Maintenance Best Practices for Asset Management - Part 2

6 minutes

Part two: a tactical focus on asset management throughout the asset’s life-cycle

Once the strategic decisions around asset management configuration and implementation have been made, attention soon turns to how to best manage and maintain the asset for optimal return on investment. This requires a data-driven, tactical approach that has the potential to add value to the asset and to extend its useful life if done correctly. Managing assets effectively over the asset’s life-cycle can also save significant amounts of money, time and reduce the organisation’s environmental impact. 

There are seven elements to consider for ongoing optimal asset management: 
1. Performance Measures - KPIs

Creating a logical KPI structure contributes to your ability to determine the performance of the asset compared with the investment made in that asset. This delivers a more accurate, comprehensive ROI figure. It’s important to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) at the configuration stage, then ensure any reporting outputs that have been identified are correctly represented in the system once the implementation has been completed. This should not just include capturing resolution times for each work order but also information such as mean time between failures, overall equipment effectiveness, and failure/cause/remedy codes and response times for reactive works.

You may also want to consider capturing data to use as asset maintenance and management improvement evidence. As an example, as urban sprawl happens and asset quantities increase organically, is there a structure in place to recognise this rise and use it as evidence to help expand the maintenance team, increase plant or fleet vehicles or to re-assess and consolidate maintenance and management activities to respond to the increasing needs  

2. Inspection versus maintenance

By utilising Routine Periodic Inspections (RPIs) in place of full preventive maintenance activities as part of the asset maintenance regime, planning teams have the ability to capture asset condition and performance information without having to schedule full maintenance tasks and resources. This save costs on labour and parts, whilst still providing a clear picture of the asset’s condition and performance over time. This trend information then feeds into the planning of future maintenance tasks, allowing you to be proactive and cost efficient with parts procurement, resourcing of task specific labour and planned downtime.  

Inspections can also be utilised to gain feedback from new works that are completed, new condition ratings for existing assets, performance outputs, changed asset locations, and changed external or environmental conditions to help improve maintenance going forward.

3. Triage of work requests

Having a clear understanding of what information is to be included in a work order can save time and money on wasted labour, travel and re-work. Using a work request process as an approval step prior to the creation and allocation of a work, allows you to triage. This can be beneficial not only to organise and schedule work based on response time or criticality, but also to gain further information about the job to allow work crews to be better prepared prior to attending. For example, a dedicated Inspector or Supervisor may decide that no or limited action is required or may decide to group asset works together based on geographical location or asset type, each saving on labour and travel times. You also have the opportunity to organise parts, plant, and equipment so that everything needed to complete the work is on hand before work crews attend site for repairs. 

4. Technology and training

Implementing and utilising technology is a great way to improve efficiency and capability as part of a best practice asset management program. As a minimum, moving away from paper-based processes is recommended as they are inherently error-prone, inaccurate and labour intensive.  Using a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) combined with smart devices such as tablets enables organisations to streamline reporting and information management processes and ensures that the information exchange is in real time and can be managed appropriately and efficiently. Organisations can go further, with utilising things such as sensors to help automate the data collection process by providing regular and concise information and increasing the functionality of asset management software to help with refining maintenance activities and schedules. 
Employees must be regularly and adequately trained, not only in using the technology that has been implemented but also in the asset management processes that run in parallel. It is important that they stay up to speed with the latest features and processes to ensure the best chance of overall success with the asset management program. 

5. Procurement and inventory

Assets can be compromised if not maintained and repaired in a timely fashion. It’s therefore valuable to keep regularly used spare parts on hand, saving procurement and travel time and ensuring they’re available as needed. Identifying regularly used parts and keeping stock on hand means it may also be possible to buy in bulk and save. 

Identifying assets that have readily available spare parts at a project planning stage can be beneficial as well. Installing a group of the same assets or choosing a particular brand or type of asset will help with procurement of parts and spares during the maintenance phase. 

6. Maintenance operations and scheduling

Asset Maintenance should comprise of both corrective (reactive) and preventive (proactive) activities. Ideally, preventive maintenance should account for between 60-80% of the weekly work schedule, with reactive making up the remaining 20-40%. With preventive maintenance, it’s important to have a clear understanding of contracts or systems that contain information about inspections, servicing, or any repetitive operational maintenance activities. Reactive maintenance, where possible, should be a mix of scheduled work and critical emergency work. Low priority reactive work can be scheduled in within allowed time frames, leaving additional time for break-in unplanned works. 

Whether it’s for preventive or corrective works, a planning/scheduling team should hold the responsibility for allocating and scheduling work orders along with managing resources such as internal work crews, external contractors, traffic management and other stakeholders. They should also be arranging parts, plant and equipment prior to work starting. By removing this responsibility from the works crew, organisations can ensure that asset maintenance occurs in the most optimum way possible, saving time and money. 

7. Continuous improvement

Asset management is delivered according to pre-determined processes, driving towards extending life-cycle and maximising efficiency. However, over time the tasks and outcomes as part of these processes can change or evolve, so it’s important to revisit them periodically. This will help ensure the desired outcomes are still relevant and the actions being undertaken are still contributing to achieving those outcomes.

Questions to ask include whether the asset is performing reliably at an optimum level, whether any improvements could be made to increase efficiency in work steps, and whether any feedback has been provided by stakeholders that could be used to improve processes. It’s important to check in with asset owners, end users, the finance team, and other decision-makers for continuous improvement. An external asset management consultant may be a good option to help with this process utilising an asset management maturity diagnostic. A maturity diagnostic is beneficial not only to help identify improvement actions, but to also to provide a snapshot of the current state at a point in time to help with future decisions and areas of focus.

To learn more about best practice asset management throughout the entire asset life-cycle, contact us to speak to an expert

Click here to read part one of this blog: a strategic focus on asset management at the implementation phase.