHINE
DUTY*
LUBRICANT
QUALITY/
PERFORMANCE
LUBRICATION
EFFECTIVENESS
FLUID
ENVIRONMENT
SEVERITY
EFFECTIVENESS OF
EARLY WARNING
SYSTEMS
Lubricant
Attributes
Optimum lubricant products and supplier selection
Lubricant reception, labeling, packaging, storing
and handling
Lubrication
Attributes
Optimum selection of oil change and regrease
intervals
Optimum selection, documentation and use of lubri-
cation and oil analysis PMs, tasks and procedures
Machine
Attributes
Proper selection and location of filters
Correct selection and location of oil level gauges and
inspection sight glasses
Correct selection and location of sampling valves
Optimum selection of breathers and headspace
management devices
Correct machine relubrication and flushing
hardware and tools
Optimum selection and use of seals and leakage
control devices
Optimum selection and use of seals to control
contaminant ingression
Oil Analysis
Attributes
Oil analysis program design and execution
People and
Program
Management
Attributes
Awareness training, skills training, competency
testing
Optimum use of lubrication program metrics
and KPIs
Optimum program management, data
management, work management systems
= Major Influence
= Moderate Influence
= Minor Influence
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An excellent place to start is by developing a current risk profle
of your critical machinery (pre-ORS). This reveals the opportunity
and all the low-hanging fruit that no one has seemed to notice.
Optimum is undefnable without understanding risk. By using the
tools described here, you not only can understand risk (criticality
and occurrence), but you can also have a solid plan for remediation
to de-risk your plant. Don’t fail to capitalize on the riches (collect
the fruit) that can be gained by transformation to the Optimum
Reference State.
About the Author
Jim Fitch has a wealth of “in the trenches” experience in lubrication,
oil analysis, tribology and machinery failure investigations. Over the past
two decades, he has presented hundreds of courses on these subjects. Jim
has published more than 200 technical articles, papers and publications.
He serves as a U.S. delegate to the ISO tribology and oil analysis working
group. Since 2002, he has been director and board member of the Interna-
tional Council for Machinery Lubrication. He is the CEO and a co-founder
of Noria Corporation. Contact Jim at jftch@noria.com.
AS I SEE IT
PRE-ORS POST-ORS
Machine Criticality Factor (MCF) 5 5
Failure Occurrence Factor (FOF) 8 1
Machine Duty 3 3
Lubricant Quality/Performance 2 1
Lubrication Effectiveness 1 0
Fluid Environment Severity 3 0
Effectiveness of Early Warning
Systems
-1 -3
Overall Machine Criticality (OMC)* 40 5
OMC Zone Amber Blue
OMC Risk High Risk Low Risk
* OMC=MCF x FOF
Figure 8. Illustration of how bringing a machine to the
Optimum Reference State can reduce risk.
Figure 7. This post-ORS Reliability Elements Quotient shows how the Failure Occurrence
Factor improved from 8 to 1 after several modifications were made.
MACHINE CRITICALITY FACTOR
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
F
A
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U
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E

O
C
C
U
R
R
E
N
C
E

F
A
C
T
O
R
1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
3 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30
4 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40
5 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
6 6 12 18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60
7 7 14 21 28 35 42 49 56 63 70
8 8 16 24 32 40 48 56 64 72 80
9 9 18 27 36 45 54 63 72 81 90
10 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
Figure 6. This OMC matrix illustrates how improvements in lubricant
selection, lubrication methods, contamination control and oil analysis
brought a machine’s risk profile down from 40 to 5.
888888 10
11112 12 1222 15
16 20
20 25
224 4 2 30
228 8 35
322 000
45 45 5 45
44440 40 40
5
5555
0000 10 100 10
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