Reliability is typically viewed as an outcome of an organization’s operations, maintenance, and reliability programs. The assets are only as good as the efforts that are put forth to manage them as they exist within their operating context. Like humans, asset resiliency is only as good as the efforts that are put forward to ensure events can be avoided or survivable. Resiliency is the capacity to recover quickly or spring back into shape. Assets are involved in a symbiotic circle where they rely on humans for survival (to function as required). So, an asset's resiliency is only as good as its Keeper. Organizations should foster this relationship and more so, build on the importance of resiliency. Resilience could be ever-changing in the sense that we need to be able to adapt to different situations as we recognize them. Over time the more we become aware of the various challenges and situations that can present themselves, the better we are able to recover or bounce back.
Reliability vs. Resilience
We use the term reliability to describe how dependable or available something is when we need it. If we think of our car as an asset that we depend on to get us to different places, we see how potentially life-altering it can be when our vehicle is not available to us. Maybe it broke down or it is in the shop because it required major work. If we prepare our asset, in this case, our car, for the different conditions it will need to function under; we are enabling a state of resiliency. If we keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best all the time, we are leaving the reliability up to luck or chance. If we really think about it, resilience should be the umbrella that an organization functions under. Resiliency should be part of how the organization plans to survive, and this should be through its people as well as instilled into a practice to obtain overall reliability. Asset Resiliency is the result of resilient leaders, a resilient workforce, and resilient practices. Maybe the conversation shouldn't start with reliability, but rather at a higher place-making reliability a byproduct of resilient practice. Reliability is an outcome, not a tool, not a level in an organization. Achieving reliability needs to go beyond the reliability tool kit and there needs to be a broader reason to achieve it. Precedence exists to instill a value of being able to recover or bounce back.
Bringing It Together
There are many tools used to help develop human resilience. A lot of these tools are reflective or similar in the exercises of achieving reliable assets. For example, storytelling is an exercise used to examine negative and positive situations that have occurred in our lives. The intent is to document how a situation occurred and how to avoid it next time. The results are typically more positive stories and that an individual grasps the intent of the exercise. The individual is also building up resilience to these situations, either by now avoiding them or by putting a more positive spin on them. In the reliability world we should have a well-documented operating context for our assets as well we should have well-kept maintenance and operational history. Similar to the storytelling exercise used to promote human resilience, this creates a story for asset resilience. And the best part is that if we maintain a well-formulated approach, we are able to capture all the interactions the assets have with humans. This means we are able to promote resilience for the people that are aligned to the assets or visa-versa.
The question now, is do we call it asset reliability? Or is there much more to be explored on the path to asset resiliency?
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