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The Financial Express

Importance of 'reliability' for Bangladeshi industries to grow

| Updated: August 03, 2022 21:00:18


Importance of 'reliability' for Bangladeshi industries to grow

With the country's leading sector, Ready-Made Garment (RMG), our manufacturing industries have been on an upward trend over the last decade. The success in pharmaceutical, footwear, packaging, food processing, and petrochemical products have also contributed to our industries. It could not be imagined 15 years back that the country would export sophisticated commodities like medicines to North America and European countries. The pharmaceutical sector has so far experienced a remarkable compound annual growth of 12.1 per cent over the last five years, and the market size stood at Tk 275.0 billion as of June 2021, according to the report of UCB asset management.

Moreover, the export earnings reached US$ 344.46 million in FY 2020-2021 for synthetic footwear, which was US$ 244.09 million in FY 2017-18, showing a commendable growth of 41 per cent over the last three years, according to the data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

Despite all these positive achievements, when Bangladesh's name pops up as a manufacturing hub on the international platform, the key advantage still remains the low labour costs. Though the country's success story in the RMG sector was mostly built on this crucial factor, unfortunately, that is not enough to take its manufacturing industries to the next level. To attract more global manufacturers to establish ventures in our country and also to expand its footprint in global markets, the country's industrial culture needs to be in conformity with international standards. One of the key elements perhaps is creating a culture of reliability.

BENEFITS OF PRACTISING RELIABILITY: Reliability is defined as the ability of an asset (Machines, equipment, instalments, process, and so forth) to perform its intended functions across the specified period if operated within designed operational conditions. A reliability culture enables the development of a failure prevention mindset across an organisation. Organisations carry out reliability benefits in many ways. The vital outcomes of reliability are -- improved plant uptime (Non-interruptive production time); optimum production ensuring integral safety of the process, people, and environment; more maintainable, reliable, and available assets; assets function optimally as per the designs and minimise production loss, and low maintenance and operation costs.

DEVELOPING A RELIABILITY CENTRED CULTURE: The critical concerns for our industries to move forward are production efficiency, maintaining delivery commitments to customers, and optimising operating expenditures. A more thorough analysis will show that inefficiently designed plant, repetitive breakdown of machines, lack of periodic maintenance, not identifying the wrong factors, and lack of equipment consciousness of the operators are the main reasons behind those concerns apart from supply chain and finance issues.

Practising reliability and developing a reliability culture can be the perfect solution for the industry leaders to overcome those challenges. A simple example of reducing downtime through reliability can be monitoring critical equipment data and acting on that in the right way.

In the case of a plant where the compressor is an essential component, receiving early warnings about high vibration, low or high differential pressure, high differential temperature, instability, plugged suction filters, control vane defects, and taking preventive maintenance steps will help avoid unexpected compressor outages.

Similarly, proactive measures related to accelerated fouling, heat duty and energy loss, and optimal cleaning time will optimise corrective maintenance for heat exchangers, consequently reducing equipment downtime.

A recent study by Eastway, a globally admired company that delivers services related to reliability has shown that industries that practise reliability see a 15-35 per cent reduction in maintenance cost, 20-40 per cent reduction in downtime, and 15-30 per cent increase in production compared to the industries those who have not incorporated a reliability centered industrial culture.

APPROACH TO HARNESS A RELIABILITY CULTURE: In many cases incorporating such new initiatives face internal challenges within the organisation as these are presented as a complicated process, and that is why it is essential to take one step at a time and keep the process as simple as possible in the early phase. Developing a reliability centred culture can be initiated with a simple seven-step initiative:

  1. Create a cross-functional team to drive the process
  2. Ensure basic preventative maintenance strategies are in place
  3. Perform root cause analysis on crucial equipment failures
  4. Set up a computerised maintenance management system
  5. Initiate a predictive maintenance programme and maintenance data preservation
  6. Identify bad factors (equipment that causes the repetitive breakdown of the production process)
  7. Develop equipment and process consciousness of the workers.

Once the organisations successfully implement these first-tier initiatives towards their journey to develop a culture of reliability, then more advanced reliability practices like assessing equipment criticality, asset integrity management, strategic Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) plan, competency management plan, and so on can be rolled out. Different analytical tools like FMECA (Failure Mode Effect and Criticality Analysis), FTA (Fault Tree Analysis), and RCM (Reliability Centred Maintenance) can also be incorporated while going forward.

ROAD TO RELIABILITY: From Toyota, General Electric, ExxonMobil, Pfizer, and Emerson to Samsung, any company in the manufacturing industry that is operating at the global level practises reliability in their organisation. They have a well-defined reliability process in place, train their workforce about the reliability process, use reliability tools, and regularly verify and validate the reliability practices throughout the organisation. It should be noted that developing a reliability culture is an ongoing process; once set, it needs to be sustained. 

Bangladesh's industrial growth is at a crossroads. The country has made progress in labour-intensive manufacturing industries in the past. Nevertheless, to ensure growth, the industrial culture and standards need to be upgraded to the international level.

A few decades earlier, countries like Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand were in a similar state. Still, these countries adopted the right policies at the right time, both at the industrial and national levels, which became the stepping stone for those countries' success. Our industry leaders need to foresee both the long-term and short-term benefits of developing a reliability-centric culture in their organisations.

The government should take initiatives to encourage adopting a reliability culture at the industry level and may offer few incentives at the initial level in order to cope with a world moving fast to Industry 4.0.

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