Asset Management

The managers of physical assets, and particularly of maintenance, have created many opportunities for improving the professionalism of their contribution in recent years, for example from:
  • The development, during asset design, of the maintenance ‘supply and demand’ requirements; a process otherwise known as Early Asset Management
  • The wider use of external contractors and of more competitive global equipment supply chains,
  • The co-ordination of maintenance processes into those used site-wide for procurement, operations, finance, etc, leading to better compliance with regulatory requirements, the wider application of targets directly related to the corporate objectives, and of benchmarking for the comparison of progress and improvements,
  • The availability of additional internationally recognised training courses to MSc degree level in maintenance and asset integrity management.

In parallel with those and similar management opportunities, the directors of organizations who are responsible for the upkeep of assets, ranging from refineries to roads and to hospitals, etc, have a strong appreciation of how to obtain the optimum value from asset investments. With regard to maintenance, those directors have always been aware of the maintenance budget costs and spend. Today, they are more aware of the consequences of variable asset design and build quality on the subsequent combined cost of operations and maintenance; and that this latter combined cost can dwarf the capital cost.


Two Strategies
The asset management business demands maintenance foresight and strategic management. A beginning to this is an appreciation by managers of maintenance that, for them, ‘strategies’ are composed of two fundamental forms. One is the Asset Strategy, which is the collection of different activities chosen to be carried out on the assets in order to sustain their performance and  which are coordinated into an overall Asset Management Plan. The second is the Maintenance Management Strategy which links the maintenance policies and objectives with the corporate aims, and then details the chosen practices for managing safety, organisation, processes and systems, and the people capabilities, etc.

A general sequence for how the various considerations for preparing the two strategies may be applied is shown in Figure 1 - Considerations leading to two fundamental strategies.

With regard to Asset Strategy, a challenge for managers of maintenance is to obtain the correct balance between the costs of gaining asset availability against the consequences of not having it, as illustrated in Figure 2 - A consequence / availability cost balance.

The question is - how to mitigate the failures which compromise the specified targets for asset availability, safety, compliance, etc. The answers form the basis of those individual asset strategies, arrived at by an approach which may differ according to the organisation`s maintenance policies. For example, some organisations prefer to go straight for the planned preventive activities handed down and across their sites over time and augmented with condition based maintenance. Others prepare their total plan using the techniques of Life Cycle Costing, Risk Based Inspection and Reliability-centred Maintenance, etc.


With regard to the Maintenance Management Strategy, and how to implement the Asset Strategies, this requires an appreciation of where development or change of the practices is necessary to influence and meet the objectives of the business. Developed from the top-down, a number of choices and permutations of maintenance practices are available. However, keeping a view on the corporate policies for people management is essential. It is not unusual for ideas to be moderated or require additional support in light of the degree of change that the people will accept and support. Anyone who has combined practices into the basic tactics of a management strategy for any organisation will know that that there are various approaches that can be used at different sequences and speeds.