It’s not a Crime Scene Investigation (CSI:), but a lot like it. It is a BSI: (Breakdown Scene Investigation), a bit more complicated and technical. Both require control over the scene and the basic scientific investigation technique. Both are often a race against time. The differences being most CSI: shows investigate loss of life, with BSI: loss of production. (Hopefully the machine breakdown this time is just loss of production and money, not actually hurting someone.) The equipment used by the BSI: ‘Agents’ is different too. Usually one or two of the investigators are PLC Techs using a laptop to access the computer that controls machines, called a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller).
First let’s set the BSI: scene above… The girl and guys on far left wearing black BIN PLC Tech hats are holding laptops, the PM Tech lady grabbed a spare PLC module out of the store room, just in case. The mechanic has his tool box. On the far right, is the plant manager who thinks his presence somehow, will speed the repair of the machine? A few operators are standing around as onlookers. Hopefully one of the PLC Techs are questing the operators as witnesses, while breakdown scene is first being secured. The man in the very back could be the production line supervisor.
The cost of all these employees (experts) and the lost production is running at about $10,000 per hour. The clock is ticking, tic-toc!
The maintenance crew has scientific procedures at their disposal too. They don’t just use wrenches, grease guns, volt-ohm meters and laptops. They can chose to use Root Cause Analysis (RCA), Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FEMA), data analysis tools such as Cpk, SPC, MTBF, PdM, etc. Also they use the most basic and common; non-invasive test, operating and condition monitoring.
The Investigation process:
1. Secure the Breakdown scene.
2. Talk to machine operators (expert witnesses).
3. Take pictures and other data collection. (Maybe actual photographs, but more importantly a copy of the PLC program which preserves the state of all switches, sensors, etc. for later analysis.)
4. Use PLC ladder logic to quickly find machine problem and to minimize downtime.
5. Repair problem, get machine back into production.
6. Perform RCA, PdM etc. for future breakdown prevention.
Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .)