Engineering Driven Reliability (EDR) - a better solution than RCM and FMEA 

The One Absolutely Critical Point 

RCM, FMEA and the like 

All Miss!

Engineering Driven Reliability (EDR)

Engineering Driven Reliability (EDR) is the new method for the future of reliability.

Using a plant criticality scoring system (FMEA style) on current machinery is a fine approach for prioritizing equipment importance. A criticality ranking method like FMEA lets you identify what plant is important to your continued operation.

With that knowledge you can decide your asset management strategies. These include your spares holding strategy, preventive maintenance strategy, predictive maintenance strategy and your equipment replacement plans.

FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) is one of several methods used for risk assessment and enterprise operational risk management. FMEA also plays a key part in QS 9000. An alternate criticality rating method used in Japan is also discussed in 'The Pocket Maintenance Advisor' available from Feed Forward Publications (

For new equipment I would do a full RCM (Reliability Centered Maintenance). In new equipment you want to get rid of failure risk and operating problems at the component level. RCM will do that for you. It's the approach to use when you want to design failure-free equipment.

In a way RCM and FMEA are similar. They both focus on reducing business risk from equipment failures. They both deliver a list of design improvements and better operating practices that if implemented to the highest of standards produce greatly improved plant reliability.

The difference is FMEA risk assessment is at the plant equipment level, whereas RCM detects risk at the individual part and subassembly level.

The one major limitation with these techniques is that they do not encourage creative, innovative, new discoveries! They simply promote best practice methods and designs, not break-through, earth-shattering, technological revolutions!

The design engineer is not the one in the bucket. :>)Imagine if Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb, had it in his mind to only improve how lighting worked in his day! What if he had approached the task of developing better lighting with an RCM or FMEA mindset? I reckon every night we would now be striking a match to light the longest-lasting, brightest candles in the world!

I hope you can see my point. RCM and FMEA will not break you out of using today's limiting technologies and designs that we all have to live with (at least until the next 'Thomas Edison' comes along). With RCM and FMEA you just end up 'making a better mouse trap' and you never discover the new ideas that keep the mice away in the first place.

I hate the limiting technological choices we have to use to build our machines and our businesses! Why can't we invent new equipment technologies to give outstandingly reliable plant? Other industries have!

Do you realize that from the 1970's to the 1990's our entire communication system was revolutionized? We went from sending letters that at best took a week to get a reply, to now sending emails that get replies in minutes.

That is a communications revolution the like of which humanity has ever seen before! That happened over a 20-year period! 20 years ... only 20 years ... to totally change the way we communicate and make the world better forever!

We need the same thing to happen with the technologies we use in our plant and equipment. We need the equivalent of the 1970's - 1990's 'communications revolution' in our industrial equipment.

qs 9000

It saddens me to think that roller bearings were invented nearly three hundred years ago when the first clocks were built, and we still use them today. They were definitely a wonderful discovery, and in three hundred years we have got them just about right. But they are not the best solution.

The best solution is a frictionless, lubrication-free, unfailing, unbreakable device. Where is it? Three hundred years is too long to be waiting for the next revolutionary invention in rotating shaft support technology. We must research, innovate, discover, challenge, adventure, excite, explode away from three hundred year-old solutions to our problems!

More of a EDR example than a FMEA example.

Thankfully great technological advances are happening with some equipment. The most astounding one I know of is the magnetic shaft coupling (the magdrive pump is another good one).

You can now buy a shaft coupling containing rare earth magnets that lets a motor drive a piece of equipment without having to physically connect the shafts. That is wonderful! No physical contact between parts, only magnetic force fields. That is the sort of equipment engineering revolution I want to see more of!

The magnetic coupling is even more fantastic for equipment maintainers and users, because it does not require perfect alignment. You can be out of line by 6 mm (1/4"), and the motor will still drive the equipment. That means my 11-year old girl can set it up. It doesn't need a trained technician to get the shafts perfectly in-line with laser shaft alignment equipment. But there is more!

The new technologies I want will do even greater things for us! They will forgive human errors and still operate perfectly. The magnetic shaft coupling is a great example. You can't destroy the motor or the equipment because the magnetic fields decouple and unlatch the two shafts. So nothing breaks! It needs no maintenance!

You can make 'human error' after 'human error' and the plant is unaffected! It can't be broken! That's marvelous news to every operator and maintainer's ear. And it makes businessmen jump for joy too! There will be no need to allow for costly maintenance in the budget!

One day we humans will want to fly to Mars and the planets beyond, and come back. But we cannot take a maintenance workshop, a machine shop and a warehouse full of parts to fix our spaceship on the way. We must build equipment that cannot fail. We must have equipment that does not need maintenance. We must have equipment that is fantastically energy efficient. And we must invent them soon!

Yes, it's good that your company wants to use RCM and FMEA. I encourage everyone to apply RCM and FMEA and RCA and TPM and OEE and the rest. It's all that we can do at the moment to improve our plant and equipment. And they do work.

Properly implemented they can make a massive improvement to your bottom line results (better to have efficient, failure-free candles than to have to live everyday with candles that keep going out!).

But they will not give you the 'Thomas Edison type' industry-changing, world-revolutionizing, humanity-advancing solutions we desperately need to have if we really want to get past our industrial equipment maintenance problems and let humanity fly to the stars!

The problem of technological limitations on equipment reliability (reliability engineering) has absorbed my thoughts and efforts for many months now. I do not believe that we can ever successfully prevent equipment failures by using the methods and technologies available to us today! Even using today's very best operating methods, designs and training, our technology will let us down in a comparatively short time!

I believe the best approach to rocket reliable equipment is to force technologically innovation to its absolute limits!

Engineering Driven Reliability (EDR) is the new method for the future of reliability. No longer will reliability depend on people doing the right things! Through technological innovation and engineering advancement EDR will insure reliability is built into the machine!

We will have machines and equipment that cannot fail, and remove forever today's situation where we work to keep the machines going!

Keep an eye on my new web site where you will be able to get designs of outstanding reliability engineering, giving equipment lifetimes more than three and four times normal! You are welcome to become part of a network of engineers, design engineers and technicians motivated to produce new, outstandingly reliable equipment designs.

Best regards,

Mike Sondalini

Viewers understands that any content or other information offered on or through is provided for informational purposes only. Viewers should evaluate any content or other information offered on or through in light of viewer's own individual circumstances. © 2008, Feed Forward - A subsidiary of Business Industrial Network