The Critical Role of Enterprise Asset Management Software

Published July 28 2020 by Kyle Kitzman

Manufacturers are asset-intensive organizations. Because of this, unplanned downtime – caused by equipment failure, inefficient planning & scheduling, and other factors – hits manufacturers hard.

Lead times grow. Labor and parts are wasted. Costs rise.

But as new technologies such as AI and the Internet of Things have modernized the supply chain – changing the face of how manufacturers manage their operations – more are embracing Enterprise Asset Management software solutions to increase uptime, improve cost controls, enhance safety, and extend asset reliability and life.

What is EAM?

EAM software helps organizations proactively manage assets that require continuous maintenance. AM improves labor and equipment efficiency through work order management and scheduling tools to service assets — whether machines, production equipment or vehicles. An EAM solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365’s Asset Management module for Supply Chain Management does this through:

  • Asset Lifecycle Management
  • Preventive maintenance
  • IoT-driven predictive maintenance
  • Condition monitoring
  • Work order management and scheduling
  • Capacity planning
  • Warranty management
  • Spare parts tracking
  • Cost controls and budgeting
  • Asset management analytics

These functions are all connected and integrated into ERP systems, for full visibility.

Today, more than ever, EAM is critical to helping manufacturing companies manage as demand fluctuates amidst the pandemic. Companies are using EAM to:

  • Execute preventive and predictive maintenance to track, manage and monitor assets and decrease downtime.
  • Accommodate newly remote workers with remote monitoring of assets.
  • Prioritize work orders by location, type of work, social distancing requirements and more, with a focus on cost control as operations quickly scale up or down or production requirements change.
  • Track data related to COVID-19, such as contamination incidents or testing requirements.
  • Incorporate heightened cleaning and other process requirements such as testing and risk assessments to ensure an audit trail and compliance with OSHA and other regulations.
  • Manage the distribution and use of PPE equipment.

These tools can be used without a full ERP implementation to quickly drive the benefits of EAM to your bottom line and give you greater control over your operations.

EAM vs. CMMS

CMMS, or Computerized Maintenance Management System, was the first iteration of EAM solutions, and moved asset management into the digital world. Still used by smaller organizations today, CMMS is primarily focused on maintenance and used to manage work orders.

EAM provides a much larger umbrella, with a more holistic and proactive approach to managing assets for large manufacturing organizations with multiple locations. EAM follows an asset through its entire lifecycle, acquire to retire. It also removes the siloed and less flexible view that more limited solutions provide. For example, Facilities Management may classify something as Leased, while an engineer may view it as Maintainable. With a 360-degree view in EAM, integrated with your ERP, all of that data can be viewed in the same place by asset and asset type.

Here’s how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management incorporates asset management as a module within its solution.

How Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management incorporates asset management as a module within its solution.

Why Asset Lifecycle Management is Important

The goal of EAM is effective Asset Lifecycle Management, optimizing the use of an asset so that, simply put, you can get the most out of it for as long as possible. Asset Lifecycle Management reduces costs and lowers risk, while increasing visibility into performance as that asset moves from its start in the planning for its purchase, to acquisition, operation/maintenance and disposal at its end of life.

Asset Lifecycle Management strategies incorporate not just the asset itself, but everything required to manage that asset and keep it running, including staff, engineering processes, inventory requirements and training. Data and the right technology play a critical role in this. To be successful, Asset Lifecycle Management must also be aligned with your company’s business goals.

When Asset Lifecycle Management is done well, manufacturers get more done, and reap a clear return on investment. They are also more agile in a changing and unpredictable market.

When done poorly, manufacturers experience increased downtime, which leads to an increase in costs from emergency maintenance or last-minute part purchases, lost capacity and wasted labor and other resources.

EAM software helps drive better Asset Lifecycle Management. Some of the most common and most effective applications of EAM include:

Maintenance Tracking

One of the most tangible and visible benefits of EAM is maintenance tracking, including predictive and preventive maintenance, as well as any emergency fixes that are required for an asset. The goal, of course, is to reduce the latter.

