Managing critical issues and avoiding downtime: what an asset management system can do

A modern maintenance strategy of industrial production assets today necessarily requires a profound rethinking of the traditional management paradigms, essentially reactive, based on corrective maintenance interventions, on the governance of costs and direct expenses, but not at all focused on the key performance indicators (KPI – Key Performance Indicators) and on continuous improvement methodologies of intervention actions. In short, even before evaluating the adoption of latest generation software technologies, the fundamental step for an asset manager or maintenance manager of an industrial company is change mentality, stop considering maintenance again and only as a source of cost, instead of conceiving it as a crucial fulcrum of the organization, on which to be able to develop profit opportunity.

EAM software, because an integrated tool is needed

The first step is to understand that maintenance services must be managed as a real business unit of the organization, applying methodologies, benchmarks, and following the best practices of the sector to which it belongs to identify priority areas where management and maintenance interventions can be improved; the second – essential – step is the selection of the management software specialized in the management of production assets, also known as enterprise asset management (EAM) software. Even at this stage, however, it is important to direct the choice towards a complete and integrated tool: on the market, in fact, it is more common to find solutions dedicated to the operational management of maintenance, rather than tools designed to allow the realization of an articulated maintenance strategy, capable of including all the processes related to optimization at 360 degrees asset management.

The business value of an integrated tool comes from the ability, through a single modular tool, to have a centralized database containing all the relevant information on the type and operating history of each individual industrial asset; its greatest value, however, lies, for example, in the possibility of monitoring maintenance or repair interventions, spare parts management and planning, on the basis of the data collected, the execution of interventions, rationalizing the use of available human resources and taking into account cost constraints.

Benefits of the holistic approach

The integrated EAM software provides many advantages in optimizing maintenance: for example, maintenance engineering features allow for simulate different failure scenarios and, on this basis, analyze and evaluate the reliability of the individual components and subassemblies, estimate their useful life, and identify critical machinery and devices. And all this with the aim of reducing downtime to a minimum, especially unexpected ones, which represent the most serious problem for those who have the task of ensuring maximum continuity of operation of the industrial plant and business activity .

Always with a view to optimize the operation of the plants and minimize downtime, the software estimates the average failure times, the probabilities of malfunction, the relative severity levels and impact on production activity; it also allows you to plan and adopt the optimal policies, maintenance plans and intervention frequencies, naturally without neglecting the budget and labor constraints.

The workflow management functions, starting from precise knowledge of the structure and operation of the system, organize work orders, teams and intervention tickets by defining the cost centers, indicating the equipment involved and the methods of carrying out maintenance . But for certain assets – based on the data collected – automatic diagnosis and resolution procedures for problems and malfunctions can also be defined. The spare parts warehouse administration functions organize the inventory activities, withdrawals and supplies of components, sharing information with the administrative department. In conclusion, associated with the constant evaluation of feedback on overall performance, this holistic and multidisciplinary approach in addressing maintenance activities is the key to successfully pursuing strategies for continuous improvement of maintenance processes.

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