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"...we are going to operate effectively and USCCG is helping us do that." – Ed Dowling, former Executive VP of Operations, Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc. Cleveland, Ohio
Asset Performance Management
Asset performance management is a broad term that includes all aspects of managing a company’s assets in order to maximize the productive utilization of those assets while still maintaining their capability.
Reliability-centered Maintenance (RCM)
Effective asset performance management implies the optimization of the production output and the total cost of ownership as well as the maintenance strategies that support it. It is in the area of defining maintenance strategies that Reliability-centered Maintenance proves to be of indispensable value.
Reliability-centered Maintenance, or RCM as it has become known, is a maintenance philosophy that includes a structured method for determining how best to maintain production-related assets safely and economically.
The concept was born out of the experience airlines gained while maintaining civil transport aircraft over several decades. The concept became known to other industries with the publication of the book Reliability-centered Maintenance by Stan Nowlan and Howard Heap in 1978.
Until then, a commonly held belief among engineers was that, within reasonable limits, most pieces of equipment had a fixed lifespan. It was generally accepted that effective preventive maintenance was simply a matter of keeping sufficiently comprehensive records of how long things lasted, and then scheduling corrective action or re-work just before they failed.
The publication of the book, the result of Nowlan’s and Heap’s twenty years of work at United Airlines, provided statistical proof for several new ideas including:
- The vast majority of items cannot benefit from a limit on operating age at all. For these, scheduled rework or overhaul will have no effect on improving reliability, and in some cases will actually increase the chances of failure.
- There are, in fact, four preventive maintenance tasks, and they are not necessarily effective in every situation.
- The true objective of a maintenance program is not to prevent the failure, but rather to prevent its consequences.
- Modification and design play an essential role in the development of a maintenance support program.
- In some instances, it is better to do nothing and simply live with the failures.
In response to these new insights, Nowlan and Heap proposed a structured method of analysis and decision making that forever changed the way maintenance was viewed, and revolutionized the effectiveness of maintenance support programs. RCM was born.
The authors’ most significant contributions came from:
- A clear definition of the objective of maintenance support based on the consequences of the failure.
- A clear understanding of the applicability criteria for effectiveness of each of the four preventive maintenance tasks.
- A structured and formalized decision making process for identifying the complete preventive maintenance strategy and support function.
Implementing a reliability program and defining the right proactive work, while not simple, is essential for success. And, when combined with solid management practices, ensures that work occurs when it should in order to optimize asset utilization.
This approach considers all of the ways an asset can fail (Failure Modes), and takes a different approach to failure management. It focuses on mitigating the consequences of failure at the Failure Mode level, rather than using time-based tasks to manage the asset. It looks at each specific Failure Mode, and determines the best proactive task or tasks to detect failure or prevent its consequences.
Done properly, the result will be a high percentage (>80%) of tasks that require some form of condition monitoring, and a much lower percentage (<20%) that rely on time-based tasks, or tasks related to operating age. In addition, the failure analysis will identify the corrective work to be performed when early signs of failure are detected.
Condition monitoring tasks, driven by an understanding of Failure Modes, create a picture of equipment health from visual inspections, the appropriate use of predictive technology (thermography, vibration, non-destructive testing), and online equipment data (pressure, temperature, flow, amps, etc.). All of these condition-monitoring activities generate data related to the health of the equipment.
This data, properly managed, drives action to prevent further failure, much like monitoring one’s blood pressure to prevent catastrophic results. Done effectively, this management of condition information will lead to dramatic improvements in asset reliability.
Many of our clients have considerable investments in production-related assets and, while they still face the challenge of increasing output and reducing operating costs, there is a general reluctance to invest more capital. So their focus has shifted to “How can we get more out of the assets we already have?” At USCCG, we are proactively refocusing our offering to meet their needs.
World-class Maintenance Management
A World-class maintenance operation differs from a run-of-the-mill operation only by the degree to which it achieves its primary function: to ensure that the right amount of equipment is ready and available at the right time, at a reasonable cost. Quality maintenance practices keep operations running smoothly and profitably. Poor practices can bring productivity to a halt and seriously affect the bottom line.
