Automation Maintenance Management Reliability

Digital Asset Performance Management Reduces Risk and Maximizes Return

Jane Alexander | November 17, 2017

The worker in a gas mask looks at a manometer of the gas refinery.

Editor’s Note: The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and vision of an intelligent, connected automation infrastructure are dramatically reshaping maintenance and reliability operations everywhere. Machines, equipment, and processes throughout factories are leveraging the IIoT to enable real-time situational awareness of asset status, performance, and return on investment. This article lays out the benefits in practical terms…

By Kim Custeau, Schneider Electric

The dropping cost of sensor technology and increased computing power of connected devices offers companies the opportunity to take advantage of IIoT capabilities that quickly gather and analyze massive amounts of asset-related data. This influx of information offers an opportunity for organizations to break from traditional perspectives and create a cooperative and collaborative environment that streamlines and simplifies asset management optimization. At the same time, however, industrial equipment has grown increasingly complex with the introduction of modern sensor hardware and computing software. This has made isolating and resolving potential equipment failures more challenging than in the past.

So what does the future look like for asset performance and reliability management? And what should businesses be thinking about now to ensure that their enterprise captures the full business value the IIoT is poised to offer?

Companies can leverage the IIoT to optimize their economic return on assets by integrating their Enterprise Asset Performance Management (APM) solution. Enterprise APM is more than a concept: Companies are using this platform to drive value for their business today.

For example, when American Electric Power (AEP) implemented an Enterprise APM solution across its fossil fuel generation, the company’s predictive-analytics solution detected abnormal bearing vibration within one of their gas turbines. A physical inspection confirmed that one of the turbine blades was damaged and continued operation could have severely damaged the rotor. AEP estimates that this single catch saved the company more than $17 million.

Digital Asset Management
Enterprises seeking to enhance their asset performance and reliability should evaluate the capabilities of their current Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solution to ensure they are maximizing its value. The complexity of asset maintenance has never been higher, so adopting an EAM solution that is simple and intuitive is critical.

The new generation of EAM solutions is fully extensible, allowing users to customize the user experience to particular business needs. Configurable EAM solutions with remote and mobile access capabilities empower employees to make informed decisions, no matter their geographical location or role in the decision-making chain. In addition, remote and mobile access capabilities make it easier for organizations to attract and retain the digital generation of millennial workers that values the ability to work from any device, anywhere, at any time.

The benefits of an advanced EAM system increase significantly when it’s integrated as part of a comprehensive maintenance strategy. Enterprise APM integrates all the various elements of a comprehensive maintenance program, making valuable information accessible and delivering context for smarter decisions. These solutions typically provide a suite of functions that can be applied to a broad spectrum of different types of equipment, providing companies with the following benefits:

#1.  Bridging of the OT/IT gap: As sensors become commonplace, the key to taking advantage of the IIoT is not in the data collection itself, but rather in how a manufacturer derives insights from that data, based in part on the context from where and how the data was extracted. This enriched set of real-time, IIoT-generated data makes valuable information accessible and can be used to drive far greater insight in responding to changing conditions with smarter decisions. Data collection that bridges the OT/IT gap breaks down silos and provides a comprehensive view of asset performance and reliability.

The value of operations data and how it is managed has become a critical priority for every enterprise. Data collected over time can be combined to find patterns indicating greater faults or process limitations, and can also help extend asset longevity.

#2.  Prediction of problems before they occur: Heavy equipment users should review their maintenance strategy and consider employing predictive analytics, which use techniques such as advanced pattern recognition, a rules based engine and machine learning to provide an early warning of impending equipment failure. With this intelligence, personnel can better understand the actual and expected performance for an asset’s current operational state, enabling them to identify a performance issue or impending failure days, weeks or months before traditional practices would provide alerts. When an industrial asset analytics system triggers an alert, engineers can spend less time sifting through raw data and more time improving the reliability and performance of assets. Advanced analytics capability is becoming a competitive differentiator in the market, aiding the maturity of asset maintenance strategies from preventive to predictive.

#3.  Empowerment of the workforce: Enterprise APM provides interactive visualization capabilities for presenting information in intuitive ways on mobile devices, enabling engineers to visually explore data and decrease the need for understanding complex algorithms or programs. This includes a spatial view of assets for effective decision-making while optimizing resource planning and scheduling of remote workforces.

Easy-to-use analytical capabilities, interactive reports and dashboards provide real-time visibility, self-service access to information and facilitate cross-functional collaboration for operational performance improvements and alignment with business targets. Employees can also master intuitive visualization tool interfaces without in-depth technical knowledge or extensive training, which is a significant advantage for today’s shrinking skilled workforces as the previous generation’s experts retire.

#4.  Optimization of long-term asset management: Defining the best way to manage assets is a key success factor in achieving business objectives, and comprehensive risk-based maintenance tools enable customers to understand which assets to focus on with the right information that is essential to drive action. Advanced asset criticality analysis ensures the most important assets receive priority and more rigorous analysis for optimal maintenance. In-depth risk analysis provides detailed insight into the real factors driving asset reliability and performance, facilitating long-term planning. Extensive simulations capabilities allow users to see the impact of differing asset management approaches, enabling a strategic approach to operations and asset management.

Before investing in Enterprise APM, organizations need to assess the maturity of their asset management infrastructure–specialized APM consultants can provide invaluable guidance during the assessment phase. When selecting a solution, hardware-agnostic platforms enable easy integration, without requiring an expensive rip-and-replace.

Climbing the Maintenance Maturity Pyramid
Optimized maintenance reduces costs. After all, fix something too late and it’s broken again; fix something too early and the cost of maintenance was unnecessary. Instead envision the process as moving up a pyramid.

The higher you move up the “Maintenance Maturity Pyramid” (see below), the more proactive the strategy becomes, and the more advanced warning of equipment failure is required. This enables maintenance teams to better plan resources, order materials and minimize unplanned events.

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 4.29.48 PM

With advanced Enterprise APM, plant personnel are empowered to transition from reactive and preventive maintenance to a predictive and risk-based maintenance approach for their critical assets. This enables a shift from a corporate top-down approach that focused on managing the asset lifecycle through improved maintenance visibility and standardized practices to a holistic and operations-centric view. In this new approach, proactive and predictive maintenance opportunities empower front-line personnel to act before costly failures occur, leading to better productivity, reduced costs and reduced unscheduled downtime.

To truly reap the tremendous benefits anticipated from leveraging the IIoT, companies need to implement changes in their internal structure and resources. As organizations look to improve and streamline their maintenance, a comprehensive Enterprise APM platform offers the ability to differentiate their technology and improve collaboration of people, processes, and equipment to maximize economic return on assets in today’s increasingly competitive industrial marketplace.

Kim Custeau is Global Director of Asset Management for Schneider Electric (Lake Forest, CA). For more insight on successful asset-performance-management practices, as well as technologies and services that support them, CLICK HERE, or go to




Jane Alexander

Jane Alexander

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