3 Principles of Materials Strength for Utmost Physical Asset Health, and Machinery, Plant and Equipment Reliability

Break a materials strength principle at any point in a physical asset’s life cycle and its reliability is gone


What principles explain the reliability of physical assets? What principles will prevent their failure? The principles must be universal, so they fully explain how to get, and how to lose, physical asset health and wellness in all situations, for all matter. When you follow the true principles of physical asset health, you are guaranteed to get exceptional machinery, plant, and equipment reliability.

Keywords: strength of materials, plant and equipment reliability, materials of construction

Top 3 EAM system insights this article helps you to appreciate:

    1. Do not overstress the materials of construction.
    2. Do not remove or damage the materials of construction so inadequate structure remains.
    3. Do not let the materials of construction be degraded by any contacting environment. 

A physical asset is a thing made of matter. If an item is made of atoms, it is a physical asset. We need an all-encompassing definition of a physical asset because we seek the universal principles that cause physical asset health and wellness, regardless of what the thing is made of, how it was created, or what it does during its lifetime. It could be a wildflower in a forest, or it could be a satellite travelling through the solar system. But break a universal physical asset health and wellness principle and the item will fail.

The common, but limiting, definition of physical asset is a human-built construction, like a building, a machine, a plantation, which has monetary worth. Built assets is one category to classify the things we use and value. Yet, the soils that grow our foods, the water that the plants use, the air they live in, though not human-built creations, are physical assets with life-giving value to humanity.

For the principles of physical asset health and wellness to be universal they must apply to all things made of matter—human-made and otherwise. Fortunately, once you look at the atomic level of matter for principles to ensure physical asset reliability just three issues are important.

For an item to safely take a load or force on its materials of construction its matter’s atomic structure must not disconnect, distort, or disappear. Provided an item’s atomic structure does not fail under an imposed service duty the item will not fail in service.

From the above considerations, one principle of physical asset health that can be deduced is the atomic structure of the materials of construction must not be overstressed to the point of failure.

A second principle to ensure a physical asset’s health is to not allow removal of the material of construction so insufficient matter remains to safely and surely carry the service duty forces and loads.

A third principle is to never let the material of construction degrade or be harmed by what is in any contacting environment, so its atomic properties remain unchanged.

These three principles are all that is needed to explain why physical assets fail—matter overload, matter loss, and matter degradation.

The same principles guide what to do when you want to intentionally get more reliability from physical assets—reduce the loads on the materials of construction; ensure no material of construction is lost; prevent material of construction being degraded by what is in the contacting environment.


If you have an unreliable operating asset, take out its general assembly drawings and parts lists and check the failing components to see where and how they are being overloaded; or where and how they are losing material; or where, how, and when they are getting degraded by the contacting environments they experience.

Mike Sondalini
PWW EAM System Consultants
1 August 2022