Are These 3 Major Elements of EAM Aligned at Your Facility?
Troubles with cost, risk and quality lie at the heart of every EAM or RBM initiative.
When businesses institute enterprise asset management best practices or an innovative proactive, reliability-based maintenance program, they have their reasons. Peel back the layers of any answer and we typically find these three rationales at its root:
- Minimizing costs to preserve assets throughout their life cycles.
- Reducing downtime risks across the facility.
- Improving customer relations by way of a better product or service.
Although troubles with cost, risk and quality lie at the heart of every Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) or Reliability Based Maintenance (RBM) initiative, many organizations struggle to keep these three things in balance. Here's why each is important in its own right and how favoring one over others can actually deter success.
Life cycle costs
What business doesn't want to drive down operational costs? Well, since certain asset-intensive industries, like oil and gas, the energy sector, etc., suffered such massive disruption in recent years, they have no choice but to cut operational costs through data-driven management and maintenance of extant equipment. Capital spending for O&G, for instance, dropped by more than 25 percent in 2015, according to Oil and Gas Journal.
Focus too hard on life cycle costs, however, and what happens? Frankly, you never fully embrace EAM or a proactive asset maintenance program.
Why? Because these disciplines require small but frequent upfront expenditures at times when equipment may not be definitively broken to stave off higher costs resulting from large-scale failure events. An if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it mentality ignores steep emergency repair costs, the insidiousness of unnoticed operational deficiency draining productivity and how a particularly bad failure could put compliance, employees and customers in jeopardy.
Besides, whatever operational costs a business incurs because of EAM or RBM, they make up for in valuable, actionable data gleaned from equipment to inform smarter asset management and maintenance.
When assets are down, so is the business right? No wonder companies across all industries possess such a narrow focus on preserving uptime for as long as possible. After all, where would the energy sector be if it failed to adequately prevent blackouts?
"Strict adherence to downtime avoidance could push supervisors to neglect RCA."
Upstream, midstream or downstream—each segment of the oil industry wants to maximize equipment it already has.
Nevertheless, strict adherence to downtime avoidance could push supervisors to neglect root cause analysis, which works to uncover the true catalyst for a failure or deficiency instead of settling for surface-level symptoms. If asset maintenance professionals only work toward getting a downed machine online as quickly as possible, repetitious operational issues could eventually outweigh downtime losses from a single RCA investigation, especially if repair specialists took advantage of scheduled maintenance planning during.
Don't get us wrong – in a sense, a "run to fail" philosophy still has a place in asset management, so long as asset owners leverage data to understand how and when their assets fail, use that information to schedule maintenance on their terms and avoid failure altogether. Not only does that preempt risk to uptime but to compliance and employee health as well, both of which impact equipment functionality and brand perception.
Ultimately, EAM and RBM establish companies as trustworthy to their client base. Energy providers use these disciplines to keep its industrial clients' plants productive and homeowners happy. Manufacturers use them to maintain compliance and ensure their products are synonymous with high quality. Fleets use them to support an efficient, transparent and reliable supply chain.
If EAM and RBM implementers aren't careful, however, these practices can become unnecessarily expensive. Allowing room in the discussion for risk management and life cycle cost analysis pushes the practices continually toward optimization. Don't be coerced by the mantra "asset reliability at any cost" or, well, it will cost you. Big time.