What Is Physical Asset Maintenance?

April 21, 2022

Physical Asset Maintenance 

Physical asset maintenance, or ensuring that items are in good working condition to achieve reliability, is essential for any organization. Here we will review best practices that ensure assets are well maintained over time to promote the long-term success of any operation.

Assets Defined

An asset is any physical item used to achieve organizational goals. An asset can be land, tools, equipment, or infrastructure. In business, the four types of assets are fixed (or physical), current, financial, and intangible. A fixed or physical asset is defined as any tangible asset that can be seen or felt. Equipment, tools, machinery, furniture, buildings, and land are all types of physical assets. 

Asset Maintenance and Management

Successful firms need to determine how to manage assets used to achieve their organizational goals. That’s where asset maintenance and management enter the scene. Asset maintenance is loosely defined as performing what needs to get done to keep your assets in good working order, thereby contributing to achieving your firm’s goals. 

McKinsey says that “ensuring high levels of asset availability and system reliability is a key priority for operations leaders. . . . New technologies can help address this issue and move companies closer to best practices, including best practices from other industries and sectors.”

For example, if you’re running a manufacturing facility, the equipment that’s helping you produce products is going to be one of the most important assets in your business. If you manage a fleet of vehicles, each vehicle is an important asset—and keeping the vehicles on the road and in good shape is why you need to develop an asset management plan.

Asset maintenance prolongs the life of physical assets. It also streamlines cost management by maintaining physical assets so they continue to operate efficiently and without downtime or failure. Conversely, any assets that frequently break down will cost your firm money—not only in repair costs but in lost productivity from being out of operation.

Physical Asset Maintenance Best Practices

Best practices for maintaining assets include the following: 


Inventory tracking is one of the most simple, yet effective, maintenance best practices. While it’s possible to use a checklist the old-fashioned way, it’s better to digitize and automate checklists via a robust asset maintenance software program. Modern CMMS, like MaintainX, track inventory and other physical assets in real-time and automatically alert you to any problems or issues that may come down the line. You can also set alerts for your digital checklists to notify you or the front office when inventory numbers go below a threshold or when equipment goes down. 

Preventative Maintenance

A preventive maintenance plan is ideal for working with heavy-duty machinery, equipment, or vehicles critical to your organization’s bottom line. Think of it like caring for your own car. You may change the oil every three months or 3,000 miles to keep your engine and transmission—the two most important components under your vehicle’s hood—running efficiently and effectively. And if something were to happen to either of these components, you’re not just looking at an expensive fix, but you’ll also have to find another method of transportation. The same concept can be applied to heavy machinery or equipment.

By ensuring that maintenance is performed in advance of a problem, you can ensure that critical components continue to operate effectively and efficiently with no unexpected downtime. 

Predictive maintenance is a type of preventive maintenance that relies on data and a product’s lifecycle to trim maintenance costs, cut down on unplanned downtime,  and, therefore, improve an organization’s bottom line. A good preventative maintenance plan is always a work in progress. It should be adjusted as you receive more data and learn more about asset performance.

In fact, Capgemini writes that “Predictive maintenance addresses key business challenges on the factory floor—unplanned machine breakdown or a lack
of asset visibility—and delivers the highest returns.”

Use Data to Your Advantage

Don’t let data go to waste. Collect it, analyze it, and make decisions based on trends you discover along the way. Tracking physical asset data complements predictive maintenance plans by providing data to hone maintenance and prop up capital decisions. 

Invest in Your People

While your firm may have a number of important physical assets, no group is more important to maintenance management than the people who maintain and service the equipment. Invest in the people who manage your physical assets. Provide them with the latest training and put mobile CMMS into their hands so they have all the tools they need at their fingertips.

Regarding CMMS and physical asset management, McKinsey writes that “The opportunity is particularly ripe as the cost of new technologies has dramatically decreased over the past few years. Most companies have therefore already started their journey towards a more digitized and automated maintenance regime.”


What’s the Difference between Asset Maintenance and Asset management?

Asset management and asset maintenance are related and work together t achieve an organization’s goals. However, asset maintenance helps managers make informed decisions about a fixed asset’s performance, while asset management involves assessing and analyzing data to make decisions about managing the asset in question. In other words, asset maintenance is a smaller, more defined component of asset management.

What Are KPIs and How Do They Factor into Asset Maintenance?

KPI stands for “key performance indicator.” Ideally, managers set KPI goals and work to meet them and then improve on them as they begin to learn more about the behavior of the physical assets that they’re working with. Common KPIs include MTTR (mean time to repair), MTBF (mean time between failures), and OEE (overall equipment effectiveness).

Physical Asset Inventory Management
Caroline Eisner
Caroline Eisner
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