Introduction

Asset intensive organizations, organizations that rely on their physical assets for success, require two types of systems in order to optimize enterprise asset management (EAM). Asset Management Systems (AMS) and Asset Technology Systems (ATS). AMS make you effective, while ATS make you efficient. Effective and efficient asset management is what we’re all after, right? Let’s review in detail how Asset Management Systems and Asset Technology systems can take your EAM operation to the next level.

What is an Asset Management System?

An Asset Management System is a set of policies, processes and procedures used by an organization to guarantee that it can fulfill all the tasks required to achieve its objectives. This is not to be confused with an Asset Technology System which is a software system. We will talk more about that shortly.

An Asset Management System is a documented, process-centric, approach to how an organization manages its physical assets. It establishes clear goals and then coordinates the operation so that the business can deliver on them. Within its applicable scope, an Asset Management System defines the organization’s asset management strategy, business processes, and data standards. It ensures that everyone in asset management knows who does what and how things are done, so that tasks are performed the same way across the organization. It also includes performance measures, roles and responsibility and auditing processes so that an organization can continually evaluate and improve the way it operates.

Although management systems are best known for their use in quality and safety management, their structured approach can be applied to any area where discipline and control are needed. For this reason, they are particularly valuable in enterprise asset management. An Asset Management System provides the consistent, deliberate approach that is needed to effectively manage a large portfolio of physical assets.

See below what one is made of.

An Asset Management System ties asset management activities to the delivery of the organization’s objectives. It connects the Execs with the Techs!

The Benefits of an Asset Management System

An AMS can help any organization, public or private, get more value from its physical assets by:

1) Helping an organization “turn things around” through disciplined practices, long-term planning, and effective change management.

2) Demonstrating to customers, owners, employees, regulators, and other stakeholders that the organization’s assets are in good hands.

3) Providing assurance that an organization’s objectives for its physical assets can be achieved consistently and sustainably over time.

4) Enhancing customer satisfaction through improved performance, reputation, and control of service delivery.

5) Improving risk management, HSE performance, and corporate governance – while leaving a clear audit trail.

6) Optimizing return on investment for physical assets, capital projects, and asset management technologies (IIoT, EAM, CMMS, etc.).

7) Enabling EAM, CMMS, and ERP software systems to deliver thorough and reliable information.

8) Speeding up improvements in the short term while laying a solid foundation for future success.

The Foundation for Enterprise Asset Management

In one word, an AMS is all about process. Process is the foundation of asset management. But process can’t act alone while being efficient at the same time. It needs technology partners – partners that help to streamline activities and improve information delivery. Those partners are Asset Technology Systems.

What is an Asset Technology System?

An AMS provides a foundation for effective asset management. Once the foundation is laid, it’s time to become more efficient and bring in the Asset Technology Systems that collect, monitor, store, analyze, and report asset management data.

An asset management operation has two layers of Asset Technology Systems. The upper layer is an EAM/CMMS software system, which is the main repository for asset management data. The lower layer consists of IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) devices and critical supporting applications such as SCADA, BAS, HMI, and others that connect to the EAM system to share data.

These are the layers of an asset management operation. Data flows up from assets, while decisions flow down from management. Asset Technology and Asset Management Systems live in between, connecting physical assets to business goals.

The Promise (and Limitation) of Asset Technology Systems

IIoT has launched a new era of asset management – an era driven by real-time information and intelligent machines. IIoT automates data collection and condition monitoring, allowing organizations to gain deeper insights into asset performance and to respond more quickly when something goes wrong. When integrated with existing EAM software technology, IIoT can significantly increase the efficiency of an asset management operation.

For example, IIoT can send performance data to the EAM system, where abnormal conditions will trigger an alert or an automatic work order. It can even pass usage data to the EAM system for real-time energy and cost tracking.

But Asset Technology Systems such as IIoT and EAMs cannot drive value creation by themselves. Smart devices will tell you when a machine is performing outside normal parameters, but they can’t tell you how to respond, who is responsible, or what procedure to follow. That kind of strategic direction is the domain of an Asset Management System.

IIoT devices, EAM software, and other types of ATSs must be configured to support the AMS – not the other way around. Too often, an organization’s business process will be designed around what the technology can or can’t do. Tying your practices to IIoT or EAM functionality creates technology tunnel vision, preventing you from designing optimal practices based on the organization’s objectives.

Bringing Together AMS & ATS

At first glance, the marriage of an AMS and an ATS looks strange. One is stable, application-agnostic, documented, and works from the top down; the other is dynamic, application-specific, and works from the bottom up. Practices meets Technology: not a likely couple. However, as with the Odd Couple, opposites attract. And once together, the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.

The truth is, Asset Management Systems and Asset Technology Systems perform different but complementary functions. They target the same objective, but attack it from two different directions. The key is that they come together, integrate, and work in a unified manner. Management systems bring the process; technology systems bring the tool set to execute it. Like history’s classic duos – Lennon and McCartney, Laurel and Hardy, and all the rest – Asset Management Systems and Asset Technology Systems are better together than apart. Each is good in its own right, but when you put the two together, information happens and value is created. Processes create data; technology systems deliver it. You need both to achieve success.

Asset Management Systems and Asset Technology Systems perform different but complementary functions.

Which Comes First: Asset Management System or Asset Technology Systems?

To have long-term and sustainable value creation you need both management systems and technology systems. But which comes first? Unlike the chicken and the egg dilemma, the answer to this question is (or should be) simple. Asset Management Systems rule the roost. An AMS identifies who does what – and when, where, and why. Asset Technology Systems should be implemented to support that, not to define it. Remember, an ATS is only as good as the process driving it.

As the graphic above indicates, management systems provide the foundation. This is an important concept. Like we discussed earlier, technology should be a product of the process, not the other way around. When technology systems get in front of management systems, you’re in for trouble. The wrong captain is driving the boat. Implementing a technology system (IIoT or EAM software) without fully defining your management system (business processes) will leave you operating without direction.

Configuring EAM software as you go is a potentially risky and very costly endeavor. However, once the Asset Management System is in place, then by all means bring in Asset Technology Systems to streamline it. Technology is a requirement for success – but only after you have fully defined how you are going to conduct business.

Technology is only as good as the process driving it.

Adopting an AMS Approach to Asset Management

Your physical assets are valuable. They deserve a formal, structured approach. And that’s exactly what an Asset Management System offers. Trying to achieve asset management success without a management system is like trying to finish a puzzle with a missing piece. This relationship between management systems and technology systems is visually expressed in the following graphic.

Your physical assets are valuable. They deserve a formal, structured approach. And that’s exactly what an AMS offers.

Adopting a management system approach to asset management may require a change in how your organization thinks about asset management. You may have to move from a maintenance focus to an asset management focus. You may have to apply a more comprehensive strategy – one that addresses all of the variables that drive asset management, not one that focuses solely on IIoT and EAM technology. For many organizations, this will be a major paradigm shift.

But the value that an Asset Management System creates is worth it. At SwainSmith, we’ve seen the benefits over and over again with our clients. Benefits like lower costs, better service quality, more equipment uptime, and other improvements in quality, safety, and compliance. You simply can’t achieve those kinds of improvements on a long-term, sustainable basis without a management system foundation.

For more information about an AMS approach to asset management please send us an email at info@swainsmith.com