Perspectives: Field Notes

Plant Maintenance: Succeed with Run-to-Failure

Some steps can minimize surprises when using this maintenance approach

By Dirk willard, Contributing Editor
Apr 30, 2015

A shelf in my study holds a collection of debris from process mistakes. None of the errors were mine, by the way. One memento is the recovered tip of a furnace (roaster) thermowell. It was seven years old when it corroded through and caused an unnecessary shutdown that lasted nearly a week. No records were kept. Nobody scheduled it for replacement. The plant engineer was left to wonder why the roaster tripped on over-temperature and how to deal with molten, soggy iron oxide collected in the cone. Poor documentation led to poor troubleshooting and a loss of production. This is what is called a run-to-failure (RTF) mistake.

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