Case Studies in Maintenance and Reliability (Print-On-Demand Edition)

A Wealth of Best Practices

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Case Studies in Maintenance and Reliability (Print-On-Demand Edition)

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Case Studies in Maintenance and Reliability
A Wealth of Best Practices

V. Narayan, J.W. Wardhaugh and M.C. Das


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In Case Studies in Maintenance and Reliability, The authors describe 42 on-the-job events or situations – case studies taken from their own work experience and from which they gained invaluable insights into a wealth of best practices in maintenance and reliability. In many instances they did not know the underlying academic theories that would have applied. They found solutions often more by intuition and teamwork.


The case studies are real, told by the people who were professionally and emotionally involved. The authors have resisted the temptation to offer a set of recipes for all occasions. Rather, the approach is all about "how we did it" rather than "how you must do it". Case study stories are a great way to communicate, and that is the medium the authors have adopted. They've packed the book with common sense ideas on how to improve maintenance and reliability performance.


Operations and maintenance technicians, supervisors, managers, planners, schedulers and support engineering teams, as well as designers and project managers will value these dynamic illustrations of real-life situations. Many will recognize similarities to their own work. Students will find the true case studies to be a refreshing change from the usual diet of books emphasizing theory.




  • Provides a logical organization with chapters grouped into six broad headings, enabling readers to choose the order in which they wish to absorb the lessons, which are based on the Shewhart-Deming Continuous Improvement cycle.
  • In addition to the Plan-Schedule-Execute-Analyze elements, the authors have added Leadership and People to complete the suite. 
  • Each chapter has broadly similar sections, beginning with a Background to the events, going on to describe the key elements of the approach, and ending with Lessons and Principles.
  • Underlying theories, philosophies or even detailed descriptions of methods are stripped out of the main chapters and described in Appendices, so that only those readers who wish to delve into details may do so.
  • Contains a Book Summary which draws all the principles and lessons together, and gives references to the relevant chapters.
  • Copiously illustrated, with charts, diagrams and tables which relate closely to the text.

Case Studies in Maintenance and Reliability
A Wealth of Best Practices

by V. Narayan, J.W. Wardhaugh and M.C. Das


V. Narayan is a leading authority on maintenance and reliability engineering. He is a graduate mechanical engineer from Pune University in India and has over 40 years of experience in maintenance and project management. He has worked in automotive, pharmaceutical, liquefied natural gas, oil & gas production and petroleum refining industries. In his long career he has trained, consulted and worked in many countries, including spending eight years as the head of the Maintenance Strategy Group at Shell UK Exploration and Production. He headed the Maintenance and Reliability Center of Excellence for Shell.

At Shell, he developed refinery performance measurement methods in the 1990's that are still effectively used today. For the last 16 years, he has been teaching reliability engineering, maintenance management, reliability-centered maintenance and root cause analysis to engineers in the U.S., Europe, Middle East and Far East. He is an adviser to the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, on their Asset Management MSc program development. He has published many articles and presented papers at international conferences. His book Effective Maintenance Management - Risk and Reliability Strategies for Optimizing Performance is also published by Industrial Press.

Jim Wardhaugh graduated from the University of Liverpool and is a Chartered Engineer. In a 30-year career at Shell he demonstrated success in many different roles, including projects, construction, maintenance, technical, inspection, warehousing, transport, quality and training in a number of different countries. Within Shell's Technical Head Office, he guided refineries worldwide on best maintenance practices and on "Computerized Management and Information Systems." He was a founding member of the Shell MERIT consultancy group. he is an external faculty member of Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, for their MSc program in Asset Management. He provides consultancy services that target performance improvements, particularly in the fields of asset management, operations and maintenance.

