How do you monitor the performance of your Asset Management System?

By R. Keith Mobley, Principal SME, Life Cycle Engineering

All reliability-centered continuous improvement programs must include both a process that effectively assesses the condition of the plant’s capital assets and a monitoring process. The British Standard Institution’s Publically Available Specification (PAS-55) states “The organization shall establish, implement and maintain process(es) and/or procedure(s) to monitor and measure the performance of the asset management system and the performance and/or condition of assets and/or asset systems.”

The specification indicates your Asset Management System (AMS) must address both reactive and proactive monitoring.

Reactive Monitoring

A reactive monitoring process identifies past or existing nonconformities in the asset management system as well as any asset-related deterioration, failures or incidents. Sounds straightforward, but how do you cost-effectively monitor or measure nonconformities in either the management system or physical assets?

A comprehensive AMS includes how the corporation’s physical assets are procured, commissioned, operated, maintained and disposed of. It consists of standard processes and procedures that govern production scheduling, operations and maintenance of these assets. If you only have one asset, this is relatively simple, but how do you effectively monitor compliance to standards across the enterprise for all assets?

The most cost-effective way to monitor compliance of the processes and procedures used across the enterprise is to design or reengineer the processes with performance monitoring in mind.  An often made mistake in performance monitoring is the deployment of technology and the technically skilled people to manage it with little or no consideration of the processes or metrics used too drive performance. An alternative and less than ideal approach is to create processes that periodically audit or sample the processes, procedures and practices that are being used to plan, schedule, operate and maintain assets.

Proactive Monitoring

Proactive monitoring seeks assurance that the physical assets and the AMS are operating as intended. In reality, this requirement is the same as reactive monitoring—the only difference is timing. It’s like the difference between Root Cause Analysis and Root Cause Failure Analysis. Both are analytical tools that resolve real or potential problems—the difference is when you perform the analysis. If you perform it after the failure or incident it is reactive; if you perform it before the failure, it’s proactive. 

Again the best solution is to build monitoring and analyses into the standard work processes and procedures that are used to perform all tasks or activities that directly or indirectly affect asset performance and reliability. This is done through key performance indicators designed to measure true leading and lagging indicators of asset performance and condition, as well as the work processes or procedures used to plan, schedule, operate and maintain them. This will only work with true indicators. For example, preventive maintenance compliance is only valid as a leading indicator when the right tasks are performed, at the right time and on the right asset. Otherwise it might in fact be non-value added work.

Leading and Lagging Indicators

An AMS that depends on lagging indicators is by definition reactive. To be proactive and effective the AMS must also include leading indicators that foretell non-conformance or deficiencies that can be expected at some point in the future. The mistake that too many companies make is limiting their AMS indicators to maintenance or failure-centric deficiencies. They limit their focus to things such as preventive maintenance compliance, wrench time, and maintenance planning effectiveness.  While maintenance and failure or breakdown performance is important, much more must be considered and monitored for the AMS to be effective.

At a minimum, the leading and lagging indicators must include all of the performance indicators that define the operating effectiveness and efficiency of assets, both physical and human. Indicators such as labor hours per unit, cost of goods sold, energy usage per unit, etc. are effective leading and lagging indicators that provide the means to manage assets effectively.

The obstacle we must first overcome is how to monitor and evaluate the performance and condition of critical assets and the massive volume of data that must be acquired, manipulated, interpreted and finally converted into actionable conclusions.

Many have tried to create autonomous systems—some manual and some computerized—to extract the raw data from the myriad of data systems throughout the enterprise. Even the few who have managed to fully integrated their enterprise information management system and have automated most of the process still need the data interpreted and corrective actions determined. 

Once structured performance monitoring is in place, the financial opportunities that lie within your asset management system will become apparent and mitigating and eliminating these limiting factors will lead to real performance and continuous improvement. The result is greater asset utilization and a higher return on net assets at the lowest possible cost of ownership.

Keith Mobley has earned an international reputation as one of the premier consultants in the fields of plant performance optimization, reliability engineering, predictive maintenance, and effective management. He has more than 35 years of direct experience in corporate management, process design and troubleshooting. For the past 16 years, he has helped hundreds of clients worldwide achieve and sustain world-class performance. Keith can be reached at

© Life Cycle Engineering, Inc.

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