What is EAM (enterprise asset management)?
Enterprise asset management (EAM) incorporates the management and maintenance of physical assets owned by a company throughout the entire lifecycle of an asset, from capital planning, procurement, installation, performance, maintenance, compliance, risk management, through to asset disposal.
EAM software helps organisations to plan, optimise, execute, and track the necessary activities, priorities, skills, materials, tools, and information associated with an asset. Failure to manage and maintain enterprise assets can lead to unplanned downtime, suboptimal asset performance, and supply shortages. Some organisations also rely on EAM systems to demonstrate compliance with regulatory bodies to preclude liability if a failure occurs.
How does an EAM system work?
Although traditional EAM systems were installed on premise, the technology has evolved, with modern systems running in the cloud. A cloud platform provides a range of benefits including larger data storage capacities, stronger security, and easier integration with complementary applications such as supply chain management systems, mobile workforce management systems, Internet of Things (IoT) sensor systems, GIS (geographic information systems), GPS, and other applications.
- Collect and store asset data in the cloud
Leverage the agility of the cloud to collect and track asset information in a centralised data repository. Use powerful analytics and extract detailed insights to understand how assets are performing and where attention is needed.
- Use the data to guide asset strategy and optimise productivity
Assess risk and identify potential equipment failures before they can happen using machine learning, digital twin technology, and predictive analytics. Identify and carry out maintenance requirements in advance so that asset availability is maximised.
- Proactively schedule inspections and maintenance work
Use integrated processes and data to plan, schedule, and execute maintenance work and inspections. Prioritize critical assets to minimise downtime. Detect, report, and resolve issues quickly.
- Extend EAM system capabilities to assets and workers in the field
Manage work orders and asset processes online or offline, with rich visualisations and location services. Integrate GIS data to provide a map-based user experience for remote workers and assets. Track and manage maintenance processes, data, and work orders from anywhere.
Benefits of EAM systems
With an EAM system, companies can centralise all their asset information in one place, making it easier to monitor and optimise the assets and proactively inspect and maintain them. Planning and scheduling of tasks and workers is streamlined and automated, leading to increased productivity, while also safeguarding both workers and the environment. Key benefits include:
- Integrated data stores
A centralised view of the operation incorporates data from all types of assets, regardless of source or location. This single blueprint can be used to coherently monitor asset performance, plan for inspection and maintenance work, and minimise disruptions to productivity.
- Real-time decision-making
Time-consuming, paper-based reporting and stale or inaccurate information is replaced with real-time data. Predictive analytics support proactive maintenance and repairs, with the necessary work automatically scheduled. Critical assets can be prioritized to optimise productivity, and resiliency is augmented when responding to or managing emergencies and unexpected scenarios.
- End-to-end lifecycle management
The entire lifecycle of an asset is managed. Data from assets can be integrated with maintenance processes to predict and visualise asset status and behaviour from cradle to grave. Performance benchmarks are clearly defined, highlighting when immediate attention is needed for equipment that is underperforming.
- Improved environmental, health, and safety measures
Potential outcomes can be identified proactively and action can be taken before an asset failure causes worker injuries and accidents. Spills, fires, and other harmful outcomes are avoided, safeguarding the environment. Carbon footprints are reduced by running equipment optimally and minimising resources used in maintenance cycles such as truck rolls and other heavy equipment. Compliance with regulatory bodies can be easily proven to preclude liability.
The evolution of EAM
Traditionally, asset management systems were deployed on premise, with a different management system required for each type of asset. These systems operated individually, generating data that was siloed and making it impossible for an organisation to render a cohesive view of its entire operation.
Instead, the business relied on workers in the back office, on the floor, and in the field to provide oversight and to report on the condition of each asset. Due to the manual nature of this work, paper-driven processes were the norm, resulting in stale and inaccurate data.
Without real-time data, it was impossible to predict and service assets proactively. As a result, maintenance and repair efforts were reactive, leading to equipment malfunctions, operational disruptions, and lowered productivity.
Today, EAM technology is typically hosted in the cloud, collecting data from disparate assets and systems in real time. New and complementary technologies and tools have paved the way for greater efficiency and effectiveness. For example:
- Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and machine learning: Provide real-time intelligence and innovation
- Supply chain management systems: Correlate asset performance with supply chain logistics and productivity
- Location tracking: Leverages map-based logistics, including GIS, GPS, and others, for the location of an asset
- Imaging technology: Supports linear asset management and visual inspection requirements, including drones, satellites, LiDAR, and others
- IoT asset sensors: Collects and transmits real-time data from assets
What is the difference between EAM and CMMS?
