Maintenance Challenges Facing Asset Intensive Industries

Optimising maintenance is critical for organisations in asset-intensive sectors such as Oil & Gas and Mining. Failure to implement a balanced, optimal maintenance regime can increase an organisation’s costs, interrupt production and compromise its reputation. However, organisations face a range of challenges implementing such a regime.

Maintenance Challenges include:

  • Balancing the cost of maintenance against the cost of failure (resisting the temptation to cut corners and elevate the risk of breakdowns that can cost an organisation millions of dollars).
  • Working to a cycle that ensures reactive maintenance and preventative maintenance are scheduled at appropriate times to ensure reliability (many organisations find it particularly hard to manage preventative maintenance, scheduling and spend).
  • Running effective ‘end of day’ processes that capture data about a maintenance failure, how the organisation fixed it and the associated cost (this cost data needs to include the measurable costs of labour, materials, plant and equipment and less measurable costs such as loss of production and damage to reputation. An organisation can then analyse this data to optimise its preventative maintenance regime, its reliability costings and its overall cost of ownership).
  • Implementing scheduling that optimises the use of labour, plant, equipment and materials. As a result, they find it difficult to effectively allocate internal resources, external contractors and contractors that may be shared between different teams – for example, a contractor that may be required by a group that undertakes continuous maintenance and a turnaround group that has peaks and troughs of maintenance activity.

A lack of an integrated maintenance strategy – and the ‘helicopter view’ such a strategy provides – leads inevitably to waste, duplication and inefficiency. For example, when an organisation schedules a scaffolding job, a team will arrive as scheduled to erect the structure. A couple of days later, another team will arrive to use the scaffolding to complete the maintenance work.The initial team will then return within the next couple of days to tear the scaffolding down.

Companies cannot effectively coordinate maintenance across different departments using different budgets to complete different activities. Different departments also typically use different products to manage activities such as scheduling – for example, a turnaround group may require a market-leading scheduling tool that, for a maintenance group, may be the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. These tools characteristically do not talk to each other – further reinforcing the siloed approach that compromises the pursuit of maintenance efficiency.

So how can asset-intensive organisations resolve these issues? In our next blog, we will discuss how these organisations can pull together maintenance processes, teams and data to derive efficiency benefits that can equate to millions of dollars.