SUBJECT : A technique for making troubleshooting decisions 7-7

The rules are very simple. Decisions have to be made when doing nothing will cause the condition to degenerate.

As an example: if you can live with the present leak rate, you don't have to make any decisions about fixing the leak, but If you can't live with the problem because the pollution people are going to close you down, then you better start making a decision and the following sequence should help you come up with the correct one:

Let's look at each of these points in detail:

1. Generic problems require a specification, standard, rule, policy or principle. It is only then that manifestations of the same generic situation can be handled intelligently. There are four possibilities you will encounter:

It would be foolish to treat any new event as just another example of an old problem. Blaming operator error and bad maintenance practices is frequently used to mask generic design problems. The fact is that most pumps and mixers in use today were never designed to be used with mechanical seals. The long, overhung shafts were designed to be supported by multiple rings of lubricated packing. The result of this design error is that premature seal and bearing failure has become the norm. The truly generic problem is being treated as a "unique event". Shaft/sleeve fretting, water in the bearing oil, and oil seal shaft damage are actually generic in nature, but seldom addressed as such. It is far easier to blame the problem on dirt in the atmosphere or in the product and then replace the hardware to have the experience repeat its self over and over again.

The hardest thing to realize its that there are no "facts" for you to act on. There only events until someone makes them relevant. You must decide if the explanation explains the observed events and if it explains all of them.

2. Now that you have decided you have a generic problem, and a decision to correct the problem has been made, can you verbalize what the decision has to accomplish? Here are a few examples of what is possible:

3. Now we come to the third and hardest part of the process, Are you prepared to do what is right rather than acceptable or convenient? Insight is not achievement. You will be judged on your results not your words. No matter how many people are involved, the results will always be identified with a single name and it probably will be yours.

Unfortunately a change in supplier, design, or specification makes some one look like he made a wrong initial decision. Too often companies keep doing the same old thing because the boss will "lose face" or it is too difficult to change the standards.

Change is always difficult and uncomfortable for some people. Remember the old western expression, "the pioneers catch all of the arrows". Remember also that they end up with all of the land.

If you are not in a position to make the necessary decision, team up with somebody that is. There is nothing more powerful than the combination of an engineer willing to take a chance on a new idea and a maintenance man prepared to make the decision work.

One more thought on this subject is to remember that it is crazy to consider something that might work if nothing goes wrong. Miracles do happen, but you can't count on them.

4. Converting a decision to an action will never occur until it becomes some one's responsibility to carry it out in specific steps. It is only a wish until a person is chosen and a time limit is set. You must act or not act, you must never compromise:

5. Even the best of decisions eventually become obsolete. You must go and look for your self. Don't even think about having someone else do the follow-up.:

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