Asset care – a strategic imperative to make organisations more globally competitive

asset care
Executive Summary
Experience has shown that the absence of asset management basics often prevents companies from moving towards a sustained best practice culture. This could spell potential disaster for those organisations that want to be more globally competitive. To counteract this, a more holistic approach to implementing and sustaining asset care best practices was born. In this article, asset care specialists Arend Brink and Bill Hughes take a closer look at this approach, including the key success factors that have surfaced globally.


In the past, management structures were often silo-based and conflicting. This resulted in high inefficiencies and maintenance costs per production unit. The Japanese soon realised the importance of working as integrated teams with a common frame of reference and shared goals. They therefore promoted this in the TPM concept.

This idea of integrated teams has been realigned to accommodate a need to be more profit focused, realise the potential of supporting computerised systems and proactively expand the reliability maintenance approach. Alignment also encompassed eliminating on-the-job hazards caused largely by rapid expansion and the drop in technical skills and experience.

The resultant strategy, which is closely aligned with the ISO55000 set of standards, recognises that while quick results are essential to achieve programme buy-in and support, these results often aren’t sustained and personnel quickly revert to old habits.

Asset care strategyasset care
To combat these negative effects, a comprehensive and holistic asset care strategy should be formulated and signed off by the executive. A range of key performance indicators implemented at all organisational levels would ensure compliance. Failure to do this invariably negates the programme with the support systems viewed as inaccurate scoreboards.

A people-system relationship is as fundamental to modern asset management as a production-maintenance relationship. 

A people-system relationship is as fundamental to modern asset management as a production-maintenance relationship. Companies striving for high manufacturing efficiencies should view the asset management function holistically and not delegate responsibility to the most likely department (e.g. engineering). Consequently, the philosophy is based on a series of key success factors. Companies maintaining an asset management function — particularly in the continuous process industry — need to consider learning points that have surfaced globally over the past 20 years:

  • An organisational structure supporting effective communication and clear responsibilities between the functions of maintenance, production, materials management and other departments
  • Sound technical skills at all engineering structure levels
  • An effective continuous improvement ethic linked to financial results tracking
  • A strong leading and managing change culture
  • A solid reliability-based maintenance foundation backed by support elements and underpinned by adherence to world class manufacturing basics: 5S cleaning and organising, visual management, teamwork, etc
  • A talent management support system
  • An internal assessment system addressing all the above to enable internal ownership of progress measurement and subsequent action plans supported by external-based assessments

Symptoms of ineffective asset management
Companies showing the following symptoms often have difficulty optimising their assets. If they do obtain performance, they rarely manage to sustain it:

  • A traditional approach to maintenance (‘You run the machines, we fix them’)
  • Silo-based structures (operations vs maintenance) — no cross-functional goal alignment
  • No effective root cause analysis (equipment failure is automatically the engineer’s fault)
  • No focused improvement initiative driving the asset management function to contribute to company profits (no measurable results from maintenance effort and maintenance is seen as a cost, not a profit centre)
  • Poor teamwork and managers managing one level down (no or little ownership of assets at shop floor level)
  • The CMMS system is ‘window-dressing’ (system fed with information — often inaccurate — to update management reports)
  • Little or no maintenance forward planning — most work is executed reactively, leading to escalating costs, more breakdowns, compromising preventative maintenance and generally creating an unhappy working environment

External factors
In many countries it’s been noted that the absence of asset management basics often prevents a company from moving towards a sustained best practice improvement culture. Elements such as strong leadership, leading and managing change, and a sound rewards and recognition system play as much a part in realising an effective asset management system as the technical aspects. Most failures are because of competency-related issues as opposed to machine root causes. This inevitably means that equipment reliability isn’t always impacted by design characteristics, but rather by external factors compromising machine availability.

These external factors are aggravated by fewer technical skills and experience currently available in all industries. Retaining good technical skills is especially difficult in fast developing markets such as the mining industry. This situation demands greater focus to iron out potential hazards when developing modern reliability maintenance programmes.

The absence of asset management basics often prevents a company from moving towards a sustained best practice culture. 

Asset management as a holistic business function will become critical for many industrial companies throughout the world to sustain high-performance levels and execute a cost-effective asset management programme.

Download the white paper The economic significance of effective equipment maintenance for a detailed look at the elements of an asset care strategy, the various maintenance processes, and skills development.


This resource has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained herein without obtaining specific professional advice. Competitive Capabilities International (CCi) does not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this resource or for any decision based on it.

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