The digital transformation allows companies to design asset maintenance processes in a much more efficient way. As the digital transformation advances within companies, all areas of operations are affected, including maintenance management. To remain competitive, asset managers need to know how these transformations will affect and potentially improve how companies manage their assets.
The digitisation of asset management encompasses all elements of the asset management process, including scheduling work, managing supplies, identifying impending problems, capturing accurate and timely data, and being able to analyse that data as it is processed, as well as in the future, to identify trends and patterns of machine behaviour.
Maintenance of asset management
Maintenance within asset management is seen as a competitive advantage. Maintenance ensures that performance is optimal, that incidents are minimal and that performance can guide the team towards more efficient performance.
In the past, the main objective of the maintenance department was to carry out repairs when the asset was not in operation and to ensure that a problem was resolved quickly and effectively. Today, maintenance influences all aspects of business efficiency and risk, safety, the environment, energy efficiency, costs, product quality and customer service.
Adequate maintenance management, taking into account the life cycle of each physical asset, must meet the objectives of reducing the overall costs of production activity, ensuring the proper functioning of equipment and its functions, minimising risks to people and negative effects on the environment, optimising the maintenance work cycle process in all its phases:
- Work identification phase: understanding the problem and the required solution and assigning an appropriate priority to the execution of the work.
- Planning phase: now that the work has been identified and prioritised, the work must be planned appropriately.
- Scheduling phase: record and ensure that the work is scheduled and completed within a specified period.
- Work execution phase: the planning and scheduling of work is intended to make it easier to carry out the work during execution.
- Work completion phase: ensure that when the work is completed, work orders record all relevant information that is necessary to support the needs and objectives of the business.
- Analysis phase: search for opportunities for improvement, supported by historical data on execution results.
Lately, we are seeing a major shift from a reactive to a preventive approach to asset maintenance, as the need to lower the overall cost of operations to remain competitive in the marketplace is higher than ever.
How the digital transformation improves the asset maintenance process
The teams generate a large amount of information through predictive, preventive and proactive maintenance strategies that exceed the capacity of human analysis. This is why it is necessary to combine technical and financial indicators with the use of technologies such as IoT, Big Data or artificial intelligence, which are an unquestionable source of competitiveness for industries. Through digitalisation and the use of connected platforms, these offer solutions that are more adapted to demand, while at the same time allowing for a reduction in costs and production times.
Digital technology presents some immediate advantages that can help discover inefficiencies and keep maintenance costs low, such as:
- Control of delays: by delaying preventive maintenance, more money will be spent on repairs. The use of technology allows for greater visibility of problems and tasks to be performed, making backlogs difficult to ignore and also reducing the number of unresolved work orders.
- Troubleshooting efficiently: repairing or replacing an asset without a database of information about the equipment in question can be a nightmare. A digital platform allows the maintenance team to analyse detailed data to discover which assets need to be repaired and how and when it is most cost-effective to invest in new equipment.
- Predictive maintenance: the digital transformation allows companies to design maintenance processes in a much more efficient way. This is very important, as 70 percent of the total operating costs of machinery and other assets are generated during the service phase.
- Reduction of energy consumption: digital technology allows maintenance schedules to be met and systems and equipment to be kept in optimum condition while limiting their impact on the environment.
- Remote work: remote maintenance consists of carrying out some operations in remote locations, in which the service personnel on-site transmit all the relevant information to the support desk or the customer service centre, speeding up the solution of problems and reducing travel costs.
- Performing Digital Inventory: Digital inventory avoids duplicate orders and identifies unused parts that could be returned for a refund.
However, beyond the direct advantages of using technology, we must bear in mind that the digital transformation is a process of change that involves the whole company and allows the use of technology to be integrated into the company’s overall strategy. This transformation affects both the organisation and people as well as processes and must be applied in all areas, including the management and maintenance of assets.
In the area of human resources, the digital transformation will promote a cultural change that will also affect technical managers, providing them with knowledge and technical skills that are essential for the improvement of their areas and integration with the rest of the company’s systems. This change in mentality will also promote a more open company, sharing information transversally and from the bottom up, which will help managers to better understand the implications of their activity and to have useful information for planning and carrying out maintenance more efficiently and in line with the company’s objectives.
In the more technological aspect, the implementation of more open and interoperable systems will also facilitate the integration of asset management and maintenance with the rest of the company’s departments. We will thus have unique and precise information, updated in real-time, improving the quality of the data, its analysis with corporate business intelligence tools or Big Data, as well as informed decision making.
In short, when it comes to tackling the digital transformation in the company, the inclusion of the asset management and maintenance area will have direct effects derived from the implementation of technologies such as cloud computing or mobility, but also a global impact on how this area relates to the rest of the organisation and is integrated into the information and decision-making processes at all levels