Don't miss MaximoWorld 2024, the premier conference on AI for asset management!

Experience the future of asset management with cutting-edge AI at MaximoWorld 2024.

Sign Up

Please use your business email address if applicable

The Eight Critical Elements of Asset Management. An in Depth Industry Based Survey

From this a centralised Operational Excellence group was formed to assist business units with setting up common systems and practices to improve asset reliability and hence output. Part of this charter was to focus on the most critical elements so the business would achieve operational excellence. On review it was clear that improving Maintenance was only part of the issue. All aspects of how we managed our assets needed to be considered.


Firstly, I would like to thank all of the respondents to the survey. Being 63 questions long it is quite an investment in time, so I hope the results are of use. I would also like to thank Terrence O'Hanlon from Reliabilityweb for publishing the lead in articles and link to the survey. Without this promotion the level of response may not have been significant enough to develop this report.

Mark Brunner
Reliability and Maintenance Systems Superintendent-Wire.
Onesteel Rod, Bar and Wire.


What is Asset management and are there only 8 critical elements?

Asset Management is defined by the Asset Management Council of Australia as being, "The life cycle management of physical assets to achieve the stated outputs of the enterprise". (2009) The British Standards Institution through a Publicly Avaliable Standard PAS 55-1:2004 define Asset Management as "the systematic and coordinated activities and practices through which an organisation optimally manages its assets and associated performance, risks and expenditures over their lifecycle for the purpose of achieving its organisational strategic plan". These definitions convey similar thoughts and are debateable but they fundamentally make sense. Businesses and agencies invest in physical assets to deliver an output, so they can make a profit or provide a service. Following from this it could be assumed that actions need to be taken to ensure the assets continue to deliver an acceptable output over their usable life. These actions may need to include more than just maintaining plant and should also address:

• The selection of equipment
• The design of equipment for operability, reliability and maintainability
• The operating parameters of the plant so it can meet expectations by mitigating loses such as, changeover delays, plant maintenance, unplanned maintenance, rate loss, rework and scrap.

A system must then be in place to investigate and solve the root cause of any unplanned losses. (van Dullemen, 2009)

Asset management can be considered a collation of all of the elements above, but until recently most people in industry called this "Plant Maintenance", so at some stage in time the term has evolved to be "Asset Management". The significance of this change in terminology is open to interpretation of individuals but I believe it indicates an evolutionary change in the way businesses views maintenance, and the acknowledgement that the maintenance groups do not solely own asset performance. As a trainee Engineer in the early 80's I learnt that the only key maintenance metric that was of any concern to management was costs. In relation to other plant maintenance KPI's:

• Equipment reliability was not well understood.
• Requests for work were managed manually by recording requests in log book.
• Planned maintenance systems were managed via a paper system and it was inherently difficult to monitor compliance.
• Follow up work developed built up from inspections were sent to leading hand tradesmen who consequently filed them.

With the focus only on costs, the performance of the maintenance department was based on perceptions. It was very easy for production departments to blame maintenance for production losses and Maintenance clearly knew that all breakdowns and losses were caused by production. This was known as the "they break it we fix it" syndrome, and unfortunately this perception still exists within many industries. If we wanted to be a little smarter back then we would have worked together to improve our Assets performance, but in reality few knew any better. Move back to the present and there is a growing realisation that Asset management is not just completing inspections, fixing breakdowns and managing shutdowns. It must include all elements that help meet the "assets to achieve the stated outputs of the enterprise"(2009). These elements can be categorised under a few broad headings including:

1. The organisation and leadership
2. Plant capability and criticality
3. Operational and Maintenance practices and behaviours
4. Support services.

Assuming we have accepted the definition of the Asset Management Council, the next question would be; Are there only eight critical elements to asset management? The answer is no, as it would be fair to say that individual businesses or indeed units within a business will be at different points in their Asset management journey and what is considered as "Critical" will be different in every case. If you had a brainstorming session on what are the important aspects of asset management in your business you are likely to get dozens of suggestions many with common themes. Below, a list of asset management elements have been compiled from Onesteel and views held by myself and other maintenance professionals. The list has been sorted into the categories mentioned above.

The Organisation and Leadership.

Management support. To have a truly world class asset management system there must be support at all levels of management. If corporate management support the cause of managing assets for reliability but the operations manager 3 levels down is not supportive, improvement initiatives are likely to fail. If a Maintenance Manager tries to instigate a plan for reliability improvement and his direct supervisor is not supportive, again failure is the most likely result.

Operations and Maintenance Reliability Focus. This element is in line with management support. In many industries managers associate maintenance with costs and downtime. Many maintenance people believe their primary role is to fix things as they break. A business with reliability focus will view breakdowns as an opportunity to improve and the cost to maintain as being an investment in the future. Focus on reliability should include all aspects of processes that can cause losses including breakdowns, operational practices, maintenance practices and quality issues. All employees have a role to play in the improvement of Reliability of their equipment. Reliability needs to become part of the organisational culture.

