What You Can Do If Your Reliability Program Isn’t Meeting Performance Goals

It’s a typical story.You implement a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) or either an enterprise asset management (EAM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with all the bells and whistles, but it doesn’t deliver a return on investment (ROI).


The system and associated work execution management (WEM) process was meant to improve the performance of assets, but failures keep occurring at a cost to your business.

So, you decide to upgrade the system. It’s a significant investment – perhaps you consolidate disparate systems into one single system, or maybe the cost comes with moving to the Cloud. Still, performance doesn’t improve.

In all this, one thing is missing. Fundamentally, the performance you get from your assets will depend on how you care for them, given the operating environment they are in.

How you care for assets is dictated by the reliability strategies you have in place – that is, the maintenance plans and related content within the EAM system. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on the system; if your master data is lacking, you simply won’t get anywhere. In other words, there’s no point investing in a Ferrari and expecting performance improvements, but then running it on diesel fuel. The Ferrari just can’t do its thing.

Using APM Is a Stepping-Stone, Not a Solution

When organizations find that their investment in WEM and EAM systems don’t improve performance, they often turn to the latest technology to help. Enter asset performance management (APM), which monitors asset condition and health in a bid to prevent unplanned, in-service failures by detecting degradation and allowing a planned intervention to occur.

On the surface, APM appears to tick the right boxes. And it does, but only in the sense that it protects you from unplanned, in-service failures. The APM approach takes a backward look at performance and provides some security against catastrophic failure.

While it helps to detect an impending failure by monitoring asset degradation, APM doesn’t do anything to address the cause of degradation. It won’t help determine how to change the strategy to prevent degradation in the first place or extend the asset life as much as possible.

Again, a reliability strategy is the forward look – it’s designing the appropriate reliability strategy to deliver the performance you require from the assets. And, what’s clear, is if you want to get any return from an EAM system or an APM program, it must be combined with an effective reliability strategy. In fact, it all starts with strategy.

A reliability strategy develops the content that an EAM system needs to be effective and delivers performance that an APM can then monitor and provide some protection around.

A Single Strategy Session Won’t Work

Recognizing the value of strategy, some organizations conduct a formal strategy setting project for some of their assets. While this may be a valuable exercise, generally it is conducted as a finite project with a start and end date. Furthermore, it is typically time-consuming to complete and implement.

Then, once the reliability strategy is implemented, it deteriorates over time. Why? People with good intent, but using no formal review or justification process, change the strategy for the worse. Or, perhaps operating conditions change, yet the strategy is static. Either way, the strategy is no longer aligned to performance goals and you lose control. Failures occur, costs skyrocket and risk increases irrespective of the cloud-based EAM system or APM solution.

The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

What’s missing is asset strategy management (ASM). ASM is a key pillar of an asset management system. It sits alongside EAM and APM, supporting them and enabling them to generate the returns they promise.

With ASM, you build, deploy and govern a reliability strategy with a focus on delivering performance goals at minimum cost and acceptable risk. The reliability strategies are deployed using a digitally connected data set to drive rapid, efficient and effective reliability strategy management over time. It ensures that optimal strategies are deployed on all assets, always.

Strategy no longer deteriorates, meaning the EAM system and WEM process are achieving the performance improvements they promised. APM supports risk management by detecting impending failures and also collects data to support further refinement and evolution of the reliability strategies via the ASM process.

In an organization that has implemented ASM, the WEM process has a direct connection to reliability strategy decision-making:

  • All like assets are connected and improvements are leveraged across the entire organization;
  • All decisions follow the appropriate workflow of review, approval and justification.

ASM provides both a forward-looking performance focus, as well as embedding root cause analysis (RCA) to prevent recurrence should a failure still happen.

Performance starts with strategy. Your reliability strategy is an asset and ASM protects, manages and improves that asset over time.

Jason Apps

Jason Apps, is the CEO of ARMS Reliability, a leading global provider of asset management solutions to some of the world’s largest resource, power and utility companies. Jason has over 20 years of experience in reliability and maintenance engineering. www.armsreliability.com

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