Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Five Ways to Improve Plant Reliability with the Internet

Many of us are becoming more and more dependent on the internet to manage many parts of our lives, however some of our reliability peers and brethren still have not embraced the power of the web. So, I though I would share 5 great places to start improving your reliability with Al Gore's incredible invention, the Internet.
Five things reliability folks should use on the internet:

#1 Google 
Google is the most obvious tool but also the most powerful, it can provide access to any one of the following:
Vendor websites   
Old pdf vendors manuals and sales literature with specifications 
Common problem with equipment in the form of articles from publications, blogs, bulletin boards, and historical sites
Spare parts for obsolete equipment
Special tools
New technologies
The key here is to search different combinations of words because not everyone calls a piece of equipment or technology by the same name. You know, it is the old grease zerk, fitting, nipple issue that has plagued CMMS users for years. 
I will be facilitating a root cause analysis tomorrow and the first step in that process for me is to google the equipment manufacture as well as the product and a list of common failures of that equipment. Sometimes I am amazed by what is already out there on the web that I can use not to prejudge the root cause but to improve my understanding of anything from design operating context to expectations for maintenance and known weak design points.
#2 Wikipedia
Wikipedia is my go to site for information about companies, product, equipment, industries, and concepts. You can click on each linked word above to see an actual example.
Say you are curious about Monte Carlo Simulations (if you are just click), quickly you can see a definition, details, and many times even examples of how to use the tool. The one point to remember is that it is all crowd sourced, meaning that the "facts" come from many people and are reviewed regularly but it can still have some inaccuracies.
#3 LinkedIn
LinkedIn is where you can connect with many different people from your and other industries. It is a networking site for professionals and a great place to get answers to questions from others in similar situations. On LinkedIn I find both the Groups and Answers section extremely useful. Groups is where you can find a congregation of folks who are interested in the same topic, or company, or discipline and you join them in this interest. You can pose questions to the members of the group or just read their post and learn from their questions and thoughts. The Answers section, which you can find under the more button in the header menu, is a great place to go to ask a question of a larger audience. Your questions can be sent out to more than just a group, it can be sent out to everyone who has interest in the topic you select. This can be thousands of people. You can also address the question just to your network of connections depending on what your needs are. If you send it out to everyone on a topic then you will be amazed how quickly people will respond with great answers and along the way you may make some great new connections.
#4 Ebay
While everyone knows you can buy clothes or toys or cameras or cars most people do not realize you can buy industrial equipment and parts. I find myself sometime searching specifically for obsolete items to keep an old unit running late in its product life cycle. Here is a link to the business section where you will see list of item that you may have been looking for for quite some time. You may find the one switch you need to keep that one original widget machine running that you can not get the capital to replace.
#5 Twitter
Twitter, while clogged with reports or 'tweets" of lunch locations/meal details and celebrity death hoaxes, can be a great place to see what is new in your industry or maintenance and reliability in general. The key here is to follow only those people with similar interest and then you will see when they share information, a quote, a blog post or a relevant news story. This is one of the best ways to see what is new and find new content to use in your reliability toolbox talks from a past week's blog. I constantly see new articles that I can use with clients and with our internal folks as well. Also by following or setting up searches for the hashtags for conferences you get a great look at the content that all of the presenters are sharing real time even if you cant be there.

What sites would you add? What site has been a lifesaver for you?


  1. Great blog as usual Shon,

    To add sites on top of these great referances there are a lot of Blog sites that have very good material. This material can help people have greater insights into their Reliability and Maintenance issues.
    Just to name a few on top of yours of course there is :

    I hope the list will help others in their search for maintenance excellance!

    Best regards, Bjarni

  2. Well Shon, when it comes to maintenance training needs, I would have to put in a shameless plug for our own site :>)

  3. Here are a few of my favorites: - a specification for just about anything, and especially if someone wants you to use an outdated spec just so you can reference what it is that they want Forums about maintenance and reliability. This is the website for the National Acadamies Press, and I get email updates from them. There are a lot of good reliability documents coming out in various areas, and many of them are free if you choose the PDF version. Especially as a consultant it is an easy way to follow the concerns of the many. This group sends out a daily email (if you opt in) and there is a forum for asking and answering questions. It considers itself "the Engineer's place for news and discussions". Maintenance and reliability are two of the most popular topics though you will see a wide range. There are 14 sections listed in the right hand column for quick navigation including "General". There is also a nice engineering toolbar that you can download.

    Other than those I totally agree with LinkedIn and have subscribed to various reliability and testing groups. Just be sure that if you don't want to be constantly bombarded by emails that you choose the once a day email.

  4. Thanks for a great blog (as usual) Shon! Great info to improve my use of this incredible tool!;, and have been amazing learning/education sites to me over the years. I also use the blogs from the linked in Q/A's for educational purposes in our plant. The information gleaned from these sites has been instrumental in improving our reliability and bottom line. Thanks to all those who take the time to share on the web - so much appreciated!