Organisational Culture. To head on the road to asset reliability the workforce must be prepared for organisational change. Some deep-seated beliefs will have to be challenged, and some new thinking introduced. E.g. Planned downtime can lead to more uptime, planning work well will increase tool time by at least 50%, all critical spares must be held in the store, giving operators some maintenance responsibility will breed ownership and improve reliability. Feedback and continuous improvement of reliability and maintence processes must be a management value.

Performance Measures. These must be in place to determine if improvements have been effective. What measures do you have in place? There are literally hundreds in use in industry with common ones being Mean Time Between Failures, Mean Time to Repair, % downtime, Overall Equipment Effectiveness, Compliance to Planned Maintenance schedule, Reactive vs Preventitive, Proactive, Predictive work, no. of breakdown calls etc. You must have some performance measures in place or you will not have a base to review improvement against.

Process Auditing. An asset management process audit schedule must be put in place and adhered to. Efficiency of your asset management process is dependant on two things. The first is that you must have excellent systems developed that are as simple as possible. The second is to ensure that these systems are followed. Most people will try and do the right thing, but often this may not be the correct thing. Auditing your processes will help ensure systems are being followed as well as letting your people see that the systems are valued.

Organisational Improvement Philosophies. E.g. LEAN, 80/20, TPM etc. If any of these continuous improvement philosophies are being applied, they should not drive asset management into a reactive mode. As mentioned above systems are put in place to maintain efficiency. Efficient systems should not be affected by the latest change in direction from management without careful consideration. LEAN manufacturing when applied effectively can have a significant effect on the performance of a business, but it does drive a level of reactiveness due to the Kaisen events that require a quick turn around on problem solving. If you have a good work management process ensure you stick to it.

Business Goals and Objectives. Reliability of assets should have goals set within business plans. It is best practice to ensure your asset management strategies are aligned to the business overall goals. For example if the business goals require an asset to be avaliable for 80% of the time, there is no reason why your asset management strategies should be aiming for higher than this. Your objectives should be aimed at providing the agreed level of reliable capacity of assets at lowest costs without compromising plant condition and safety.

Plant Capability and Criticality.

Not Reaching Plant Capability. The business needs to understand all causes of plants not running to capability. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case examples being, unplanned breakdowns, issue with product quality, absenteeism, operating practices. Understanding the causes of these losses is the first step towards improvement.

Not Using Capacity or Plant Utilisation. Assuming the products you are manufacturing are profitable it then makes sense that you would run your assets 24/7 if possible. Reasons why this may not be occurring include but are not limited to, not having enough demand for your product, not having enough labor to make the product or not having enough raw feed for the plant. These reasons must be understood so actions can be put in place to increase the utilisation of the plants that are making money.

Operating Plant Beyond Design Limitations. Uncontrolled changes to plant are fraught with danger. Examples could be adding extra load, running products that were not designed to run on the equipment or changing the mode of operation of the plant. Machines should never be operated above design limits unless those limits have been increased via properly engineered upgrades.

Asset Criticality Assessment. Some will say that criticality assessments are often a waste of time and that this information is in the heads of experienced plant personnel. In many cases this is true, as you only have to ask a production planning about demand and production managers where the biggest margins are. Then there are the obvious plant services such as Power systems, Water supply, Gas supply, Boilers, Cranes etc. Often the loss of any of these services will stop a whole plant, so in most cases these will be considered critical assets. The other areas where criticality if often well understood is where failures lead to significant cost to repair , environmental or safety issues.

Criticality assessment can be a lot of work, so do you need to do it and if so how do you go about it? Often statutory requirements mean that records must be kept from this type of assessment. If statutory requirements do not affect your industry it is still a good idea to complete an assessment and document your logic behind the assessment. This takes the emotion out of deciding where asset management improvement should be focussed on.

Operational and Maintenance Practices and Behaviours.

Operational Practices. Does the operations staff have targets and standards related to running their equipment? Are they in a position where they are able to modify the process because they "Have to" to keep it running as required? Do different shifts run the equipment differently? These practices lead into the next element.

Standard Operational Practices. One of the fundamental elements of LEAN manufacturing is Standardised practices. The key to this is to map your process well, and determine the most efficient and safe way to operate your equipment. These processes are then documented and deployed as the standard methodology.

Operator Machine Care. In many plants operations are not made responsible for any part of the maintenance of their equipment. This often leads to a don't care attitude and degradation of plant. Responsibility breeds ownership and ownership leads to improved reliability

Shift Handovers. Poor practices in relation to shift handovers in some industries can be a major cause of losses. Is your equipment stopped while shifts are changing? If yes, then how can this be changed to maximise continuous running?

Product Changeovers. Product changeovers are often the focus of Lean manufacturing improvement (Kaisen) events as any improvement in changeover time immediately effects machine availability.

Production Planning Practices. The way a production plan is put together can have a significant effect on output. Is the product mix making the best use of the assets capability? Does continuous change over of product lead to an ineffective process.

Loss Accounting. Does your business understand where all losses to output are occurring, and if they do what they are doing about it. Operations groups are often quick to look at maintenance when machines break down, but what actually caused the breakdown. It may be poor maintenance but equally it could be the way the equipment is being run. Does absenteeism and quality issues lead to losses? Are there systems in place to monitor losses.

