I recently ran across an excellent article on ReliablePlant.com that discussed the development of Enterprise Asset Management and the need to understand how management must adopt new perspectives in order to better utilize CMMS/EAM systems to fuller capabilities. What quickly became obvious is that past generations of management have failed to look forward at the bigger picture when implementing a CMMS/EAM system. With this in mind, here are a few additional thoughts to help current and future generations of facilities managers make good choices for selecting an EAM.

Know what your pain is – the past

In the past, many decisions to implement a CMMS/EAM were centered around reducing expenses and getting a handle on the demand for maintenance. Reactive maintenance often resulted in overtime and machine reliability was not exceptionally high especially if preventive maintenance was not being performed. CMMS/EAM systems were designed with increasing complexity and capability. Preventive maintenance and inspections were utilized as expense saving features.

Underutilization of CMMS/EAM capabilities occurred because maintenance was treated as a non-core function of the business. As a result, once the immediate pain was relieved the incentive and urgency for improvement disappeared. Technological advances such as mobile handheld devices and diagnostic tools for monitoring equipment (predictive technology) showed very slow adoption rates.

Know what your pain is – the current day

Jumping ahead to the current day, companies are only just beginning to understand the role of an EAM as compared to that of a maintenance system. Professional associations and software consultants such as The Aberdeen GroupARC Advisory Group, and Technology Evaluation Centers are now able to collect enough historical information to determine what seems to be working best and publish best practices for facility and property management. Key to their finding are the most effective companies no longer treat maintenance as the poor stepchild and in fact the best:

  • Have official corporate strategies
  • Standardize facilities management procedures and policies throughout organization.
  • Create a formal group for real estate and facility management at the enterprise level, formally recognizing the activities importance.
  • Make use of technology such as online computer maintenance management systems, handheld technology and work order management solutions.
  • Measure performance, including the time it takes to fulfill a work order or resolve issues

On the down side:

  • Companies are only just beginning to understand the value of consistent system training and other influences that inhibit greater utilization of the capabilities of their CMMS/EAM.
  • The recognition of the importance of a CMMS/EAM has seen a proliferation of cheap or free off the shelf software packages which once tried often poison facility managers to trying another alternative.
  • There are numerous specific applications sporting a wide variety of acronyms such as CAFMFMISCIFMIWMSERP etc. Each application has value in a particular specialty and some such as IWMS cross multiple disciplines but in a less detailed scope.
  • Technology is only just now progressing where a company is able to connect most of the dots within its organization. It may be years before vendor packages are assimilated with ease.

What will your pain be in the future

One can only make an educated guess as to what the future holds but it is pretty clear that it will be technology oriented. To be competitive, facility managers and corporate executives need to be at the top of their game. Some predictions are:

  • Predictive technologies will increase in quality perhaps to the level of six sigma quality. They will continue to augment EAMsystems but not replace the need for people to perform preventive maintenance, inspections and work orders.
  • The facility manager of the future will be a cross between a techno-geek and engineer. Tool belts will carry fewer tools and more handheld devices. More and more repairs will be outsourced as technology sophistication requires specially trained personnel or has proprietary components.
  • Vendor management (which an EAM tracks) takes on a primary role.

And what about EAM utilization? EAM systems include the entire asset life-cycle from planning to purchase to maintenance and ultimately the assets retirement. In addition, other components of an EAM include contracts, documents, work management as well as capital asset planning. Utilization will increase as the need (pain) for all its functionality is addressed.

How is your company planning for the future?

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