Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software plays an important role in the modern industrial facility. It enables businesses to plan, optimize, and execute necessary maintenance activities in a safe, timely and efficient way. The power of EAM reaches beyond just maintenance managers. EAM encapsulates multiple crucial factors for a successful industrial enterprise – factors like skills and workforce optimization – while building the foundation to unlock even more digital transformation benefits, now and into the future. I sat down with SolutionsPT partner IFS Ultimo, experts in EAM and responsible for optimizing the productivity of over 2,200 customers across the world, to discuss how the role of EAM has changed and how it benefits each integral human operator.

Patrick Beekman, Partner Solution Manager, IFS Ultimo, said:
“Enterprise Asset Management software plays a key role throughout industrial operations, not just a single part of it. We want to dispel the myth that the information provided by EAM is only relevant for maintenance managers. The effects of a successful EAM deployment reach into every operator’s ability to complete their job role effectively, and, with the right selection, integrates seamlessly into other technology to open future capabilities of digital transformation pathways.”

Closing the loop

Maintenance is the key factor for many business’ motivation for seeking an EAM solution, whether they are trying to reduce overall time and cost spent on maintenance or pre-emptively solve issues before they develop into unplanned downtime, EAM creates the pathway to achieving ‘just right’ maintenance. The impact of too little maintenance is obvious – assets breaking down more frequently and reducing overall productivity or output.

It is also poor optimization to have expert operators spending their valuable time constantly fighting fires rather than using their skills for value-adding activities. Conversely. the same can be said for companies doing too much maintenance, periodically changing parts in a time-based approach, using estimated wear-and-tear figures, that may be reducing the potential operating life of parts and incurring unnecessary costs for replacements, planned downtime and maintenance professionals time. EAM enables operators to understand each asset’s specific maintenance needs based on its actual usage, condition and performance, and with that insight deploy maintenance when it is needed.

Patrick adds:
“What Fayez is describing is the spectrum of maintenance approaches. On one side you have too little: these are businesses that are constantly in firefighting mode responding to issues as they happen. On the other side you have businesses that overestimate how much maintenance they need and as a result are inefficient in their workforce deployment. This is very common when commissioning large new assets where customers are trying to satisfy warranty periods. So, you have businesses trying very hard to avoid unplanned downtime and indirectly creating more planned downtime with an over-maintenance approach. EAM improves on either side of this spectrum to push customers to the most beneficial middle.”

“The right EAM deployment should always aim to close the loop between operations and maintenance. Taking data and transforming it into actionable work orders automatically to bring those two teams together to make a real collaborative difference. Both operations and maintenance have access to the asset information they need to complete their job role effectively and ensure ongoing operations. The automatic software approach means that any of this vital information isn’t lost in conversations or between information silos, making all the insight available on the plant floor for decision makers.”

Patrick’s point around collaboration through EAM can go either further when using that data to shift a level of maintenance activities to the operator role. Operators are engaged with key information and tasks around routine inspections, checks, or basic maintenance can be completed without specialized engineers. This moves the sense of ownership to the operator themselves and gives them the tools they need to react in real-time, all safe in the knowledge that maintenance specialists are also reviewing the activities across the enterprise and factoring them into ongoing maintenance strategies.

Ensuring the human workforce is being deployed efficiently is not only a key reason to invest in EAM, it is vital to mitigate the growing industry skills gap. As the number of skilled experts in the industry shrinks, it becomes more important than ever to properly utilise those that remain.

Scalable software solution

So, with benefits available and clear for all to see and achieve, what’s holding people back from investing in EAM? The main consensus is that people view their business as not large enough for such a system, and it is something that they will review as they add another facility. After all, goes this line of thinking, you need an enterprise to benefit from EAM. The truth is that even the smallest and most targeted single facility businesses can see value from an EAM system. First, there’s the immediate optimization benefits discussed previously, improved asset uptime and an optimized workforce to name two examples. Second, businesses can use EAM to collect the vital information that will ease the adding of new products, lines, and even entire plants.

On the use of digital twins, Patrick added:
“One of the reasons we partnered with SolutionsPT is the seamless integration into other solutions. One that partners with the EAM specifically, and demonstrates the valuable capabilities EAM opens up, is creating a digital twin using the real-time data from the plant floor. This continued sharing between the asset and enterprise means that new lines and even new facilities can be added digitally within seconds. Further, when enough data is amassed, we can model future issues and the efficacy of maintenance responses in the virtual world. Not only that but it takes into production data as well as maintenance, so before a new line is introduced operators and maintenance professionals can assess and show the enterprise how easy or challenging it will be to maintain. Other benefits around digital twins, such as ease of training for new staff also offer huge potential benefits.”

That crucial point from Patrick here is that EAM is for everyone. It isn’t a technology that only applies to maintenance engineers or large enterprises, it can be utilized to deliver value for operators and SMEs and stay with them throughout their scaling journey. Businesses that are in a growth period can also rest easy knowing they have the data infrastructure already in place for the future, no matter what that looks like.

Valuable technology

EAM is not just a single problem solution, it is also not solely for large businesses with multiple facilities, EAM is a valuable technology that can feed in other aspects of digital transformation, right into the heart of your operations. The right EAM solution takes into account the entire lifecycle of an asset and beyond, making the data that can already be found in a modern facility work harder and influence the design and setup of future assets and facilities. This step on the ongoing digital transformation journey is an important one that will unlock immediate benefits and play a key role in the future operations of any industrial business, large or small.

“EAM removes the guess work from operations, every member of any single facility, or multiple facilities, are now working from a single source of the truth wherever they sit in the business. Each member of the enterprise has the tools they need to complete their specific job role, knowing that other employees who have their own objectives are working from the same core information presented in a way that is most valuable to them. This changes businesses from being fragmented. Instead of each person being responsible for their piece of the puzzle, every member is looking at the full picture.” Concludes Patrick.

Advance your digital transformation journey and unlock a host of benefits with an EAM solution that supports your business now and in the future. Enquire about the joint offering from SolutionsPT and IFS Ultimo here.

Other blogs written by Patrick Beekman

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Kris Sage Sales Director