Analysis of Loss Data. A loss accounting system must account for all losses and results from the system must drive improvement actions. If you are measuring your losses and not initiating improvement actions then gathering the data is a waste of time.

Planning and Scheduling. The best organisations spend 80% of their time on planned and scheduled work. The effect of utilising planing and scheduling will far out-weigh the initial pain of selecting and training people for these roles.

Work Management Process. Planning and scheduling can only be improved if a well-defined work management process with measurable KPI's has been developed. It is imperative that all associated with the process understand and follow it. A well applied Work Management process will improve the flow of work by allowing the most critical work to be addressed as soon as practical, while at the same time it will filter out the work that can be deferred.

Proactive Maintenance. The analysis of losses will lead to the identification of modes of failure of equipment. Proactive maintenance is aimed at the stabilisation of equipment reliability by addressing the root cause of potential failure modes, so as to prevent failures from occurring in the first place. If your organisation is focussing on proactive maintenance you are well on the way to improving reliability.

Rebuild and Installation Standards and Practices. Maintenance tasks must be completed to a standard to ensure the long-term reliability of the equipment. Do you have the right quality oil, the correct bearings and other materials? Has the equipment been put back together with the correct clearances? Has your DC motor brushes been bedded in correctly? Does your equipment start on time after work is done, and keeps running? These standards are closely linked with how the job is done. Are the right tools used for the task? Are your tradesmen qualified for the tasks they complete? Eliminate rework - Do it Once, do it right.

Planned Maintenance. The planned maintenance system is the backbone of your reliability journey. The important factor here is that the work from your system must be relevant and up to date. To achieve this PM inspections need to be built using methodology that addresses failure modes such as RCM or PMO. To further optimise your system feedback must be gathered from the people who are doing the work. A PM system needs to be a living system that is constantly being reviewed and improved.

Lubrication. For those with rotating equipment; the development of planned maintenance strategies based on lubrication must be your starting point. Lack of, or incorrect lubrication is the single most significant reason for plant to fail. It is obvious to state that machines break when they are not lubricated correctly, but how often is poor lubrication the cause of unplanned downtime in your business? If you don't have lubrication strategies in place, start now.

CMMS Application and Use. Your CMMS is your maintenance management database, and like any database, if the input is bad the output will also be bad. The CMMS is the place where the foundation of your asset management system sits, being the functional hierarchy. Embedded in this structure is your equipment assemblies and components, the strategies you develop to maintain your assets, the schedules that support your strategies, the record of costs associated with maintaining and the history of breakdowns. A well utilised and managed CMMS is an invaluable tool that should be in close alignment with Work Management system.

Maintenance Strategies. Development and review. A strategy is the who, what, when, where and how of maintaining your assets. Strategies are not "set and forget", they are living documents that should be reviewed and improved continuously. At some stage in your facilities life cycle, decisions were made related to what maintenance would be completed on your assets and how often it would occur. Often these decisions are never questioned and the logic behind the decision is lost when the people that initiated them leave the business. For Asset Maintenance strategies to remain effective over the life of the plant there must be an element of continuous review. In effect your Maintenance Strategies must be a "living program".
Many businesses are really good at the "Planning and Doing" in the PDCA cycle in relation to developing Asset maintenance strategies, but the "Check, Act" part of the cycle is often neglected. What do you need to do to have a living program? What methods do you use to review strategies? Do the strategies address the failure modes of your assets? Who is involved in the review process? What do you need to do to have a living program? The review and development of strategies is a critical component of Asset Management.

Condition Management/Predictive Maintenance. The most efficient and effective maintenance organisations will maximise their condition-based maintenance. After all, why overhaul equipment when it is not showing any signs of wear? There are two specific components to condition management. The first is based on inspections that are not intrusive. E.g. Check for wear, check for end float, check for burning, check it spins freely. Where possible this type of inspection should include acceptable parameters, such as worn by 3mm or more. The second is based on the use of technology such as Thermography, Oil analysis, Vibration analysis. The key to using technology is having the skill to understand the early warning signs and the systems to act on them. Often a condition-based strategy will reduce the amount of overhaul work saving material and labor costs as well as reducing the instances of early life failure.

Reliability, Process and Practices Audits. There is a very common saying in reliability circles these days being, "You can't manage what you don't measure". If you don't know the reliability level of your equipment how can you possibly improve it? How do you know that the practices you have in place are being followed and are they correct to begin with? Auditing your processes and practices is a must so you can acknowledge your reality. This becomes the starting point for improvement. Involving your people in a positive manner during the Audits will grow ownership and improvements.

Root Cause Analysis. The key to performing proactive maintenance well is being proficient in root cause analysis processes. To gain this proficiency it would normally require some formal training and regular use of the process. It is ideal to have some of your more analytical minds trained in the process and use it regularly. Businesses that apply Lean principles use an RCA process called Practical Problem solving on a daily basis which gives excellent results for the majority of issues, but it can fall short complex issues. This is related to the assumption that 5 whys will lead to a single root cause of a problem when rarely is a complex failure wholly related to one issue. A two tiered approach to problem solving is an option to consider. E.g. 5 whys for a simple issue and a more detailed process for significant issues.

