Efficient Plant February 2020 - 22

department | on the floor

Answers to questions
facing today's reliability
& maintenance
professionals

Is Your Sky Q
Falling? A 

Is your maintenance process
beyond the tipping point?

Dr. Klaus M. Blache
Univ. of Tennessee Reliability
and Maintainability Center
(RMC)

22

| EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM	

EP2002onthefloor.indd 22

To answer this, it's important to
understand the concept of "tipping
point." When the tipping point of a system
is crossed, negative and mostly unpredictable consequences occur in your process.
An undesired practice (more typically
many harmful practices) is responsible for
pushing the system beyond the point of no
return, i.e., corrections are no longer possible with known solutions. Furthermore,
these negative effects start to happen more
frequently and with more-significant negative outcomes until the process collapses.
This discussion happens regularly about
climate change. Climate scientists and
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA, Silver Spring, MD,
noaa.org) have flagged 400 to 450 ppm CO2
(the primary greenhouse gas) as the point
of no return. This means that the balance
of the interconnected and interdependent
processes that make up our ecosystems may
no longer be correctable, based on what is
known today.
Our climate has several tipping points,
such as the total amount of water vapor
in the atmosphere, the total amount of
melting ice, and the loss of the atmospheric
CO2-eating forests (joboneforhumanity.org/
climate_tipping_points). Some greenhouse
effect actually is needed to keep the earth at
a livable temperature. Without it, we would
be at about zero degrees F.
Your reliability and maintenance
(R&M) process also has tipping points
and, if you're watching, there are indi-

cators that those points are about to be
reached. Examples are the level of reactive
maintenance performed, PM compliance,
maintenance-work-order backup, and
activity involving planning and kitting
maintenance tasks. Once you cross enough
of those tipping points, your R&M process
is out of control.
For example, if reactive maintenance
is high, you will never have enough spare
parts. One poor practice leads to a negative outcome. Since all facets of a system
are related, when poor practices increase,
negative consequences compound and grow
at an increasing rate to a point of no return.
The result is catastrophic.
The dynamic systems and processes of
the Earth are fairly resilient, but can only
self-correct to a point. Over the years, I
would always comment that, from my
observations, the clouds were getting lower
(or we weren't seeing as many high clouds).
It sounds like the Chicken Little children's
story about the sky falling. It's interesting
that NASA has reported that Earth's cloud
height has dropped about 1% (100 to 130 ft.)
during the first ten years of this century.
A consistent reduction in cloud height
would allow Earth to cool to Space more
efficiently, reducing the surface temperature of the planet and potentially slowing
the effects of global warming. This may
represent a "negative feedback" mechanism-a change caused by global warming
that works to counteract it. "We don't know
exactly what causes the cloud heights to
lower," stated Davies (lead researcher). "But
it must be due to a change in the circulation
patterns that give rise to cloud formation

FEBRUARY 2020

1/28/20 5:56 PM


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Efficient Plant February 2020

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