Assessment of barriers to knowledge and experience transfer in major maintenance activities

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Systematic failure analysis generally enhances the ability of engineering decision-makers to obtain a holistic view of the causal relationships that often exist within the systems they manage. Such analyses are made more difficult by uncertainties and organisational complexities associated with critical and inevitable industrial maintenance activities such as major overhauls, outages, shutdowns, and turnarounds (MoOSTs). This is perhaps due to the ratio of tasks-to-duration typically permitted. While core themes of MoOSTs including planning, contracts, costing, execution, etc., have been the focus of most research activities, it is worth noting that the ability to successfully transfer and retain MoOSTs knowledge is still under-investigated. Effectively implementing a case study-based approach for data collection, the current study explores the harmonisation of various risk assessments (i.e., fault tree analysis and reliability block diagrams) and multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) tools to investigate perceived barriers to MoOSTs knowledge management and experience transfer. The case study selected for this study is a dual process line all-integrated cement manufacturing plant (the largest of such process configuration in its region). The justification for this choice of industry was driven by the volume and frequency of MoOSTs executed each year (typically 4–1 per process line), thereby providing a good opportunity to interact with industrial experts with immense experience in the management/execution of MoOSTs within their industry. A multilayered methodology was adopted for information gathering, whereby baseline knowledge from an earlier conducted systematic review of MoOSTs practices/approaches provided fundamental theoretical trends, which was then complemented by field-based data (from face-to-face interviews, focus group sessions, questionnaires, and secondary information from company MoOSTs documentation). During the analysis, fault tree analysis (FTA) and reliability block diagrams (RBDs) were simultaneously used to generate the causal relationships and criticality that exist between identified barriers, while the MCDA (in this case analytical hierarchy process) was used to identify and prioritise barriers to MoOSTs knowledge management and experience transfer, based on sensitivity analysis and consistency of approach. The primary aim of this study is to logically conceptualise core barriers/limiters to knowledge in temporary industrial project environments such as MoOSTs, as well as enhance the ability of decision-makers to prioritise learning efforts. The results obtained from analysis of data identify three major main criteria (barriers) and 23 subcriteria ranked according to level of importance as indicated from expert opinions.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number1721
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2020