Many companies still operate in a reactive environment today. When something breaks, it gets fixed. Often the unplanned failures are catastrophic which costs more time and money to repair.

Understanding preventive maintenance is the first step on the path to maintenance excellence. It is the tracking, managing and monitoring of routine maintenance needs of an asset based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. It also involves keeping track of maintenance, costs, schedules and more to calculate the total cost of ownership in one place. Examples of preventive maintenance include scheduled services, part replacements, calibrations and regular inspections.

In Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management’s Asset Management module, you can create preventive maintenance plans and apply them to asset types and/or assets, as well as set up maintenance rounds on functional locations, such as a production line or area of the plant.

The difference between preventive maintenance and condition-based maintenance is that preventive maintenance is done on a predetermined schedule; condition-based maintenance is based on the real-time health of the equipment and triggered by changes in common measurements, like irregular pressure or temperature.

Predictive maintenance takes the idea of condition-based maintenance to another level, thanks to AI and the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as the rise of cloud computing and increasing accessibility of Big Data. Sensors and other devices such as antennas or connectors are attached to equipment and collect data on real-time performance of an asset, accounting for the environment, process and resources.

Predictive maintenance uses machine learning models to trigger maintenance alerts based on EAM data. Predictive maintenance enables just-in-time replacement of components, calling for a repair when components are near (not at) failure. This increases component life and reduces unscheduled costs, extending Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).

According to Microsoft, predictive maintenance:

  • Detects anomalies in equipment or system performance, typically more accurate than rule-based failure detection methods
  • Predicts whether an asset may soon fail
  • Estimates the remaining useful life of an asset
  • Identifies the main causes of failure
  • Identifies the right maintenance actions to be done and by when for an asset

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management’s Asset Management add-in can also be integrated with mixed reality through Dynamics 365 Guides to train workers and close the knowledge gap for effective maintenance.

Schneider Electric developed a predictive IoT analytics solution based on Microsoft Azure Machine Learning service and Azure IoT Edge. Oil and gas producers use it to identify which remote equipment needs repair and when, solving a common challenge in the industry. The application has slashed costs for producers on maintenance, and has optimized production, while increasing safety for their workers and protecting the environment.

Another market where IoT-enabled predictive maintenance is embraced is in aircraft engine maintenance; sensors are attached to engine components and remotely tracked to identify potential issues with engine performance and fuel efficiency.

Work Order Management

Work order management is the tracking and scheduling of all work order activities from maintenance requests, to execution and completion across multiple locations. Work orders are used to manage maintenance jobs on an asset. Work order management is a critical component of successful asset management. Coordinating work orders across departments can have a great impact on efficiencies and costs in the production process.

Integrating work order management and scheduling with production needs can ensure maximum uptime and greater productivity. With these tools, manufacturers can plan – automatically or manually – based on parameters such as worker capacity, availability or work order criticality.

EAM Analytics and KPIs

The gold in an asset management solution is the data. Tracking an asset’s life from start to end in one dashboard provides powerful actionable data to optimize your production, including:

  • Root cause analysis
  • Remote monitoring and diagnostics
  • Status dashboards
  • Critical alerts
  • Historical equipment data
  • Streaming equipment data

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Asset Management module includes, out of the box, a rich set of analytics to measure an asset’s effectiveness, including uptime, downtime, repairs, mean time between failures, mean time between stops and mean repair time.

Benefits of asset management analytics include:

  • A move from reactive to proactive asset management
  • Sharing and acting on insights across departments
  • Easily sharing information with mobile staff
  • Proactively predicting and performing maintenance

When you can parse your asset data by assets and asset types, with an overview of performance in relation to operational and production data, and have the ability to coordinate service across resources and people, you are able to go from reactive to proactive.

In today’s competitive world, manufacturers that don’t embrace technology that keeps them one step ahead won’t get ahead.

With over 20 years of maintenance and maintenance management experience, it’s easy to see the genuine enthusiasm Kyle has as he works with companies toward achieving maintenance excellence.

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