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July 23, 2015

Understanding Failure Codes

Failure codes within a CMMS define why an asset has failed. They provide consistency in documenting failure events based on predetermined categories, and logical groupings to refine the data mining process in order to drive improved equipment reliability.

Failure Code Definitions

1. Failure Code – The failure code is the symptom of the problem. Basically, what looks or feels broken? An effective failure code provides a consistent and searchable method to explain why an asset failed.
2. Cause Codes – The cause code outlines what creates the problem. Why did the problem occur?
3. Remedy Codes – The remedy code is the correction to the problem. What maintenance actions will fix the problem?

Failure Code Hierarchy

A failure hierarchy is a set of data on problems, causes, and remedies for asset and operating location failures. Groups of data called failure codes are linked in parent-child relationships to form a failure hierarchy. Each hierarchy is identified by its failure class (dependent on the system configuration).

Why Use Failure Codes?

Understanding the rate of failure by code can assist in doing the following:

  • Validate Preventive Maintenance (PM) tasks
  • Optimize PM and intervals
  • Improve Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) for given failures
  • Improve work practices

Consistent use of the failure codes provides:

  • A convenient method of getting statistics about equipment failures or breakdowns
  • The ability to effectively identify trends and problems
  • A collective approach to compare this data across the enterprise

The correct codes help to develop reports and statistics on critical KPIs such as Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), PM Compliance, or to implement a Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) program. Failure codes can help organizations spot trends or labor induced failures.

Best Practices with Failure Modes

A failure mode is a term used to describe any event that causes a failed state, listed at an appropriate level of detail. Because of that, failure mode descriptions should consist of a noun and a verb such as “filter blocked”. In some cases, more detail is added for common cause items, such as “bearing seized due to improper lubrication.”

There are different types of failures. A function can have a total failure or a partial failure. An example of a total function failure would be that the equipment fails to perform its function at all. A total failure would mean that the equipment is not performing its function at all. A partial failure would mean that the equipment is functioning at less than the set rate that it is required to perform.

Additionally, identical components can have different failure modes if the operating context is different. The level of detail in describing failure codes is important because too little detail is too vague and not specific enough to identify the problem that is causing the failure. On the other hand, too much detail would be asking the technician to look too deep into the failure and not providing the information that will be useful for fixing the failure.

The Importance of Failure Codes

CMMS failure codes are a key component to analyzing and understanding an organization’s assets. Failure behavior patterns can emerge to determine factors such as “working” age, PM frequency, EHM parameters and decision models, operational tradeoffs.

CMMS Failure Codes: Customer Success Story

Clement Pappas (CPC) is Canada’s largest food manufacturer, producing millions of cases of organic and conventional juices, ready-to-drink teas, enhanced waters, and cranberry sauces annually. CPC sought a system to help facilitate a reduction in maintenance spending and inventory costs while increasing asset health. A goal was set to increase their current uptime rate by 30% within two years.

With eMaint CMMS, the organization was able to spot trends and continuously implement improvements with custom reports filtered by failure codes and problem types.

Upcoming Live Best Practice Webinar – Register Now!

Topic: The Powerful Principles behind RCM
Date: Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Time: 11 a.m. ET
Presenter: Nancy Regan,  founder and president of The Force, Inc.
About: Even if you never intend to apply Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) specifically, the basics provide a wealth of knowledge that can be (and should be!) applied to just about any asset improvement initiative. Hear RCM expert Nancy Regan’s engaging presentation on what you need to know.