Contractor Services and Management. Very few manufacturing businesses or service providers are in a position where they can operate effectively without contractors. While many core activities remain within businesses, often non-core activities such building maintenance, cleaning etc are contracted. The use of contractors creates the need to manage overall costs and compliance standards set by your company, which would include safety standards, work and documentation standards.

Shutdown Management. Shutdowns are undesirable events as they are often costly and reduce plant availability. To minimise the effect on output, organisations need to manage shutdowns so all work is completed safely, to a defined standard, and within the shortest possible time frame. This requires detailed planning and scheduling utilising many task lists and procedures.

Resource Allocation. Are your resources being effectively utilized? What percentage of the work they complete is planned? Are you always having your planned work interrupted by reactive work? Do you know how much of your peoples time is being utilized? Setting up your maintenance resources to effectively cope with reactive work while maintaining compliance on your PM program can be a balancing act. Getting it right can improve your efficiency and effectiveness significantly.

Support Services.

CMMS Support. Contrary to the belief of many senior managers, the CMMS does require a significant amount of support including: maintenance of master data, creating and maintaining Bills of Materials, creating and managing the equipment hierarchy, task lists, maintenance plans, system authorizations and training and mentoring in the systems. Does your business have a resource that manages these and other issues with your CMMS? If not how are these issues being managed now. If the answer is they are not, then your whole system will fall apart in a short time frame. An effective CMMS support service must be in place just to maintain what you currently have.

Engineering and Concept Design. Do you design for reliability or is price the main driver of your capital purchases? Do you design for maintainability? Typically over the life of a plant the cost of maintenance will be over 10 times more than the capital outlay. Is the whole of life costing included as part of the design review? I haven't seen this done well after 28 years in industry. Can you access all maintainable components? Have maintenance strategies been designed as part of the overall Engineering design? Are spares requirements embedded in design concept? There can be many long term wins for businesses if these things are done well.

Capital Management. It is important that you have a view of the future state so you can plan for capital management. Sure you can't always see the future but it is far better to have a plan. What is becoming redundant? Are any machines at the end of their serviceable life? Is the market changing and investment may be required? So far this has all been about the need for capital; there is the management of capital projects and associated costs. How many capital jobs have you seen run out of cash and somehow this extra expenditure ends up on the maintenance budget? Are people held accountable for the successful delivery of a capital project?

Purchasing Services. Purchasing services are an integral part of asset management. Being able to obtain materials and services on time in perfect order and at a reasonable cost can make or break your efforts. It is obviously not practical to have all components on site or services on hand 24/7 so asset managers rely on trustworthy supply agreements that encompass quality, price and delivery. Do you have 100% trust in your purchasing department? If not why not?

Stores Practices. When you look in your CMMS can you find the exact location of a component in your store? Will the part be there if it says it is? Will the part be in serviceable order? How long does it take to goods receipt items into the store and how do you know they are there? Does your store package items for planned work? And the biggest question of them all.... Do you have squirrel stores all over your plant? Having the best practices occurring in your store can improve the planning of tasks significantly, hence improving reliability and increasing uptime.

Training and Development. "We never get enough training!", "How can we do what you want when we haven't been trained?" Do these comments sound familiar? Training must be based on needs of the business and competencies have to be assessed in real situations, and reassessed within regularly time frames to ensure the skill is not lost. E.g. All electricians will be trained in brand X PLC programming and software. How many really need to be programmers. What they most likely need is the training around using the software for diagnostics. This is a skill they are likely to use regularly. Complete a skills gap analysis and understand your requirements, then ensure there is enough money in the budget followed by effective timing scheduling of the training.

In all there are 39 elements briefly described above, all of which have significant importance that will be at different levels for individual businesses. It is highly unlikely that all of these elements need immediate attention so the trick is to understand where the biggest bang for your buck lies.

Selecting the Eight most Critical Elements.

To improve your performance in asset management all of the above elements will need some attention, however Onesteel did acknowledge that as there was nearly 40 elements, not all could be addressed at once. Using the 80/20 rule the Eight most critical were determined after a company wide audit. The selection was based on the lowest scoring elements that would give the greatest benefit if they were focussed on and improved. Following is the Eight Elements selected.

1. Lubrication.
2. Condition management (PdM).
3. Maintenance standards and practices.
4. Work Management.
5. Reliability, process and practices audits.
6. CMMS. (Computerised Maintenance Management System).
7. Shutdowns.
8. Maintenance strategies.

Suggested Follow up Action

From the list of nearly forty elements above, get an operations and maintenance group together and decide what your most critical asset management elements are. Acknowledging the currently reality will give you a starting point for improvement.

The Development of the Eight Critical Elements of Asset Management Survey.

The idea of generating a survey on the "Eight critical elements" came after attending a Maintenance conference where part of the communication at the conference was related to participating in an on-line survey. The survey was interesting, but did not deliver much value, as the data avaliable was limited to overall results from all respondents.

