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KNOXVILLE — A direct correlation exists between a manufacturing facility’s equipment reliability and its ability to implement lean methodologies. Increasing the reliability of equipment and processes leads to increased production capacity and decreased downtime and maintenance spending.

Already an educational leader in operational excellence, the Center for Executive Education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has partnered with Life Cycle Engineering, headquartered in Charleston, S.C., to launch Establishing Reliability Excellence for Lean Implementation (Lean Reliability), a program that links the optimization of manufacturing assets and processes to manufacturing plant efficiency.

The first program is being offered in October.

“A manufacturing facility attempting to become ‘lean’ without having reliable equipment can produce disastrous consequences,” said Chuck Parke, Lean Reliability faculty lead. “The two concepts must go hand in hand to maximize impact and results.”

Lean Reliability is designed for plant managers, maintenance managers, business unit managers, operation managers, directors of operations and vice presidents of operations who want to improve production flow, eliminate waste from the value stream, improve customer lead times, reduce inventory and improve quality and efficiencies.

Motivation for implementing Lean Reliability within an organization includes optimizing manufacturing assets and processes, minimizing production costs, improving product quality and improving safety.

By incorporating the concept of equipment reliability into daily plant operations and creating a culture of prevention and improvement, plants can operate as safer, more productive and more profitable businesses.

Manufacturing operations across many industries have experienced dramatic results when they correlated equipment reliability with lean. Examples in which UT and/or Life Cycle Engineering have played a role:

-A heat and cooling corporation improved assembly time from five weeks to four hours in less than nine months.

-A film production company reduced equipment-related downtime 40 percent in 18 months.

-A sugar refinery reduced maintenance costs more than 25 percent in two years.

-An aluminum manufacturer reduced plant maintenance spending 20 percent while increasing raw material capacity 10 percent in three years.

-An airline maintenance operation increased due-date delivery to 100 percent from 25 percent in one year; it reduced product flow time 60 percent and increased revenue $40 million over five years.

Lean Reliability is delivered in an intensive, one-week residency period. In addition to addressing the value of equipment reliability in a lean environment, Lean Reliability demonstrates that facilities will make exponential gains when they also develop solid leadership skills.

Parke and the other faculty members have a combined 70 years of real-world experience in applying lean methodologies and reliability processes in a variety of industries worldwide. As former plant leaders themselves, these faculty members have delivered consistent and significant performance improvements in facility productivity, quality, safety, cost effectiveness, profitability and employee engagement.

Cost for the Lean Reliability program is $4,500, which includes tuition, books and materials, lodging and meals.


Cindy Raines, (865) 974-4359,