Asset Management: What’s Your Decision Making Process

In my previous blog I covered the topic of “What is an ageing asset”?

Having determined that an asset doesn’t necessarily need to be old to be “ageing”, ALL organisations need to look at a process to manage their assets regardless of the physical age of the equipment or facility.

As a car enthusiast, I marvel at the vintage cars that are still on the road today. I appreciate the care and attention the owners have taken to lovingly care for, restore and maintain their pride and joy. It was their decision that although the car was “old”, with careful inspection, monitoring and maintenance, their cars could continue to provide faithful service for many years into the future.

On the other hand, I watch as buyers drive their brand new cars from the show room and without looking back, drive off into the sunset without a care in the world. These brand new cars are bristling with technology and the very latest in materials and manufacturing processes. In some cases because of their owner’s carefree attitude and their decision that “servicing is too expensive” for the tech savvy, we see many of them on the side of the road with the owners on the phone to their Automobile Club waiting for assistance. These vehicles, although “new” are no longer providing the service they were purchased to provide because of the decisions made by the owner.

Regardless of the age or complexity of the facility, equipment (or vehicle), we need to make decisions as to how we are going to maintain (or not maintain) our assets. The decisions we make need to be what is best for OUR organisation and OUR processes. There is no “Right or Wrong” decision, however, there does need to be some sound reasoning behind the decisions we make. “Just because………” or “that’s the way they do it” is not sound reasoning.

As all assets “age” and deteriorate, wear or become obsolete, our decision making process needs to look at a number of issues.

One issue we need to consider when determining the maintenance plan and how we are going to manage an asset, is what is the consequence of failure?

If the asset we are considering is the drain valve at the base of a 100,000 litre tank containing sulphuric acid, the consequence of failure is extremely high. Not only would the business risk the financial loss of the value of 100,000 litres of acid, it would also pose a high risk to the safety of staff, neighbouring businesses as well as the potential environmental impact. In this case, the decisions we make with regard to managing the asset would need to look into a rigorous test plan, inspections and monitoring of the valve so that we can repair or replace the item prior to any sign of wear and long before failure.

On the other hand, if we are looking at the lighting in the admin office, what maintenance  and asset management regime should we employ? Again, our decision needs to consider what is the consequence of failure? Should one of the fluorescent tubes fail, what would happen? As there are many light fittings in the office, the loss of one tube would have little to no effect on the operation of business, there would be little safety impact and production would not be effected in any way. When the fluorescent tube does fail, it is an easy job for the electrician to replace the tube and if there are no spare tubes on hand in the spare parts stockroom or service van, they are easily and quickly sourced from their supplier.

When we are making decisions regarding how we handle the ageing light fittings, we may decide that “Run to Failure” (RTF) is the appropriate method of managing the asset.

Regardless of what the asset is, there needs to be a rigorous and robust decision making process in place to effectively and efficiently manage all assets as they age. As shown by the example of the drain valve and the light fitting, there is no one solution that will suit all assets. RTF may in fact be the chosen management method but the decision process used to make this choice must be sound.

Let us demonstrate how we improve your asset and maintenance management decision making process.