|a||Asset Reliability Coordinator|
|a||By: Robert Wilson, Performance Consulting Associates|
maintenance planner might better be described as asset reliability coordinator.
rush to reliability, fueled by rising global competition, high fixed costs,
capital intensity, and the pressure for greater on-stream performance, is
providing the planning and scheduling function with an opportunity to add
further value to its business objectives. The maintenance planner might better
be described as asset reliability coordinator. Across the landscape of
industrial plant maintenance, the asset performance picture is not all that
good. Consider the following:
of newly overhauled machines fail on startup
one-third of the money spent on preventive maintenance is wasted
of premature bearing failures are due to improper fitting, maintenance, and
operation account for 70 percent of the money spent on pumps.
rise above these shortcomings, plants have redundant systems and spared
equipment to assure process availability. The average refinery runs at nearly 95
percent average availability, but studies have shown that downtime affects the
bottom line by smaller profit margins, decreased yield and quality, reduced
safety, additional environmental incidents, and missed delivery dates.
Additionally, plants have had to spend
scarce capital to build more capacity to meet the fluctuations in their demand
patterns and compensate for process unreliability.
of maintenance craft resources is even more alarming: average craft
productivity, measured through "wrench time" studies, is typically in
the 25 to 35 percent range. Productive work is held up by time spent waiting for
materials, tools, instructions, and clearance and time spent traveling to the
in craft utilization, many of which are beyond the individual craftperson’s
control, contribute to additional expense for outside contractors, rush charges
for materials not planned to be on hand, excessive overtime, and work that had
been identified but was not performed in a timely manner.
the greatest cost for these inefficiencies is lost production resulting from
process interruptions from unreliable equipment. Some examples illustrate the
magnitude of benefits that flow from improved asset reliability:
If an average size refinery
were to increase its availability from 92 to 96 percent, with a $3/barrel
margin, it would generate an additional $6 million/year.
For an electric utility
with a 1000 MW steam system, each 1 percent availability improvement might be
worth over $300,000/yr in power transaction capability.
Each 100 Btu/kWh
improvement in efficiency might be worth over $400,000/yr.
A 1 percent sustainable
improvement in availability for a 1000 MW system means 10 MW of future power
plant that does not have to be built. When construction prices are $1200/kW,
which is worth $12 million in capital expenditures.
the best weapons for fighting these deficiencies in maintenance performance is
the competent planning and scheduling of maintenance activities.
The benefits of good planning
benefits of good planning fall into several major categories:
Planning affects productivity most in the reduction of delays. Implementing a
fundamental planning and scheduling system should help improve productivity to
about 45 percent. Then, as files become developed to prevent recurrence of
problems of past jobs, productivity should increase to 50 percent. Finally, a
good enterprise asset management (EAM) system should boost productivity to more
than 55 percent. This increase in productivity alone, from 35 percent to 55
percent, boosts a 90-person maintenance workforce to the equivalent of 141
- Having the work scope, instructions, parts, tools, and crafts all correctly
identified and ready before the job starts has a direct positive effect on
quality. Quality is indirectly affected by the boost in productivity because the
freed-up workforce can spend more time on difficult jobs and proactive work.
Shift to proactive
- Proactive work includes root cause failure analyses on repair jobs and
corrective maintenance to fix small problems before they get out of hand. It
also includes project work to improve less reliable equipment and increased
attention to preventive and predictive maintenance.
productivity creates, in effect, greater resources. In a company with much
reactive work, these additional resources are used to put out fires. A company
with reactive work under control can leverage the additional resources to do
more proactive maintenance work, dealing efficiently with situations and
preventing fires. World-class companies with preventive maintenance well
in hand invest those resources in training to further increase labor skills
and in projects to improve equipment or other work processes.
- When more time is spent in proactive and preventive work, process
interruptions become less frequent and less severe. With more time to plan ahead
and anticipate equipment needs, planners can develop a more closely integrated
schedule that accommodates both production and maintenance needs. A collateral
effect is the reduction in on-hand maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO)
inventories and total spending on spares.
