Case Study: Do your Walk-around Equipment Inspections Really Contribute to Asset Reliability?

Dick Hancock, Sales & Marketing Consultant, 24/7 Systems, Inc.


Many plants rely on their work order system to schedule mechanical/electrical equipment inspections, operator rounds, and lube routes, with the actual inspection details being kept in a separate system such as spreadsheet-based forms.  Unfortunately, this valuable equipment condition information is now trapped on the paper form and not easily communicated to those in a position to make maintenance execution decisions.

“The paper reports seem to go into a stack of papers on a supervisor’s desk and sometimes they are not reviewed the way they should be.”
– Reliability Engineer, South Carolina Paper Mill 

To remedy this problem reliability engineers at a plastics plant and a paper mill moved their existing inspection details to a web-hosted database system, using Android, IOS, or Windows tablets for field collection.  This resulted in the collected information being distributed via automated emails and web browser – a broad audience involved in maintenance decisions could see problems found during inspections on a dashboard alongside issues being reported by higher tech condition monitoring such as vibration analysis, thermography, or oil analysis. Walk-around equipment inspections became just as important as their higher tech systems in driving reliability decisions.

In addition to driving condition-based maintenance action, the reliability engineers also found the web-hosted database inspection information to be invaluable during insurance or internal audits:

“The biggest thing was being able to pull stuff out while they’re (auditors) standing there, live, and showing them on the screen. Everything was right out in the open. We could say, “pick one” and go in and see when it was inspected. During the report out, we would usually be called “best of class” or “best within the company” by just having our data organized in one place.”  
-Reliability Engineer, Illinois Plastics Plant


1. Walk-around equipment inspections are just as important as higher tech systems in driving reliability decisions.
2. Valuable equipment condition information is often trapped on paper forms and not communicated to those in a position to make maintenance execution decisions.
3. Web-hosted database inspection information is invaluable during insurance or internal audits.


A 1972 graduate of the University of Georgia, Dick has over 35 years’ experience in the operation and maintenance of industrial machinery. In the 1980’s he worked for a Caterpillar dealership in Texas and Louisiana, providing large horsepower gas compressor packages for oilfield service. In the 1990’s he helped Computational Systems, Inc (CSI) grow into the leading provider of predictive maintenance systems. Following Emerson Electric’s acquisition of CSI he served as VP of Marketing. Currently Dick is a sales and marketing consultant working with 24/7 Systems, Inc. to provide web-based Reliability Information Management services to manufacturing plants and their condition monitoring contractors.