Blog on a poll asking: What do you think is the most important aspect of Asset Management?

A while back I posted a poll with a few possible options as answers to this question and in this blog I will publish the results and some thoughts as well on this.

Participation was 161 votes and the result was as shown in this picture here below:

Poll result on the question: What do you think is the most important aspect of Asset Management?

Poll result on the question: What do you think is the most important aspect of Asset Management?

The answers in other (10.65%) were as follows:

  1. open sharing of knowledge
  2. Workforce awareness and education
  3. Understanding Risk & Consequence
  4. All of the above
  5. Asset Management Initiation
  6. Understanding the asset
  7. asset management results
  8. Reliability
  9. there is no most important. Most of the items above are essential
  10. All of the above
  11. Effective Change Management
  12. asset management outcomes
  13. people
  14. They are all equally important
  15. Value adding proces
  16. Risk Analysis
  17. Good Communication with all involved!!!!!

There were also some comments made on the poll’s web site as follows:

  • I voted for the continuous improvement approach. The meaning of that approach, however, should include ongoing communication with major equipment suppliers to assure that the bill of material for the equipment is up to date. All other planning will fall short if replacement parts are not available to support maintenance and reliability efforts.
  • My point is that if any organisation expects improvement in EAM area (I assume, if no improvement is expected all that poll makes no sense) it should concentrate on assessment of the present state of Asset Management. That means analysis of business KPIs and getting to some conclusion. The feedback – whatever it is – means some decisions which will be executed with EAM Business Processes. Very few organisations use EAM Balanced Scorecards, so the relevant decisions may depend on personal criteria of the managers. Whatever decisions are taken their implementation will affect business processes, so I reckon, Asset Management Processes are always involved, so that item of the poll should be regarded as the most influencing. However, a holistic approach seems to be obvious, but one should remember that some companies have developed EAM strategies and plans only in documents for stakeholders, if they have had any…
  • I don’t see a lot of difference between some of the categories. Some could well be a component of another.
  • All companies have headline business policies irrespective of whether they are explicit or not, though clearly a well defined policy will be better communicated, however, I believe that at the heart of the asset management process is the strategy. A clear map of where we are – where we are going and how we will get there! A cyclic process of continual review and course adjustment whilst in operation will complete the process. Thus without a well defined strategic core, asset management initiatives will fail.

There was one extra comment made directly under the poll at this blog site: https://bjarniis.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/would-you-like-to-answer-this-quick-poll-please

  • I have been acting long time maybe too long as a management consultant and still I can see alot of unefficiency on a shop floor lever. Examples of these areas are e.g. maintenance planning, multiskilled people, bad collaboration between production, production planning, sales and maintenance.                                         I agree with the opinion a maintenence strategy is mandatory, but in this changing world sometimes the business strategy/goals of a company can be a bit “fuzzy” too and then subgoals/strategies can be even more difficult to give or get.          So, quite practical approach can give sometimes a faster and higher ROI>>>Fix things you can and leave the rest!

Above you have now seen all the raw data from the poll and comment´s made to date. I would like to leave the interpretation mostly to you, my dear reader, as I know the people who read this blog are quite intelligent people working in the great field of Asset Management.

As we can soon see in the emerging ISO5500x series of standards Asset Management is a very iterative management system and as with most systems as soon as one element of the management system is taken out the whole system will not be as effective in delivering the results that are desired.

I can say that the results overall do not surprise me for one and I would like to encourage you all to comment and discuss the results in the comments section here below.

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Reliability or safety first?

In an asset intensive environment an integral part of Reliability is Safety, in other words when reliability increases so does the safety.


It is always a pleasure to see that when reliability initiatives are starting to have a positive effect on equipment, people and processes the safety Key Performance Indicators (“KPI’s”) go up as well. But why does this happen and which is coming first? Is it the safety or reliability? I say reliability comes first then safety, people become more comfortable and positive in their respective roles because the processes are under more reliable control and safety is one of the positive side effects of reliability.

Let’s take a look at the illustrated scenario below:

In a Reactive Maintenance environment:

  • Safety is very instinctive in nature; that is to say when a problem arise instincts are what drives the situation more than anything else. Instincts say that one can react to the problem in a particular way, unfortunately often ignoring or not noticing the dangers that are present.
  • Reliability, if that definition can be used in this situation, is almost nonexistent; that is to say there are no failure mode focused or planned maintenance activities and therefore the maintenance activities are all reactive or break down maintenance.
  • Behavior is all reactive; in a reactive maintenance regime it is close to impossible to expect anything else.

