All organizations and their operations are in a state of flux. Things are continuously changing – assets, operating conditions, duty requirements, spare parts and componentry, technology and more all evolve, age and change. This change is constant.

So why is it, then, that if operational environments are constantly changing, asset reliability strategies remain static? Why do so many organizations leave them in set-and-forget mode?

Too often, reliability strategies are not given enough attention – even though reliability strategy is one of the biggest influencers of asset performance, and the deployment of an effective strategy presents a significant opportunity to improve.

In many organizations, reliability strategies remain the same from the moment they are implemented into the EAM system. The only time they are scrutinized is when something goes wrong … when it’s too late.

In fact, 62% of organizations say they don’t review their reliability strategies on a regular basis¹.

When changes to strategy don’t work

When it comes to changing up the reliability strategy to keep it aligned to evolving assets, there are two approaches that many organizations take. Neither one works very well.

The first is an informal attempt to improve strategies. This can do more harm than good, as the strategies are changed without justification or analysis. Instead, they are based on experience and gut feel, which can leave an organization operating in an area of significant risk, exposing them to regular unplanned failures and motivating them to try and get back some control.

Typically, this manifests in the comment, “We need to get back to basics.” The obvious question here is, “How did we get away from the basics?” It can only be through unstructured changes of the strategy without appropriate oversight and justification.

Another common attempt to manage strategy updates is by implementing a 12-month review on all routine maintenance documents – with the intent being to force a review of all strategies every 12 months. This may seem like an attractive option, but the problem is that with the sheer volume of routine maintenance plans that are in place, it is often simply not achievable. Twelve months blows out to 24 months and the reliability team ends up chasing its tail.

Dynamic change in reliability strategy

The goal with a reliability strategy is to prioritize reviews and focus attention in areas where there is value to do so. What’s needed is a way to track and manage updates, log what has been reviewed and by whom, record the justification for any changes and, most importantly, seamlessly implement the updates.

Asset reliability strategies should be reviewed as required. There are three key triggers for these reviews:

  1. The current strategy is not delivering target performance for the equipment
  2. The operating environment has changed, which means the current strategy is no longer optimum. For example:
    1. Change of duty
    2. Change of operational targets/costs
    3. Change of labor costs
    4. Change of shutdown strategy
  3. The characteristics of failure of the asset are changing. In other words, the asset is failing more or less than forecast, or in different ways than anticipated.

The strategy review activity should be driven by automatic triggers. This is the only real way to ensure a review process occurs. The triggers are established on the basis of criteria such as those above and are driven by data predominantly in the EAM system.

With a formal review process in place, the strategy review is now a dynamic process, driven by data, naturally prioritizing efforts where they are most required. It follows a consistent analysis structure which leads to an assurance that the reliability strategies in place, for all key assets, are matched to performance requirements and an accepted risk framework.

¹Source: ARMS Reliability's Asset Strategy Management maturity assessment, 2018, sample size: 161 responses

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