For the last several decades the focus of cable operations has centered around the movement and tracking of customer premise equipment (CPE) in and out of warehouses. As a result of their enormous growth, Cable Multi-System Operators (MSO)s have significant asset management challenges.
10 Cable Asset Management Challenges
Some of the more notable Cable MSO assets include multiple warehouses, fleet vehicles, communication towers, signal amplifiers, headend equipment, power supplies, CPE and office facilities. In addition, many assets are spread throughout a large geographic region leaving cable asset management challenges such as:
- Accurate Asset Tracking: Cable asset managers must be able to know the location and condition of assets across field facilities at any given point in time.
- Establishing Standard Operating Procedures: Establishing standard operating procedures for maintenance management across multiple facilities. This will help reduce time spent recreating the wheel as well as easing the transfer of acquired knowledge.
- Having a proactive maintenance plan: Achieving a sufficient level of proactive maintenance work so that staff is not constantly fighting fires.
- Eliminating Manual Work Process: Finding a way to reduce or eliminate manual work request and work order processes enables quicker response times, provides the tools for tracking work history and puts maintenance staff in the field for a greater amount of time.
- Improving Document Handling: Keeping track of vendor contracts, machine schematics, blueprints and any other asset documentation is very time consuming especially if documents are lost or cannot be retrieved quickly.
- Better Capital Budgeting: Rolling up the maintenance history of multiple facilities into manageable reports for better capital analysis.
- Controlling MRO Costs: Keeping labor, emergency repair and energy expenses under control as assets age.
- Improved Maintenance Planning: All maintenance work should be planned in order to make sure the proper resources are used in the most cost effective manner.
- Making better Repair, Refurbish or Replacement Decisions: Cash flow is critical for Cable MSOs, these types of decisions require accurate asset knowledge.
- Managing Asset Lifecycle TCO: Not all asset management systems are created equal. Lower initial costs must be weighed against ease of use, scalability, durability, customized functionality and long term benefits.
These are only ten challenges for cable asset managers. There are many more, however, these ten represent the vast majority of cost/benefit decisions that must be made.
Breaking Traditional Maintenance with an EAM System
As the legendary Bob Dylan once said, “Times They Are A-Changin” and this is very true for the Cable Industry.
The age of clipboards, 2-3 part forms, tracking assets with spreadsheets and endless rooms of file cabinets has passed. The EAM system tools available in the market today have enabled cable MSOs to take control of asset and maintenance management from the planning process through an assets eventual retirement/replacement.
A quality Enterprise Asset Management EAM system addresses each of ten cable asset management challenges listed above. This is accomplished by:
- Creating a computerized database of all assets including but not limited to: location, description, date purchased, vendor, cost, serial number, model and so on.
- Recording all work management including work requests, work orders, inspections, repairs as well as their results. This enables maintenance managers to review what works best in order to develop SOPs. The knowledge gained through the EAMcan also be used for training.
- Enabling maintenance managers to schedule proactive maintenance such as inspections and preventive maintenanceactivities.
- Automating work requests and work orders by using a computer and mobile handheld devices. Paper flow is sharply reduced as work can be submitted and recorded on handheld devices and then transmitted back to maintenance management.
- EAM software allows virtually any document to be scanned and attached (linked) to an asset. Documents are no longer lost, document retrieval is a mouse click away and document storage costs drop like a rock.
- The EAM system records the work history of all assets. This gives asset managers the ability to review an assets maintenance history and better project when it may need capital replacement.
- Through automation and proactive scheduling, reactive (unplanned) maintenance is reduced and proactive maintenance increases. This lowers labor and repair costs as there are fewer unplanned repairs and overtime is reduced. In addition, better maintenance assets require less energy to operate lowering energy costs.
- An EAM software solution enables maintenance management to accomplish more with the same amount of resources. Maintenance planners now have the resources and tools to plan and schedule system wide maintenance activities.
- CPE theft and inventory control are the not the only variables affecting cash flow. When work management results are recorded properly the information that is gathered by the EAM system will enable asset and maintenance managers to work together to determine if an asset should continue to be repaired, refurbished or retired.
- The value of an EAM is directly related to the bottom line impact that it can bring to a Cable MSO. Cost of EAM systems vary greatly as does quality and support. Best TCO results are normally achieved using a web-based EAM system.