Bluefield’s mission is to help our clients get more from assets through simplifying their approach to asset management. That’s not always easy to do – as Gerard Wood, our Managing Director says, “In order to make something simple, you have to know your subject very well indeed.”
Our approach to simplifying asset management is largely based on working with clients to identify where their processes are over-complicated, and the remove non-value-adding parts. So we asked our team the following question:
What aspect of asset management do you find companies tend to over-complicate? How would you recommend they simplify?
I believe that the reliability improvement process has been over-complicated. It is great to have reliability engineers and I was an advocate for their introduction to our industry many years ago however there are so many breakdowns that can be corrected by the execution team without involving the RE's. I believe that the responsibility for reliability needs to sit with the execution team and they should call on the RE support only when they cannot work out why the breakdown has occurred.
My thoughts, mostly in the mobile field is that companies don't employ a whole of life strategy for fleet. Usually, how mining companies treat their mobile assets depends on the whim of the site GM or Maintenance Manager to reduce cost. This always ends up a short-term objective and in every case I have seen, leaves a massive legacy and ends up costing much more than was ever saved.
I often see miners over-complicating AMPs and their tactics by not considering the system approach and looking for the most effective and efficient ways to maintain a 'system' rather than all of the component equipment individually. This can cause overly complicated BOMs making it less clear for the planner, too many tasks spread over too many PMs for the maintainers, and an increased complexity in cost reporting levels, where in the business operating context, finance are not overly concerned about the level 3 and 4 assets. Keeping it high level and practical can make it not only less complicated, but also more effective and efficient for planners, execution team and management.
I find some sites focus too heavily on the latest and greatest condition monitoring activities thinking it will solve their reliability issues when they are still struggling with getting the basics right. Most sites would have acceptable equipment reliability by doing the basic servicing, inspections, and component change-outs right.
I see over-complication right from the beginning – the asset criticality assessment. A criticality assessment only needs to do two things: determine how rigorous the asset management plans need to be (based on what would happen if the asset were to fail), and determine the priority for assets to have their plans developed or updated. A criticality assessment should not cross into the area of tactics development or asset management planning – it is not an RCM or FMECA exercise designed to look at every possible failure mode.
I often see sites fall into the trap of turning criticality assessments into a complicated risk assessment, sometimes containing dozens of columns. A criticality assessment is not a risk assessment – it’s an exercise in prioritisation. Using a risk-based methodology is important, but it’s also important to keep the focus on the maximum reasonable consequence.
If you keep reviewing an asset from every possible angle, eventually someone will talk you into accepting an alarmist scenario that’s unreasonable, and from there you’ll end up with half your assets being classed as critical. Once that happens, you end up with a massive workload of asset management plans to develop, and you’ll also find it impossible to prioritise which one to do first, meaning you’ve essentially wasted your time for no value.