The Eight critical elements survey, allows endless variations of reports generated from the data entered. For example all questions can be reported by business type, business size, country and position of people who answered the survey. As part of the survey questions the respondents were asked what type of report they would like to see as this survey assessment will attempt to meet the customers needs. The most common report requests are:

• An individuals company against all other respondents.
• Comparisons between like industries.
• Responses by the size of the company.
• Comparison of responses by role type.
• Comparison between industry types.
• Comparison of results between countries.

This report will cover many of these requests.

Further to this there are also sub themes within the question groups. For instance all question groups have at least one management question. This allows overall assessment of management attitudes and support to be reviewed. Most sections have questions related to operational practices which allows for operational responses to be assessed. Other themes throughout the questions include the Organisational arrangements, and Stores and materials management. Results from these themes will be investigated throughout this report.

Keep in mind that as responses to surveys are voluntary and the information gathered has not been verified either by the provision of proof or follow-up interviews, and often the respondents only have a good story to tell. To account for this the prompts to answer the questions have been designed so a rating of 3 out of 5 can still be very good. What this has done has allowed for splitting excellent responses from good ones. The only completely negative response is a 1 as it indicates a desirable element or action doesn't exist at all.

The intent of this report is not to advise readers on how they should run their asset management programs rather it is aimed to provide benchmarking information so areas for improvement can be identified and acted on. Often when survey results are published, the readers get a number of graphs and numbers, which then have to be assessed by the individual to try and make some sense of the findings. Each section of the following report will be assessed in detail in an attempt to simplify the findings to the reader.

Assessment of general information questions.

The biggest setback in having a general set of questions where there is no assessment of the respondents is that those outcomes are being compared to the whole sample of responses. This provides no frame of reference when assessing the data. For example, educational facilities may not need to have a significant focus on lubrication. If the results from these facilities are mixed in with all responses from manufacturing, the overall results will be lower. How can you then determine whether your facility is performing well in this area? Having identified industry types allows this information to be segregated. This is called "segmentation analysis" and the first 11 questions were designed to assist with this analysis.

The logic behind the opening questions and assessment of the results..

Number of permanent employees.

Question 1 asks "How many permanent employees work within your business unit?" The intent of this question is to segregate responses by business size. A hypothesis related to this question would be that "Larger businesses with more resources manage their assets more effectively". This may or may not be correct, however segmentation analysis should be able to prove or disprove this hypothesis.

Figure 1-Question1

Figure 1. Question 1.

There is a relatively even spread of responses to this question with the predominant business size having between 100 and 300 employees. The smallest level of response came from businesses with 1 to 10 permanent employees.

Number of Permanent Maintenance employees.

Question 2 asks, "How many permanent maintenance employees are within this business unit?" The intent of this question is to determine the percentage of employees that are used to maintain facilities of different types and size. The question also allows for comparison of industries of similar size. A question to be asked could be, "Why does a company require more maintenance employees compared to another site of similar size?"

Fig 2-Question 2

Figure 2. Question 2.

Over 35% of respondents worked for businesses with 11 to 60 full time maintenance employees. Further analysis will allow the total no. of employees vs the total no. of Maintenance employees to be assessed.

Total Employees

Figure 3. Distribution and Median answers. No. Maint employees vs total no. of employees.

Figure 3 highlights the incredible variation of maintenance resourcing that occurs across the range of respondents. When looking at the median results generally as the size of the business became larger the no. of maintenance employees followed. Of interest was that a number of significant size respondents had so few full time maintenance employees.

Permanent Maintenance Contractors.

Question 3 is related to the no. of permanent maintenance contractors used at different facilities. During the 90's it was common for total maintenance workforces to be outsourced. I believe history has shown this to not be the most effective way to run a maintenance organisation for a number of reasons, but how many organisations operate this way. If they don't run this way, what is the optimum mix?

Fig 4_Question 3

Figure 4. Question 3.

The results from the survey have shown that only two responses indicated their total maintenance resource was all contract. Both of these companies had less than 50 full time employees in total. Of the companies that said they employed more than 500 permanent contractors all had over 5000 permanent employees and the respondent was answering for multiple sites.

The other interesting point of note was that over 30% of respondents said they have no permanent contractors on site. The next biggest response said that 26% of respondents only have 1 to 5 permanent contractors on site. With 56.3% of responses in the top two categories this highlights a clear view that permanent contractors are not preferred in lieu of permanent employees.

It was really pleasing to see these results, as I believe ownership is developed far better from employees. This is backed up by the results.

No. of sites the respondent represents.

Question 4 is related to determining how many sites the responder is representing in the survey. It is possible that a person responsible for multiple sites may have a different perspective from someone who responds for a single site.

Figure 5 Question 4

Figure 5. Question 4.

The responses to this question shows a clear trend towards single operation based people with over 70% of responses coming from a single site. In most cases the responses for multiple sites were from larger organisation with more than 5000 employees, however there were a small amount of large single site organisations.

Types of Asset.

