During a media event held by SKF in Philadelphia, PA, a particular presentation struck me as brilliantly obvious yet curiously rarely heard: looking beyond symptoms and getting to the root causes of failure.
This presentation in particular was focused on bearing failure, however the general principle is applicable to any component, to any industry. Mark Cutler, application engineering manager for SKF showed several examples of bearings that were damaged beyond recognition. At this point it's too late to analyze the root cause.
What is important is to not ignore a symptom while it is occurring, causing damage that can be too great to repair quickly. Often symptoms will be pushed aside until a "better time" to address the issue as to not directly affect current production. Unfortunately the short term dismissal can lead to longer downtime or even catastrophic failure.
As engineers and equipment designers, keeping tabs on component failure and incorporating systems and procedures to prevent failure are essential for customer satisfaction and brand confidence.
For SKF, as an example, they have a dedicated team focused solely on finding the root causes of bearing failure. How does your company get to the root of failures (proactive) instead of fixing the problems after they occur (reactive) with engineering and design?
Another solution provided by SKF comes from an automated lubrication system to remove operator error from the equation when it comes to bearing care and maintenance.