Book Review

Maintenance Strategy
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Maintenance Strategy

By: Tony Kelly

Published by: Butterworth-Heinemann
Publication Date: June 1997
ISBN: 0750624175

Our Review

I was looking forward to reading and reviewing this book - largely because, as a maintenance consultant, I have helped several organisations to develop Maintenance Strategies, and I was about to start a maintenance strategy consulting assignment for another client. I thought that this book, written by one of Europe's leading maintenance academics, Professor Tony Kelly (University of Manchester, Central Queensland University, Stellenbosch University and Hogskolen i Stavanger) may provide some further insights on the subject of Maintenance Strategy, and help me to incorporate some new ideas into my approach for Maintenance Strategy Development. Ultimately, however, I was greatly disappointed in this book.

My disappointment comes on a number of fronts. First, Kelly has a typically engineering (and very limited) defniition of what constitutes a Maintenance Strategy. Unlike John Campbell's view of Maintenance Strategy, which is far more holistic in nature (see the review of Campbell's book, Uptime - Strategies for Excellence in Maintenance Management), Kelly's view of Maintenance Strategy is far more limited - primarily being based around the identification of the most appropriate Preventive/Predictive Maintenance regime required to allow Production to achieve its production targets. In fact, it is not until the end of Chapter 4 of the book that Kelly defines his view of the constituent parts of developing a Maintenance Strategy which are:

  • Formulating the best "life plan" for each equipment item
  • Formulating a Maintenance Schedule for the plant
  • Establishing the organisation to enable the scheduled, and other, maintenance work to be resourced

Of these three steps, the first two are given extensive coverage in the book, and the last is barely covered at all (instead being covered in Kelly's companion book, Maintenance Organisation and Systems). With this very limited focus, this book has more in common with Moubray's or Smith's books on Reliability Centered Maintenance than it does with a book covering a more holistic view of Maintenance Strategy. The central premise of the book is to promote Kelly's philosophy of "Business Centred Maintenance" and his approach to the development of Equipment "life plans" - or Equipment Maintenance Strategies, which he has termed TDBU - "Top Down, Bottom Up". While there are chapters covering RCM and TPM, these both appear to be included primarily so that Kelly can dismiss them as being either "nothing new" or inferior to his TDBU approach.

The second disappointment is that, in terms of explaining how to develop equipment maintenance schedules, Kelly is strong on the "Top Down" part of his methodology and weak on the "Bottom Up" part. The "Top Down" part of the approach consists of identifying critical equipment items, and also identifying operational "windows of opportunity" within which maintenance can be performed. Kelly is correct in pointing out that RCM, on its own, does not adequately cover these aspects. The "Bottom Up" part consists of identifying the specific maintenance tasks that are required to be performed on equipment. The two are then brought together to develop an overall equipment maintenance schedule. However Kelly's "Bottom Up" approach is seriously inadequate on a number of counts. First, it ignores the fact that, to be effective, maintenance tasks must be developed at the "failure mode" level - that is, at a level that effectively addresses the root cause of failure. Instead, Kelly focuses only on failures at the equipment, or component level. Second, it relies entirely on statistical analysis, using Weibull as the basis for all decision making. Unfortunately, this totally ignores the practical considerations of availability, accuracy and adequacy of data to perform even remotely accurate Weibull analysis at the failure mode level in most industrial applications. Not unsurprisingly, there is no mention made of Resnikoff's conundrum, which, simply put, states that, in order to collect failure data, there must be equipment failures. In order for there to be equipment failures, then there must be either no maintenance program in place to prevent these failures, or the program that is in place is inadequate. How many Operations Managers do you know that would accept that you are allowing equipment to fail simply so that sufficient statistical data can be collected in order to develop a preventive maintenance program at some (indeterminate) time in the future? Third, while the book does contain some guidelines for selection of the most appropriate task to address component failures, as well as the frequencies at which these tasks should be performed, these are scattered throughout the book, and not grouped into a logicalt task selection process, as is the case with RCM. The book is also weak on specifics regarding how to resolve potential conflicts between the task frequencies determined by the "bottom-up" approach, and those that may be suggested by the "top-down" approach.

The third disappointment is a more minor one, and perhaps reflects my own personal preferences in terms of writing style. Throughout the book, Kelly refers to himself in the third person as "the author", as in "it has been the author's experience that....". In addition, there is excessive use of the passive tense throughout the book in place of the more immediate, and engaging active tense (for example, "a methodology for developing a maintenance strategy is outlined in Figure 3.1", rather than "Figure 3.1 outlines a methodology for developing a maintenance strategy"). This leads to an excessively impersonal and turgid writing style that I, personally, found quite annoying and difficult to wade through.

So what are some of the strengths of this book? Despite what you may think, after having read the preceding paragraphs, there are some, once you get over the realisation that this book is not actually about Maintenance Strategy at all, but more about one small subset of an overall Maintenance Strategy.

First, the chapters which outline the basic theory behind Weibull analysis, and the reliability of Plant Systems (including coverage of Reliability Block diagrams and Fault Tree Analysis, amongst others) are a very useful introduction to these topics, and references are given for those who want to delve into more detail in this area. It should be noted that these chapters were actually contributed by one of Kelly's colleagues, John Harris.

Second, the discussion of the "Top Down" approach, and more specifically, the identification of Maintenance "windows of opportunity" is a worthwhile contribution to the field, and one which is not covered by texts which specifically focus on RCM.

Third, the book does include several examples which shed light on the application of Kelly's TDBU approach. While I found many of the examples to be somewhat superficially covered, and raised as many questions as they answered, these examples do bring increased relevance to the book.

Overall, as I stated at the outset, I was disappointed with this book. It has a much more limited scope than I would have expected from a book titled "Maintenance Strategy". Even once you get over that hurdle, I found the book, for the most part, to be excessively academic in nature, content and style. For those who are looking for a first book to read covering the development of equipment maintenance schedules, I would recommend one of the RCM books, such as Moubray's Reliability-Centered Maintenance. For those who are familiar with RCM principles, I doubt that this book will add much to your knowledge.

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Revised: Thursday, 08-Oct-2015 12:08:04 AEDT
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