Question 5 asks whether the assets on your site are rotating stationary or Mobile. The aim of this question is to determine if there are differences in critical element scores for each type of asset. For instance do businesses that maintain mobile equipment score higher in any specific element? This question will also determine what are the predominant types of assets being maintained.

Figure 6 Question 5

Figure 6. Question 5

As 66% percent of responses answered that they looked after "all of the above", assessments by asset type will be difficult and of little value.

Who in the organisation is ultimately responsible for Asset management.

Question 6 asks what is the highest-level role that has DIRECT responsibility for maintenance/reliability/asset management within your organisation. The aim of this question is to determine whether Management have accepted that reliability of equipment is paramount to the success of the business. Having a high level manager made responsible for asset management indicates that the business is serious about asset management.

Figure 7 Question 6

Figure 7. Question 6.

Of the 38 results in the "other, please specify" column, 19 of those could be grouped in the Maintenance Superintendent category which changes the percentage to 34%. With no point of reference it is difficult to make an assessment as too whether these results are good, however having over 40% of responses indicating a Vice President, Plant Manager or Operations manager being directly responsible for Maintenance, reliability and asset management is very encouraging. In my experience I believe this would have been the domain of the maintenance manager/superintendent well over 50% of the time less than 10 years ago.

The respondent's role in the business.

Question 7 asks what is the role of the respondent in their business unit. It is expected that there will be variation in survey outcomes dependant on the respondent's position within the organisation. This question will allow verification of this hypothesis.

Figure 8 Question 7

Figure 8. Question 7.

There was no real surprise in the predominant response here with Reliability Engineers and Maintenance Superintendents/Managers being the most predominant. To verify if the answers are affected by the position of the person completing the survey, all of the answers to the questions were allocated a value from 5 to 1, with 5 being the best outcome. For each of the eight elements these values were converted to a percentage of the possible score. The total score is an average of the eight elements. When this data is segregated by position the chart in Figure 9 is the outcome.

Figure 9

Figure 9. Average overall ratings by role.

The range of scores depicted above is between 61% and 73% with the tradesmen/crafts being the most generous in their ratings. On the other end of the scale are Plant Engineers and higher-level Managers who have been harsher with scoring. This indicates that the responses to the survey may be affected by the position in the organisation. This doesn't identify who is right or wrong, it just shows that perceptions can be different.

Primary function of the workplace.

Question 8 asks what is the primary function of your workplace. Do Steel industries perform better than mining? This question allows comparison of different industry types, or the same type of industry that are different sizes.

Figure 10

Figure 10. Responses by industry type where there was 2 or more responses.

Figure 10 shows the no. of responses in the survey by industry type where there was 2 or more responses.
Approximately 20% of responses have come from the steel industry with Onesteel accounting for 38 responses being15% of the total. This was expected as the survey originated within Onesteel and was heavily promoted, within the business.

Figure 11

Figure 11. Average Survey Score by Industry Type.

Figure 11 shows that Processing Plants have been rated the highest by respondents with a total average score of 78% closely followed by Power generation, Metal-Other and Utilities. Of surprise were the Mining and Offshore scores of 59%. With 7 and 3 responses respectively this should start to ring alarm bells for some. Later in this report each the eight elements are reviewed individually and assessed by industry type, size and respondent role.

Company Name.

In Question 9 the name of your company is requested. The aim of this question is to allow the segregation of data for an individual company, for example a single company vs all other respondents. This information is restricted to direct requests from each company's respondents.

Country where the business is based.

Question 10 requests which country you are based in. The purpose of this question is to directly compare responses between countries. Does one part of the world manage their assets better than anyone else?

Figure 12

Figure 12. Score by country. Any no. of responses.

The assessment in Figure 12 shows the scores of respondents by country even if there was only one response. For this reason the data is only really of general interest. The line highlights the no. of responses from each country whereas the bar graph indicates the total average score.


Figure 13. Total scores from countries with 3 or more responses.

Figure 13 highlights the average totals from countries with 3 or more responses. The spread of results is between 75% and 61%. Belgium had by far the best average score of 75% but the average was only over 3 responses whereas the results from the USA were based on nearly 70 responses. Of the big two in relation to the no. of responses Australia scored 2% better than the US.  The value of the country data appears to be of minimal value when viewed in this manner.

Location of Business.

The City/town is requested in Question 11. The purpose of this is to segregate data for different plants within the same company. For example, if there was 10 responses from one company with plants based in 5 different locations, direct comparisons between each site will be able to occur. Again this type of information will be limited to direct requests by respondents for their own company.

From the explanations of these questions and examples shown, you should now have an understanding as to the number of ways the data from the survey can be represented.

Spread of scores for responses by industry type where there were 10 or more respondents.

The problem with averaging results is that when there is a large response from one industry type the really good and very average results are masked. To accommodate this further assessment has been completed on industry types where there were 10 or more responses. The following graphs show the range of results recorded against the critical elements as well as the median results for the Steel, General Manufacturing, Chemical, Mining and Pharmaceutical industries.


Figure 14. Range of results from Steel Industries.

