Asset Strategies

Tom Moriarty | Author & President, Alidade MER, Inc.

Many organizations suffer higher costs and lower productivity than is possible. They react to equipment health problems. They don’t have good plans on how to best care for equipment. Without a good plan, or if unable to execute the plan (a topic for another article) it is nearly impossible to get ahead of the maintenance cycle of doom, or to keep from falling back into it. Many organizations lack good asset strategies because they haven’t been educated on fundamentals and/or senior managers don’t support the effort to initiate or sustain an asset strategy program.

To create an asset strategy there has to be a basic understanding of maintenance and reliability principles. Maintenance tasks come in different flavors; run-to-failure, interval-based, condition monitoring and failure-finding. Each has parameters that help in the selection of the proper maintenance task type to apply.  Reliability is the probability that an asset will perform its intended functions, for a specified period of time under specified conditions.

By identifying all of the primary and secondary functions of an asset, we can analyze functional failures and the modes by which the failures occur. The most common methods are Failure Modes, Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA) and Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM). We can then select the appropriate maintenance tasks and the periodicity for performing them. When we get it right, we can avoid defects, replace parts that have predictable wear out patterns or use condition monitoring. Ultrasonic Emissions, vibration analysis, oil analysis, infrared imaging, motor circuit analysis and other condition monitoring techniques can be used to identify defects early enough to plan and schedule corrective actions. Planned and scheduled corrective actions reduce unplanned down time.

When we get the asset strategy right, we have a baseline that can be used to engage in continuous improvement. As the strategy is executed, data is gathered. Analyzing that data can tell us whether the strategy is improving reliability, improving availability, lowering costs, etc., or, whether the strategy can be further refined. Additionally, as a FMECA or RCM identifies the best maintenance tasks, a budget plan for equipment, tools, calibrations, software upgrades, training and spares can be developed based on the documented needs of the assets.

An asset strategy should be a living program. Using FMECA or RCM software to develop and archive the asset strategies creates an historical record. It documents what functions were considered, what failure modes were evaluated and the criticality criteria that was used. Some FMECA and RCM software programs provide cost analysis to ensure all selected tasks and periodicities are value-added. Having the documentation makes it easier to review and update failure modes, task selections, periodicities, etc.

One of the things I like most about working with Mobius Institute are the Asset Reliability Practitioner (ARP) courses that include the Asset Reliability Transformation Model (ART). The courses and ART model show that asset strategies are just one of many integrated components of a comprehensive asset reliability program. I liked it so much that I got certified in all three ARP courses. As a training partner, I get to work with these concepts often. Go forth and do great things!

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About the Author

Tom Moriarty Author & President, Alidade MER, Inc.

A former Coast Guardsman having served as an enlisted Machinery Technician for nine years, then earning a commission through Officer Candidate School. As an enlisted person Tom had assignments at coastal search and rescue (SAR) stations and aboard the Coast Guard Cutter SPENCER (Boston, MA). The cutter’s primary missions were search and rescue and law enforcement in the North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. Among his responsibilities at the SAR stations were boat crewman, boat engineer, boat coxswain, law enforcement boarding officer, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and Officer of the Day.

Tom was selected for the Naval Engineering Technology Program and attended Western New England College for two years, earning a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering, and passing the Engineer in Training (EIT) exam (first step toward the Professional Engineer license). Tom’s last Coast Guard assignment was as Executive Officer at the Naval Engineering Support Unit, Portsmouth, VA. During this tour Tom instituted a best-practice work order management process. Tom earned a Professional Master of Business Admiration (focus in organizational development) from Florida Institute of Technology and was selected as the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2003 Federal Engineer of the Year; an award sponsored by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE).

Since retiring from Coast Guard service in 2003, Tom has become a recognized expert in leadership, asset management, engineering and reliability. He has worked with well-known and diverse organizations such as Rio Tinto, Gulfstream Aerospace, the University of Michigan, Pactiv, MillerCoors, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and many others. Services include asset management assessments, master planning, implementation support, investigative/forensic engineering, productive leadership development and reliability engineering support. Tom has written monthly articles in Plant Services Magazine on leadership and management related to industrial and manufacturing workplace applications for over ten years. In addition, Tom is a member of the Society of Maintenance and Reliability professionals, the past Chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Canaveral Florida Section, and a member of the ASME Plant Engineering and Maintenance (PEM) Division.