- Almost by definition, better-running equipment and processes provide improved
quality in terms of both final product and conversion of raw materials into
- When the availability of existing equipment is increased, the need for
additional new capacity can be postponed. Or in situations with relatively
stable demand, the number of productive assets can simply be reduced. Either
situation can have a considerable financial benefit to the company and its
Reduced unit costs
- When all of the potential benefits are consolidated, per-unit costs are
reduced, providing a sustainable competitive advantage for the already efficient
producer and a potential lifeline for the substandard producer. Thus, as process
efficiencies level off, or as additional gains are no longer cost effective,
asset performance and reliability become central to profitability. One of the
key drivers for additional reliability is the ability to integrate production
and maintenance activities into a single, comprehensive plan that maximizes
output at lowest possible costs.
point, the asset reliability coordinator assumes a pivotal role.
Asset reliability coordinator
the maintenance planner has been selected for personal knowledge of the
technical side of maintenance (the whose and whets of equipment care), rather
than the management side (the whys and when’s). There is a need for personnel
who understand the value of objective data on equipment condition, reasons for
failure, and the protection of the economic value created by asset reliability.
are summary descriptions of the responsibilities of the recast asset reliability
coordinator, using new tools and techniques to focus on asset reliability and
availability, by making the crews not only more productive, but
"smarter" by arming them with increased knowledge.
Job planner role
to the coordinator’s ability to add value is his or her primary work product
is having highly focused work packages. These packages contain not only a
listing of which craft skills are required for what periods of time, and the
likely parts to be used, but also more supporting documentation, for example:
The location of the MRO
parts that have been kitted or delivered to the jobsite
Digital photographs of the
asset and work area
including lockout-tagout requirements, zero-energy requirements, process safety
requirements, confined entry permit forms, and environmental concerns
Original manufacturer and
internal documentation of wiring, layouts, dimensions, and tolerances
A full bill of materials,
with stores catalog numbers, in the event unanticipated damage is found
Special equipment and tools
that may be required
A history of the most
recent condition readings and work performed on the asset (repairs and
replacements, preventive maintenance checks, predictive maintenance findings,
instrumentation readings, operator logbook entries, etc.)
Results of the
coordinator’s jobsite visit and comments on the work to be done
A feedback form to record
"found, fix, and fault" information by the crew.
level of documentation should be commensurate with the requirements of the work.
Routine repetitive work should require relatively little documentation, probably
nothing more than a standard job template, which exists in a library of such
Work scheduler role
second primary work product of the coordinator is the work schedule, actually a
series of interlocking schedules with progressively more detail as the
anticipated work time draws closer. In industries such as petrochemicals, with
major turnarounds and long lead times, a long planning and scheduling horizon is
critical to success.
schedules are a joint product of operations, maintenance, and engineering and
reflect all of the work to be accomplished. The coordinator generally chairs the
scheduling meetings and comes prepared with a standard schedule incorporating
production requirements (and windows of opportunity that normally arise), the
condition of operating equipment and potential liabilities, and the manpower
that will be available for the upcoming time period. Best practices call for
detailed scheduling at least a week ahead, with less stringent requirements for
the upcoming two weeks. Each functional group will have reviewed the work-order
backlog to ensure that critical work has been identified, planned, and made
ready for scheduling.
longer-range and potentially more critical function of the coordinator is to
develop the ability to forecast future maintenance requirements. Today’s EAM
systems allow for a three-way view of asset performance: historical, looking
backward to determine the most common root failure causes; real-time condition
monitoring (typically through the plant’s distributed control systems); and
forward, analyzing each asset’s mean time between failure and forecasting when
the asset is most likely to affect the production process again. Failure
information is critical to these views, and the coordinator must be zealous in
gathering and recording that information.
