Reliable introduction of critical assets: an explorative case study in railways

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Purpose: Asset-intensive organizations rely heavily on physical assets that are often expensive, complex and have a significant impact on organizational performance. Past introductions of critical assets in various industries showed that despite many preparations in maintenance and operations, shortcomings were identified after deployment resulting in unreliable performance. The main purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the factors that determine how asset-intensive organizations can achieve reliable outcomes in critical asset introductions despite random failures as a result of increasing complexity and infant mortalities. Design/methodology/approach: To gain a detailed understanding of the issues and challenges of critical asset introductions, a case study in railways (rolling stock introductions) was conducted and analyzed using qualitative analysis. Findings: The case showed that organizational factors were perceived as decisive factors for a reliable performance of the introduction, while the main focus of the introduction was on the asset and its technical systems. This suggests that more consideration toward organizational factors is needed. Therefore, a critical asset introduction framework was proposed based on 15 identified factors. Originality/value: Reliable performance is often associated with technical systems only. This empirical study emphasizes the need for a more holistic perspective and the inclusion of organizational factors when introducing critical assets seeking reliable performance. This study demonstrated the application of the affinity diagramming technique in collectively analyzing the data adopting a multidisciplinary orientation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-549
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of quality in maintenance engineering
Issue number3
Early online date3 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Critical asset introductions
  • Framework
  • Human factors
  • Issues and challenges
  • Operational performance
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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