Three Phases of Asset Life Cycle & Critical Wear Point (Bucket Curve)

All buildings & capital assets go through a life cycle process during the course of it’s life. In the asset life cycle class, there are three different phases identified based on studies. 1Almost all the equipment, that operates under normal distribution curve (over 99.0%) goes through the following three phases.

There are studies on different classes of equipment in the past, that have indicated that majority of the internal Maintenance issues are caused due to dirt & dust, which is single most key constituent in the equipment break downs, followed by frictional issues & failure of materials. I have not touched upon the human error, which causes 80% of the breakdowns in any organisation, based on some studies of equipment failure.
Below maintenance bucket curve chart, explain the three different phases, how the assets / equipment will perform in their life cycle.

“If you don’t have time to do it right, you must have time to do it over (and over)”.
-John Wooden


Maintenance Bucket Curve (a.k.a. Critical Wear Point Chart)

All equipment and buildings require maintenance, and all deteriorate in fairly characteristic ways. Our maintenance systems should be capable enough to detect where on the critical wear curve, the facilities are standing, at any given point of time
and act in accordance with the ground requirements.

Start-Up Cycle (Phase-1):

Failures occur on materials, workmanship, installation, and/or operator training on new equipment. Frequently the costs are partially covered by equipment warranty.

By the nature of this life cycle, there is a lack of historical data. The failures are very hard to predict or plan for, and it is difficult to know which parts to stock.

Preventative Maintenance Standards are developed in this cycle. This period could last from one day to several years on a complex system. Be vigilant in monitoring the mis-application (the wrong machine for the job), inadequate engineering and
manufacturer deficiencies.

Counter measures to address failure or extend the cycle span in the Start-Up Cycle (Phase-1):

  1. Plan enough time to test run the equipment. Create a testing procedure by engaging qualified consultants (not the manufacturer representatives). Not many corporates appreciate or follow this fact, but a properly laid procedure
    will help stretching the life cycle significantly.
  2. Plan enough time and resources to do proper installation.
  3. Operator training and participation during installation & startup of equipment.
  4. Consider Operator / Maintenance staff’s input on operations & design features while choosing equipment.
  5.  Keep good relationship with vendors so that they can pass the grape-wine (communicate problems other users are facing with similar equipment) across the geographical locations. These relations will also help introducing you to the able engineers (behind the scenes) who could support you in crisis time.
  6. Operator / Maintenance person training in the equipment (and periodic retraining when project wears on)
    Operator / Maintenance person training in startup engineering.
  7. Carry out ‘Latent defect analysis’ during the commissioning time (run the machine on different load conditions / speeds (typically, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100% & 110%) and see what fails, ahead of time).
  8. Rebuild or re-engineer to your own higher standard as required by the site conditions.
  9. Ensure creating formal procedures & work instructions for startup phase (video taping if necessary)
    Best part of enhancing overall life cycle management is, to make the manufacturer a stake holder. This is generally done by way of signing long term AMC contracts, so that the manufacturers / or their dealers have a long term effect on the sustenance of the equipment.

Wealth Cycle (Phase-2):

This cycle is where the organisation makes money on the useful output of the machine, building, or other asset. This cycle is also called the “usage cycle”.

The goal of Property Managers / Facility Managers / Maintenance Engineers are to keep the equipment in this cycle as long as they can, and detect when it might make the transition to the breakdown cycle (life cycle phase- 3). Creating necessary Preventative Maintenance (PM) practices during this time will help. After detecting a problem with the machine or asset, a well trained technician has to do everything possible to repair the problem and bring the asset back to the wealth cycle.

In general, when you have a proper start up phase, the failures in this cycle are minimal. Operator mistakes, sabotage, and material defects tend to show up the need for Planned Component Replacement (PCR). The wealth cycle can last from
several years to many more years or more, on certain types of equipment. This is generally considered as the ‘life of an asset or equipment’.

Counter measures to failure in the Wealth Cycle (Designed to Keep the Asset in this Cycle):

  1. Setting & Customising Preventative Maintenance System.
  2. Operator / Maintenance personnel training & certifications.
  3. Periodic refresher courses to be planned as a part of equipment purchase.
  4. Close watching, restricted access to plant rooms, if there is a chance for operator sabotage.
  5. Audit maintenance procedures and check assumptions on a periodic basis.
  6. Autonomous maintenance standards and quality audits.
  7. Quality control charts initiate maintenance service when control limits, which cannot be held.

Breakdown Cycle (Phase-3):

This is the cycle that organisations find themselves, when they do not follow a good Preventative Maintenance (PM) practice. Phase-3 is characterised by wear out failures, breakdowns, corrosion failures, fatigue, downtime, and other general headaches. Parts usage change as we move more deeply into life cycle 3. The parts tend to be more in number, bigger, more expensive, and harder to get. The goal of most maintenance operations is to identify when an asset is slipping into this Phase-3 and fix the problems. Fixing the problem will result in the assets moving back to life cycle 2, which is getting it back to Wealth Cycle mode.

Counter measures to address the failure in Breakdown Cycle:

A. Properly laid Preventative Maintenance system
B. Maintenance improvement programs
C. Condition monitoring & Reliability centered engineering practices
D. Feedback failure history to PM task lists and monitoring the equipment performance
E. Train and create the fire fighting capability in the team, to address issues when there is a crisis
F. Create in-house capabilities for maintenance of equipment or keep an identified expert connected through escalation matrix.

Importance of reading the Life Cycle Curve

Most of the facility managers and maintenance engineers agree that, as well laid maintenance program will help them reduce the amount of break downs and increase the life of equipment. This incremental life span could be any where between 8% to 15%, meaning you avoid incurring the capital cost for replacement of equipment, post of it’s life cycle period. Life cycle period ranges differently for different assets / equipment, depending on the environmental conditions, usage patterns and the preventative maintenance programs put in place.

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