Mahen Das has a mechanical engineering degree from Benares University, India, and is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer. He retired from Shell International in 2002 after 42 years in optimization of maintenance and operational reliability of petroleum refineries and gas plants. His learning and experience has been drawn from hands-on work at all levels of process plant asset management at 40 sites in 22 countries. After working 32 years in the field, the last 10 years of his career were spent in transferring this learning to Shell as well as to third-party clients in the form of consultancy services. During this period he helped establish Shell's MERIT initiative. As a leader of MERIT, he visited and reviewed the business processes of more than 30 operating plants -- Shell's as well as third parties -- and helped achieve significant improvements in their maintenance and reliability performance. He is currently a freelance consultant.

Case Studies in Maintenance and Reliability
A Wealth of Best Practices

by V. Narayan, J.W. Wardhaugh and M.C. Das


Changing Paradigms

…with leadership and expertise

It is paramount for leaders to align the organization so that all are working together to achieve the same objectives.

Peter Wickens


By Mahen Das

Location: 2.4.1 Medium-Sized Semi-Complex Petroleum Refinery

5.1 Background

The refinery received its compensation on a cost-plus basis, i.e., it received all its operating cost, plus a fixed percentage of that cost. Each partner paid a sum in proportion to the amount of crude processed for it. In such an arrangement, there was no motivation for the refinery to function cost effectively. In fact, the higher the cost, the higher was the fixed percentage of compensation, i.e., the profit.

Over the preceding decade, the refinery had undergone a major expansion. As a result, it had focused on new construction and start-up activities, not maintenance of assets as a business process. Although the people were generally well educated and competent, expertise and leadership for maintenance of assets had been lacking.

5.2 Prevailing Culture

The working culture was quite similar to that in most other places at that time. Departments were securely compartmentalized. The Operations department called most of the shots. The Maintenance department was at their beck and call. Process technologists and advisory engineers had little to do with the overall efficiency of operations. The Materials department was within the Finance function and, with the mental make-up of typical bean counters, had little appreciation of consequential loss due to low quality of maintenance materials or their delayed delivery.


The Inspection section (within the engineering function) was very conservative, basing inspection intervals on a fixed-time schedule. Although the regulatory authority allowed considerable flexibility, they preferred to play safe. As a result, all process plants were subjected to annual inspection shutdowns during which almost all equipment was opened for inspection. At the time of these events, risk-based techniques such as RCM and RBI had not been introduced in this refinery, as in the process industry in most of the world. Conservative inspection and maintenance engineers only had past practice for guidance (see also Chapter 10 for some more detailed insights into a similar situation).

5.3 Infrastructure

Computerization of maintenance, inspection, and materials business processes was in its infancy. Computers were used largely as work list repositories. Work planning was fairly advanced. For major projects and plant shutdowns, Critical Path Planning with resource leveling was carried out using commercially available software, CASP®™. However, once the project execution began, there was little or no progress toward monitoring and updating the plan. The critical path charts remained as decorations on the wall.

5.4 Shutdown Work

Preparation for a shutdown mainly meant pulling out last year’s work list, adding the current wishes of the operating and inspection departments, and having it estimated and converted to a critical path plan with CASP®™. The operators added tasks such as shutting down and gas-freeing at the front end, and starting up the plants at the back end separately to this plan. Technologists gave their requirements to the operators for adding to the plan. The project engineers made their own separate mini-plans and appended them parallel to the main plan. There was little coordination of the preparation activities between these departments. In the absence of a milestone chart, these preparations were never completed in time for proper award of work contracts—and contract work was required. This meant that there was never enough time for proper competitive bidding, so prices were higher than necessary. Local contractors maintained a skeleton work force of skilled craftsmen. During big projects, such as a shutdown, they hired temporary workers.

Often, they hired whoever was willing to work, without regard to skills or experience. Contractors and their personnel were viewed with suspicion by the refinery and always kept at arm’s length. During execution of shutdowns, the maintenance engineer was supposed to be the coordinator. Other participating departments did not recognize his role because top management never announced it formally. As a result, the execution was as if there were many separate football games instead of one well-orchestrated team.




