The primary role of the reliability engineer is to identify and manage asset reliability risks that could adversely affect plant or business operations. This broad primary role can be divided into three smaller, more manageable roles: loss elimination, risk management and life cycle asset management (LCAM).

Loss Elimination
One of the fundamental roles of the reliability engineer is to track the production losses and abnormally high maintenance cost assets, then find ways to reduce those losses or high costs. These losses are prioritized to focus efforts on the largest/most critical opportunities. The reliability engineer (in full partnership with the operations team) develops a plan to eliminate or reduce the losses through root cause analysis, obtains approval of the plan and facilitates the implementation.

Risk Management
Another role of the reliability engineer is to manage risk to the achievement of an organization’s strategic objectives in the areas of environmental health and safety, asset capability, quality and production. Some tools used by a reliability engineer to identify and reduce risk include:

  • PHA – Preliminary hazards analysis
  • FMEA – Failure modes and effects analysis
  • CA – Criticality analysis
  • SFMEA – Simplified failure modes and effects analysis
  • MI – Maintainability information
  • FTA – Fault tree analysis
  • ETA – Event tree analysis

Life Cycle Asset Management
Studies show that as much as 95 percent of the total cost of ownership (TCO) or life cycle cost (LCC) of an asset is determined before it is put into use. This reveals the need for the reliability engineer to be involved in the design and installation stages of projects for new assets and modification of existing assets.

Reliability Engineer Responsibilities and Duties
Here’s a list of responsibilities and duties commonly found in the job description of a reliability engineer:

  • Works with project engineering to ensure the reliability and maintainability of new and modified installations. The reliability engineer is responsible for adhering to the life cycle asset management (LCAM) process throughout the entire life cycle of new assets.
     
  • Participates in the development of design and installation specifications along with commissioning plans. Participates in the development of criteria for and evaluation of equipment and technical MRO suppliers and technical maintenance service providers. Develops acceptance tests and inspection criteria.
     
  • Participates in the final check-out of new installations. This includes factory and site acceptance testing that will assure adherence to functional specifications.
     
  • Guides efforts to ensure reliability and maintainability of equipment, processes, utilities, facilities, controls and safety/security systems.
     
  • Professionally and systematically defines, designs, develops, monitors and refines an asset maintenance plan that includes:
    • Value-added preventive maintenance tasks
    • Effective utilization of predictive and other non-destructive testing methodologies designed to identify and isolate inherent reliability problems
       
  • Provides input to a risk management plan that will anticipate reliability-related and non-reliability-related risks that could adversely impact plant operations.
     
  • Develops engineering solutions to repetitive failures and all other problems that adversely affect plant operations. These problems include capacity, quality, cost or regulatory compliance issues. To fulfill this responsibility, the reliability engineer applies:
    • Data analysis techniques that can include:
      • Statistical process control
      • Reliability modeling and prediction
      • Fault tree analysis
      • Weibull analysis
      • Six Sigma (6σ) methodology
    • Root cause analysis (RCA) and root cause failure analysis (RCFA)
    • Failure reporting, analysis and corrective action system (FRACAS)
       
  • Works with Production to perform analyses of assets including:
    • Asset utilization
    • Overall equipment effectiveness
    • Remaining useful life
    • Other parameters that define operating condition, reliability and costs of assets
       
  • Provides technical support to production, maintenance management and technical personnel.
     
  • Applies value analysis to repair/replace, repair/redesign and make/buy decisions.