Uptime: Choosing Excellence

Uptime: Choosing Excellence

The original edition of Uptime had “process re-engineering” as a 4th level at its pinnacle. It reflected what was then widely regarded as an approach to obtain beneficial change quickly. But, since the 1990’s that approach, was abused and used as a smoke-screen for downsizing or right-sizing as many would prefer to call it. That was never intended by the originators of “Business Process Re-engineering”, but it is what happened. It was lopped off the top of the pyramid in the 2nd edition – process re-design belongs as  a result of strategy, not as a panacea for poorly designed and executed process. Processes should be revisited BEFORE implementation of IT / IM and occasionally it should all be reviewed as part of good governance, just like audits. The fundamental processes of good maintenance management practice are already described in this book’s chapters – how they appear on flow charts or value stream maps is up to each user. The third tier in Uptime (1st edition) was about Continuous Improvement, but it contained methods that were both more fundamental in their importance and more sophisticated than the tweaking that “continuous improvement” implies.

The top tier of the 2nd edition dealt with reliability, teamwork and process review as a continuous improvement tool. Now, the 3rd edition moves teamwork to a foundation chapter given the importance of major demographic changes in our workforce today. Process review is retained as a continuous improvement tool. Reliability is needed to ensure your work is effective at eliminating downtime and something that many companies struggle with is broadened and deepened. A relatively new approach to good asset, life cycle and resource decisions is Evidence Based Asset Management (EBAM). Arguably this is more of an asset management topic, but it has been included here because of the tools and approaches that have already been developed that are very specific to maintenance and asset reliability.


This topic can get very technical. Indeed, some of the analytical work entailed is very mathematical and belongs in the hands of trained engineers. Those reliability engineers must work with information that comes from the field. It is extracted from databases (that are often flawed) and from the minds of experienced experts in production, maintenance planning, supervisory roles, trades, and supply chain. There are a variety of methods that can be applied here and this broad topic of reliability is divided between two chapters. One covers RCM in depth the other deals with the various other methods we have available to us.

Carlo Odoardi, a friend of many years and a respected colleague, contributed the chapter on RCM. Content that was included in Basic Care in the 2nd edition was blended with RCM to present a clear and complete picture, all in one chapter. His vast experience in teaching and implementing RCM shows in the treatment of the topic. He has also included a discussion of the more simplified derivations from RCM that may work well for non-critical assets. While the chapter stops short of offering all the advice one could possibly offer on the matter of implementing RCM successfully, it covers the topic so well that you could use this chapter as a beginning reference for an RCM program – it will get you started.

For those who want more, see my other co-authored book, “Reliability Centered Maintenance – Re-Engineered“, 2017.

The second reliability chapter is all about continuous improvement. It covers methods complementary to RCM and your maintenance processes. It provides in-depth coverage of Proactive Maintenance Optimization (PMO) which can be used to enhance any existing PM program, but not to create a new one. PMO, often considered a competitive method to RCM, can actually be used to improve on RCM outputs leveraging the knowledge gained from the experience once RCM has been implemented properly.

Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA) an improvement method that has two useful purposes is covered in depth. RCFA can be used to enhance any existing maintenance program by dealing with those failures you’ve missed with other methods and approaches. It is also a very handy tool to help you get started with reliability, especially in cases where you may have a history of running to failure and several very “bad actors” that need to be dealt with. It’s a tool that can be used to eliminate some of the alligators before you begin to drain the swamp.

Other continual improvement topics covered are Pareto analysis, logarithmic scatterplots, fishbone diagrams, decision optimization tools, and simulation modeling.

Evidence-Based Asset Management (EBAM):

This is a “discipline” that has arisen in the academic world to help raise the quality of decisions in maintenance and asset management to a new level based on hard evidence. I call it a discipline because it is not just a single purpose tool – it is more of a collection of tools and methods. Through collaboration with Dr. Andrew Jardine, Dr. Ali Zuashkiani and their Centre for Maintenance Optimization and Reliability Engineering at the University of Toronto, I’ve learned a great deal about EBAM, but my sophistication with math isn’t at their level. Ali has done extensive work in this field and now teaches it as part of the University’s continuing education certificate program in Physical Asset Management. He has contributed this entirely new chapter as an addition to the 3rd edition of Uptime.

EBAM is relatively new and like TPM it can be difficult to define to someone new to the subject matter but it is included in its own chapter in this level of choosing excellence. It can be used to enhance most decisions made in the realm of managing assets. Like in medicine, basing decisions on hard evidence has become the “gold standard”. EBAM has resulted in the development of new tools and methods that leverage some very sophisticated mathematics. It has resulted in methods to acquire useful data where there seemingly isn’t any, or where it is of low quality. Ali is a pioneer in the field of knowledge elicitation to arrive at decisions where there appears at first to be little hard statistical evidence. Having worked with Ali and Dr. Jardine on a few projects where EBAM was used extensively, I’ve seen the results and they are impressive. Those projects and many others are described in this chapter to illustrate the applications of this new discipline.

EBAM is for those companies that truly want to excel. Its sophisticated use of higher levels of mathematics will probably keep it in the hands of specialized engineers for some time to come. So far everyone I know who has been working in the field has advanced degrees. Collaboration with academia is one way to get that expertise without the need to hire it. EBAM will be a bridge between the business and academic worlds in our field for years to come.

With the advent of Asset Management as a truly professional discipline and business function that embraces good maintenance management this book would be remiss to omit it. Supporting both Asset and Maintenance Management is the important realm of information – another new chapter dealing with Asset Information Management and its governance is included. Finally, to round out the book, for the first time, it now includes a chapter on considerations for those who would implement Uptime.