Introduction to RAPID



Tim Henry, CEng, FIMechE, MIET, (University of Manchester, UK)

Over the years since the 1950’s I have been fortunate to have observed the introduction of a variety of techniques and methodologies aimed at improving the reliability and performance of industrial plant and machinery. The effect on manufacturing and asset management had been somewhat repetitive — a tide of enthusiasm, which with time, is swamped by the onset of mass disillusionment, but with a small minority continuing to gain the benefits not achieved by others. Since this has been experienced again and again with methods as well known as Condition Based Maintenance, Total Productive Maintenance or Reliability Centered Maintenance we must ask why.

I believe the reason is two-fold.

First, the method is directed at a symptom, not the root cause; for example, CBM is directed to ensuring the faulty component is replaced before failure and with minimum interference to production, rather than to removing or reducing the cause of failure. The method works, but only to a limited extent and costs of unreliability continue though possibly at a lower rate.

Second, in the typical scenario a new approach or method is taken up enthusiastically, often as a result of some good marketing or praise. If well introduced with effective training and monitoring, successes come quickly. Then senior management take their eye off the project turning to a new project or problem and leaving the asset improvement project to other more inexperienced or less motivated personnel. As time moves on the incremental improvements get smaller and perhaps, coinciding with a staff movement, the method gets put aside for “a more important matter”. In some organizations this cycle gets repeated several times, in other the method is labelled as “ineffective”. In a limited number of dedicated businesses the method is pursued with continued vigour and continued success.

The RAPID process is different in that although it embodies methods targeting symptoms it embodies many diverse methods and it concentrates on eliminating the root cause so as to reduce or avoid the need to continue the repairs or repeat maintenance. The very name embodies this attitude “Reliability, Availability and Performance Improvement Design Innovation”.

Its originator, Mr Dibyendu De, has evolved the process, not as a new concept, but as a pragmatic combination of many other methods. I have watched the process evolve over the years since the time in the 1980’s when I introduced Mr De to CBM. The process is still evolving. That is why it works.

I commend this Conference to you. Mr De is a good observer of behavior, of both machines and men. RAPID has developed out of this observation. So observe well — both the methods and the experiences. You will then return home with knowledge of great value, but remember to apply your understanding with vigour and persistence!