coordinator is also the database administrator for the records maintained in the
EAM equipment history and condition files and the person in charge of the open
backlog. This second function is extremely important in providing life-cycle
management of all work requests and work orders. Timely and accurate knowledge
of the current status of all open work orders allows maintenance and operations
to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities and maximize the use of
trait for success is the coordinator’s ability to influence the actions of
others. In most organizations, the planner, now coordinator, has no staff, no
organizational authority, and no budget. But he or she is charged with
coordinating the activities of a diverse group whose short-term goals may or may
not be in alignment.
skills and a clear vision of the longer-term objectives will serve the
coordinator, and his organization, well. Such skills can be learned and will
improve with repeated practice.
the coordinator must be able to clearly communicate the desired direction he or
she is recommending, in terms that are relevant to the audience, whether it is
operations (more throughput), maintenance (fewer breakdowns), or management
(financial impact). Again, such skills can be learned.
the higher-level functional requirements of the coordinator can be achieved
without enabling technologies. At a minimum, the support systems must include
A modern EAM system capable
of capturing and analyzing both static and dynamic information on equipment
condition and the likely time frame to the next critical production
interruption. The system must contain critical equipment information, including
performance parameters, bills of material, and component-level tracking, and be
fully integrated with the human resources and financial systems. Additionally,
the system, or allied systems, must be able to display, manage, and distribute
documents and perform higher-level analytical functions on data in the system.
The coordinator must be trained to easily navigate the complexities of these
systems and to interpret the details and convert them into usable information.
interface software connected to the EAM that monitors equipment parameters and
downloads the information directly. Using previously established set points, the
EAM system may generate a predictive or corrective maintenance work order before
a costly and disruptive process interruption occurs.
decision-support system that integrates the information from multiple systems
and promotes data based decisions.
model developed by the Machinery Information Management Open System
Alliance (MIMOSA) provides an excellent definition of how an integrated system
distributed-component architecture that facilitates the adoption of enhancements
as they become available. Considerable efforts have been devoted to removing the
"islands of information" situations in which plants with multiple
systems find themselves.
Best business practices
functional area exists in a vacuum. The relationships among various functions
are described by business rules that specify roles and responsibilities,
decision points, data flows, and evaluation criteria. A starting point is the
description of a vision stating how the company’s assets will be maintained to
ensure that they will be reliable. This goal will be achieved by anticipating
deterioration and addressing its root cause by technical means and education of
company personnel. The timing at which these actions will be initiated will be
set through a mature financial appreciation that takes into account the optimum
time at which items can be removed from service.
next step is to define the relationship between operations and maintenance. The
elements of such a definition might include the following:
Production owns downtime data and meticulously records failures,
being particularly careful to log the reason for downtime.
Production attempts limited inspections, in keeping with their
technical expertise, but raising their awareness of the condition of the assets
Production moves to a greater sense of ownership of the assets,
demanding more detailed information from maintenance regarding the condition of
the equipment and the service provided and required by maintenance.
Maintenance reviews the history of their performance, particularly
focusing on breakdowns. Where could work have been anticipated?
The two groups jointly review the inspection program in the light
of information raised under items 2 and 4.
the basics of asset care must be in place and rigorously practiced every day:
identified early and jointly approved by maintenance and operations
are developed reflecting the nature, scope, and complexity of the work to be
are developed in accordance with the lowest-cost combination of maintenance,
operations, and asset repair and replacement elements
Asset care is
based on historical information of performance and current condition monitoring
attention is given to understanding, capturing, and analyzing the root causes of
starting point for improving maintenance planning is the interface between
operations and maintenance, to identify sources of uncertainty that would
adversely affect planning and scheduling and the execution of maintenance tasks.
particular, the focus needs to be on the ability of the two groups to work
together to reduce the total costs of operating.
most critical skill required for improving reliability and availability is
understanding the root causes of failure. This knowledge, in turn, leads to the
development of an intelligent and cost-optimized plan for asset care and the
prevention of production interruptions.
asset reliability coordinator is in a pivotal role to use information available
through a combined view of historical, current, and forecast asset performance.