What does it really mean when someone says you need to have better asset and maintenance management? Does it mean that you need the latest technology in an attempt to streamline your operations or perhaps just a few simple adjustments to your current practices?

Because of the economic conditions we have all lived through these past few years, asset management has gained important exposure for its impact on an organization’s bottom line. Moreover, intelligent leaders in all industries, have recognized that the way you run your facilities operations is often indicative of how the company as a whole is run.

Asset management and maintenance management are inseparable even though they are actually different functions. Maintenance management is a subset of asset management. However, without good maintenance management practices, asset management cannot be effective. This becomes clearer if we take a look at each area.

What is Better Maintenance Management?

Better maintenance management means that facility, plant, government, utility, amusement park, sports arena and property managers etc., have implemented practices designed to:

  • Extend the useful lifecycle of assets.
  • Make sure that equipment remains or is more energy efficient.
  • Decrease the frequency of breakdowns occur.
  • Minimize downtime.
  • Do more with the same amount of resources (labor costs are planned, minimal unplanned overtime).

Finding the Maintenance Management Balance

In order to do this, maintenance management must find the correct balance between:

  • Maintenance expenditures and methodologies such as preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, condition based maintenance etc. Each operation is unique and it is possible that more than one methodology may be needed. The decision should be based upon the objectives above.
  • Proactive and reactive maintenance. Reactive maintenance is almost always more expensive then proactive maintenance but it will never go away as something, somewhere will inevitably break down when least expected. Some companies strive for an 80/20 ratio of proactive/reactive maintenance. This may or may not be achievable in every organization but it is important that mechanisms for greater proactive maintenance are put in place.
  • Technology and knowledge earned through experience. Technology tools such as a CMMS, vibration analysis, infrared thermography, can provide valuable expense savings through a combination of better diagnostics and automation. However, an over reliance on technology tools over knowledge and instinct will open the door for the unexpected and unplanned major repair or replacement.

What is Better Asset Management

The simplest way to describe asset management is that it is the knowledge derived from asset maintenance plus the planning and actions tools needed to ascertain the greatest organizational impact on the company’s bottom line.

For better asset management, executives and managers need to:

  • Know their assets: Exactly what assets they have, where they are, what condition they are in, their maintenance history and trend. This ensures asset managers have the most updated information for repair, refurbish or replacement decisions.
  • Accurately forecast capital budget needs: Accurate capital analysis and planning helps the organization to plan cash flow so money is available for planned purchases or planned major repairs. When poor maintenance and/or asset knowledge leads to unexpected cash needs, this will take away money from planned asset improvements. Whether it is a roof or a boiler, cash flow is critical for all organizations.
  • Know where all the asset documents are for vendors and assets: Using an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system or similar product will allow contract, blueprint, warranty, contact information as well as any other documents that can be scanned to be electronically attached to the assets file for ease of use.
  • Create a knowledge base: Make sure that the knowledge accumulated by the experienced maintenance professional is being captured and will not be lost when the aging maintenance professional retires. Keeping an accurate work order detail history that includes what work was performed, by whom and the results will enable this knowledge to be transferred or trained to others.
  • Establish best practices: This is the determination of which asset maintenance practices work best to establish standard operating procedures across multiple facilities. This may include the use of mobile handheld devices or a recommended inspection schedule for specified assets. Still other assets may be identified as having a need for more specialized predictive technologies. The key is, management has the historical information available to make smart decisions.

So what is better asset and maintenance management? The answer is the ability to make intelligent decisions about how to maximize the useful lifecycle of an asset while at the same time balancing technology and costs over the long term. Better asset and maintenance management is a course of action taken to constantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations.