The Ten-Question “Audit” - Part Two

By: Matthew Grant

In Part One of this series, we talked about the first five questions in Bluefield’s Ten-Question AM Assessment tool, our attempt to produce a short, simple way for sites to focus on their main value-adding improvement opportunities. In this second and final part, we’ll cover the final five questions.

Question 6: Do you complete your maintenance schedules with a high level of discipline, including "closing the loop" to manage defects and subsequent work?

We often joke in Bluefield that most businesses seem to have a six-step Work Management process, at least on paper, but in reality, they often complete only four-and-a-half steps! The most effective and mature sites have very high schedule compliance, execute every aspect of their tasks, and identify all defects as a subsequent notification or work order so they can be corrected as soon as possible. They also review their schedule compliance each week to continually improve their practices and service sheets.

Like planning and scheduling, the final steps of execution, close out, analysis and improvement are best observed in the field. We’ve previously posted an article on what we call “The Defect Challenge”; it’s a great way to check your assets for defects and see if they’ve actually made it into your system as a work order. We also recommend checking a selection of completed service sheets, are they completed with enough detail to identify and act on defects, or are they just tick-and-flick?

Question 7: Are there visible signs of a culture of proactive maintenance in your workplace and across your assets?

Many of the most important activities to maintain assets can't easily be written into service sheets. If the workforce has a culture of proactive maintenance and equipment ownership, they will be dedicated to maintaining the equipment in good condition without needing to be prompted.

Evaluating your culture is almost impossible to do with KPI’s. You need to walk around and look at the assets and work environment. Is everything clean? Are proactive measures like preventing hoses and cables rubbing together in place? Is the workforce talking about doing a quality job and holding each other to account? If you can see these signs, you can often overcome a lack of process. But If you can’t see them, no process or system or piece of technology is going to help you improve.

Question 8: Does the information in your asset management business systems reflect the real world?

Without accurate information, it is difficult to effectively manage your assets. If maintainers and operators are unaware of changes or the true condition of assets, it presents not only a cost or downtime risk, but a safety one as well.

We’re talking about more than just the data in the CMMS here, although spares are obviously critical. Keeping the configuration up-to-date is important too, not just drawings etc, but any changes to software and other parameters are properly managed and recorded. Temporary changes like bypassing sensors or limit switches are also included in this process.

So, like the other questions, it’s important to go and see this for yourself. It’s also worth checking on your asset health and integrity information – you might have defects in your systems raised from PM checks, but what about the results of condition monitoring and structural integrity inspections?

Question 9: Can you demonstrate continual and sustainable improvements to your asset reliability, your processes, and your team?

No asset management system is ever perfect. A team must be dedicated to making small, continuous changes to improve asset reliability and performance. These improvements should be sustainable, and the team should also be dedicated to continually improving their own knowledge and skills. It's also possible to achieve this without any reliability engineering support - maintainers can do this themselves!

Question 10: Are you minimising the effort and resources dedicated to managing breakdowns and unplanned failures?

So far, you will have noticed that we’re staying away from using metrics and KPIs, since you should already be using these. However, one that we do recommend looking at is the percentage of your maintenance downtime, costs, and labour that you dedicate to breakdowns.

Breakdowns and unplanned maintenance events are by far the best indicator of whether a business is really in control of its assets. Many of us consider them to be a better reliability metric than Mean Time Between Failure. We’ve put some specific figures in our assessment tool for you to refer to.

By answering these questions openly and honestly with themselves, sites can quickly identify the areas of improvement that will add the most value to their business, and focus their efforts on understanding how to reach the level they think they need to be at.

Download the Ten-Question Assessment Worksheet here.