Reliability Engineer

The reliability engineer performs strategic tasks to ensure that plant operations are carried out effectively and efficiently. Risks that can cause operational and safety issues are identified and managed by the reliability engineer.

To accurately assess the risks that can impact equipment performance, the reliability engineer develops analysis methods from collected data. For example, the reliability engineer will initiate engagements with the maintenance teams to perform FMEA on key equipment. Insights from analyses can be used to develop a strategy of how to efficiently schedule maintenance activities. This way, the plant can maximize its production without sacrificing the quality of products and the safety of the operations.

The reliability engineer deals with the risks that an equipment goes through within its entire life cycle. As life cycle costs of an asset are typically planned out before the equipment is operated, reliability engineers can add value in the planning and design stages of any new or additional assets.

The reliability of the equipment is optimized by planning for any associated risks. Proactive actions are taken by predicting failure from identified potential causes.

Responsibilities

  • Develops FMEA processes for new or existing equipment
  • Plans out required testing and performance evaluation to assess potential risks to production and safety
  • Provides solutions to recurring failures by performing RCA and identifying corrective action
  • Performs statistical data analysis to predict and minimize failures
  • Works with the maintenance teams to develop processes that increase reliability

Qualifications

  • Certification in reliability engineering
  • A degree in engineering, statistics, mathematics or similar
  • Experience in using probability and statistical tools and methods
  • Demonstrates critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Who should hire a reliability engineer?

As the scale and scope of production processes increase, so does the risk that one or more of the equipment will encounter failure. Large production plants that heavily rely on their equipment for production and safety would typically have a reliability engineer on site. This is evident in various industries where a breakdown can lead to adverse operational or even safety issues.

Hiring a reliability engineer is equivalent to having a dedicated resource to identify and manage the risks associated with each asset. Taking proactive steps to ensure that equipment are working the way they are intended contributes to the total performance of the plant. Data-driven decisions are made possible by having a professional that assesses the available information.

The reliability engineer promotes a culture of making informed decisions from available data. It is important that the reliability engineer is able to communicate with various maintenance teams and departments to get an accurate view of the state of operations.

What’s the difference between a reliability engineer and a maintenance engineer?

A key indicator of the performance of a plant is its availability to be used as intended. Equipment should operate continuously over expected periods, according to the planned schedule. In the event of an unexpected breakdown, equipment should be serviced in the quickest, most effective way possible.

The reliability engineer plans out the long-term operation of an asset. Possible sources of failure are identified, and plans are developed to proactively prepare for the life cycle of equipment. The maintenance engineer’s task is to reduce downtime by quickly restoring assets back to their operating conditions.

At a high level, the reliability engineer takes on long term tasks to predict failure events, while the maintenance engineer performs immediate tasks to reduce downtime from current breakdowns. Both aspects work hand in hand to increase availability and overall plant performance.

A key indicator of the performance of a plant is its availability to be used as intended. Equipment should operate continuously over expected periods, according to the planned schedule. In the event of an unexpected breakdown, equipment should be serviced in the quickest, most effective way possible.

The reliability engineer plans out the long-term operation of an asset. Possible sources of failure are identified, and plans are developed to proactively prepare for the life cycle of equipment. The maintenance engineer’s task is to reduce downtime by quickly restoring assets back to their operating conditions.

At a high level, the reliability engineer takes on long term tasks to predict failure events, while the maintenance engineer performs immediate tasks to reduce downtime from current breakdowns. Both aspects work hand in hand to increase availability and overall plant performance.

What certifications are available for reliability engineers?

The demand for reliability engineers has increased throughout the years. As a result, courses are now more readily available to provide a general framework of the knowledge expected from a reliability engineer. There are two main certifications available that aim to evaluate the skills required to carry out reliability engineering tasks:

  • Certified Reliability Engineer (CRE)

    The CRE certification is offered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ). It deals with the more technical aspects of reliability engineering. It requires experience and knowledge in the more numerical and analytical skills expected from a reliability engineer.

  • Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professional (CMRP)

    On the other hand, the CMRP certification is offered by the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP). It is more oriented towards practical knowledge such as management and leadership skills.