The number of responses from the Steel Industry was by far the largest primarily because of the origin of the survey. The area where the steel industry scored well was in Shutdowns, and this makes sense, as well-managed shutdowns have been a part of the culture for many years. The area where steel scored poorly is Auditing, closely followed by Strategy. It is interesting, as these two elements are closely related to the application of continuous improvement processes. Auditing is required to determine your current reality, and improvement in strategies is often the outcome. The overall score from the Steel industry responses at 68% was the second highest of the five industry sectors assessed.


Figure 15. Range of results from General Manufacturing Industries.

Maintenance standards and practices and shutdowns are where the General Manufacturers scored themselves the highest with Auditing again coming out with the lowest result. The overall result of 71% was the highest of the five industry sectors assessed.


Figure 16. Range of results from Chemical Plants.

The result for shutdowns from Chemical Plants was the highest median score recorded in any element from these five industry sectors. Generally Chemical Plants perform much of their preventitive maintenance over large shutdowns, which have to be well managed so this high score is expected. Auditing again scored poorly with a score of 50%. The other areas of potential improvement were Lubrication and Strategies. It is probable that the lower Lubrication result is related to the type of assets that are generally found in chemical plant.


Figure 17. Range of results from Mining Industries.

The mining sector had the worst overall median score of 58%. The only reasonable result was in the area of Maintenance standards and practices. If these scores are representative of Mining in general, there is significant room for improvement to reliability and hence equipment uptime.


Figure 18. Range of results from Pharmaceutical Industries.

Results from the Pharmaceutical respondents are only marginally better than mining, but in this instance there are no areas that stand out as be better than average. Auditing again is rated the lowest rated element closely followed by Shutdowns.

The overall results from the analysis of these five industry segments indicate that the value of Auditing Asset management processes is not considered important by any of the industries assessed. This is clearly where the largest gains can be made, as it is the starting point of improvement. Remember, "You can't manage what you don't measure". To move forward Auditing Asset Management processes is critical.

Critical element 1.


Lubrication is listed as the first of the critical elements because how this is managed will have the single largest effect on reliability of companies that have primarily rotating assets. Lubrication itself can be considered part of the overall maintenance strategy element, but because of this potential effect on output it was deemed to be a worthy candidate for significant focus. So what do we need to do to ensure you have effective lube systems?

1. Ensure the correct lube is being used in every piece of equipment.
2. Ensure lubricants are stored in a clean and dry and place.
3. Control the storage of you lubricants within your stores system.
4. All equipment should be labelled to indicate what lube is required where.
5. Oil must be filtered before use, as often-new oil is not clean.
6. PM inspections should be in place to check oil levels and then maintain correct level.
7. PM inspections should be in place for Oil sampling/ planned change out.
8. PM inspections should be in place for inspection and cleaning/replacement of oil filters.
9. PM inspections should be in place to inspect and repair of oil flow/pressure detection systems.
10. Oil use must be the correct viscosity
11. Limit moisture ingress into lubricants to less than 100ppm.
12. Limit contamination of lubricants to agreed company standards.
13. Employ dedicated lubrication technicians whose primary role is to manage and improve lubrication inspections and measurements.
14. Train operators to perform basic lubrication tasks on the equipment they are responsible for. The lubrication technician should mentor these operators.
15. Develop a strong working relationship with your lube supplier.
16. Manage lubricant leaks and ensure repairs are expedited in a timely fashion.

If you have all of the above in place and have implemented the actions, you are likely to be operating at world class and have few lubrication failures, but how many businesses are operating at this level?

The questions in the lubrication section of the survey have been designed to determine if there is a company or industry type that meets all of the criteria above. If this isn't the case then the aim is to identify the current best practices.

Assessment of lubrication data.

Management Support of Lubrication.

Question 12. is aimed at determining the level of understanding of the importance of lubrication by upper management. Do managers of smaller companies have a different view to those in larger companies? Does management in certain industries value lubrication more than others?

Figure 19 Question 12

Figure 19. Question 12.

The response to this question was very encouraging with over 30% of responses being rated a 5. A further 58% were rated 3 and 4. With such a high level of management support you would expect that many companies would have their lubrication systems working really well. Questions 13 through to 19 investigate this further.

Lubrication should be a significant part of the overall maintenance strategy.

Question 13 asks if lubrication inspections are part of the overall maintenance strategy? This includes the existence of an overall lube schedule, PM inspections that are managed through the CMMS, and the effective completion of these PMs.

Figure 20 Question 13

Figure 20. Question 13

There were more encouraging results here where 54% of responses were rated a 4 or 5. This indicates a high level of acceptance of the importance of lube inspections. To be truly effective all lube tasks must be documented and controlled within the CMMS. From this, completion of the work and close out of the work orders is important as there is no use having well written inspections and accurate schedules if they are not followed.

On the flip side the 33% of responses that highlighted that not all tasks are documented or completed is a worrying trend. In this instance a rating of 3 is much closer to a rating of 1 than a rating of 5. How many of these tasks not being completed are on equipment that is considered critical to the business from an operational, safety or environmental perspective. A rating of 1 or 2 is only acceptable if the equipment being maintained does not require lubrication. There would be few instances where this is the case.

