Asset reliability programs are a set of initiatives for tracking the health, effectiveness and locations of both fixed and moveable assets. It involves routine maintenance, as well as the collection and analysis of equipment operating data to measure efficiency throughout their useful lives.
A good reliability engineering program provides insight on the frequency of asset failures, cost of operation, maintenance and repair, and the quality of maintenance work. Over time, an organization needs to evaluate metrics such as mean time between failures (MTBF), mean time to repair (MTTR), and mean time to failure (MTTF) to ascertain the suitability of the selected maintenance strategy.
Companies have access to several digital tools for tracking and enhancing the visibility of assets, managing real-time collection and analysis of maintenance data, and streamlining asset management workflows. When establishing asset reliability programs, companies must provide measures for future upgrades. The addition of new assets or advances in technology renders these programs obsolete. An outdated asset reliability program leads to poor asset management, with negative impacts on the profitability and efficiency of operations. Which signs indicate that the asset reliability program in place is obsolete?
1. A Spike in Emergency Maintenance Work
Equipment maintenance is at the heart of asset reliability programs. Preventive or routine maintenance activities have been the preferred choice for most organizations. Maintenance teams perform activities such as lubrication, cleaning, or scheduled replacement of components to prevent asset failures. The company establishes a robust plan that distributes workloads within specific schedules.
An increase in instances of emergency breakdowns could indicate that:
- The program is no longer viable for the facility since there is an increase in assets, with no changes to maintenance schedules.
- The choice of preventive maintenance activities is ineffective and cannot prevent failures.
An increase in emergency repair work reduces the quality of maintenance work and exposes technicians to health risks due to longer working hours. Companies can avoid these issues by digitizing maintenance workflows using Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS). They provide tools for continuously updating asset registries for every new acquisition.
2. Increased Safety Incidents
Organizations rely on asset reliability programs to enhance the safety standards of facilities, operations, and production equipment. Employees feel confident when executing their duties in safe facilities, free from hazardous energy, emissions, and machinery-related accidents. Reliability programs have provisions for machine-specific lockout tagout procedures, essential emergency procedures, allocation, and the proper use of protective equipment.
With time, a reliability program may begin failing. Asset malfunctioning becomes rampant, exposing facility occupants and equipment operators to workplace injuries and accidents. A failure to update standard operating procedures along with the introduction of new or advanced assets means that existing safety procedures, LOTO guidelines, and safety signages become inapplicable.
Minimizing safety incidents due to aging equipment or obsolescence of reliability programs requires investment in the appropriate condition monitoring technology. Proper implementation of CMMS programs helps the company to effectively track assets, update and then communicate changes to standard operating procedures to employees.
3. Rising Maintenance, Repair and Operations Costs
An effective reliability program outlines a long-term maintenance and operations plan for the company. It quantifies budgets and schedules for minor and major maintenance interventions, tool and spare parts’ requisition. It also defines the appropriate types of spare parts to use on specific equipment.
An outdated asset reliability program over-stretches the company’s maintenance, repair and operations costs. The proactive maintenance activities become insufficient, leading to frequent failures and unplanned replacement of critical components. Companies may opt for sub-standard generic spare parts to bridge the demand for asset repair consumables.
Though it may be an immediate financial remedy, low-quality spare parts reduce the efficiency of assets and increase operational risks. The company has to spend more money to pay wages for technicians who repair equipment during emergency breakdowns.
Companies can control MRO budgets by proactively reviewing their asset reliability programs, embracing CMMS solutions, auditing assets to identify aging/obsolete ones, and performing a comprehensive root cause analysis of common asset failures.
4. Increased Process Downtime
The goal of a reliability program is to guarantee the availability and efficiency of physical assets throughout the production processes. Companies use reliability metrics to formulate production plans and streamline supply chains. These facilities rely on asset utilization metrics to quantify production and estimate profit margins.
When a reliability program can no longer meet its objectives, the probability of machine failures increases. Companies spend more time repairing defective assets than on their full-scale production. The failure to implement appropriate maintenance interventions increases the number of ghost assets. They occupy space and appear in asset management records, yet they cannot provide value to the company. In the end, the cost of repairs exceeds the returns.
Companies can reduce production downtime by investing in data-driven proactive asset management strategies. They can plan for production and maintenance using accurate data and reorganize their supply chains accordingly.
An outdated asset management program throws companies out of business in a heartbeat. The current business environment is dynamic and competitive. Companies need to be proactive in all elements of their business. They must frequently review their asset reliability programs, focus on continuous improvements and embrace the appropriate technological solutions.