Are expensive assets critical assets?

In a recent forum discussion on the difference between criticality and priority several participants linked the criticality of an asset to the financial expense of the asset. This could lead to an assumption that an expensive asset is definitely a critical asset.  And the corollary: inexpensive assets can’t be that critical. Unfortunately tying the criticality of an asset to expense can be misleading.

Think about your car. It consists of many systems and parts or assets. There are very expensive parts to your car and really cheap parts. Maybe you have leather upholstery and power seats – the really nice kind that adjust to your settings with the touch of a button. Have you ever looked into replacing one of those seats? Or fixing damaged leather? It’s expensive!! We could probably agree that the leather upholstery and power seats are expensive assets.

But are they critical? If the leather is cracked and faded or ripped will it keep your car from getting you where you need to go? If the power adjustments on the seats stop working will that stop your car from running?

You might see where I’m going with this.

Now let’s consider the humble spark plug. A $5 part. That your car can’t function without. If your spark plugs fail, you could miss your plane. A small inexpensive part will stop your car from meeting it’s objective.

The same thing can happen in any asset intensive organization.

It is very easy to think that if an asset is expensive, it must be critical and therefore needs lots of attention. While expensive assets certainly should be looked after well,  they are not automatically critical.

Conversely, it is often assumed that an inexpensive asset is less important. In our experience, it is not uncommon that a small part or cheap system (like a seal water system) can have a significant impact on the overall mission of a facility.

When we don’t properly assess the criticality of our assets we can easily end up applying our resources in the wrong place. Effectively, we can end up standing around doing RCM on our leather seats and then get very busy monitoring their condition, while overlooking things like our spark plugs or tire pressure or oil changes.

Are expensive assets critical assets? Sometimes. Are inexpensive assets less critical? Not necessarily. Make sure you are evaluating the right things when assessing the criticality of your assets.