Are operations employees involved in the lubrication of equipment?

The aim of question 14 is to gauge the involvement of Operations personnel in the lubrication of equipment? There are a few different streams of thought in this area for example; some believe operations are there to produce not to lubricate. Lubrication is not considered core to their role. Another view is that dedicated lubrication technicians will provide a more professional service due to consistency of their work. A third view is that operators should look after lubrication of their own machines, as it will promote ownership. There is no correct answer here, as it will dependent on the complexity of the equipment and process, however it is generally accepted that operations must have some input into the maintenance of their equipment.

Figure 21 Question 14

Figure 21. Question 14.

The results to this question are particularly disappointing with 29% of respondents indicating operations personnel have no role in equipment lubrication. Only 23% have been rated a 4 or 5. The ideal situation would be where operators understood the significance of the effect of lubrication on reliability, had been trained in basic lubrication practices and were responsible for lube tasks that are directly related to the functions they perform. Considering the results from question 12 where nearly 90% of the management have partial understanding and support of the importance of lubrication there is clearly room for movement in this area.

Employees dedicated to lubrication.

Question 15 asks if people are employed in your business to manage lubrication systems. This question is closely linked to question 14. For larger business's it can be a good option to employ a person whose whole role is equipment lubrication. For smaller businesses you may not have a dedicated lube manager, however someone must have lube management as part of their role.

Figure 22 Question 15

Figure 22. Question 15.

Whereas in question 14 the involvement in lubrication from operation is poor, most companies clearly understand the value in having someone dedicated to manage their lubrication systems. For organisations with few assets that require lubrication or less than a couple of hundred employees it is appropriate to have lubrication as a part of someone's role. For organisations with large amounts of assets that require lube you should have people where their whole role is based around lubrication. At first this looks to contradict what was said for question 14, but these roles should not be aimed at doing all of the lube, but should focus on developing and managing lubrication systems. This could include but not be limited to: Creating Procedures for lube, managing Bills of materials for lube by machine, training of staff in lube practices, managing of lube sampling, auditing the lube process, fault finding and assessing lubrication and other mechanical failures, and completing lube PM's where resources are not avaliable or the situation dictates the need.

Lubrication storage practices.

Question 16 focuses on the storage issues with lubrication. Are lubricants labelled and stored in clean secure storage areas? It is difficult to quantify the overall effect of adding contaminated lube to a machine, but there is no question it will not benefit your equipments reliability. Best practice asks for all oils and greases to be labelled and stored in clean dry controlled areas.

Figure 23 Question 16

Figure 23. Question 16.

The level 4 and 5 responses here indicate that the majority of industry understands that good storage practices are an important part of their lubrication strategies. Poor practices such as leaving a bung off a 44 gallon drum will invariably lead to a contaminate entering the oil. Not having an adequate labelling system will almost certainly lead to the wrong oil being used. How many different types of grease do you use on your site? I would guess that most would answer, "I don't know". Your newly dedicated lubrication specialist would make sure the right greases are at the right machines and are stored in a clean place.

Lubrication Standards.

Question 17 is identifying whether lubrication contamination standards exist and are adhered to. Do standards exist for Fluid properties, Contamination and wear debris? Are samples taken to determine the condition of your oils and greases? If you have contamination standards in place but can't meet them with your current practices what do you do? It is common to find that industries have these standards but cannot meet them.

Figure 24 Question 17

Figure 24. Question 17.

The response to this question confirmed the previous statement as 63% of respondents either have no standard or do not keep to the standard they have. On the flip side 65% of respondents do have a standard and having a standard is the first step to improvement. The long-term viability of your rotating equipment is heavily dependant of the condition of the lubricant. Lubrication contamination testing is relatively inexpensive, so set up a monitoring schedule and build a relationship with a lube lab that will be able to guide you in setting acceptable standards.

One of the issues regularly seen in relation to standards is that they are set at unrealistic levels and can never be met because of the conditions of the installation. If the best obtainable level is not leading to premature failure then that is where your standards should be set. If improvement of the best obtainable standard is required build your case to justify the cost of the improvement. Don't set yourself up to fail.

Are your lubricants catalogued and in BOM's.

Question 18 asks if all lubricants on site are catalogued and in Bills of materials? To manage your lubrication program effectively all oils and greases must be managed through a bill of materials for the equipment it is used in. This provides a permanent controlled method of tracking what is used where.

Figure 25 Question 18

Figure 25. Question 18.

The response to this question was pleasing as 75% of respondents had some or all of their lubricants catalogued and BOM'd. As is the case with any critical spare, use the capabilities of your CMMS and stores management systems to manage your lubricants. This will assist in ensuring that the right lubricant is used on the right machine at the right time.

Are procedures used for lubrication inspections?

Question 19 determines to what level procedures or work instructions are used for lubrication inspections. The ideal situation is that all lubrication tasks are captured as work instructions in the CMMS or as Standard Operating Procedures that are displayed at the site. People that complete these tasks must be trained and competency assessed.

Figure 26 Question 19

ChatGPT with
Find Your Answers Fast