Chart Example

CaseStudies Example 1

Case Studies in Maintenance and Reliability
A Wealth of Best Practices

by V. Narayan, J.W. Wardhaugh and M.C. Das



This book is written by three engineers who have had exceptional experiences in industry, particularly the hydrocarbon process industry. All of them have held positions of authority in the maintenance and reliability of the companies they worked for. A reader will quickly grasp that they were self starters and still are, as evidenced by the creation of this book. These are not men who needed to be pushed. Indeed, I suspect that that would have dampened their motivation to create and install the myriad of solutions and systems that they introduced.


The book is a selection of work problems that these men had to struggle with and solve. The chapters penetrate every aspect of field engineering, maintenance, and field management. Each author was able to make contributions to each section. They were able to do this because of their remarkable breadth of experience, which readers will appreciate as they read and assimilate the various sections.


In my own career as a field engineer and manager in the process industry, I learned to listen and even enjoy the experience of others. Everything you read in this book will not be directly applicable to your particular job at the moment. However, as you read and enjoy their related experiences you will be storing their experiences in your mind. You will build connections to your own experiences that will make the text memorable. Finally, you will form ideas about how to approach problems that will make your respective jobs easier and more fulfilling.


The three authors provide their experiences in facilities in the Middle East, Far East, Europe, and Central America. As a reader, you may want to put yourself in the place of the writers as you study each episode in their long litany of experiences. In this way, you will taste the cultures that formed their experience. I was gratified that the book did not linger on mechanical “How To” ideas, but got to the heart of what makes a refinery, or a machine manufacturing facility, or any production facility really work well. These men are really pointing out, although they do not specifically say it, that the greatest impetus to successful operations is how people manage themselves and set up the procedures that provide rapid and accurate work products.


At the end of each of their related experiences, the writer delineates the lessons he learned from that encounter and the principles that emanated from the experience. In reading the draft, I found that the lessons and principles capped the learning; they made the narration of the depicted experiences complete.


In summary, this is a must read for people who have to struggle with the day-to-day problems of plant life. If you have a subordinate field position in a manufacturing facility, this book will reveal why bosses do the things they do. If you are in a supervisory or management role, this book will help you steer your career.


Charles J. Latino. CEO and President, Reliability Center, Inc.

Case Studies in Maintenance and Reliability
A Wealth of Best Practices

by V. Narayan, J.W. Wardhaugh and M.C. Das


Part 1: Introductory

  • Introduction & Navigation Guide
  • The Locations

Part 2: Leadership

  • Creating the Vision
  • Setting Objectives
  • Changing Paradigms with Leadership and Expertise
  • Applying Best Business Practices
  • Evaluate Contractor's Unit Rates
  • Benchmarking

Part 3: People

  • Manning levels
  • Integrating Inspection and Degradation Strategies
  • Technician Training Challenge
  • Competence Profiles
  • Operators & Maintainers
  • Building a Reliability Culture
  • Managing Surplus Staff
  • Retraining Surplus Staff

Part 4: Plan

  • Integrated Planning
  • Critical Path Planning Capability
  • Shutdown Management
  • Electrical Maintenance Strategies
  • Minor Maintenance by Operators
  • Relocating Machine Tools
  • Painting Contract Strategy

Part 5: Schedule

  • Long Look-Ahead Plan
  • Workload Management
  • Infrastructure Maintenance
  • Workflow Management

Part 6: Execute

  • Trip Testing
  • Work the Plan
  • Keeping to Schedule
  • Operators as a Maintenance Resource
  • Overtime Control
  • Manage Contractors

Part 7: Analyze

  • Reliability Engineering in New Projects
  • Computing Reliability Data
  • Shutdown Planning Review
  • Shutdown Duration/Cost
  • Turnaround Performance Improvements
  • Motor Maintenance Regimes
  • Boiler Feed-Water Pump Seals
  • Cooling Water Pump Failures
  • Laboratory Oven Failures
  • Heater Outlet Flue Gas Dampers
  • Pump Reliability
  • Book Summary