Unlike some business improvement organizations, USCCG does not view Reliability-centered Maintenance and World-class Maintenance Management as competing methodologies, but rather, as complementary methodologies that enhance each other’s results. As discussed in the previous section, World-class Maintenance Management techniques will fall short if planned work is rooted in time/age/calendar-based replacement and adjustment activities. Using only proven failure analysis to define work will fall short if there are not effective management processes in place to ensure that the workforce and other resources are properly scheduled, assigned, measured, and reviewed for improvement opportunities.
There are five key components for attaining World-class maintenance status as defined by Terry Wireman, author of World Class Maintenance:
- Quality equipment maintenance
- Positive attitude toward preventive maintenance activities
- Effective labor planning
- Optimal inventory control
- Automation to optimize the maintenance department’s ability to meet its goals
Each of these areas must be tracked closely with clearly defined metrics that allow for quick problem identification and even quicker resolution. Optimizing one without managing the others can actually make an organization less effective. This means a holistic approach must be defined and systemically implemented. Fortunately, regardless of where your organization is currently on the World-class Maintenance Management continuum, you can achieve results quickly, and implement the process, so as to maximize sustainment.
Most companies are experiencing at least some of the same recurring problems, among them:
- High availability but low reliability metrics, which result in missed schedules, low customer service levels, and/or high inventory levels, to buffer poor equipment reliability
- Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) that don’t deliver expected financial benefits
- Production planning out of synch with maintenance plans, resulting in high labor overtime and/or critical assets failing because of overdue PMs
- Overrunning planned shutdown times on equipment and/or equipment experiencing high rates of failure post-shutdown
- Mismanaging outside contractors
- Overlooking work order disciplines, resulting in missed schedules, overdue tasks, low confidence level in maintenance effectiveness by equipment owners, and/or excessive material expediting charges
- Poorly defined labor productivity
- Flat or diminishing revenue per asset dollar spent
These problems stem from a number of common management mistakes that occur on a fairly routine basis. USCCG is adept at building the business case and working with client leadership to develop an achievable and interlocking scorecard. Then, starting with a prototype area and working in an iterative fashion, we implement improvement efforts to quickly drive benefits.
The Big Picture
You can’t look at the maintenance process in isolation and expect to attain World-class status. You have to look at the grand scope and involve people from every part of the operation at every level. There are certain things that need to be done, and certain changes that need to take place within the production group or the operations group that can facilitate what’s being done in maintenance.
For example, while working with an open pit mining client, we addressed truck maintenance problems stemming from the poor quality roads over which they traveled. The roads, maintained by the operating group, were bumpy and rough. In isolation, the operations group did not “see,” nor appreciate, the wear and tear caused by these conditions, even though chronic low truck availability and reliability was adversely impacting production. Prior to our engagement, operations viewed the role of maintenance as one of fixing things only when they were broken, hardly a World-class view. World-class organizations view maintenance as everyone’s responsibility, which means preventing things from breaking.
By bringing the two groups together during the failure analysis process, the team easily identified the need to base the road grading activity based on the condition of the road, not simply time. Defining the required condition, establishing an inspection process, and scheduling re-grading on condition-based analytics extended truck life enormously. It not only improved availability (reducing the amount of time trucks spend in planned maintenance), but also reliability to almost 100% by reducing unplanned maintenance.
By bringing together the different operational and maintenance elements, and analyzing the information to determine the root causes of the problems, it was possible to develop a new reliability plan, not only reducing long-term maintenance costs but, more importantly, significantly increasing the available asset capacity. It was a big step toward World-class Maintenance Management practices for this mine.
Climbing the World Class Ladder
- Step One – Determine where you stand today
- Step Two – Create a vision for the future
- Step Three – Involve employees in the change process using a structured prototype
- Step Four – Roll out successes across the organization
- Step Five – Avoid backsliding through quarterly systems audits
- Step Six – Automate the system
Rank Your Company Against World-class Maintenance Management Practices
- Understand the fundamental principles of Reliability-centered Maintenance and the objectives of your organization
- Focus on task, labor, and material planning
- Maintain work coordination and control
- Identify problems for quick resolution
- Continue to improve every step of every process every day
You can rank your operation against World-class practices and your competition by contacting USCCG for its World-class Maintenance Diagnostic audit. It’s available, free of charge, in Excel format. Simply answer the questions and return the file to us to receive a report showing how your company ranks. All information provided will be kept completely confidential.
To receive your audit, click here.