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The Digitalization of Asset Maintenance must be this year’s obsession for CEOs.

Posted under Blog by Kristin Smith, Content Marketing Specialist

CEOs are the agenda setters who decide what is important and what can wait. With the rise of predictive maintenance and smarter technology, improving asset management through digitalization should be a key addition to the top of the strategic agenda for 2018.

The rationale for this is simple, when companies adopt a digitalization strategy, they can extract potentially exponential value from their Assets, Resources, and Asset Management process. More significantly, without a digitalization strategy, companies will be left lagging behind industry peers and competition.

What is Digitalization and How is it Different?

As we discussed in our previous blog, Digitalization can be defined as the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new methods and opportunities for business. Digitalization is essentially a transformation within a company that utilizes digital technologies and data to improve the way things are done. 

During the last few years, new trends in technology innovation have emerged that are actively challenging the traditional thoughts about Asset Management and the value it can bring to effectively manage cost, risk, and performance.

Some of these technologies are not new. It is the convergence and maturing of these technologies, however, that are fueling the drive towards digitalization. These innovations are largely driven in the industrial context by the popularity and ubiquity of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and predictive maintenance.  

Why Now? Digitalization Changes Asset Management

It is nothing new to ask your departments to work with smaller budgets and cut costs, but asking them to think about how to manage assets and drive cost savings in a more thorough and sophisticated way can have a much higher return and greater overall adoption. Digitalization generates creativity in how to think about assets, the value obtained from them and how to improve processes to increase value.

Improve Efficiency in Business Operations

Motivation for digital technology is often rooted in cutting costs, increasing productivity and reducing risks. Oftentimes when considering how to meet goals in these three areas, department heads, managers and supervisors will suffer from tunnel vision. They focus in on one troublesome section of the process and examine it for potential solutions and optimization. As the saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. When focus lies too heavily on one area, potential benefits and cost savings are missed elsewhere.

Digitalization expands focus from one specific area to the entire maintenance process. With a digitalization strategy, organizations can review the maintenance process as a whole to look for benefits, cost savings and optimization solutions globally.

Use Connectivity to Drive Optimization and Expand Organizational Capabilities

Connected assets and technologies help address and improve one of the core challenges of maintenance: the right part, in the right place, with the right craftsperson, at the right time. Consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1:

A sensor monitoring a bearing’s temperature collects streams of real-time during the course of a day, and feeds it to a data historian. If a sensor detects an issue, an event is raised in the data historian. Someone needs to find the event on an alert board or dashboard, evaluate the priority of work, determine whether a work order for this condition has already been entered, and create a new work order in the EAM/CMMS system if needed. If the event is not caught by someone, the asset will fail and a break down will occur.

Scenario 2:

A sensor on a key machine warns of a possible impending issue and creates an SMS/Email notification to a Supervisor to arrange a craftsperson to do a visual inspection. After some elapsed time, the notification is converted to a repair Work Order to bring the equipment out of service within the next seven days – a Break-in to the schedule. 

  • The Planner/ Scheduler is notified of the Break-in Work Order
  • All spares are reserved or ordered for the specific job
  • A warranty claim document is generated and sent to the Vendor asking for approval to work on the asset or to send to the repair team.
  • The Supervisor is also notified and instructed to assign the required craftsperson.
  • The Scheduler/Supervisor reviews the schedule to determine impact on compliance
  • The Work Order cost is added to the budget and the Supervisor/Manager can review and allocate money from reserve if a possible overspend exists.

If more time passes, the reading will escalate again. The break-in Work Order is changed to an Emergency Order and the Work Order is immediately sent to the mobile device of Crew that is working that shift.

  • The Supervisor, Managers & Scheduler is notified by SMS or email of the Emergency Order.
  • The Scheduler is prompted for less priority work to be moved out.
  • All Warranty instructions are attached to the mobile work order and the Vendor is sent an urgent request to either approve the work on the asset or to send an emergency team
  • All spares and special tools are released and issued to the job for collection
  • The required permits are generated and issued for approval including any risk assessments.
  • The craftsperson arrives at job site and the work order is made active and work can be started from mobile device
  • All relevant parties are informed that work has started via SMS or email and who is attending to the job

Once work is completed the final costs are tracked in the budget and management can adjust plans to ensure budget compliance. Failure information such as actions taken, reasons for failure etc. along with Work Order information such as costs, types, work efficiency etc. are captured for analysis. The Warranty claim is solidified with actual costs incurred, recovered, etc. and is finalized and available in analytics.

  • If the warranty claim is honoured it is reflected in budgeting reimbursements; and supply chain can use the information to negotiate based on price or coverage and to improve and build stronger relations
  • Or if the claim is denied the reasons for denial is passed back to the Reliability and Maintenance groups to initiate a CI process.

The completed Work Order is attached to the event frames in the Data Historian to allow the Reliability group to analyze and execute the proper maintenance strategy. All data in the historian is available and combined with the Work Order, costing and warranty data for detailed analysis.

Scenario 1 demonstrates the ease at which issues can be missed, break downs can occur and money can be lost when systems are disconnected and manual. When multiple sectors of the maintenance process are connected and digitalized, as demonstrated in scenario 2, issues are missed less frequently which prevents break downs, warranties are utilized, budgets are updated to maintenance accuracy, data is captured for later analysis and use for increased reliability, money is saved and ultimately the maintenance process is optimized.

Improve Assessment of Organizational Needs

Digitalization provides a greater depth of information into your organization. It allows organizations to make better decisions about business strategy, maintenance strategy and maintenance process. Businesses can dig deeper into problems when they arise and use the additional information to extract further opportunities for optimization.

Every company has differing reliability requirements. Digitalization provides additional data on and insight into what assets require what level of focus and effort. When organizations utilize a digitalized maintenance process, they can exploit the additional data to determine:

  • Maintenance strategy and process
  • Value add areas
  • Reliability of assets (i.e. where problem areas lie and how to correct them, when to repair vs when to replace)
  • Available but underutilized data
  • Critical assets for production
  • Parts inventory
  • Proper process and capture of documentation
  • Technical skills of craftspeople

The Bottom Line

Digitalization is blossoming into a management science, one that can be used to transform and optimize a business’s maintenance strategy and processes. CEOs should make a point to focus time and budget into the realistic adoption of a digitalization strategy in order to optimize their maintenance process.

For more information on how Digitalization can impact your Maintenance Strategy, contact us now!


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