In a Planned Maintenance environment:

  •  Safety is enforced; through planned maintenance activities safety procedures are most often enforced through the planning process.
  • Reliability is scheduled; scheduled maintenance activities can support reliability initiatives. Focusing maintenance activities on failure modes, therefore preventing failure obviously contributes to increased reliability. However one needs to be mindful that too much planned maintenance can backfire. Focusing on the wrong maintenance activities (the ones not focusing on the failure modes, etc.) will not help and last but not least the maintenance induced failures also contribute to less reliability.
  • Behavior is guided; through the planning process safety procedures are usually a part of the Planned Maintenance procedures and thus enforced.

In a Pro-active Maintenance environment:

  • Safety is embedded; in a pro-active environment safety conscience is a second nature. Embedded in all levels of the organisation, responsibility for safety is everyone’s role and viewed as an added value to the business.
  • Reliability is Continuously Improved; in the Pro-active maintenance environment maintenance activities are not only performed, they are always performed in a way that focuses on how they can be improved. It also focuses a lot on condition monitoring and only intervening when failure modes are measured as trending up.
  • Behavior is self disciplined; in a pro-active maintenance environment the behaviours are self disciplined to focus on reliability continuous improvements with embedded safety in all aspects of the maintenance and production environment.

As can be seen above the development of Reliability and Safety have a strong correlation. Focusing on increased Reliability will promote the right behaviours and result in better safety KPI’s. In addition to all these great benefits to the organisation it will also have a positive impact on the productivity and therefore profitability, which is always a good added benefit to any initiative.

Why… more powerful than you can imagine.

Why ask why?

Why ask why?

  Asking the right questions in Maintenance Management and Reliability Engineering is the most critical aspect of our profession. Often these questions relate to problems, in our endeavour to finding out a solution to those problems. However it is also applicable to our approach in process design, design of leadership, design of our reporting capabilities, our endless aspiration for perfection in all that we do.

More often than not “WHY” is the key question. When a barrier is in front of us we want to know why it is there, why people tell us this is a normal barrier to climb, why it is not possible to eliminate this barrier and go ahead without the delays and problems that this barrier is creating… whatever the barriers are, a way to eliminate them should always be in our core focus.

The challenges that are along the way to the right solution are often related to tunnel vision of those who are too close to the problems, they are facing them maybe every day. When faced with some barriers every day the tendency is to find ways to work around or with the problems because deadlines need to be met and time to solve the root cause of the problem is not available at the moment.

Asking why is a key element in any barrier removal, problem solving and root cause analysis effort. Even when designing work processes and any other element that needs to be improved the right questions need to be asked to find ways to tackle the barriers in the right way so they are never an issue again.

Listening to the people who work in the front lines and ask why is a smart idea, these are the people facing the problems every day and can be valuable allies in finding the key to future success, they also demonstrate an interest in improving their job for the benefit of the company. People that ask, and therefore know, why also demonstrate leadership ability, to quote an educator Diane Ravitch : “The person who knows ‘how’ will always have a job.  The person who knows ‘why’ will always be his boss”.

Never accept an answer in the form of “We have always done it this way”. Even if people who ask why can be challenging to deal with, they are definitely worth listening to and taking notice of.

I hope you enjoyed this article and never get tired of asking why, it is more powerful than you can imagine!

Fixed and improved… better than new!

Picture of a broken piston and connecting rod ...

Why did it break down?

When faced with failures it is important to empower your maintenance and operator employees to look for opportunities for improvements. Only by constantly focusing on how one can get better one can improve and this is a focus point that can never be lost.

In manufacturing facilities it is always a core focus point to produce, so too often when a failure occurs the environment and ambiance around the failure instantly go into “get it running again as soon as possible” mode. Unfortunately, with this attitude, companies are losing a lot of improvement possibilities. When facing a failure it is wise to take a step back and understand what caused the failure (using for example the 5x why method). Once the failure has been properly documented and a clear understanding for the root cause of the failure has been established then it is possible to put in place measures to prevent it from happening again.

The measures for preventing re-occurring failures can be for example an improved PM/PdM activity, measuring something that will indicate the failure mode. It can be a revised operating procedure, improving the way to operate the process or machine. It can be a re-design of components, machine or process. This list can be extremely long… improvements can take on many forms.

The core message to take from this short Blog is that when faced with a failure and don’t take the time at that moment to improve you will always be struggling with the same failures over and over again.

Take some time now to save a lot more time later.