Knowledge Base Quick Tips

Identifying Critical and Non Critical Industrial Equipment

When it comes to maintaining industrial equipment efficiently, it’s important that you always prioritize those assets that are the most critical for the operation of your business. This will ensure that you maximize your return on the time and money expended on maintenance, as critical assets, when selected properly, represent the best opportunity for you to further your company’s goals and objectives. The following tips will help you determine asset criticality ( how important an asset is ), decide how they should be handled differently, and use enterprise asset management software to help you through the maintenance process.

Determining the Criticality of an Asset

Heavy Duty Drilling Machinery – critical in construction process

While it’s a very subjective exercise, one way of thinking about the criticality of an industrial equipment is to calculate the effect that its failure would have on your business and determine which equipment or machinery would bring about the greatest consequences. Only you can determine what level of failure is tolerable for your business, but in general if these assets have a large effect on customer happiness, brand loyalty or productivity, for example, then it is probably critical.

Another way that businesses and enterprises determine the criticality of assets is through bottleneck analysis. With this technique, you map out and identify all the equipment and machinery dependencies that occur throughout your business operations. The critical assets are those that need to be fully operational to avoid a bottleneck that threatens to slow the process down.

For example, the presses in a printing operation are highly critical because without them, the rest of the business can’t continue. Cranes are another example of critical asset, which are used on factory floors, on ports, in construction industry as well as in a variety of other industries for transporting heavy goods.

In general, a critical asset is one that would have catastrophic health, safety, environmental or customer-related consequences if it failed, whereas the failure of an asset with low criticality would have negligible consequences.

Classifications of Assets by Criticality

The following rating of asset criticality can serve as a start :

Criticality A

Shuts down the entire plant, multiple production lines, safety & / or environmental reasons, equipment affecting multiple zones or areas. Equipment classified as highly profitable or with high customer service needs or high volume demands. Equipment with high repair cost when they fail.

Criticality B

Some reduced capacity, Equipment that can be bypassed economically for a period. Components on a single line.

Criticality C

Comfort items (HVAC, air make-up units, etc.)

Criticality D

No impact either because of redundancy or not directly involved in the process.

Treating Critical Assets Differently

To ensure that you only expend your precious resources on the more important assets, you need to treat the assets differently. The following are the ways that you should be favouring the more critical assets:

1. Maintenance Scheduling. The assets that are more critical should take precedence over other assets when it comes to important tasks like maintenance.

2. Asset Replacement. The more critical an asset, the more funding it should get for new parts or replacement. In general, it’s more important that critical assets work “as new”.

3. Life-cycle Costing. By tracking the cost of ownership of an asset, or the life-cycle cost, you’ll get an accurate asset costing that includes the cost of maintaining the asset throughout it’s lifetime.

4. Failure Analysis. There are a few different techniques for analysing how assets have failed, how they might fail in the future, and what can be done about it. Of course, these techniques are often time-consuming and expensive, and should be used for critical assets.

How Enterprise Asset Management Software Can Help

Factory engineer using mainpac eam in drinks production plant

Most Enterprise Asset Management ( EAM ) and CMMS softwares has the ability to help you prioritise your maintenance work based on how industrial equipment or machinery is. Some have numeric fields for assets that have health, safety or environmental impacts, and others will have user-definable priority fields that give you more flexibility. Some systems like Mainpac AI can also calculate the probability of failure and relative risk so that you always know when to schedule maintenance.

Since most companies don’t have an unlimited amount of funds, it’s important to be able to separate the critical assets from the non-critical ones. Once you do that, you can focus your resources and attention on those assets that really matter.

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