Equipment Criticality – A Quick Way to Assess Your Assets

Understanding your equipment criticality can go a long way towards increasing efficiencies and hitting key targets.

Condition monitoring is an essential part of your operational efficiency. But not every asset requires the same level of attention. How do you decide which assets should be prioritised?

Well, that’s where understanding equipment criticality comes in handy. 

What is Equipment Criticality?

Equipment criticality involves ranking the function and importance of each piece of equipment. Then, using that ranking, an organisation can determine how often inspections and maintenance should be performed. 

This is a somewhat subjective process. It will vary according to the needs and priorities of individual plants. A criticality rating is assigned to a piece of equipment based on several factors, including:

  • The likelihood of failure (also known as vulnerability);
  • The economic impact of failure and cost of repair;
  • The environmental impact of failure;
  • The risk that failure poses to worker safety.

A Quick Equipment Criticality Rating System

The following is a quick, top-level, way to rank equipment and understand why they rate as such. essential machinery, and non-critical machinery. 

Critical machinery

Critical machinery occupies the highest position in the hierarchy of productive importance. This machinery is considered most essential to the operation and is often the most expensive. In the event of a failure, it would bring production to halt, pose a serious risk to worker safety, and/or have serious environmental consequences. It demands the highest level of condition monitoring.

Typical examples of critical machinery include steam turbines, cranes, and other pieces of equipment that would cause the entire operation to halt if they failed.  

Essential Machinery

Essential machinery also ranks highly in importance, but their failure would not bring about a complete stop in production. These machines tend to have a lower cost than critical machinery. Generally companies will opt to have an extra backup (or spare components) that can support in the event of failure. Essential machinery requires a high level of condition monitoring to ensure unplanned downtime is avoided.

Non-critical machinery

Non-critical machinery poses only minor, if any, disruption to production. There’s also a much-reduced monetary cost in the event of their failure. Machinery in this category generally does not need 24/7 monitoring – but it is important to check-in routinely. 

Using Criticality to Enhance Overall Efficiency

Equipment criticality rankings can be simple but provide vital information for maintenance and operations planners. 

Without this information, it becomes extremely difficult to allocate resources effectively. Equal time and attention may be assigned to critical and non-critical machinery – leading to inefficient use of workers’ time. Not to mention a lack of focus on equipment that requires the most care.

With the right information in hand, however, maintenance and operations teams can:

  • Prioritise inspections and maintenance work.
  • Allocate attention where it is most needed.
  • Avoid the costliest breakdowns.
  • Enhance worker safety.
  • Reduce the environmental impact of breakdowns.
  • Improve the overall efficiency of the operation.

So, the question is – have you completed a formal review of your equipment criticality? If not, you can use the simple approach above to start getting a handle on things. If you do have a a handle on things, keep an eye out for our deep-dive. We’ll discuss how this knowledge can help your plant achieve a higher level of efficiency and safety. 

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