• Novice
  • Aware
  • Competent

Asset Maintenance Process

This element looks at the processes and practices used to maintain individual assets and system portfolios in line with the business objectives from the agency's asset management plan.


The policy objectives that the organization sets for its maintenance functions and how these are linked to the organization's asset management plans and business risks.

Best appropriate practice includes:

Clear policy statement on the maintenance of the organization's infrastructure.


The way in which maintenance plans are developed and the way the appropriate type of maintenance is directed at the right time to the asset, following a "reliability centered maintenance (RCM)" approach.

Best appropriate practice includes:

Asset maintenance planning procedures are related to RCM Analysis techniques, using risk-based economic techniques to determine rationalized maintenance strategies and budgets.


The methods used to schedule planned and unplanned maintenance activities and how these are prioritized. It also looks at the economic basis behind the processes.

Best appropriate practice includes:

Maintenance scheduling, control and performance monitoring arrangements are in place and operating effectively.

Job Execution and Control/Feedback

The processes involved in monitoring and controlling the maintenance program and the quality of the data feedback required for planned and unplanned maintenance.

Maintenance Costing

How maintenance costs, their accuracy and indirect costs of unplanned activity or system shutdowns are recorded. It also looks at the components of maintenance costs, including the recording of "non-productive" activities such as travel time, etc.

Best appropriate practice includes:

Asset maintenance costs are systematically allocated to or tracked against maintenance managed items for planned, unplanned and emergency activities.

Maintenance Manuals / Instructions

The quality of the processes used to develop maintenance manuals and their availability to maintenance staff throughout the organization.

Best appropriate practice includes:

Maintenance work orders record all relevant details of the maintenance activity:

  • Cause - direct and indirect
  • Effect - impact on business, customers, and environment/third parties
  • Wasted (non-productive) time
  • Labor, plant, spares and material costs.

Maintenance analysis for:

  • Causal analysis
  • Activity based cost analysis
  • Consequence of failure analysis
  • Alternative proactive maintenance strategies, including differing blends of planned and unplanned activities.

Up-to-date maintenance manuals and instructions are available electronically.

Review/Analysis Processes

The review and analysis process that is used to further refine the maintenance programs including:

  • RCM analysis
  • Benefit / cost analysis
  • Identification of cost reduction opportunities, including the assessment of core and non-core activities with respect to commercial tactics.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization has a clear process for identifying cost reduction opportunities (for example, where annual maintenance costs exceed 12% of asset value).

The organization has adequate resources to complete the appropriate strategic and cost reduction analysis.


This reviews the way in which the organization produces a maintenance strategy to suit overall business drivers, taking into account:

  • Maintenance
  • Capital
  • System performance.

Best appropriate practice includes:

The organization produces predictive maintenance models for use in their overall life cycle strategic management plans, for recurrent and capital expenditures.

New assets undergo a "maintainability" review with qualified maintenance personnel at handover, and maintenance strategies are developed and documented accordingly.


Case Studies Australia

The Importance of Maintenance - Perrier

In the late 1980s, a light bulb in a control panel warning light in the Perrier plant failed and went undetected for over six months.

The result was that operators were unaware that the filters that removed impurities (including benzene) from the gas used to put the "fizz" into the mineral water had become clogged and were no longer functioning.

World wide, Perrier was forced to literally pour $200 million of contaminated products down the drain.

The erosion of consumer confidence saw their market share fall from over 55% to less than 25%.

For Perrier, the end cost of the failure of that single light bulb is incalculable.

They didn’t have the protection given to public utilities, however we need to consider ourselves as a ”commercial business” to best manage these valuable community assets and not hide behind the cloak of ‘”public good and legal indemnity”.

Slighting Maintenance Can Increase Costs

Several years ago, a study of Australian maintenance practices in underground coal mining was undertaken to benchmark it against international standards.

One of the findings was that Australian coalmines spent about half the amount on maintenance for a particular major equipment item compared with their American counterparts. But further investigation revealed that while Australian mines struggled to achieve better than 35% availability, the Americans were routinely achieving 90%. The net result was that maintenance cost per ton of production in America was about half of that in Australia! That meant greater profit and competitiveness. In this case, reduced costs led to reduced asset performance, which led to reduced profits!

Editors note: when benchmarking maintenance, it is vital to normalize the data and compare like assets with like assets and like practices with like practices. The condition of a certain type of asset, its location with respect to the maintenance depot and about 12 other factors need to be normalized to get to the truth. For more information on these issues read the section on benchmarking in the Review and Continuous Improvement Guideline.

Maintenance Costs Reduced by Better Design of Sewer Access Chambers

A value management study was conducted by Yarra Valley Water to determine what was required of their sewer access chambers.

The confined space of entry requirements in old sewer access chambers made it an expensive exercise when access was necessary.

Yarra Valley wanted access to the sewer in both directions, for:

  • Closed circuit television inspection
  • Cleaning sewers
  • Tree root cutting equipment
  • Stopping sewer flow
  • Limited debris removal
  • Testing equipment during construction.

They wanted a solution that was:

  • A low cost alternative to a concrete material
  • Manufactured in one piece to eliminate infiltration
  • Exempt from confined space regulations
  • Compatible for use with UPVC, Polyethylene and Vitrified Clay pipe
  • Installed by pipe layers as pipes are laid
  • Light and easy to use.

The end result – the SAIF-T chamber - won an Excellence Award in the International Asset Management Competitions in 1997-98. The final chamber met the criteria laid down by the value management study was narrow and could be laid in the trench during construction of the pipe system, whereas a standard concrete access chamber required the trench to be widened. They are now in use across Australia.

PS. If you visit Bath in England you should visit the Roman Baths. If you are lucky you can even go down into the sewer/ stormwater drains under the baths, still operating complete with manholes. If you then go to the history museum you can read about the legionnaires who were responsible for the maintenance of the infrastructure and how they constructed steps down into these manhole because “it was dangerous for staff to get access to the sewer in the dank conditions” (translated from the Latin by an Aussie). How far have we come in sewer collection systems?

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