Asset Performance Management: So Many Approaches, Yet Little Execution

  • September 19, 2014
  • Feature

By Dan Miklovic, LNS Research

The basic concepts of Asset Performance Management (APM) have been around for nearly 50 years. In the 1960s, plant maintenance departments understood that doing preventative or scheduled maintenance led to better results than simple break-fix approaches. I know this firsthand because that's when I started my career in plant engineering.

Admittedly, it was done with large paper tub files then and it wasn’t until the 1970s that we started to see the computerization of maintenance activities, which enabled further advances such as predictive maintenance. And then in the last several decades further advances in maintenance philosophy like condition-based maintenance (CBM) and reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) emerged.

In this post, we'll discuss the wealth of knowledge on different maintenance approaches available to today's professionals, and also the main challenges with putting those approaches into action.

Performance-Oriented Maintenance Approaches Are Well-Documented

Advanced maintenance practices ranging from simple preventative maintenance to RCM all have literally hundreds of guides and how-to articles, as well as benefits and justification articles written about them.

A quick search of Amazon with the phrase “preventative maintenance” will yield over 500 hardback and paperback results. A similar search for RCM yields over 50 books. Google searches on the same topics yield over 500,000 hits each. Scholarly articles on the topics number in the hundreds.

Various surveys have shown that fewer than 20% of manufacturing plants today are not using some form of predictive maintenance strategy. Numerous case studies document the benefits of adopting advanced asset performance management approaches, with cited benefits including 5%-20% reductions in maintenance costs, 15% or more improvements in product quality, up to 10% reductions in downtime, and others.

Organizations like the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP) exist to support the profession with conferences, certification programs, and a library of resources.

Why Is There So Much Interest in Improving Asset Performance?

Despite all that exists in the Web sphere about improving asset performance, it still remains one of the most elusive areas when it comes to actually achieving documented benefits. While more than 75% of enterprises report practicing some level of predictive maintenance, and about 20% claim to be utilizing RCM, the topic still drives considerable inquiry in how to actually make it work.

Being from St. Louis, I'm reminded of a famous Yogi Berra quote. When asked why he no longer visited Ruggeri’s Italian restaurant, a St. Louis institution, Yogi replied, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” In some ways that describes the struggles many companies have in trying to extract maximum value from their assets in an organized APM program.

The application landscape is so crowded, companies just can’t seem to make sense of all the tools they have at their disposal. They struggle because the necessary data is so spread out across so many different applications, they can’t do the analysis to really understand what the actual condition of their assets really may be and how well they are really performing. It isn’t so much a lack of data; it's a lack of information.

Part of the problem is that the information is trapped in older equipment that doesn't have the ability to do anything other than display it locally. And sometimes the problem is that while you may be able to access the information electronically, the protocols are aged and proprietary. Another problem occurs when the information is accessible but the device has an antiquated OS that is no longer supported so security concerns keep you from accessing it.

Even if you can access all the information, there remains the challenge of ensuring the data is properly time-synchronized. Finally, add in the fact that many enterprises have multiple applications accessing the myriad of sensors and devices on the plant floor and often using the data in their own ways, trying to create a “big picture” so you can fully understand how each asset is performing becomes a daunting task.

Understanding the Metrics that Drive the Most Value

Regardless of your strategy and approach to APM—or any initiative for that matter—having a set of effective metrics is crucial to benchmark progress and make adjustments to your program. This is often easier said than done. In conjunction with MESA International, LNS Research surveyed over 200 manufacturers across industries to find out the 28 metrics that are really moving the needle in key financial and operational measurements today. Download the free eBook, 2013-2014 Manufacturing Metrics that Really Matter

About the Author

Dan Miklovic joined LNS Research in May of 2014 and is now a Principal Analyst with his primary focus being research and development in the Asset and Energy Management practices. Dan has over 40 years of experience in manufacturing IT, R&D, engineering, and sales across several industries.

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