What is an Asset?
An asset is defined as any useful or valuable thing, person or quantity. Infrastructure assets are long-term capital assets that are typically stationary in nature. Examples of infrastructure assets would be things like:
- Main lines and distribution lines
- Fiber optic and telephone distribution system
- Water treatment facilities
- Nuclear power plants
Infrastructure assets are typically vital in maintaining quality of life and efficiency in the economy. The recent freeze in Texas, where many power generators were not prepared for the extreme temperatures, highlights the importance of infrastructure assets in everyone’s life.
Our clients are owner/operators of infrastructure assets, and their goals are optimizing asset performance to benefit their customers and maximize revenue. To achieve that goal, they must ensure the maintenance of smaller physical assets, such as pumps, valves and motors, that contribute to the overall reliability and asset lifecycle management of the larger infrastructure assets.
What is an Asset Lifecycle?
The Asset Lifecycle is the process through which an asset is stored, used, maintained, and replaced. A primary goal for maintenance organizations is to optimize the asset lifecycle of critical assets, increasing their reliability so that they can perform at the highest output of duration and performance, with reduced downtime and maintenance costs as a result.
What is Asset Lifecycle Management?
Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) is the process of optimizing an asset's reliability and operational performance during its lifespan.
Enterprise Asset Management, EAM, is the term which defines the management of the maintenance of physical assets of an organization throughout each asset’s life cycle. For companies that rely on critical infrastructure assets to support their customers and meet business and regulatory objectives, EAM systems provide essential asset health information, as well as day to day management of critical maintenance activities.
EAM provides end to end maintenance management from asset planning, optimization, execution, and prioritizing maintenance activities. EAM systems also manage labor and material resources, critical safety processes and infrastructure history data.
There are six stages in an asset lifecycle management:
The first stage of the asset lifecycle is the design stage. This is a planning stage that establishes the asset requirements and specifications, based on where the asset is to be used, organizational needs and other existing assets.
- Digital Twins: With the vast amount of data and information made available today, the digital asset is equally as important as its physical counterpart. Having a digital design of the asset helps increase efficiency across the entire asset lifecycle management and allows you to predict future state / potential threats to production by incorporating multiple data sources into the asset’s digital twin.
- Assessment: The planning stage is the ideal time to understand what value the asset adds to your operations, make changes based on previous asset performance, and improve processes around the new asset.
Supply chain is the end to end process of acquiring not just the asset, but management of spare parts to ensure timely maintenance and repairs.
This includes inventory management and procurement actions such as:
- Purchase and receiving of materials and services
- Contract management
- Quality inspection of material
- Storage of the asset until use
- Spare parts management
- Process alignment: Segmented supply chains across the business unit become siloed processes and prevents the organization continuously improving. We help our organizations create a centralized operation for supply chain to capture savings, efficiencies, improve supplier relations and reduce risk.
- Integrated Supply Chain: Separating the purchasing and inventory process from your work planning systems can provide a gap in parts availability and impact the timeliness of maintenance. Having an integrated Supply Chain will streamline and automate the replenishment process, leading to increased savings, maintenance efficiencies and better resource utilization.
Installation is the third and most brief stage in asset lifecycle management. In the installation phase, the asset is issues out of storeroom and is prepared for live operations for the enterprise.
This includes actions such as:
- Asset Tracking and Ownership
- Inspections and documentation
- Location Installation
- Required Qualifications
- Establishing ongoing Maintenance Strategies
- Residing within the enterprise: Integration with other systems, such as Geographical Information System (GIS), is critical, especially for those organizations with a high number of dispersed assets, like in transmission and distribution. As an asset is moved out of storage and into operations, key integrations to other enterprise systems, create a seamless transition across all platforms. This amounts to data accuracy within the enterprise which can save time when unexpected problems arise.
Once the asset is fully integrated into operations, it can be used to perform its intended task. It is during this phase that the maintenance program is monitoring the asset to ensure it is operating at peak performance and delivering desired results.
The goal of the asset owner is to have as much, high functioning up time for the asset as possible. EAM Systems can monitor assets for alerts and disruptions to operations. Predictive tactics can facilitate maintenance planning, avoiding unnecessary down time for the asset. During this phase, Enterprise Asset Management systems will automate planned work activities, while also tracking unplanned work activities. Asset Health Scores and other indicators will help the asset owner understand and be proactive in ensuring asset performance.
- Integrated asset health monitoring: Always responding to problems, or over doing maintenance activities, cost asset owners time and money. By intelligently using historical asset information as well as installing sensors for real time monitoring, asset owners can derive health scores and allow maintenance technicians a more insight to asset performance. Sensors on the asset give real time readings into its current conditions against normal thresholds (vibration, pressure, etc.), and they can be combined with situational data like ambient temperature, humidity and weather.
- Implement Reliability Centered Maintenance: Conditional monitoring, through asset readings, is already a part of Enterprise Asset Management, however specific solutions to support a Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) objective can be deployed. RCM and other artificial intelligence (AI) tools can help move an organization from being simply reactive, to proactively managing their asset maintenance (better maintenance forecasting and resource planning) – and making the best next decision for the organization.
Maintenance of the asset goes hand-in-hand with having an in-service asset. Obviously, the goal is for the asset to maximize uptime, with as little production disruption as possible. Traditionally, there are two types of maintenance – planned and unplanned.
Planned maintenance is scheduled maintenance that is typically preventative in nature, based on the asset manufacturing guidelines and previous asset work order history. Most plans today are based on either time, such as bi-weekly maintenance, or on some measured reading, such as the number of run hours.
Unplanned maintenance occurs when the asset is not performing as expected. Unplanned events often result in emergency work, and can result in unplanned downtime for the organization – and their customers.
- Business Processes: Maintenance programs should strive to minimize unplanned downtime, as it relates to unplanned cost and disruption to production. Good business processes and consistent procedures are as important to achieving this objective, as technology and software systems. The best systems in the world can not overcome a bad culture.
- Continuous Improvement: Organizations should be constantly striving to improve their maintenance operations, extending the asset lifecycle, reducing cost and minimizing impact to production. This is done by continuous learning, and taking the opportunity to streamline and modernize operations based on new technology, industry best practices, and expert guidance.
The final stage in the asset lifecycle is disposal. This occurs when the asset has reached its end of useful life and is no longer helping the organization run an efficient production. This can happen for a few reasons:
- Maintenance Costs – the asset is requiring more maintenance than planned for, and the cost is higher than acquiring a new asset
- Requirements – the asset no longer fits your organizations requirements
- Asset life – the asset life is over and it cannot meet the demands of your organization
- New Technology – there is a new option, technology or version that would be more efficient for your organization’s operations.
- Understanding Asset History: The best EAM systems maintain an historical asset story: when was it purchased, what did it cost, how much have we paid for maintenance, how much does it cost to replace it. It is this information that will allow organizational leaders to make good business decisions on asset retirement and disposal.
- Evaluating Organizational Objectives: Just as organizations should be constantly improving, they should be evaluating organizational goals and business strategies. Assets, and their role within the organization are a part of this evaluation. If an asset needs to be improved, or replaced, the organization can not just utilize EAM to evaluate the current asset, but to start they cycle all over again by designing new and improved assets to deliver performance and customer satisfaction.