Asset management is all about extracting as much value as possible from your equipment, facilities and whatever other physical assets your company already owns. This entire field was built upon the goal of doing more with less, ensuring that every device is working as hard as possible to reach this objective. This can play out in several ways – from (safely!) extending equipment beyond its projected 'product lifetime,' to repairing mechanical degradations before they ever affect the production line, to creatively repurposing assets that have outlived their original usefulness.
Underlying all these complex schemes and machinations is the struggle to accurately and comprehensively understand how your assets work and how they’re supposed to work. Asset managers are charged with keeping an eye on the intended performance of their assets so that they can understand just how each item is supposed to operate and properly identify when something isn’t working as it should. This process pinpoints areas of improvement so that asset managers can continue to extract maximum value from each asset.
As the field has grown, asset management has embraced new technologies and software to aid in this value extraction process. Embedded measurement instruments of every sort and practice such as RFID tagging, energy monitoring, and data mining deep learning systems have certainly made the asset manager’s job a whole lot easier. But it doesn’t always take a groundbreaking new technology to make improvements to your asset performance management protocol – it could be as simple as putting a little more emphasis here or there.
With that in mind, I’ve codified these four easy tips to help get more out of your asset management strategy.
1.Prioritize anywhere anytime access to information. Asset management is most effective when it can be acted upon as soon as possible. Self-reporting, 'smart' assets automatically collect and communicate data on their operational states to a Cloud analytics platform that processes the data and extracts actionable takeaways. Courtesy of his or her mobile devices, it’s imperative that your floor manager maintains access to this information at all times.
This is not about allowing work to gradually take over home time. It’s about making sure that a responsible party is in a position to act quickly and intelligently to contain, control, and prevent crises. Rather than expecting your managers to be constantly glued to the data portal, the occasional glance will do so long as it’s coupled with well-defined notification thresholds as well as automated alerts and reports.
Far from forcing your employees into a 24/7 work cycle, catching and averting potential disasters as early as possible only makes their jobs easier, and spares them the need for (and you the cost of) working overtime managing crises. Constant access to incoming data from the floor, parsed for actionable operational insights, ensures that asset managers don’t need to be on the floor to monitor and respond to a change in operations.
It really comes down to this simple fact: collecting all the data in the world won’t help you a bit if that data isn’t in the right hands as soon as operational events requiring human intervention take place.
2.Follow the energy trail. Energy moves incredibly fast – 285,102,627 meters per second, to be exact. It passes through every facet of your operation at lightning speed, leaving 'footprints' that can be examined, analyzed and scrutinized. This fast-flowing energy is an incredibly powerful diagnostic tool, spelling out your system’s inefficiencies, interruptions and even impending failures. Wireless, self-powered energy monitoring sensors provide incredible device-level insight
Return on investment is a key feature of wireless energy monitoring. This inexpensive, non-invasive technology can be installed in just a few hours without pausing operations (talk about maximizing assets!), minimizing up-front cost while providing priceless insight into how equipment is performing.
3.Take temperature seriously. Overheating is a common cause for motor, computer, or general equipment failure. Keeping these powerful machines cool should be a priority for asset managers, whether or not the room or equipment feels hot.
In addition to keeping your machines cool, it’s a good idea to keep the rooms within which they run cool too. Aside from providing external support for your machines’ internal cooling systems, it also makes it easier to spot early stage heat-up. Even within the manufacturer-specified range, if you’re using the machine normally, a sudden increase in temperature is never a good sign.
As a rule, cold machines are happy machines. That said, heating can point to a problem in the machine itself (causing heat generation that cannot be appropriately offset by the fully functional cooling system) or in the cooling system. While you no doubt need to figure out the cause of undue heat build up, the first step is noticing it. That’s why I advise managers to always pay extra attention to temperature, as catching a problem here will spare you from needing to discover a lot worse and more costly problems elsewhere.
Tackling proper temperature maintenance is a surefire way to extend the life of your assets, increase their capacity and keep them in operation.
4.Maintain a simultaneous granular and panoptic perspective. In asset management, it’s obviously important to pay attention to the details. It’s equally obvious that you should pay attention to system as a whole. What’s less obvious and often more challenging is the need to do both simultaneously.
Without granular insights, you'll only catch operational anomalies after they manifest in macro systems in macro ways. Without panoptic perspective, you'll likely lose the forest for the trees, and lack any concept of how the individual parts of your operation click into place within the larger systems. So long as individual components seem to be operating as they should, you'll also be totally blind to the complex and delicate interactions between those systems and any dependencies among them – a common culprit for malfunctions.
In other words, a subtle component malfunction or operational anomaly could have a lagging effect system-wide that you wouldn’t be able to appreciate (and prevent) if you weren’t also looking at the wider picture. Equally, a subtle component malfunction can be compensated for to some extent and hidden by supporting components within the system. Only by maintaining a simultaneously granular and panoptic perspective can you be sure to catch and correct all operational inefficiencies across micro and macro structures.
As companies closely monitor their costs and spending habits, asset management takes on an increasingly important role. How can more be accomplished with what we already have? Do we have the information we need to make fully-formulated decisions? The answers can be found with some surprisingly easy adjustments. Some involve the ease of accessing information, while others are just about keeping a closer eye on existing areas of observation. With these four easily-accessible, realistically-obtainable adjustments, asset managers can reach deeper into their equipment and truly tap into its potential.