If a colleague makes the comment to you, “I can't handle it anymore, we're working in an ageing facility full of ageing assets”, what do you immediately think of?
If you're like most of us, you'd probably picture a facility built in the 1920s with run down equipment and buildings almost collapsing under their own weight. In some cases you'd be right, and I have worked in facilities that dated back to early last century with equipment and processes that would slot right into the set of a Mad Max movie.
But the issue of “Ageing Assets” also applies to those managing brand new, freshly commissioned and state of the art facilities. “How can that be?” I hear you ask.
To answer that, first we must look at and define what is an "ageing asset”?
The term “ageing assets” can be misleading. The term does not necessarily mean that the equipment or facility is old in years. Ageing is not only about how old an item is, but is also referring to its condition and how that condition is changing over time. Ageing is the effect whereby a component suffers some form of deterioration and / or damage (usually, but not necessarily, associated with time in service) with an increasing likelihood of failure.
The significance of this deterioration and damage relates to the potential effect on the equipment’s functionality, availability, reliability and safety. Just because an item of equipment is old does not necessarily mean that it's significantly deteriorated and damaged. There are many examples of
“old” equipment and facilities still remaining fit for purpose yet newer equipment showing accelerated deterioration or obsolescence.
Every facility or piece of equipment can begin ageing even before it's commissioned. Newly commissioned facilities may have control systems and software that have become obsolete, superseded, or requiring updates even before the plant is commissioned. Equipment that has been poorly transported or stored prior to installation may have deteriorated or lost performance even before its first use.
Generally, the more “hi-tech” the equipment or facility is, the quicker “obsolescence” becomes an issue requiring management. How many times have you bought an electronic device such as a PC, laptop or television, only to find that before you have unboxed it, there is a better, faster, shinier model already released. Your brand new device is no longer the current model and has suddenly become “obsolete” and no longer kept in stock by the store.
All assets are required to be managed correctly to maintain their fitness for purpose and to manage their “obsolescence”.
Our next in the asset management series will discuss "What is your decision making process?".