Instrumentation, Control and Communications Engineers who set annual KPI’s need to focus on improving Production Reliability and Reducing Human Error Rates

Managers will challenge their people by setting performance targets. For engineers that work on production process plant and equipment they should select key performance indicators (KPIs) that bring a benefit of greater plant reliability or lower production cost.


Good morning Mike,

I am a Control Engineer from the Reliability and Data Management Department of our Maintenance Division.

I am in the process of writing my annual KPIs to management for the year.

I would like to emphasize the Reliability of Instrumentation and Control Systems. Can you please advise me your suggestions for my KPIs considering the Reliability of I&C systems.

Thanking you in advance.



Hello Gopal,

With regards KPIs on the reliability of instrument and communication systems: They should be based on increasing the reliability of one or more specific operating system(s) in your company, e.g. a process service, a production stream, etc.

Another useful instrument and communication systems KPI could be based on increasing the robustness (span accuracy) of a detected process variable (pressure, temperature, density, etc.) and the subsequent correctness / certainty / clarity of the information presented by the instrument to the User.

With regards software development: A good KPI would be one based on reducing the number of programming errors per line of code.

A second one would be to improve the right-first-time rate of program coding against the functional specification requirements.

A third could be to reduce the Operator/User decision error rate per shift, e.g. wrong valve selection, program input errors, etc. The focus would be to improve the speed, ease and accuracy of Operator/User comprehension when presented with digital information about their process/equipment. There are many atrocious operator screens in use that do more to confuse than to clarify a situation.

In terms of production cost savings you could KPI for reduced losses due to instrumentation and/or system failures, e.g. amount of production time lost to program errors, amount of production loss due to communications errors/failures, reduction in the frequency of faulty instrument signals, etc.

A challenging KPI would be to invent a patentable solution for an existing problem that you successfully address. This KPI drives innovation and creativity.

With regards your personal growth KPIs: You will do best for your career growth if you focus on improving your systems understanding. Go to at least one training course next year on the design of systems that is at a more advanced level than you now know.

Another useful personal KPI is to present at two public seminars or conferences during the year. By presenting you gain experience in developing logical arguments, and you gain confidence in delivering coherent thoughts across to others. Every engineer should do at least a dozen group and public presentations spread across the first five years of their career. Talk about what you learnt on the job and how it matches the current applicable technical theory and/or engineering practise (or whether it did not and why, in your considered analysis, it did not).


My best regards to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