The Curse of Criticality

Criticality is one of the most misapplied and misunderstood methodologies in a reliability practitioners arsenal today. Personally I am absolutely astounded by the continual use of criticality approaches to select assets for an improvement process. Don't misunderstand me, I like the idea, and I believe it has a lot of very powerful uses in reliability. Just not as an asset selection process - and particularly not for RCM or any other form of maintenance strategy approach. It goes like this... The newly trained RCM faciltiator takes the initiative to push forward the program by spending time developing a criticality ranking of his asset systems and then selecting the most critical (hence the most important) to begin the work of RCM. He works diligently, with some of his colleagues, and maybe he takes two weeks to get it done. (Total of 10 4 hour meetings)  Then what...? Whats wrong with this picture? In my experience critical assets (or systems) are generally known in the first place. Secondly, they are generally the first to receive resources, cash, time and whatever else they need to make sure they are running okay. Last, they are often pretty reliable anyway!!! So, the hard working facilitator goes to his manager and says "Here boss, you will be happy to know that this critical asset, which was running reliably, is going to keep on running reliably!" And his boss says what? "Thanks, now get out" I have other concerns about criticality at a system level, most of which have convinced me that it is not even possible let alone practical, but the whole issue of momentum, management support and getting projects started really tops them all. The Political Element Like everything else at work there is a political element to this. We (RCM Practitioners) realize that a post RCM analysed asset will bemore reliable than a pre-analysis asset. Period.But our bosses often do not... So what are they interested in? 1. revenue increases, 2. Cost reductions, 3. Risk mitigation and 4. Knowledge increases; generally in that order. The moral of the story? Don't waste time trying to build support by choosing the reliable important assets, start with the unreliable poor performing assets. Go for the ones that have benefits already built in to their current levels of performance. It is far easier (from my experience) to build support for something when you walk in the door with $1 million of forecast revenue increases than with a "more reliable important asset". Wait.. I hear you cry "But thats reactive, we're supposed to be proactive!" Yup, I agree. But we are where we are, and before we can start working on tomorrows problems (proactivity) we need to fix the headaches of today.
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  • <p>I would like to respectfully disagree.</p> <p>I agree that a criticality assessment that does not include a complete set of criteria that represent the values of the facility will lead to an incorrect ranking of critical assets. However, if the criteria is properly select, the criticality assessment is so fundamental to the process of developing an Asset Management program that it cannot be missed.</p> <p>In my experiences, the assumptions about what is most critical at a facility are usually incorrect. See: <a href=""></a> and let me know what you think.</p>


  • <p>Hi Marc,</p> <p>Thanks for the comment. Please - no need for respectful disagreement... disrespectful raging disagreement is fine with me! (Business should be passionate after all)</p> <p>I think you have missed my points, these were:</p> <p>True criticality means you need to understand not only what the asset do but also how they fail.</p> <p>This means that a true criticality assessment needs to cover ALL the functions, not just the primary function, and needs to cover all the failure modes of those functions.</p> <p>If you don't do this then it isnt relative criticality, its just more misguided noise in the asset management area.</p> <p>Second, if you are trying to get a lot of momentum for your project then criticality is not the choice.</p> <p>Analyzing important assets gives you far less short term value than analyzing poor performing assets. (And in the mind of management a far greater reason to keep going)</p> <p>Cheers...</p>


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