Fri. May 7th, 2021

Asset Performance and Reliability

The path to asset performance and reliability  excellence can be viewed as a journey through multiple platforms of maturity and growth. 
Each platform can contribute significant performance and reliability benefits although the commitment in terms of time and resources increases accordingly. The extent to which organizations pursue the path to asset performance and reliability excellence depends on their perception of the cost versus the benefits they believe are possible and practical within the context of their business environment.

A broad cross-section of organizations are asking for:

  • Rapid implementation
  • Low risk
  • Low cost to implement
  • Minimum demand on internal resources

A good methodology assures a low-risk initial implementation without compromising the ongoing evolution and continued growth of the applications in use. 
The methodology would include predefined business processes founded in Best Practice, a preformatted core database configured to support those processes, implementation tools and templates, structured workshops and a data conversion tool. End-user training is also provided using standard training and reference materials.


With the fundamental elements in place, the organization is empowered to truly influence asset performance and reliability. The proactive level includes: 

Condition monitoring which involves tapping directly into control data sources to capture statistics to manage preventive maintenance and to enable instant reaction to failures when they occur, or preferably, before they occur. 

Preventive maintenance which covers the range of periodic tasks (from inspections and adjustments to component replacement) that are performed on assets on an elapsed time, or preferably, a usage basis in order to keep assets functioning. 

Predictive maintenance which goes a step further by using non-destructive testing methods to uncover hidden or pending failures in their primary mode.

Measurements, or KPIs (Key performance indicators), are used to convey strategic direction, to allow the organization to select and evaluate tactics needed to pursue the direction and to monitor operational performance related to those tactics. 

Benchmarks provide a specific comparison of relevant KPIs against known standards of performance or the performance of complementary processes or companies that are considered as good examples of achievement. 

Fundamental to taking control is the collection of accurate maintenance and materials management activity data and the transformation of that data into information through relevant compilation and presentation. With insight, direction and involvement, this information provides the knowledge to guide tactical planning and decision-making processes.


Two key elements are defined at the collaborative level:

  • TPM (Total Productive Maintenance)
  • RCM (Reliability-Centered Maintenance)

Total Productive Maintenance
TPM has been defined as changing the corporate culture to form a partnership with engineering, maintenance and production focused on improving equipment effectiveness, and product quality and reducing waste, while continually refining teamwork among labor, management and individual workgroups. 

TPM begins with a sound maintenance program that includes effective preventive maintenance programs, planned and scheduled maintenance, training programs, EAM system, and moves beyond into a more quality-focused employee empowerment approach. 

As with the proactive level, the collection of accurate maintenance and materials management activity data and the transformation of that data into information through relevant compilation and presentation is critical for an effective TPM program. With insight, direction and involvement, this information provides the knowledge to guide the TPM teams in their tactical planning and decision making processes. 

The creation of a central collection point for all asset information (cost, performance and history)  provides unparalleled access to this data allowing you to maximize the return on your critical assets.

Reliability-Centered Maintenance

RCM is defined as “A process used to determine what must be done to ensure that any physical asset continues to do what its users want it to do in its present operating context.” 2

The classic RCM methodology as presented by Nolan & Heap recognizes three pillars: 

1. Failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) is a structured analysis based on experience and “what if.”

  • Functions: What are the functions and associated performance standards of the asset in its present operating context?
  • Failures: In what ways does it fail to perform its functions?
  • Failure modes: What causes each functional failure?
  • Effects: What happens when each failure occurs?
  • Consequences: In what way does each failure matter?

2. Decision algorithm determines the maintenance action plan and its execution in terms of:

  • Proactive tasks: What can be done to predict or prevent each failure?
  • Default tasks: What should be done if a suitable proactive task cannot be found?

3. Age exploration — The continuous analysis, revision and upgrade process.
There are numerous variations and derivatives of the classic RCM process in use today; most of which are aimed at facilitating the failure modes and affects analysis and developing the appropriate plan of action. These methodologies are often supported by tools such as:

  • RCM Analysis Software
  • RCM Forms Generators
  • RCM Spreadsheets

Reliability is the responsibility of “all” employees, not just maintenance. Unreliability or failure, thus downtime, is the consequence of poor processes, not events. There is a process behind each of the six points listed above, for example. This means that there must be considerable effort devoted to eliminating defects that cause failure. This, in large part, is RCM. 

Reliability Centered Operations (RCO) expands the idea of RCM as purely a maintenance tactic, to include all areas of an organization. Operational inputs, as they pertain to determining maintenance strategies, are used when looking at equipment reliability, which extend from a tactic to a state of mind or culture within an organization. Reliability should be a measure for both maintenance and operations. 

To run world-class uptime (85 to 95% as a rough measure), equipment must be reliable which encompasses more than the maintenance team. Reliability is the responsibility of “all” employees, not just maintenance personnel. The maintenance strategy needs to keep one eye on reliability and the other on maintainability. The operational strategy should be designed so that operational parameters are driven and determined by the need to maintain inherent reliability. 

To push machinery operationally past that point will cause reliability degradation. As a result, machinery operates in a state of inefficiency. This is only acceptable if it is deliberately determined to operate in this mode to achieve a specific goal, and then usually only for a specific time frame. When examining the life cycle of a particular machine, keeping RCO in mind, the following should be considered:

  1. Plant must be designed for reliability and uptime
  2. Equipment/spares must be purchased with the purpose of reliability, not just cost
  3. Equipment/spares must be stored to retain its reliability
  4. Equipment must be operated reliably using process limits
  5. Equipment must be correctly installed to lead to a long life
  6. Correctly installing equipment leads to a long life

All plant personnel are responsible for following processes; doing all the small things prevents the “big one.” It is important to measure the organization holistically to ensure accountability.  Process integration within all areas of a plant and committed team work with clear, strong leadership facilitate reliability and uptime using RCO. RCO facilitates reliability as Asset Performance Management facilitates utilization and availability. Reliability, along with Maintainability, are the two main facets of availability employing RCO which helps facilitate APM.


Continuous improvement creates an ongoing environment of reanalysis and renewal. It involves shifting paradigms and opening possibilities that evolve over time as business needs dictate.

-Souvik Chatterjee

1 A definition, courtesy of R.W. Williamson, 4th Annual Total Productive Maintenance Conference and Exposition, 1993.

2 “Reliability-Centered Maintenance” by F. Stanley Nolan and Howard F. Heap, 1978

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