Selecting the right capacity structure for your asset management team


As long as asset owners have built and operated complex assets, structuring an asset management team with the right skills and capabilities has been challenging for many engineering leaders. Providing the right level of maintenance management and reliability engineering skills in a changing, resource-limited environment remains a challenge – but asking a few questions to better define your business needs can increase your levels of success. In this article, we’ll try to cover the most important questions we encounter when helping customers design the capability set and structure that will help them balance performance, cost, and risk across their entire enterprise. asset base.

1. What is the complexity and diversity of the assets for which you are responsible?

Designing an asset management team often requires balancing the efficiency (and therefore cost) of maintenance management processes with access to highly specialized reliability engineering or design skills to solve complex reliability or performance issues. Maintaining an asset base that is very complex, or one that contains many different types of assets, requires many unique analyzes and design cycles to fix reliability or performance issues. If the asset base is more homogeneous, failure and performance patterns are easier to identify and the focus should be on control, work planning and the execution process. Matching your asset management team’s skill allocation to asset base requirements will increase team performance, job satisfaction, and overall costs.

2. To what extent are assets distributed?

When selecting which resources should be onsite and which can be shared, the geographic distribution of assets and sites is an important consideration. While front-line maintenance and operations personnel need to be close to the assets, placing maintenance or reliability engineers at every site isn’t always ideal. The more specialized skills in planning and engineering are most often placed in pooled centers of excellence from where they can be deployed on sites according to specific needs, such as regulatory controls or outage management. We can reduce risk exposure by reducing travel to sites. We can optimize the availability of certain skills in asset geolocations, and determine which resources are shared across regions and which will be placed on-site permanently.

3. What role do OEMs play in your maintenance strategy?

Many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) offer maintenance service contracts and even performance warranties to asset owners. If asset owners use these features, the responsibility for managing equipment availability, sourcing spares, and scheduling labor availability shifts to the OEM service team. In an environment where a significant number of OEM service contracts are in place, the ability to manage service provider contracts and relationships will be an important requirement for the asset owner to manage their performance.

4. Are you an OEM with a service strategy?

OEMs targeting a revenue stream from service or performance contracts still require all the skills in planning, labor management and reliability engineering, but what else? Transferring risk from the asset owner to the service provider requires new operational capabilities in areas such as predictive analytics, asset health monitoring, logistics planning, and contractor management. Several new business models are emerging in this space, focused on customer foreclosure and partnering with insurance players to diversify the risk profiles of new contracts. The choice of business model will determine which of these skills should be included in your maintenance capability or structure.

5. What role will your business operating model play?

Most companies have a chosen design philosophy for their operating model, defining the level of decentralization in decision-making and variability in business policies and processes. This philosophy will also influence your organization’s guidelines for infrastructure selection, business process design, organizational structure design, and systems configuration. It may be necessary to align the design of your asset management team with these principles so that the design is effectively integrated with the rest of the business. These decisions will determine how shared centers of excellence, site-level org charts, and implicit delegations of authority are used in your design.

6. Are you investing in technology to enable skills virtualization?

Adoption of connected working (CW) and augmented reality (AR) solutions is booming as companies seek to improve maintenance worker productivity, safety and satisfaction through innovative technologies. Expanding the use of CW and AR technologies can impact maintenance activities throughout the lifecycle of assets: by providing remote assistance during plant commissioning, expert and remote supervision of on-site workers during inspections, and just-in-time training of junior technicians. Investments in these technologies could have a significant impact on the placement of skills in your organization.

Choices and their consequences

In reality, there are no “right” answers, only choices and consequences that will impact your ability to design an effective, well-trained team that aligns with your organization’s overall architecture. We end with examples that show how two of our clients have built very different asset management teams over the course of their journey.

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