3 Jan How UK Wide Learning Is Changing the Effectiveness of PPM
Recently I’ve been focusing much of my attention on the UK’s rather alarming vulnerabilities to climate change, flooding and other environmental risks.
I have also been very vocal about the key role I feel data should play in our reactions to these growing risks, as well as a much-needed rethink of our current efforts to mitigate them.
My justification for these proposed changes in how we protect infrastructures and key assets is simple: the playing field has changed – and many are flying blind, whether they realise it or not.
Just look at where we are today.
Growing network interdependencies are taking the impacts of flood damage to new heights, presenting networks with significant risks of ‘cascading infrastructures’ or in other words, the domino effect.
Similarly, research shows that even if UK temperature increases are limited to 2.7°C (the likely outcome if the Paris Agreement is fully implemented), the UK is still expected to see an 100% increase in annual flood damages.
There’s also the matter of decision makers and their collective unpreparedness to manage the evolving risks of today. According to research from PwC, asset management decision making is largely driven by human judgement – a dangerous tactic in a time of unprecedented uncertainty.
With this in mind, it is obvious we need to take steps to change our approach and become more resilient to uncertainties that threaten key assets and infrastructure.
Many organisations have realised this and are already committed to this change, not only investing in practical resilience measures such as hydrocarbon resistant bund linings, flood response agreements and emergency budgets; but rethinking their entire approach to risk, resilience and most importantly, PPM.
Moving From PPM to PIM
Planned Preventative Maintenance is a crucial element in any organisation’s efforts to mitigate risk, protect assets and avoid unnecessary downtime. At its core, it involves the planning and undertaking of scheduled maintenance checks and tasks. These are periodically conducted to ensure a consistent level of asset performance and protection at any given time, and to identify and resolve any potential issues before they develop further.
For these reasons, PPM features heavily in the protective arsenal of many leading companies. However, this is not to say it is a perfect system that cannot be further developed. To meet today’s evolving risks, I believe we need to build on the concept of PPM and move toward a model that uses preventative maintenance as the basis for ongoing improvement. This needs to occur frequently without fail, not just following a disruptive event or because of a change in regulations.
“Resilience cannot be added after-the-fact or on a sporadic, discretionary basis. It must be part of the fundamental operating model—ingrained at the outset…” – Accenture Strategy, 2015 –
Simply put, Planned Preventative Maintenance needs to become Planned Improved Maintenance: a shift we’re already seeing in our work with clients today.
In practice, this change in approach starts with an auditing process: it’s near impossible to effectively protect assets (let alone improve their performance) without a detailed knowledge of where any potential weaknesses and areas for improvement lie.
As shown in the resilience map below, organisations need to identify all the potential risks and destructive forces acting on their assets, sites and infrastructure.
As with any auditing process, identifying these risks and forces provides the insight needed to make changes for the better. While this is arguably common sense, I am certain that oversight will see many organisations caught off guard by the significant flood risks coming our way. However, with growing interdependencies between networks and a wealth of new data coming to light, I remain confident that UK wide learning will massively reshape the effectiveness of PPM in the near future.
The reason the organisations we’re working with are so resilient is because they have stopped relying on the past as an accurate indicator of what is going to happen in the future. They’re letting data guide their decision making. They’re attending industry conferences and actively conducting research. They’re using PPM as an opportunity to scrutinise every possible area of weakness and opportunity to lower the TCO of assets.
As a result, PPM is becoming less of a box-ticking exercise conducted to make sure everything’s running compliantly, and more of a feedback loop to ensure constant, incremental improvement.
Airlines and Eternal Improvement
As much as I’d like Adler & Allan to take credit for this Eternal Improvement approach to resilience, it’s an idea that many industries have been applying for decades in various forms.
Take the airline industry for instance.
Praised in Nassim Taleb’s book “Antifragile” for their ability to “[convert] disorder, error, mistakes, variability into fuel for improvement”, airlines are resilient by designand are the perfect example of Eternal Improvement in action.
Ever heard something say the best time to fly is after an accident or security breach has occurred?
Well there’s actually truth in this statement for two reasons.
Firstly, all airlines will strengthen their security measures and safety precautions immediately after the disruption to prevent following the same fate. Secondly, the airline will investigate the inherent weaknesses that allowed the incident to occur in the first place, as well as any other vulnerabilities that had not previously been discovered or accounted for.
Because of this auditing process, airlines are able to consistently learn from their own mistakes and those of competitors, each becoming safer, more reliable and more secure following every incident.
I believe that this is a model the UK needs to adopt and continue to weave into their PPM efforts. I also believe this improvement-centric approach to maintenance will continue to grow in popularity as even more organisations begin to accept a simple truth about the current climate: when risks continue to evolve, Eternal Improvement is the only way to survive.
This post originally appeared as a LinkedIn Pulse post.