Optimized Maintenance, a Roadmap to Excellence

Maintaining assets is a key business process in any municipal operations. When done effectively it can result in optimal asset performance, reliability and maximize the overall return on investment in the asset. Indeed, maintenance is a key enabler of many municipalities’ vision of sustainability. Unfortunately, most Utilities still struggle at the maintenance function and many would rate their maintenance function as reactive and a sinkhole for precious dollars. Is the idea of being in control of maintenance an elusive dream? The answer is no, private companies have been able to successfully master this business process and maintain a competitive edge as well as sustainability of their businesses. Many companies (including some Utilities) have been able to take control and achieve the right mix of reactive and proactive maintenance – this optimal point is termed Optimized Maintenance. These companies are on the road to excellence and are reaping the benefits of reliable, high performance assets at a minimum overall cost of ownership. There is no magic bullet to achieve an optimized maintenance environment. It requires a clear vision of what this would look like, understanding of your current situation, implementation strategies and a road map to achieve the vision. This paper provides a structured approach and practical ideas to help Utilities develop and sustain an Optimized Maintenance environment necessary for a high performance O&M department.

A quick look at the typical asset life cycle reveals that the planning, design and construction phases add up to approximately 10% (or less) of the overall asset life. Operations and maintenance can have stewardship of the asset for up to 90% of the asset life. O&M groups can therefore have a major role to play in maximizing asset reliability, meeting performance standards/service levels and keeping overall life cycle costs to a minimum. Unfortunately, in the utility industry, the typical work environment is a reactive one with many Utilities being a long way from maximizing asset reliability and minimizing overall costs. The goal of many Utilities is to take control of the maintenance function and move away from a reactive work environment. The challenge for many of these Utilities is how do they pull themselves out of the downward spiral, get to the right balance of reactive and proactive work and be able to sustain the resulting optimized maintenance environment.

Optimized Maintenance
As most O&M practitioners are aware, there are some assets that you can run to failure (reactive maintenance) and there are some that you must work on before they fail (proactive maintenance). There is an optimal mix of reactive and proactive maintenance that provides maximum reliability and performance as well as minimum cost of ownership. The optimal mix is usually around a 25% reactive to 75% proactive split. Note that in the utility industry most Utilities find that their maintenance is usually reversed with a 75% reactive and 25% proactive. Optimized Maintenance is focused on achieving this optimal point through various maintenance concepts: planning and scheduling, preventive maintenance optimization, reliability centered maintenance, predictive maintenance, total productive maintenance and the maintenance dashboard. It is possible to realize a 30% to 40% reduction in O&M costs when you are in the zone. Fig 1 shows a graphical representation of this concept. The following five step methodology (Fig 2) provides a robust and systematic approach to implementing Optimized Maintenance:

  1. Taking Control using a practical Work Order Process
  2. Develop the enabling Integrated Technology Solution
  3. Do the Right Maintenance Tasks at the Right time
  4. Monitoring Asset Health - set up a Predictive Maintenance Program
  5. Sustaining the Optimized Maintenance environment

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