Breaking from a Vicious Cycle of Maintenance Strategy
The oil and gas industry is going through a tough period and many companies are downsizing. Oil and Gas UK reports that jobs in the North Sea have been reduced by 1/3 over the last three years. Unfortunately, we can see this trend all over world for the oil and gas industry. This reduction in staff has a major impact in the maintenance strategy.
How can downsizing impact the maintenance strategy?
The main problem is that we still need to maintain many assets. Clearly, limited number of maintenance resources implies you can only perform a limited number of maintenance tasks. The result is in a growing maintenance backlog since we do not have the required number of resources to take care of all the work.
To add to this challenge, companies might enter a vicious cycle of maintenance strategy. A reactive maintenance repair, triggered by equipment failure, gets priority over a routine maintenance. This delay is added to the growing maintenance backlog. Being unable to perform planned maintenance means that the condition of the systems cannot be captured. Not knowing the condition of a system, decreases our ability to identify an issue earlier, increasing the probability of unplanned shutdowns which then will cause more delays to routine work.
Breaking the cycle!
To break from this Vicious Maintenance Strategy Cycle companies need to ask:
- Do we need to perform all planned maintenance activities in our maintenance backlog? Can we reduce the number of low-priority planned maintenance given our limiting number of resources?
- Do we understand the impact of postponing certain Planned Maintenance work?
Understand the risks involved with delaying maintenance work is fundamental to ensure the health of a business. This can only be achieved using strategic analytical methods such as Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM), Risk-Based Inspection (RBI), Performance Forecasting (RAM analysis) and Safety Integrity Level (SIL). With these methods, companies can easily identify what to prioritise and when to do the work. In addition, combining these methods to a Plan-Do-Check approach (PDCA) provides a powerful platform for making informed decisions about the risks involved in delaying planned maintenance work – an evergreen Asset Performance Management.
Being able to answer these questions will ensure the right resources are placed to the right maintenance tasks.