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Asset Strategy Management: The Missing Piece in the Asset Management Puzzle

When it comes to asset management, many organizations continue to be hampered by high costs, a high volume of unplanned failures and, ultimately, an unacceptable level of risk. The reason? There’s a piece missing in their asset management puzzle.

That piece is called asset strategy management (ASM). It’s a simple, but vital, component of any asset management or reliability focused organization.

The three questions you should ask to see if ASM would be of benefit to your organization are:

  • Do you know if all the strategies in the enterprise asset management (EAM) system are currently being executed and at what set interval? If not, do you know what level of risk the organization is being exposed to?
  • Do the strategies in the EAM system align to the agreed strategies or best in class strategies on all assets? If not, do you know what level of risk the organization is exposed to?
  • Does the organization’s maintenance plan cover all the basic equipment care fundamentals and statutory or regulatory requirements on all assets?

Answering “no” to one or more of these questions sends a clear signal that your organization would gain immediate value from implementing ASM.

Delivering High Reliability

Once an asset has been selected and installed, its ongoing reliability is determined by two things: how it is operated and how it is maintained.

Putting operations aside, how you maintain an asset directly impacts its performance. And, to decide how and when that maintenance is conducted, you need a strategy. Hence, an asset’s performance all starts with a maintenance strategy.

At the most basic level, there aren’t many options for setting a strategy. You either decide to execute a task at a regular interval to prevent or predict a failure or you monitor the asset for specific failure mechanisms, with an alarm or alert triggered if remedial action is needed.

Figure 1: The two strategy options – fixed time maintenance or a predictive task/monitoring

It sounds easy enough. Yet, many organizations will set a strategy in the first instance – upon installation of the asset – and leave it at that. There’s no ongoing management of that strategy. The implication of this is that over time, the strategy may no longer be appropriate for how the asset is being used. Or, someone may change the strategy without proper review or justification. Think about it. If someone goes into the EAM system and changes an interval of one of your maintenance plans without any review – and it turns out to be an inappropriate change – imagine the risk to your business. Yet this happens on a daily basis in most organizationsSince strategy is the single biggest driver of asset performance, it must be managed effectively over time to ensure it remains optimal for the life of the asset.

The Process to Realize Reliability

Enter ASM, a process that integrates with work execution management, but with a very different objective. Whereas work execution management is all about the efficient execution of work, ASM is all about making sure you are executing the right work all the time.

Many organizations have unsuccessfully tried to tackle ASM within their work management process. The reason this approach doesn’t deliver results is that ASM and work management have very different objectives and, therefore, require entirely different triggers, resources, data and technical solutions to be effective.

Figure 2: The separation of work execution management, asset performance management, and asset strategy management is vital to deliver reliability

Beyond delivering optimal performance and management of risk on an ongoing basis, ASM also delivers benefits that are currently out of reach for many organizations:

  • A consolidated, standard, component-based maintenance strategy that drives consistency of strategy, but allows for local operating context;
  • A consistent master data build for all plans and materials supporting execution;
  • Identification of undesirable risk;
  • Automatic detection of where to focus improvement initiatives;
  • Rapid deployment of relevant strategy changes across the entire asset base.

Organizations typically see an immediate uplift in performance and reduction in costs upon implementing ASM. The clarity generated from an ASM program also can improve work management because the objective of the work management process becomes singular and clear, allowing the organization to do work more efficiently.

How Asset Performance Management Fits In

Some organizations may be familiar with asset performance management (APM), which is focused on maintaining asset health and condition. APM manages the ongoing performance of assets by monitoring current conditions or current performance data and alerting the organization when an intervention is required to prevent an impending failure.

Types of monitoring range from a periodic assessment by a technician to multi-parameter continuous monitoring devices. However, the intent is essentially the same: to understand the condition, determine if that condition is deteriorating and identify any impending failure so rectification can be scheduled into the workflow. And, in doing so, avoid that failure.

Recently, the cost of technologies that support online monitoring of asset operating parameters has fallen, leading to the adoption of online monitoring tools on a wider scale. As a result, APM is getting cheaper and easier to perform. That’s good news for organizations, but it’s important to remember that these monitoring tools don’t take care of strategy.

ASM sits alongside APM to make sure that routine maintenance strategies and whole life asset strategies are best in class and aligned to the performance requirements of the plant. ASM uses a consolidated base of reliability master data that is deployed and connected across the entire asset base. Any updates to strategy follow a process to ensure that the change is effective (data-driven, where applicable) and the workflow is reviewed, approved and implemented. This may result, where applicable, in a single site-based change driving the update of the corporate reliability master data and the resulting change being deployed automatically across an entire asset base.

ASM also can help identify where it is cost-effective and practical to implement monitoring or APM. Hence, along with work management, you have a closed loop for reliability and maintenance.

Where Do You Start?

Most organizations already have a work management process in place. Ideally, this process has been refined to ensure that assets are maintained and repaired quickly to minimize downtime.

However, if you’re serious about asset maintenance, then your next step is to implement an ASM plan. It’s the most effective way to deliver improvements, reduce costs and improve your existing work management processes.

Why? Because any reliability process must start with a strategy aligned to your performance goals. This strategy must be best in class and continually managed. It can’t be changed ad hoc without review and approval. By the same token, if effective local strategy changes are made, it is a waste not to electronically distribute that change to all relevant instances of that asset.

Implementing an ASM process puts the organization back in control of asset management and will continually drive the execution of best in class strategies across the entire asset base.