A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) consists of maintenance and operational functions that focus predominantly on the management of asset uptime. Decision-making is insular and limited to the maintenance and operations personnel that use these systems. A CMMS allows asset-intensive industries to focus on driving asset uptime.
An EAM system is designed to address the total lifecycle management of an asset, from capital planning, procurement, installation, performance, maintenance, compliance, risk management, through to asset disposal. Along with maintenance and operations, users include finance, production, compliance, and other business stakeholders. With such a broad base of capabilities, decision-making extends beyond the maintenance and operations teams to include senior leadership and C-suite personnel. An EAM system allows asset-intensive industries to manage the lifecycle of an asset in its entirety.
EAM examples in business sectors
EAM solutions are used most predominantly in the business sectors listed below. According to MPI, a more predictive and intelligent approach to asset management is invaluable to the future of these sectors and driving results such as:
boost in mechanical efficiency
increase in asset availability
drop in maintenance costs
- Oil and gas: These global organisations must manage assets located in plants, refineries, and field sites across a range of areas – from heavily populated urban neighborhoods to extremely remote sites. Oil and gas companies use EAM processes that incorporate sensor data, IoT, edge computing, and advanced analytics to acquire, install, and manage their assets.
- Railways: In the midst of a technology evolution, the railway industry is shifting from legacy systems to digital EAM solutions. With a dedicated analytical platform for asset data management, analysis, visualisation, and decision-making, rail operators can manage the entire lifecycle of assets, achieving higher mechanical efficiency, asset availability, and lower maintenance costs.
- Utilities: With a mix of fixed and linear assets, utilities must ensure employees and equipment are safeguarded while serving their local communities. Assets are located across plants, power stations, and in rugged and remote outdoor locations. EAM supports the industry’s reliability-centered maintenance model by providing benchmarking capabilities, continuous documentation and data management, and collaboration on planned and operational asset performance.
- Industrial machinery and components: The manufacturing industry is becoming increasingly competitive with more companies jockeying for the same customer base. With EAM, these businesses can get to market faster, operate more efficiently, provide better service to customers, and potentially become part of the “as-a-service” economy.
- Midmarket businesses: Resiliency and agility are foundational to the success of midsize businesses. EAM helps these organisations pivot quickly, creating greater efficiencies in equipment maintenance, increased equipment utilisation, and improved spare parts turnover, while lowering local labour costs and total inventory.
Examples of EAM in action: Success stories
EAM has been implemented by customers across a range of business sectors and industries. Use cases include:
- Production asset management in manufacturing, warehouse, and assembly, for example
- Linear asset management in roads, rails, pipelines, and electricity transmission lines
- Mobile workforce management where workers in the field can consume and share asset information while performing inspections and carrying out other tasks
Here are a few examples showing how EAM drives improved business results:
- Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) uses EAM to ensure its plant equipment offers consistently high performance and availability during the mining and production of natural resources.
- SBB CFF FFS, a Swiss railway company, uses EAM to integrate reliability-centered maintenance processes to optimise asset availability and reduce maintenance costs.
Enterprise asset management FAQs
Although traditionally EAM systems were deployed on premise, today most applications are deployed in the cloud, with smaller and mid-sized businesses using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model to accommodate a more moderate-sized operation.
Data from a range of complementary systems can be integrated within EAM in real time. This rich data repository supports powerful predictive analytics and business insights so that assets can be managed proactively.
With a holistic view of the entire operation, greater efficiencies can be achieved with enterprise asset management software. For example, inspection and maintenance crews in the field can attend all assets in need of attention on a single run, resulting in fewer truck rolls. With proactive maintenance, assets will run optimally, using less power and reducing carbon footprints and other environmental impacts.
Organisations can be held responsible for damages that may occur due to equipment failure. For example, some public utility companies have been found liable for loss of life and property damage due to equipment malfunctions and overlooked inspections. These scenarios include environmental disasters such as wildfires and natural gas explosions.
CMMS focuses specifically on driving asset uptime and would be used predominantly by operations staff responsible for this single output. Organisations that want to manage the entire asset lifecycle, from cradle to grave, will use an EAM system.
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