When there’s only one option left, it’s easy to make decisions. That’s why many companies only worry about maintenance after a breakdown. Until it reaches a critical point, one of no return, there’s ‘faith’ that everything will be fine. But, if you’re not feeling much of a believer, today we explain how to create an asset maintenance strategy.
1. What, where, in what condition
The first step in defining an asset maintenance strategy is to do the “reconnaissance” work. How many assets do you have? What type of assets? Where are they located? In what condition are they operating? In other words, you need to do a criticality analysis.
Another way to look at this question is to ask, “if an asset fails, what are the consequences?” Does it lead to loss of production? Does it cause safety problems? Environmental problems? How does it prevent the institution from achieving its goals or fulfilling its mission? Criticality analysis should be holistic, not least because there are assets that should never fail.
Want a real-life example? In 2018, daily breakdowns in radiotherapy equipment at São João Hospital in Porto, Portugal, meant that several users were unable to fulfil their treatment plan. In the most serious case, one patient waited from April to October to start treatment, which reduced his life expectancy.
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated case. A study published in 2008, based on patient data from a hospital in S. Paulo, Brazil, came to the conclusion that maintenance is the main cause for the interruption of radiotherapy treatments (55%), far above reactions to treatment (6%) or clinical worsening (3%).
💡 If you need help defining the criticality of your assets, try our calculator. Use the multiple-choice questions to define the category of each asset (A, B, or C).
2. Find the source of the breakdowns
Now it’s time to find the “rotten apple”: what is failing the most and consuming the most resources? Watch out, it is easy to get carried away by intuition. “But we are always repairing the lift in building x” is not an argument. Analyse the data! Evaluate the downtime costs, the repair costs, and the severity of the consequences. This cross-check should define your priorities.
When you analyse the consequences of the breakdown in terms of quality, safety, and environmental impact, as well as all the financial aspects, you will arrive at a reduced (or at least hopefully reduced!) set of critical assets. These are assets that you should focus on first.
The goal is to understand why these assets are failing and how they might fail. To do this, we need to retrieve one of our best weapons: root cause analysis. You can read here our full guide to root cause analysis and how to use some of the most common tools.
Root cause analysis can reveal some uncomfortable truths about your management. For example, you may discover that you are misusing equipment, that you are exceeding the number of cycles recommended by the manufacturer, or that your maintenance plan is insufficient.
Still on the breakdowns at S. João Hospital, the hospital’s management admitted in 2019 that the radiotherapy equipment in question was “very old” and lacked “the robustness needed to work continuously”. The hospital eventually replaced the device, already at the end of its life, with a completely new one. Regarding this case, you can see here how to calculate an asset’s life expectancy.
3. Plan, manage and assess
Phew! We need a moment to catch our breath. By now, you know (1) which assets are most critical, (2) the consequences of breakdowns on these assets, and, through root cause analysis, (3) what causes these breakdowns. Therefore, you have all the information you need to start designing your strategy.
Whenever you decide to repair and not replace the asset, you must re-evaluate the maintenance plan:
Optimise preventive and predictive maintenance
The best way to avoid prolonged breakdowns and maintain the reliability of your assets is to optimise condition monitoring, preventive maintenance, and predictive maintenance. To do this, you must make sure that each scheduled work order prevents or detects a specific, predictable failure mode.
⚙️ Are you in doubt about the right maintenance strategy? Here’s how to choose the right maintenance strategy.
Defining/improving your maintenance plan
Next, you need to review your maintenance plan. If you already have a robust maintenance plan in place, remove tasks that do not correspond to a failure mode and implement new practices according to the results of the root cause analysis. Don’t forget to set KPIs to compare the “before” and “after”.
If this is the first time you are going to make a long-term plan, we have simplified how to make a maintenance plan in 5 steps.
Managing work orders and resources
Let’s go from theory to practice! Your work orders should be clear and complete to reduce intervention time to a minimum. We suggest you use an intelligent maintenance platform to schedule work orders and link all costs and materials automatically. This way you get more reliable data for the next criticality assessment.
☑️ Do you need a template for your work orders? Download our template for work orders (free and without forms!).
Generate reports and evaluate results
If you have recorded all the information in your maintenance software, you can generate automatic performance reports. This allows you to track KPIs you have defined and evaluate results: did it solve the problems you identified? Or do you still need to improve? Are there any assets that are beginning to require more care? Restart the cycle.
📈 Get to know Infraspeak’s new weekly reporting tool.
A good asset maintenance strategy makes for more reliable assets. That’s what allows us to offer a quality service to users. But performing a good asset maintenance management involves knowing the condition of each piece of equipment, understanding its life cycle, and scheduling maintenance according to these variables.