January 30, 2020
Planning & Scheduling is seen as the most desirable, but also the hardest to implement
Late in 2019, VIZIYA invited members of the maintenance industry to participate in a survey on digital priorities, adoption, and their thoughts on key asset management and Industry 4.0 themes.
The following results represent responses from a wide variety of roles within the maintenance ecosphere – from planning and schedulers, to technicians, and executives. Let’s take a quick look at the industries they’re coming from before we dig into the results.
At 26%, the largest group of survey respondents come from the Mining industry, closely followed by those in the Utilities (23%) and Metal Manufacturing sectors (20%). These three, taken together, far outweigh the remaining list combined. In fact, they each come fairly close to outweighing the rest of the list on their own. The “Other” category, in this case, is a mix of Transport and Construction industries.
While all industries require maintenance, we can see from our respondent profile that certain industries, such as mining and power generation/distribution have higher maintenance needs, or pay this side of asset management a higher priority in the business.
Gaps in the Process
The very first question in the survey asked respondents to indicate if they could identify a gap in software systems or processes that negatively impacts asset maintenance and management.
The results likely won’t surprise too many maintenance professionals. A vast majority of respondents (85%) identified gaps in their organizational systems or processes that deteriorate asset management standards in their business.
Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the remaining 15% don’t have such a gap in their processes.
Personally, I think this is an area where the straight numbers don’t really tell you much. It’s only when we dig into the responses themselves that we can develop insight into exactly where these gaps are. In general, most of the comments fall into just a few categories. I’ve drawn out some of the responses below to give you a general sense of what survey respondents had to say. Minor edits have been made for style and in some cases to protect confidentiality.
“We do not yet have an asset management system. We do not even have all process assets identified in our (ERP system). We are years behind.”
“Not all lower level assets are entered in the system. Parts list are not accurate.”
There were a number of comments along these lines, where at least some of the organization’s assets aren’t even listed in the overall ERP. This obviously puts a major roadblock in front of the maintenance department. No doubt they’re still running the maintenance they need to on those assets, but not having them in the system means they’re likely not getting any analytics on the maintenance being performed, to say nothing of the challenge it must present when trying to prepare a budget.
“Not all the information in the same silo.”
“Communication between different software systems.”
“Lack of integration between systems.”
Data and integration is a common problem for maintenance and asset management, judging from the number of responses we received along these lines. You could have the most complete data in the world, but it’s not much use if you can’t get at it or it’s not in a form that the needed systems can’t access.
Gaps identified by group were interestingly, most often related to asset management systems or tech, rather than asset management processes within the organization. The three most common systems issues for asset managers are: the lack of specialized tools capable of supporting asset management processes, master data issues, and a lack of integration and automation.
We prepared this post to discuss the results of the survey, not to beat the drum for our products. With that said, it would be remiss of us not to mention that all VIZIYA’s WorkAlign products offer seamless bolt-on integration with your ERP software.
Most Important Maintenance Topics
At this point, the survey dives into the relevance of various maintenance topics. We came at this subject from a variety of angles, in part to see if the answers changed significantly based on how the questions were phrased.
First, we asked, “What is the most relevant topic to your role or organization today?” The most common answer, for a third of respondents (33%) was “Scheduling and Planning Optimization.” In fact, this answer outweighed the next two most common answers combined.
The “Other” category, in this case, isn’t as much of a mixed bag as you might think. While we did receive a few answers like “Mobile” and “Software,” the most compelling responses were along these lines:
“Convincing senior leadership that asset management is important.”
This isn’t really that surprising. Depressing, yes, but not surprising. It’s a safe bet that most maintenance professionals can tell at least one story of senior executives who didn’t give asset management its due and simply preferred to run assets into the ground.
The usual motivation for this is that it looks good on the balance sheet, at least for a little while. The old saying is “penny wise and pound foolish” and it’s applicable here. Slashing maintenance down to the bone invariably leads to degradation of assets and a negative impact on production. Nevertheless, it’s still a depressingly common mindset.
As we discovered in response to the first question, results here suggest there is an overwhelming lack of understanding of the value of established asset management standards and specialist software within even the most asset-intensive industries (“…the business prioritized with an ERP over a CMMS”). As such, asset management teams are forced to use inadequate tools to perform their work, and lack clarity on areas of authority and acceptable standards of work.
Maintenance in the Next Five Years
The next question in the survey asked respondents to “identify which areas they expected to be of primary importance in three to five years”.
“Improved Planning and Scheduling” takes the top spot again, with 26% of respondents. “Equipment reliability” was also identified as a mid-term priority at 21%. In third place is “Reducing/Controlling Maintenance Costs” at 18%. That’s nearly one-fifth of respondents who seem to have reason to believe that their budgets will be cut sometime in the next few years.
Greatest Value for Maintenance
We also asked, “which improvement would provide the most value if it were implemented today?”
Respondents identified “Planning & Scheduling Optimization” as the task that would deliver the most value to respondent’s organizations, at 28%. We seem to be sensing a bit of a trend here, in line with what has become a long-held priority among maintenance improvements. There’s a reason that Doc Palmer wrote an entire book about it, and that WorkAlign Scheduler was VIZIYA’s first product and remains our flagship solution.
Scheduling and planning are very complex topics (as we mentioned, there’s a whole book about it), but you can check out “10 Must Have Maintenance Scheduling Capabilities” for a quick visual primer.
Scheduling and planning of maintenance activities helps with many of the other top-ranked items in the chart above when they’re done properly. Thorough planning and scheduling will invariably lead to greater Equipment Reliability (18%) and Capacity Loading (13%). You can also crunch some numbers and show it will usually Cut Maintenance Costs (8%). The only thing it won’t help with is Analytics/Reporting (13%). For that, we recommend VIZIYA’s WorkAlign Analytics. Its hundreds of out-of-the-box reports will help you pull back the curtain on your own maintenance processes and dig deeper into the numbers than you would have believed possible. Who knows? You might even be able to compile enough statistics to prove to senior leadership that asset management is indeed important.
Challenges in Implementation
Finally, the survey asked which improvement would be the most difficult to implement. Again, Planning & Scheduling Optimization took the top spot, with 23%. The results from the other questions show that the value of this activity is well understood, but nevertheless a significant number of our survey participants believe there are large challenges to putting it in place.
Results from the 2019 study suggest there is an overwhelming lack of understanding of the value of established asset management standards and specialist software within even the most asset-intensive industries. The people who work directly in maintenance usually acknowledge the positive impact of these factors, but they may have trouble convincing senior management to see things the same way.
As such, asset management teams are forced to use inadequate tools to perform their work and lack clarity on areas of authority and acceptable standards of work. For those with systems, data quality issues, ongoing training, and utilization within the business are issues affecting asset management performance. A lack of adequate asset management reporting capability may be contributing even further to poor value and understanding of what healthy asset management systems, processes and operations can contribute to broader business objectives.
If you have requirements for a business case into the cost savings that can be directly attributed to improved asset health, planning and scheduling, and more maintenance activities, we urge you to check out “Selling Maintenance Software to your Executives” and “5 Steps to Getting Executive Buy-In on Maintenance Software.”
No matter your particular pain points, VIZIYA can help you with every stage of the maintenance workflow. We can also help you to build a business case that highlights the value of ensuring best practices are used in your organization. Contact us today to find out how.