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Asset Strategy Management: The Missing Link in Reliability Programs

Asset Strategy Management: The Missing Link in Reliability Programs by Jason Apps

Asset Strategy Management: The Missing Link in Reliability Programs

by Jason Apps

While the process of reliability-centered maintenance has not changed much over the past 20 years, technology has certainly changed. You are now able to be more efficient in the way you go about reviewing maintenance tasks and you can improve how you use the increasing data available to you. However, even with new technologies, more data and a strong approach to maintenance strategy development, many asset managers are still leaving millions of dollars of their organization’s money on the table. It’s money that can be easily saved if you know why it’s disappearing and how to save it.

To illustrate, let’s look at a real-life example. Asset managers are regularly asked to lead projects to review maintenance strategies for sites and assets that are not meeting their availability targets or are suffering frequent unplanned failures or high costs. They typically set to work collecting the asset hierarchy, work order history and current maintenance plans. Using all this data, they apply sophisticated methodologies to build an optimized maintenance strategy. In one particular project, the resulting revised strategies were forecasted to reduce maintenance costs by -18 percent per annum and improve availability by +3 percent.

It was a great outcome. But – and herein lies the problem – the site failed to effectively implement and execute the strategy, and so it continued to suffer from unplanned failures and poor availability. There’s the money down the drain.

To truly realize the value, a good strategy needs to be implemented and then updated over time.

To truly realize the value, a good strategy needs to be implemented and then updated over time. In essence, the strategy needs to be managed. This includes workflows, review and approval by appropriate subject matter experts, use of generic content wherever possible and data driven decision-making.

Learning From Past Failures

Ten years ago, when reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) was really hitting its stride, more and more organizations started investing in the task of developing maintenance strategies. But according to research, a massive 60 percent of these strategies were never implemented. Think of the money wasted.

Or, if a strategy was implemented, it likely would get changed over time with little or no oversight. Typically, the good strategy work is undone and things go back to how they were.

Realistically, any change to a strategy, such as the interval, durations, specific tasks and instruction content, should be managed with a dedicated workflow that includes justification and the opportunity to utilize any great improvements across your entire asset base.

The Power of Combining Work Management With Strategy Management

To fix these endemic problems, the focus of an organization needs to evolve to strategy management, as well as work management.

Think about it. Work management is all about executing tasks. Strategy management is all about deciding what tasks should be executed. You can have the best work execution process, but if you’re not working on the right strategies, then it won’t deliver results. Asset managers need to make sure that teams are effectively executing the right strategy.

Furthermore, reliability and maintenance teams need the agility to adapt when a positive change is made to a strategy at one site in a multi-site organization, or a common asset is used multiple times on a single site. How do you quickly deploy this cost-saving change across other sites in the organization?

For example, think of a water utility that operates 400 pump stations across the country, with each one operating the same equipment. Say there’s a pump failure at one site and a technician does some good root cause analysis work that leads to a recommended strategy around a task that needs to be done. If the technician’s decision goes to a central area for review and approval, and then gets deployed efficiently and electronically to all the other pump stations, the utility could potentially save thousands on future fixes, reduce risk and improve performance.

Wherever you find pockets of excellence, you need to deploy them everywhere, effectively.

Figure 1: Work strategy management

What Does Asset Strategy Management Mean?

Asset strategy management is a defined process to capture and review data from all sources and leverage those learnings to enhance strategic decisions across the enterprise. Identifying pockets of strategy excellence, deploying those strategies across the organization wherever they are relevant, and managing compliance performance will take a step change.

  • Deploy your best strategies to every asset, every time, rapidly
  • Drive continuous improvement through establishing benchmarks, monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs), refining strategies and redeploying
  • Report and manage compliance to approved strategies
  • Gain control over execution and manage deviations through a formal approval process
  • Obtain a living strategy that responds to changing conditions and continually deploy the best strategies applicable

Adopt a Best Practice Approach and Create a Culture of Excellence

The secret of successful strategy management lies in looking beyond the SAPs and Maximos of the world. You can try to standardize these systems for a “generate once, use many times” approach, but it won’t work. A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is designed to manage work tasks, not manage strategy.

Instead, you need a separate approach and solution for strategy management that directly integrates with your work management system. This way, if your reliability team and subject matter experts devise a new asset strategy that is going to save your organization millions of dollars, then you can be assured it will be successfully applied to all relevant assets across all sites. Likewise, you will gain visibility into single site strategy excellence and be able to quickly and easily deploy it enterprise-wide. With an asset strategy management program, your asset strategies will be dynamic, constantly evolving and instill a culture toward achieving excellence in reliability.

This makes reliability a reality.