Is it really worth standardising asset management strategies and plans across your business?
Bluefield often works with clients who ask us to help them standardise the asset management strategies and plans across multiple sites. It’s most commonly done with mobile equipment, often led by a central team, and hopefully (but not always) with the assistance of the sites.
We’ve seen these types of projects enjoy mixed success, so we asked several of our team members the following question:
In your experience, does standardising asset management strategies and plans across multiple sites add value? Are there things to do (or avoid) to make the exercise more successful?
From my experience the best, most effective strategy is the one that the guy who have to execute it feel they own and care about....
Stefan Van Der Linde
Too often these centralised outputs are implemented from the top-down instead of being captured by bubbling up ideas from the ground level. As Gerard says, without that ownership and care they just become another unmaintained document that sits on a shelf.
I would agree that input from the maintainers themselves will give you the best outcome. I can also see the case for a standardised strategy; as we saw on a recent project there were instances where sites learnt the same hard lesson after the same issue had been experienced elsewhere within the company group.
One thing I have seen that really makes buy-in difficult is when a hard statement is made “you shall change this component at 10,000hrs” – people question this straight away as there is no justification provided. Those strategies and plans should outline the reasoning and justification for the statements made, which help people understand the “why”.
Standardising across sites also makes transfer of assets much easier and a less costly exercise, providing greater flexibility and ease of transition. An experience with a mine with a sister-site next door, which owned shared assets but had different maintenance strategies and different compliance requirements – same coal seam, practically same mining environment and obviously the same equipment! Made the site introduction and compliance checks very timely and unnecessarily so.
Strategies should never be 100% standardised across sites, because the local context is almost never 100% the same. Environmental factors differ – temperature and humidity, size and depth of the pits, ore hardness etc. And economic factors also differ – a giant iron ore mine with a 30-year mine life can do things that a small underground gold mine with a 3-5-year life simply can’t afford.
What you can look to standardise is the FMEA – or at least the list of failure modes - that sits behind your strategies. The failure modes themselves don’t actually vary across sites, what varies is how frequently they occur, how long they take to develop, and whether it’s economic to employ a maintenance tactic to manage the failure mode.
So I would recommend sites work together to build this list of failure modes from their collective experience and even build a generic list of maintenance tasks to use as a starting point, but allow each site to customize the frequency, or even leave a task out if it doesn’t add value for them. This way, you’ve built a common “language” across the business so sites can share their learnings and adjust their strategies over time. Central teams can really help here by facilitating these conversations across sites.
One of Bluefield’s core service offerings is reviewing and developing asset management plans for sites. Read one of our previous articles here – “Why Everyone Should Have an Asset Management Plan”.