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Asset Maintenance Management: Systems to Navigate the Changing Landscape

Management

Yabba dabba do. The origins of asset maintenance management as a concept and business strategy goes way back. 

Maybe not quite as far back as the days of Fred Flintstone, but its evolution from the Stone Age practice of using paper and pen for work orders to the Digital Age of seamless integration of data and processes has rocked the world–in a good way–for facility and maintenance managers.

Asset Maintenance Management in the Early Days

The First Industrial Revolution was marked by the shift from making products by hand to machine production and the rise of factories. Asset maintenance management in those days boiled down to running a piece of equipment until it broke down. The idea of preventative maintenance was unheard of.

Then electricity-driven machines flipped the switch on production, and it became necessary to improve on the previous run-to-failure practice. More proactive approaches were put in place to take care of assets. These maintenance approaches included regularly-scheduled tasks like replacing belts or filters. However, this strategy was wasteful because parts would get replaced whether they needed to be or not.

Preventative Maintenance in the Wake of WWII

The need for rapid recovery after World War II led to increased competition in the industry. Manufacturers could no longer afford downtime.

Japan solved this problem by employing a system of following the manufacturer’s instructions on how to care for a machine while it was operating. Although a definite improvement, this preventative maintenance strategy was still inefficient and expensive because parts and materials were used for replacement and maintenance before it was truly necessary.

Reliability-Centered Maintenance Takes Off

The arrival of the Boeing 747 brought with it the concept of reliability-centered maintenance, though it was United Airlines that actually coined the term.The airline industry needed highly efficient maintenance strategies to reduce accidents.

Soon other industries recognized this new maintenance strategy’s value and its impact on profit. 

Asset Maintenance Management Through the Tool of Technology

Innovations in technology have transformed every aspect of our daily lives–including the way asset maintenance is managed. From simply revolutionizing the way work orders are handled and the use of mobile apps all the way to the emergence of “smart” factories,” the advancements of the Digital Age are no longer nice-to-haves for companies who want to stay competitive.

Software Solutions

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) and/or enterprise asset management (EAM) system increases efficiency and productivity by optimizing your processes surrounding work orders, preventative maintenance schedules, material use and regulatory compliance. 

These automated software solutions help managers organize, track, plan and measure everything relating to maintenance on a digital platform. They also allow managers to collaborate in real-time with technicians and customers alike.

For example, instead of technicians needing to meet in person with a supervisor to get a work order scribbled on a piece of paper, they can log in to retrieve a work order. All the information they need about the job, a part and its location, or when the last service was performed and by whom will be right there where they need it.

And these cloud-based solutions work even harder.

Comprehensive CMMS software can interpret all your data, so you and your team can make better decisions about workflows, vendor assignments, and material orders. It can also help ensure your business stays compliant with regulatory standards.

An enterprise asset management (EAM) solution allows you to store key information about all types of assets and equipment and track their lifecycles. Not only can you input an asset’s make, model and serial numbers, you can upload an image of the equipment and tag it with an internal unique identifier. 

In addition, it gives you the insight needed to implement best practice maintenance standards to extend the life of the asset and reduce the total cost of ownership (TOC).

Mobile Apps

Today, a smartphone or some kind of handheld device is as much a part of a technician’s tool belt as a wrench or hammer. Almost every maintenance team depends on wireless technology to communicate from remote locations. And by using the camera or video function of their phones, they can report any issues with an asset with unquestionable accuracy.

But the benefit of using a smartphone on the job is much more than a convenient way to send and receive information.

A mobile app allows field technicians the ability to create work orders on the spot, close them out and record their hours and the materials used to complete the order. In addition, preventative maintenance apps provide an efficient way for users to manage scheduled maintenance tasks and a convenient way to access important information like warranties, repair history or manuals without ever having to sit down at a desktop PC.

Robots and Other Automation

Highly sophisticated technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are being integrated into maintenance management. With VR or AR, experts can guide technicians at a remote location as they carry out inspections, perform preventative maintenance or make repairs.

Also these Space Age advancements can be used when providing training for technicians in real life isn’t practical or convenient. Simulators allow technicians to learn without the risk of harming themselves or damaging expensive assets.

Furthermore, remote automation allows technicians to perform tasks like monitoring and controlling an offsite facility where it’s inconvenient to have maintenance personnel there all the time. 

Sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT)

This is where you just want to sit back and say “Wow.” The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of computing devices which are embedded in machines, objects, people or even animals. These devices enable the transfer of data over a network and don’t require human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. 

Larger manufacturing environments with more complex operations already use IoT for predictive maintenance (PdM). PdM depends on the use of sensors to monitor and track the condition and performance of an asset during normal operation. That way it can detect issues and intervene before the equipment falters or fails.

For industries where equipment downtime can lead to significant losses, using IoT-enabled technology can prevent such costly failures.

In manufacturing sectors, the use of automated PdM is being explored to create “smart factories.” This latest innovation in automation uses sensors factory-wide rather than simply on individual machines. Sensors on equipment, security cameras, HVAC systems and more collect data and respond with adjustments to increase efficiency and productivity. And it all happens with little or no intervention from humans!

Where Are You Today?

Even if your asset maintenance needs don’t require some of the more George Jetson-like advancements we’ve just explained, it’s time to say goodbye to binders, log books, clipboards and other practically prehistoric asset management management tools. 

As head of facilities, your job is to continually improve processes and look for ways to increase productivity, efficiency and safety. Our team at NETfacilities can help you discover ways to use the tools of technology to achieve your goals. Learn more by scheduling a demo today!