  5. Great list of resources being added here! Thanks to each of you for the additional sites.

  6. Thanks for the post! Do you have reliability professionals that you recommend to follow on Twitter? I want to get more effective reliability engineering & PdM updates, but many of my connections don't use Twitter and I'm looking for better people to follow. @BioBloggerAmyP

  7. Amy,
    Here is a great list of M&R twitter folks to follow and learn from that Terrence O'Hanlon has put together.

  8. Here are more great leads from Fred Schenkelberg over at

    Shon Isenhour recently posted on Linkedin a question about online resources helpful for reliability engineers. I added my list and haven’t seen any other links added. There must be more than the few I know about – what can you add to this list?

    My orginal response to Shon’s question:

    Great question and one I will be interested in the results.

    I often head to for reliability statistics topics (I am a statistician and like the practical examples they work out)

    I also regularly head to the NIST Statis handbook

    For those trying to break the habit of MTBF and related very poor metrics, I recommend (which I am one of the authors blogging there and we’d like to hear your story too).

    For laying out a training plan or looking for just the right conference I head to

    and, for professional development on reliability engineering topics I visit

    The rel cal site also has a listing of university programs related to reliability and maintenance engineering.

    I’ve found a lot of useful information at also – especially estimates or ranges for Weibull beta values.

    When looking at warranty expense and comparisons between companies, I look at – they have a weekly free newsletter is is worth being on.

    And, finally for those preparing for the ASQ Certified Reliability Engineer exam, the site provides notes and information that may be helpful for those preparing.

    Of course, I seem to be tapping into the wealth of experience and knowledge here on Linkedin within a range of different groups.

  9. A few more from Fred:

    thanks for the many comments and responses across Linkedin and here. Here is a summary of a few more links highly recommended for the reliability professional.

    See this very good article at the Reliability Information Analysis Center (RIAC) where numerous websites are listed. – Michael Smith

    Fred, The Reliability Information Analysis Center still needs to be added to the list. – Michael Smith

    Hi Fred – I would like to recommend the DfR Solutions E-Learning Education page:
    It has a rich resource of Articles, Papers and even Recorded Webcasts of
    Physics of Failure / Reliability Physics and Design for Reliability Information.
    There is also the latest Reliability news and events posted on the website’s home page – James McLeish

    The web page called “KSC Reliability” targets the practicing Reliability Engineer and those that work with and inferface with the Reliability role and discipline. – Timothy Adams

    Reliability has many keywords that will bring rich education on each component of understanding rel statistical methods, industry-specific failure modes and failure analysis, and reliability improvement methods including Design of Reliability,as well as the usual DMAIC projects that use field failure data, or multi-level failure analysis from optical to focused-ion-beam to transmission electron microscopy.

    The links on the CREPREP site are great for defining the analysis methods. But web site that involve reliability by industry are best found using specific keywords.

    For example: Reliability Physics Wiki gives many wikipedia sites uniquely focused on industrial failure mechanisms, such as the many semiconductor fail modes. A search on Stress-corrosion cracking key word gives hundreds of links, one of which: is just a hint at the depth of this rel field.
    I used to fly in Electra Turbo-Prop’s to Europe…which suffered from serious stress corrosion cracking.

    And early rel issue in IC’s was “electromigation cracking” of aluminum interconnections, and hundreds of papers and patents were generated by IBM for example, since this impacted mainframe computer reliability.

    Automotive reliability links fill books:;2-5/abstract

    There were two links smooshed together:



    Posted by David Hartman

  10. And a few more from Fred's site:
    This gives some idea of the failure modes with their underlying failure mechanisms.

    Satellite reliability involves not only micro-meteorites drilling holes, but also many types of radiation, including of course well-aimed solar flares.

    The list is endless….by industry..but FMEA (design FMEA and process FMEA) is one everyone should but on must-read list. – Mike Clayton

    The automative link referenced does not work…;2-5/abstract

    Other good links to add are from IEEE Reliability Society (; Reliasoft (; DfR Solutions wesbite (; Systems Reliability Center (; and the RAMS conference website ( Lou Gullo

    Mauro Carlos Andreassa

    Posted by David Robson

    There is a library full of great information for both members and non-members on the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals website ( as well as information on local chapters. Cindy Moblo

    Has anyone tried

    It is a great resource also.
    Posted by Dingiswayo Sakala

    Check out
    Posted by Cliff Williams
    Huge database of help!
    Posted by Andrew Archuleta CMRP

    Good website is
    Posted by Thomas Williams

  11. There is something for everyone at

    The list must include

    I go to the websites of any OEM producing machinery and anything to do with it, some have incredible amounts information.

    Don't forget the amazing amount of training being offered via YouTube. I replaced the hard drive in my laptop by watching a pro do it on this site.

    Thanks for this, I appreciate all of these sources that I wasn't aware of.

  12. I am already appreciating and enjoying Al Gore's product of ingenuity. But still I enjoy reading this post. Thanks1

  13. Glad to see this reposted - the list is impressive and I'll have to update the creprep site's list to include the many suggestions.

    Thanks for bringing this one back around.



  14. Ludeca also offers a useful blog, one more general in nature.
    Im also a big fan of RCM Blitz, already mentioned above. Thats TWO for them!

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