When starting your career in the industrial plant maintenance field, coming across terms such as condition-based monitoring, reliability monitoring, and asset management. These may all sound like different terms for the same thing however, they’re very distinct, principal objectives that have their process. Some businesses might use the terms interchangeably, but in the large and ever-developing world of production, the desire and need for clear-cut operative programs are apparent.
In the industrial plant field, “reliability” refers to maintenance improvement strategies to ensure that assets and systems operate at their optimal performance levels. Production reliability describes and measures the results of your operations and maintenance organization’s work.
Asset management is another word used by providers of maintenance services and products, especially by computer system suppliers however, asset management is much more than maintenance management software. A company’s assets include much more than maintenance management, therefore asset management defines a broader picture of a business’s overall function, infrastructure, and the performance of tangible and intangible assets (ie. social reputation/image, costs, etc.)
Essentially, reliability monitoring is a strategy that falls under the large umbrella of asset management. As we delve deeper into the overall functions of these two fields, the distinction will become more clear.
As we mentioned, an asset can have tangible and intangible qualities. Tangible qualities include the machines and the products they produce. These are also referred to as assets, which can be the reason “asset management” is confused with reliability. However, the intangible qualities of an organization include the reputation, brand image, social conscience, costs, investment, performance, etc.
Viewing “assets” in this way helps us to understand that “asset management” attributes to a larger objective. A major goal of asset management is for all personnel of an organization to understand their role and the impact of what they do. They are integral parts of the organization's overall success.
It’s also a goal of asset management to implement strategic objectives for meeting the needs of the external demands, including customers, the market, investors, shareholders, and regulators. Current demand and future demands can fluctuate, which is why an asset management process is not only required but must constantly act in the reflection of these external demands.
The external demands of an organization set the tone for the entire asset management process. They directly influence the first step, known as Strategic Objectives.
This dictates how the organization will operate, where it wants to be in the marketplace and important values. The strategic objectives and determined values are funneled through to creating the next processes.
Asset management strategy and policy are highly engaged with one another. Strategy refers to how the organization intends to attain the goals set by the strategic objectives and policy. The policy refers to the commitment of the strategic objective and the strategy.
From the asset management strategy, there is a plan that refers to the activities that will deliver the strategic objectives and include the limitations of costs, volumes, capabilities, etc. Asset Management systems detail how the management of asset information, general data and knowledge is formatted, shared and stored.
This is where most of a plant’s operation, maintenance and reliability insurance takes place. The brunt of the tangible asset objectives is established and pursued during this stage. Workers take part in designing, maintaining, and operating an asset to deliver on the strategic objectives.
It’s important to assess the risk management and performance to review what was successful, and where there is room for improvement. This stage helps with improving asset management overall. The cycle begins again, and the organization must adjust to the new demands. Reviewing risk and performance helps maintain good practices while reducing negative influences.
An asset management process like this can help your business deliver on the requirements and maintain optimal function from office management throughout the shop floor.
It is the job of a reliability professional to work with asset operating conditions, data and statistics to determine an asset's ability to perform a required function and for how long it can properly perform this function.
Reliability and the projects associated with it have to do with the reduction or elimination of failure modes, as well as the management of resources to minimize the frequency of unavoidable failures. When a plant introduces a reliability plan, there must be a clear definition of terms and actual steps for the process. These definitions need to be structured so that all workers in the plant understand what they mean and what role they play in achieving them.
Reliability requires a team approach, everyone working together for the common goal. That common goal is to deliver a quality end-product to the customer. Reliability monitoring is the preparedness program regarding health concerns about an asset.
Proper reliability and maintenance improvement initiatives make a large, beneficial difference to a business’ financial and productivity growth. There are various stages of an asset’s lifespan that can all benefit from reliability monitoring.
Newly Installed Assets
When an asset is received from a manufacturer, there is a level of uncertainty about the health of the asset. It’s expected, of course, for the asset to be in high-quality condition, however, there can be unknown issues with the manufacturer, the delivery, and even the installation. No two machines, even if they were purchased, shipped, and installed together, will have the same reliability. Reliability monitors help to establish a baseline with these new assets when they begin producing. They monitor asset function and products to monitor reliability.
Reliability monitors also assist in creating maintenance programs for assets. This can include the preventive and predictive maintenance guidelines, plans for operator maintenance, bill of materials (BOM), and more.
Reduce Asset Maintenance Cost and Overtime
Reliability monitors also can help reduce overtime by determining what maintenance tasks are truly necessary to eliminate failure modes for the system. Cutting out these tasks frees up time for maintenance professionals, saves money on parts and labor, and ensures that corrective actions are taken to create a reliable asset.
Can Help Reduce Energy Costs
Because reliability monitoring professionals are constantly involved in the grander picture of machines, they can use predictive technologies to find energy losses and correct them. From “green initiatives” to finding overlooked repairs and replacements not directly associated with assets.
Other Benefits of Reliability Monitors include:
When an organization clearly defines and implements strategies and protocols with reliability, it can successfully and holistically benefit the plant. However, many initiatives have failed or not reached full potential because the management did not provide and sustain support for the initiatives.
Similar to the importance of an overall asset management process, proper reliability protocols include a reliability monitoring process. Maintaining the capability of a system is the goal of maintenance & reliability. Installing a reliability monitoring process will help your business create a system for finding potential failures and ordering changes or repairs that will prevent failure.
Who are the organization’s process owners and stakeholders? What are the current procedures, processes, and programs? Use this information to chart all current processes, tasks, and procedures and identify tools and technologies. This will help you understand existing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
To improve your organization’s reliability, setting clear objectives and standards for the reliability team is key. Using metrics, key performance indicators (KPIs), and reportings redesign or create new, functional reliability-focused programs that will provide value for the organization.
Begin with a pilot project for an easy transition. Identify your needs and objectives and develop strategic goals for reliability. Then establish teams and assign leadership roles to execute these plans and initiate training programs. Be sure to conduct a root cause analysis to eliminate future problems. After the pilot project, prepare the transition for a full rollout of the reliability process.
Best practices dictate that managers review the performance of these objectives regularly, and integrate additional plans for continuous improvement and process sustainability.
Failure affects asset management strategies, leading to reduced revenue and unhappy customers and shareholders. To sustain, improve, and grow an organization, make sure you continue to implement new procedures as necessary and redesign old ones. Review ongoing metrics, KPIs, and reporting to ensure performance is optimized.
Industrial plants with strong reliability and asset management processes are world-class leaders in the field. They understand the diverse aspects of a plant and web-like connectivity between all of the departments and workers. By installing these strategies into your team, you can build a better brand from within.
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