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Seven Ways to Successfully Craft and Communicate a Comprehensive Asset Maintenance Strategy

Hank Kocevar believes regular communication, evaluation, and adaptation are crucial to maintaining success with an asset maintenance program. Are you Communicating with FINESSE?
Hank Kocevar believes regular communication, evaluation, and adaptation are crucial to maintaining success with an asset maintenance program.

Is your organization grappling with the challenge of formulating effective asset (equipment) strategies? Are you facing resistance to implementing programs aimed at enhancing or building upon existing strategies? To assist your teams in enhancing and supporting your organization's asset maintenance program, consider asking these fundamental questions.

Let's delve into these key inquiries:


#1 Critical Asset Assessment

What percentage of our assets are deemed critical?
How many assets have rankings assigned in our EAM/CMMS system?

Critical assets are those with a significant impact on the company's strategic goals if they were to fail. Assess the guiding principles of your organization to quantify this impact. Identify critical assets based on potential consequences, such as lost production, safety issues, environmental concerns, or damage to the company's reputation. Review and understand existing Asset Criticality Assignments, and if none exist, initiate the process of assigning criticality.

A case study in a plant using SAP as their EAM/CMMS revealed that less than 50% of assets had a criticality indicator assigned. Of those with an indicator, over 75% were ranked as critical. This underscores the importance of revisiting and refining criticality assignments based on your organization's criteria, mission, and values.


#2 Identifying Bad Actors

What criteria do we use to identify bad actors?

Pinpoint assets causing issues in your processes. Employ carefully selected criteria to identify bad actor assets, focusing on those with the greatest impact on production. Consider factors such as total downtime costs, repair costs, environmental impacts, and safety concerns. Implement a defect elimination process using Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to identify and address significant failure causes.

A compressor wrongly identified as a bad actor solely on frequent work orders for excessive vibration was targeted for a maintenance improvement initiative. Using root cause analysis, it was revealed that the compressor maintenance was adequate, but the compressor was operated beyond design specifications, leading to high vibrations and subsequent failures. The lesson learned is to choose the right criteria and tools for analyzing bad actors, eliminating defects, and operating equipment within specified parameters.


#3 Asset Management Plan

Do we have an asset management plan?

Develop a comprehensive asset management plan aligned with strategic priorities. Address human and technical resource requirements, time limits, key data fields, and the number of strategies to be implemented. Begin with a manageable scope and measure success using defined metrics.

An organization was proud of its maintenance plans for production assets but neglected non-production critical areas like the fire system. The absence of preventive measures led to overlooked defects with valves, pumps, and piping leaks, emphasizing the importance of including safety and environmental systems in asset strategy development.


#4 Team Support and Buy-In

Do we have support and buy-in from the whole team?

Secure support by demonstrating the benefits of allocating resources to the asset management program. Involve operators and maintainers from the start, emphasizing the long-term nature of the strategy. Align the project's impact with both management and plant floor perspectives to foster buy-in.

A plant manager set a goal with the reliability team for asset strategies to be developed and implemented during the year. The project team presented their recommended course of action: review criticality, develop bad actor criteria, and then identify the top 10 assets for the pilot project. Unfortunately, the plant manager chose a piece of equipment that had gone down over the previous weekend as the first asset to be reviewed. “We will have a strategy to make sure that failure never happens again,” he pronounced to the team. 

That plant manager had a knee-jerk reaction to a fresh failure that the team did not see as a worthy candidate. The plant manager’s decision wasn’t data-driven. It didn’t consider the recommendation of the assembled team. The team suggested that doing an RCA would be more appropriate, but the plant manager wanted a strategy for the failed asset, so that was the first strategy developed. The asset that had failed wasn’t on the top 10 list, but the plant manager wanted it done first. The project immediately lost creditability with the implementation team as just being another project of the month that wouldn’t last. While the plant manager was on board with the project, he lost the buy-in of the implementation team. He should have trusted the team’s recommendations.

#5 Understanding Current Data

Do we understand our current data before we begin?

Evaluate existing information to build a business case. Gather procedures, Bill of Materials (BOMs), technical references, and leverage past work. Assess the effectiveness of current strategies or maintenance plans.

I was asked to review a plant where maintenance was consistently in a reactive state. Personnel had no faith in CMMS data, and they had a disappointing 35% completion rate for planned maintenance. My observations during maintenance tasks highlighted issues with work orders, incorrect parts, and inadequate preparation as well as equipment availability for maintenance. Issues with the technicians not closing out work orders properly, missing parts, or problems not recorded. They were not documenting the problems; therefore, there was no feedback to the planners, schedulers, or management. Proper planning, scheduling, and adherence to procedures will set your technicians up for success.


#6 Team Composition

Who should be on our team?

Assemble a great team, including skilled operators, technicians, and CMMS specialists including some inquisitive novices. This will ensure diverse perspectives to comprehensively understand asset operations and potential failure points.

I was working with engineers, maintenance technicians, and supply personnel to build an asset management strategy. In one failure scenario, the team disagreed on how the asset was operated. The engineers knew how it should be operated. The maintenance techs could speak about what they saw when the equipment was running. But no one could speak to how it was operated and why a particular failure was occurring.

Management had deemed the operators’ time too valuable to free up for our analysis.

Finally, we convinced them to bring in operators from all the shifts. We discovered that no one was operating the equipment as designed; all shifts were operating it differently. Each team would adjust the machine at the beginning of their shift. The operators were all aware of the proper procedure, but “that isn’t how we do it on our shift”. Involving operators in the analysis led to the discovery of varied operating practices across shifts. This emphasizes the need to have the right people with relevant expertise.


#7 Plan for Communication

Do you have a plan for communication?

Establish a robust plan for communication to disseminate project updates, progress, and results. A canned communications plan from the communications department is not sufficient. Make your plan for communication relatable to the people who are doing the work.

Use analysis tools to monitor and communicate the impact of strategy changes. Keep all relevant departments informed about the initiative. Relate all your initiatives to how it improves the bottom line and aligns with corporate goals.

Don’t keep secrets! Communicate, communicate, communicate! Highlight the roles all departments play in the asset strategy management initiative. The lack of updates leads to confusion and rumors. Emphasize the importance of clear transparent communication.


Inventory, Prioritize, Implement, Revise, and Communicate

Make sure to establish and regularly update your comprehensive asset management strategy.

  • Take inventory of assets and their conditions.

  • Prioritize assets based on their value to the organization.

  • Develop a comprehensive asset management plan.

  • Implement the plan with the necessary resources.

  • Regularly review and revise the plan, adapting to changing priorities and gaining actionable insights.

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate!

In conclusion, these steps form a roadmap for developing a robust asset management strategy, ensuring the consistent and efficient operation of your organization. Regular evaluation, communication, and adaptation are crucial to maintaining success in asset management. Choose your route carefully and realize you may need to take a couple of detours along the way.



Hank Kocevar has over 35 years of experience in maintenance and reliability engineering, He is the Owner and Principal Consultant of Guardian Technical Services LLC, a company that provides comprehensive and customized solutions for asset-heavy industries. As a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP), Hank helps clients develop and implement effective equipment maintenance management strategies, based on ISO 55000 asset management principles and best practices.


Hank’s core competencies include Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM), Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Root Cause Analysis (RCA), Continuous Improvement Process (CIP), Condition Monitoring, Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), and Data Analysis using Spotfire. He also provides organizational leadership and business process improvement services, as well as technical support for complex and innovative data center infrastructure applications.


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