By Laura Wang
With 23-years of maintenance and reliability management experience in the chemical industry, Alex Chen has a unique opinion on reliability. Comparing the reliability of equipment to the lifespan of humans, Alex vividly illustrates the history of equipment reliability engineering, and explores how ‘full life-cycle reliability’ is the key to operational excellence.
From a state-owned enterprise to a foreign company, from an equipment engineer to senior reliability manager, Alex Chen has developed a deep understanding of equipment maintenance and reliability in chemical industry throughout his career. Starting with ‘breakdown maintenance’ at the first stage, followed by ‘preventive maintenance’, and then ‘reliability-centred maintenance’ became popular as well. Each area aims for the perfect balance of minimized resources for maintenance and a suitable level of reliability, to ensure satisfaction of requirements for the equipment. The question is: what is reliability? Well, it is the probability that an item can perform its intended function for a specified interval under stated condition.
“Generally speaking, reliability is all about durable service. No matter if the application is for aviation or a home appliance, reliability is closely linked to industry and our daily lives. Yet, different industries have different viewpoints on reliability management. For example, the process industry is quite different. In general, the process industry focuses on equipment reliability to produce while the discrete manufactured industry focuses on product reliability. However, it is clear that building a ‘reliability-centered culture’ is essential to the development of companies and industries today.”