Our critical assets are the ones that get the most attention in our plants. They are considered the main drivers of production as without them, output can stop which directly affects the profitability of the plant. Quite often, these can be thought of as the heart of the operation as they need to be working all the time to ensure that the entire unit (human body) functions.

Similar to the heart in the human body, we regularly get checkups especially if we have family members who may have experienced heart complications in the past, our equipment is no different. We need to provide them with regular checkups (condition monitoring techniques), and these are given more attention if there is a history of failure for these critical assets.  In essence, we can compare the heart of the human body to critical assets in our industrial plant or operations.

This 3-part series will dive into its first installment of why critical assets are important, it will focus on developing an oil analysis program and finally the benefits of an optimized oil analysis program.

Why focus on critical assets?

Shouldn’t every asset be critical? Not exactly.

Engineer in question

Semi-critical assets

Let’s realign with the human body to truly understand this concept. If someone has one malfunctioning kidney, it does not mean that the entire body has stopped working. Hopefully, the other kidney is still working and able to filter the stuff it needs to keep healthy. In this case, the other kidney is a secondary asset. It will still allow the body to function, but it also means that the properly functioning kidney has twice the amount of work to do.

For our equipment, we can think of having secondary pumps or other components that come online if the main component fails. Now, while these may not be critical assets, they are still important as they have a function to execute. If they don’t come online, then our equipment can have a shutdown period or reduced production. These are considered semi-critical assets.

While these assets do not require as much attention as the critical assets, they are still important. As such, they would require slightly less attention compared to the critical assets. We will dive further into the frequency and types of analyses for these semi-critical assets further on in this article.

Non-critical assets

Back to the human body, we all have fingernails and toenails. What happens if we lose one of them?

It’s not considered a huge loss (maybe more of an aesthetic loss) but they will grow back eventually (fingers and toes crossed). While they are missing, they are not preventing the body from performing any of the regular functions. These are what we consider non-critical assets.

In our industrial plants or operations, the non-critical assets are the components that can come offline but not disrupt production or directly affect the bottom line. Even though they are non-critical, they still perform a function in the entire operation, so they should not be ignored.

Critical assets

Unlike semi-critical and non-critical assets, critical assets are those which directly impact the operation of the plant. For instance, if a turbine in a power plant goes down, this will affect the output capacity of the plant and may even render some areas without power. Especially in the instance of a power plant, when a turbine goes down, the power plant may be fined for not providing the contracted amount of power. Therefore, this is one asset that we want to ensure is available most of the time.

By constantly monitoring the health of the lubricants for critical assets (in addition to using other condition monitoring techniques), we can predict the onset of a failure and possibly make the appropriate corrections/adjustments before the failure occurs. As such, more time is dedicated to monitoring these critical pieces of equipment compared to semi-critical or non-critical equipment. The value of the dedicated resources to monitoring these critical pieces of equipment greatly outweighs the costs involved in their shutdown.

Stay tuned for the second and third installments of this series as we cover developing the oil analysis program and the benefits of an optimized oil analysis program.

Thank you Sanya Mathura with Strategic Reliability Solutions Ltd for sharing this informative and educational article with us!

Do we really need Oil Analysis if We’re Performing other CM Techniques? – Part 1

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by Diana Pereda