Change begins in the mind…Preservation of Assets

Every single time I go to one of the many conferences around the place, I hear some exalted speaker telling everybody something that is dead wrong! This has really grated me for a long time so I thought I would release it here in a series called "Change Begins in the Mind" For decades we have all seen the statements out there.  Asset care, asset preservation, asset health, equipment maitnenance even. All of these terms and all of the thinking that they foster, is based around a focus on what assets are, and on the prevention of failure. Three decades of RCM have taught industry that this is not correct. Think about the classic example of vibration monitoring on a forced draft fan. When we detect a level of vibration that tells us there is the potential of a bearing failure, what do we do? How can we save that asset? No way right? It is far too late for that. The subsurface crack within the races or balls has broken the surface causing the vibration that we can detect. The failure process has started, there is nothing in the world that is going to stop it. So why do we do the vibration monitoring? Easy - to prevent, minimize and mitigate the consequences of failure, not the failure itself. We do maintenance to preserve the function, not to the assets. Wedo maitnenance based on what it is that an asset or system does, not what it is. This is why asset health is misleading, and why process health is a much better approach. But isnt this all semantics? Not at all. By focusing on what an asset system does our maintenance becomes focussed on what we need / want it to do. If we maintain it based on what it is we get the situation of generic maintenance regimes, standardized maintenance schedules regardless of service all leading to... yup - over maintenance, one of the chief causes of asset failure! (not to mention uneconomic maintenance practices) We don't preserve assets, we manage failures. Small changes in thinking lead to large changes in our asset performance realities.