The Challenges of Maintaining Rotating Equipment

Joe Anderson ReliabilityX
Joe Anderson, ReliabilityX

The Seal Connect team recently caught up with Joe Anderson to discuss the challenges and rewards of maintaining rotating equipment and working with plant teams. Joe is a partner and the chief operating officer for ReliabilityX. Joe helps companies reach their full potential through improvement gains and lowering costs. This gives them competitive advantage on their journey to excellence.

Joe is also an active columnist in Plant Services magazine and contributes Captain Unreliability each month. As a CMRP, CRL, CARO, MLT2, MLA1, LSSGB, IAM-55k, CRL Black Belt, Joe is a reliability and maintenance expert, and we were happy he took the time to share his knowledge with us.

SC: What are some of the challenges that operators face when maintaining rotating equipment?

JA: What I have found in my career to be the most challenging issues that face operators come down to two things. First is leadership support. The employees should feel empowered and supported within leading this successful function in their ability to maintain, at least at a certain level, their equipment. This includes being provided the proper tools and training to use those tools at their disposal.

Second is training. Not only training on tools provided, but technical skills, maintenance philosophies, and maintenance systems and processes.

SC: Do you have any tips for preventing or minimizing failures when maintaining

rotating equipment?

JA: Cleaning, tightening, and lubrication, on average, make up 70% of the causes of failure. So with that knowledge, I would say for one, have strict cleaning standards. Dirt, oil and debris can lead to things like contamination in oil sumps and bearings, leading to premature failure.

maintaining rotating equipment pump motor
Proper machine lubrication practices can extend the life of rotating machinery.

Wipe down surfaces and try to avoid using compressed air to blow down equipment. Blowing down equipment leads to the contamination of surrounding equipment and [negatively affects] the functionality of things like photo eyes and other switches because of dirt and debris that may cause other issues within the process.

Second, use torque specifications on all fasteners as much as possible. Loose bolts and guarding are another main cause of failures. These issues can cause problems, such as misalignment, that definitely lead to premature failure.

Another issue is loose machine guarding rubbing against shafts, bearings, and other components. This causes premature failures.

Lastly, proper machine lubrication practices can extend the life of rotating machinery. Avoiding contamination and using the right lubricants, at the right frequency and at the right amount are huge factors in keep rotating assets running.

SC: Do you have one EPIC story or example that you can share where a problem was solved that you (or the team) thought was impossible?

JA: Plants in need for conversion from a reactive organization to a proactive organization seem to be the largest and most common problem within the industry. Every plant turnaround that I have every completed is never, at least at first, thought to be possible. Great leaders find a way to:

  • Make others see the vision
  • Convince the team how amazing they are
  • Communicate clearly what is expected

As you move along within the process, the goal is to attain some quick wins. As you begin to see success, it begins to snowball, and you gain more and more support.

When you can eliminate downtime, reduce cost to produce, and increase throughput all while watching your team gain more and more confidence in their abilities, what greater thing is there than that?

SC: What do you find most rewarding about the work you do?

JA: The reason I do what I do and wake up everyday motivated is to see others succeed. There is no greater joy to me than seeing other people’s success. Being able to be part of that is icing on the cake. Being able to see an organization raise their employees’ quality of life, watch the stress leave upper management, and see their success in the marketplace is the greatest reward that I could ever ask for.

To Learn More, Follow Joe and the ReliabilityX Team

You may reach Joe at, or follow him and his company on Twitter—@JoeReliabilityX and @ReliabilityX.

About the Author
Lori Ditoro joined SEPCO in November 2018 as content marketing manager. Before that, she was content marketing strategist for Fluke Accelix; editorial director of the Process Flow Network, publishers of Water Technology, Processing, and Flow Control; editor of Pumps & Systems; and editor of Upstream Pumping. In her roles, Ditoro has learned about the process and manufacturing industries and the equipment and technology that keep plants and other facilities operating. She also developed a passion for telling the operators' and technicians' stories. She may be reached at