For those in the field of asset management, the terms asset integrity and asset reliability are often used interchangeably to refer to the general condition of assets or equipment. However, there is an important distinction between the two that many people aren’t aware of.
The two concepts are closely linked—you certainly wouldn’t want to use equipment that was unreliable, even if it was entirely intact—but they each have their own definitions and applications in the field of asset management. Let’s consider taking a look at the difference between asset integrity and asset reliability and what you can do to ensure both (in the context of reliability centred maintenance).
In terms of plant reliability, asset reliability is essentially a measure of the asset’s availability to perform its required functions. How often does a machine or piece of equipment fail to operate at full capacity, whether it’s due to breakdowns or other sources of downtime?
The more reliable an asset is, the better it is able to perform its function on demand. In industrial environments, assets such as machinery and electronics can be extremely expensive; keeping them available for use reduces costs in several ways.
A lack of asset reliability could cost you both time and money, so businesses typically invest in asset-reliability and maintenance programs. In fact, many companies have a dedicated team that monitors maintenance levels daily.
When it comes to risk management, asset reliability plays a huge role in mitigating potential losses. For example, if your company has invested $10 million into capital improvements but your machines are only operating at 70 percent efficiency, you might be risking hundreds of thousands of dollars per year—money that could go toward other investments or shareholder value.
The most common measures of asset reliability include MTBF (mean time between failures) and MTTR (mean time to repair). These metrics allow you to compare similar pieces of equipment based on their level of reliability. By measuring failure rates over a period of time, engineers can pinpoint which areas need improvement and develop solutions that prevent further problems.
Assets such as machinery and electronics can be extremely expensive; keeping them available for use reduces costs in several ways. A lack of asset reliability could cost you both time and money, so businesses typically invest in asset-reliability training and maintenance programs.
At its core, asset integrity management is an attempt to reduce or eliminate unplanned downtime. Since corrosion is a major cause of these costly incidents, asset integrity management includes corrosion management as a key component. As an example, early in 2017, Marine Nationale’s helicopter carrier FS Charles de Gaulle suffered heavy damage while refuelling at sea due to a fire started by fuel leaking from fuel lines. Today, asset integrity management practices are applied to all assets with a significant risk of unplanned downtimes, such as aircraft carriers and offshore oil rigs.
An example of a company practising asset integrity management would be an airline that schedules routine inspections based on risk analysis and overhauls only when necessary, instead of following a schedule regardless of whether an engine or landing gear has reached its end-of-life point. While these examples are specific to aircraft engines and airframes, similar strategies can be applied to other assets as well.
As an example, mining operations may replace pumps when they fail due to corrosion instead of following a set replacement schedule regardless of condition. In all cases, asset integrity management is about reducing unplanned downtime. This can be done by replacing components before they fail (as in many corrosion control programs) or by taking steps to ensure components do not fail in the first place.
Risk Based Inspection is one method of inspecting assets at risk of failure before they reach their end-of-life point. For instance, while regular inspections ensure a fleet of trucks will continue running smoothly, RBI takes things one step further by identifying which truck might break down next so maintenance staff know where to focus their efforts.
RBI also helps identify risks early so preventive measures can be taken to avoid costly failures. For example, if a pump fails because corrosion caused its seals to leak, RBI makes sure corrosion isn’t hiding anywhere else in the system that could cause more problems later. Using RBI means you don’t wait until something breaks before you take action; you take action proactively.
Examples of when asset integrity takes priority over asset reliability
There is a fine line between asset integrity and asset reliability. Both are important, but there are circumstances where asset integrity takes priority over asset reliability. When pressure-vessel valves malfunction, it’s important to fix them immediately. Otherwise, you risk disaster.
If a tank is threatening to explode due to corrosion or mechanical failures that have gone undetected for some time, it’s also vital to fix them immediately—before a fire or an explosion occurs. However, if your process requires reliable equipment to keep operating at all times, then you need to prioritise equipment reliability over asset integrity.
For instance, in order to run a continuous-processing plant effectively, you might need to prioritise equipment reliability over asset integrity. If you have an asset with a low mean time between failure (MTBF) and high repair costs, you should focus on fixing it quickly. In these cases, don’t let asset integrity trump other considerations such as safety or financial loss.
For example, if a component has a short MTBF and replacement parts are difficult to come by because they’re proprietary and not produced by third parties, a repair can be cost prohibitive. This brings us back to our original question about whether asset integrity or reliability should take precedence in any given situation. The answer lies in understanding what each term means and how each relates to your business.
Tips for achieving high levels of both assets
The most effective way to maintain high levels of asset integrity and reliability is by implementing an RCM program that includes a proactive, strategic inspection schedule and several preventative maintenance methods.
When using such a program, companies can more effectively mitigate risk, decrease downtime and improve overall productivity. If your company is seeking ways to increase operational efficiency while simultaneously lowering costs, investing in an RCM program will help accomplish these goals.
For asset integrity, regular inspections should be performed at least once every three months or as often as necessary to identify defects in order to prevent them from becoming larger problems. It’s also important to have routine visual inspections completed in addition to physical ones so you know when something needs attention without having to open it up first.
Another important aspect of regular inspections is checking materials used during manufacturing against what was specified in design documents; if they don’t match, there could be a problem with how it was built or installed. This type of defect could lead to serious issues down the road so regular checks are crucial.
Why ARaaS is the master key to asset integrity and reliability
Optimal delivers asset performance and reliability management strategies through a combination of cutting-edge tools and world-class asset management expertise – all bundled into a bespoke, ‘as-a-service’ solution.
ARaaS removes the complexity that comes with change, decreases training requirements for staff, and allows for focus on core mission-critical activities.
Going far beyond simple cost saving strategies – ARaaS is about constantly improving the performance and the reliability of your assets, and improving your ability to predict revenue and costs. Essentially, ARaaS is a one-stop solution for you, as a physical asset owner, to improve your bottom line now and into the future.
We hope you enjoyed this article, and we hope you see how it links with the broader ARaaS solution as well.
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