Maintenance strategy from the executive level: An investment in your bottom line

Most drivers take their vehicles in for maintenance every few months or few thousand kilometres to keep them running smoothly. Regular maintenance also reduces the risk of a breakdown — especially during a critical point of a journey such as in a remote area or on a busy highway.

Maintaining assets is no different. Asset intensive industries such as mining and power have thousands of maintainable assets. A breakdown in any one piece of equipment can have far-reaching implications across the chain of production, causing delays that cost time and money. Employees’ health and safety are also at risk if an asset fails unexpectedly.

Yet, despite the importance of a good asset maintenance strategy, we often hear from clients that the journey to implementation isn’t straightforward. For this series, we look at how best to introduce maintenance strategies to your organisation, practical tips for implementing a strategy and lessons learned from decades of global experience. We’ll cover:

  • Determining asset criticality
  • Building a new maintenance strategy and making it effective
  • Understanding the true cost of your strategy from a budget perspective
  • Determining the efficiency of your maintenance strategy
  • The challenges of creating effective maintenance strategies using traditional tools

Before we get into the details of how to implement a maintenance strategy, we first need to gain the buy-in of the organisation. How do you communicate the importance of an effective maintenance strategy to decision makers? What can you do to help business leaders understand the role and impact that an optimised asset maintenance strategy can have on the organization’s bottom line?

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Communicating the value: An investment in the long term

Maintenance is a major expense for asset-intensive industries such as mining. The mining industry has faced intense cost pressures in the past decade, as volatile commodity prices squeeze profits. In looking for ways to reduce expenses, a growing number of mining companies have discovered that investing in preventive maintenance can save money in the long run. By determining what are your assets criticalities, decisions can be made about which assets to prioritize when it comes to maintenance to ensure your operation continues uninterrupted.

A great example of this is a gold mining company with operating mines in Canada. The company saw downtime during COVID-19 as an opportunity to perform eight weeks of maintenance care on its critical mobile equipment assets. Utilising Orien, consultants at Ausenco worked alongside the company to achieve a healthy level of backlog across 20 assets and reduced mainte­nance backlog by 42% in less than two months.

Results such as this highlight the impact that these strategies can have on the bottom line. The next challenge is communicating them in a way enables business leaders to clearly see the value.

Gaining buy-in

One of the biggest challenges of bringing a comprehensive asset optimization strategy to your organisation is getting buy-in from top management and employees. However, once executives and employees are shown the benefits of an optimised maintenance strategy — including the lower costs, higher productivity of assets and reduced risks for the operations and employees — it seems like an obvious choice. Here are some tips on how to get that message across:

  • Share the vision: When seeking buy-in, it’s crucial to ensure that the decision makers in your organisation understand the bigger vision, which is to proactively manage cost, performance and risk. It’s not unlike when we take our vehicles in for regular maintenance: We want to know what work is being done and why, to feel confident when we drive away that we made the right investment in our car and for our health and safety.
  • Involve key personnel: When introducing a maintenance strategy, we find the best results come when an organization involves its people from the beginning. Rely on the expertise of front-line employees to help determine the best maintenance processes and procedures. Senior management should be trained on asset management and how it can be used to analyse assets and make informed decisions.
  • Consider the value of software: Asset management software plays a key role in helping companies gain a holistic view of their machinery and equipment; ensuring they operate in an efficient, cost-effective way throughout their expected lifetime. As your operation grows, managing essential assets in an spreadsheet no longer provides reliable insight into critical maintenance activities that keep operations running. Taking advantage of an integrated asset management tool will help keep your strategy on track and make it robust enough to handle changes in your team or operating environment.

Asset management, by definition, is about balancing cost, performance and risk. Communicating the impact that an appropriate asset maintenance strategy can have on these variables is key to successful implementation.

In our next article, we look at how you determine the criticality of your assets and start designing a strategy to optimise their maintenance.

Our experience

Orien is a cloud-based asset management solution relied on by the world’s largest asset-intensive industries. Developed by Ausenco in collaboration with leading industry experts, Orien makes it easy to consolidate, collaborate on, and control maintenance strategies and budgets across your organization to keep assets working for you. Orien’s clients manage lifecycle costs and reduce uncertainty by understanding the critical activities that keep their operation running. With teams located worldwide and 24/7 support, Orien puts you on the path to better asset performance.

Our team of experts are ready to help, reach out to Sergio Urra to learn more.