Priorities for a reliability engineer

July 22, 2021

Heavy-duty engineering assets can be composed of thousands of parts, each with their own replacement and repair history which needs to be maintained in order to prevent failures and minimise downtime. A reliability engineer’s primary goal is to identify and solve the major maintenance related problems, which drive costs across a site with multiple assets.


Data is where the analysis starts. For transactional data this is primarily maintenance notifications and work orders created by front line workers. This data encapsulates the scheduled and unplanned maintenance and specifies the parts that were replaced, including the costs associated with the work. In the event of a failure, a work order will specify which parts were replaced and repaired, and that may lead to the replacement of other parts on the machine.

It is important to identify any instances of parts that did not actually fail. These parts must be included in subsequent reliability analysis, but they are treated differently. Likewise, an engineer must consider parts that are functionally equivalent, but with different manufacturing codes. The data may also be incomplete or even incorrect, perhaps due to time pressures at the frontline and orders being placed urgently from multiple suppliers.

The quality of the data is crucial for correctly determining the part replacement history, and this must be addressed before any analysis. Typically, 80% of a reliability engineer’s time (whether internal, contractor or consultant) will be spent on building that historical picture. An essential input to this process is leveraging data and process expertise (internal and external) and maintenance context.

When the data is ready, it is then useful in many different ways. High on the list will be calculating the failure distribution for each part. This in turn is used to calculate a balance between acceptable risk of failure (including safety) against the cost of downtime.

The sheer number of parts and data across multiple assets and sites, make that task even more challenging. As a result, typically only the highest cost parts are analysed at any one time - until now!

IronMan® is a software as service (SaaS) platform that helps reliability engineers scale their analysis to every part. Designed by engineers for maintenance experts, IronMan® automates the data ETL process, calculates the part lives and provides useful insights. If you would like to extract actionable insights and savings from your transactional data, with minimal training, contact us now.

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