Balance Asset Management Objectives Wisely
EP Editorial Staff | March 26, 2019
By Drew D. Troyer, CRE, Contributing Editor
In my two most-recent columns (Jan. and Feb. 2019), I discussed the importance of skills, behavior, and knowledge in achieving reliability and asset-management objectives. This month, I focus on the role wisdom plays in managing those objectives.
One may have skills to carry out a particular asset-management task. One may have behavioral tendencies and characteristics to execute properly and gain job satisfaction from it. One may possess knowledge to determine if the skills for executing the task are truly appropriate for producing desired results. It takes wisdom, however, to determine whether performing a particular task should take precedence over spending resources elsewhere. Let’s dive somewhat deeper.
In the past, terms such as asset management and reliability management, among others, have largely served as synonyms for maintenance. Most serious players in the asset-management field recognize the importance of a lifecycle-based approach, i.e., designing, acquiring, operating, and maintaining for reliability. Asset management is the seat of a three-legged stool. If any of the “legs” is weak, the process fails. Enter “wisdom,” which, while built on knowledge, skills, and behaviors, can’t be effectively taught. It can only be coached and learned through experience, often the hard-knock kind. Consider the following examples.
As a senior asset manager:
I could authorize shortcuts in the design, manufacture, installation, and commissioning of a new plant or equipment. I could cut corners in various areas, i.e., safety, reliability, operability, maintainability, environmental. I might even save some money, receive a bonus, be promoted. Conversely, I could gold-plate the design and de-risk everything to the nth degree, exceeding budget across the board. As a leader, though, I benefit, as does the organization, when I have the wisdom to optimize cost and time versus reliability to maximize profits and achieve the health, safety, and environmental aspects of the mission.
I could allow operations to race our equipment to make up a production deficit in a given month. It would make the bosses happy (at least that month), and I might get a bonus. As a seasoned manager, however, I have the wisdom to understand that the added strain on the equipment would, in all likelihood, simply make matters worse in subsequent months. I also have the wisdom and courage to make the right operational decisions, as well as the ability to communicate why it’s better for the business to take our lumps one month and rectify problems that cause a shortfall, instead of compounding our problems by racing equipment to fail.
Similar examples abound, many related to deferring or not executing maintenance correctly. These scenarios require wisdom and knowledge of the cross-functional nature of asset management to make and implement optimal decisions. Of course, wisdom also requires intestinal fortitude to be effective. Do you have what it takes? EP
Drew Troyer is a senior manager with T.A. Cook Consultants, The Woodlands, TX. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.