Management Work Processes

KISSing Is Good For Reliability

EP Editorial Staff | February 8, 2016


As catchy phrases go, ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ has legs when it comes to managing equipment health.

The KISS principle is one of the first rules of good engineering practice. An acronym for “Keep It Simple Stupid,” it refers to the fact that most things function best if kept simple. According to Trent Phillips, global reliability leader for Novelis Inc., Atlanta (, the principle has maintenance and reliability significance.

As he wrote in a 2014 blog post on the Ludeca Inc. (Doral, FL) website (, end users often believe that costly, complex activities/functions are required to improve equipment reliability. While that may be the case in certain situations, you can make it the exception and not the rule in your facility. The point is not to focus excessively on expensive, complicated reliability functions you cannot complete and overlook the fundamentals in keeping equipment reliable.

What types of simple reliability improvements can you make? Phillips emphasizes these equipment basics:

  • Align shafts and other components.
  • Balance rotating components such as fan blades, impellers, and rotors.
  • Tighten appropriately; eliminate looseness and excessive vibration.
  • Lubricate correctly; not too much or too little.
  • Inspect.
  • Apply condition monitoring.
  • Understand where your efforts should be focused.

Also, don’t wait until equipment is installed and operating. According to Phillips, “Failure to address these vital aspects from the beginning through operation of your equipment will lead to higher maintenance costs and reduced equipment reliability.”

Unfortunately, important reliability-improvement efforts in plants often fall victim to lack of resources, understanding, time, and funding. To counter this situation in a facility, Phillips urges the reliability team to ensure that the site’s engineering, maintenance, production, purchasing, and management teams all understand, and routinely employ, fundamental KISS practices. MT

Indicators That Keep Things Simple

Trent Phillips, global reliability leader with Novelis Inc., Atlanta (, believes questions such as “Can we make our production schedule?” and other crystal-ball-type probing from plant personnel often put maintenance and reliability professionals in a tough position. In a December 2015 blog post on, he called out four future indicators that organizations can leverage to help answer such questions:

Preventive maintenance (PM) completion rate. Low PM completion rates directly correlate with increased future equipment-maintenance work. High PM completion rates mean that needed equipment maintenance is being completed and future maintenance issues will be avoided.

Ready-to-work backlog. This is an indicator of preparedness and efficiency to complete maintenance work.

Outage-schedule compliance. This important-to-track metric is an indicator of future maintenance work. Not adhering to outage schedules creates deferred equipment maintenance. This results in increased risks and likelihood that equipment performance will decrease at a future time, leading to lower capacity, increased downtime, and greater operating costs.

Equipment-asset-health reporting. Condition-monitoring tools, such as vibration analysis, infrared thermography, oil analysis, and ultrasound, can assure that impending failures are identified and corrected before they result in equipment downtime or other unwanted consequences. Tracking indicators from these technologies together can provide insights into future asset health. The “red” assets they identify can lead to unwanted equipment maintenance and downtime if corrective action isn’t taken. Additionally, if an effective critical-equipment ranking system is in place, asset-health-reporting can help prioritize maintenance efforts.

For more information on equipment-health-related strategies and techniques, including blog posts by Trent Phillips and other experts in maintenance and reliability, visit



View Comments

Sign up for insights, trends, & developments in
  • Machinery Solutions
  • Maintenance & Reliability Solutions
  • Energy Efficiency
Return to top