Asset Information Complexity
Information management of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) data in asset-intensive industries is a highly complex and dynamic problem area. Asset-intensive companies are typically very large, run multiple facilities, are geographically dispersed and have IT systems that are not always integrated. This creates three major sources of strain in regards to information management: 1) standardization of master data, 2) effective asset data governance and 3) optimized asset operations and maintenance. A weakness in one of these areas impacts the ability to manage the others.
The problem becomes even more complex when considering the full lifecycle of an asset, starting with engineering design and construction, hand over to production and ongoing asset operations. Many systems of record are used during the design and construction phases of a project, and each stores a myriad of documents and data records that are crucial to that asset’s operational use and maintenance. Complex assets can also undergo rework for alternate uses or for enhancements that go beyond what they were originally designed for. In these cases, information will continue to flow from information sources that typically live outside of the boundaries of ERP and operational asset management systems.
The collection, aggregation and governance of this complex asset information are also impacted by a large range of user types. IT is involved from a data quality and master data management perspective while system experts in ERP leverage the power inherent in complete end-to-end business processes. But business users that may have little involvement with the core ERP systems also play a large role. Maintenance workers that perform inspection rounds or experts with years of experience in specific types of machinery all contribute to the overall definition and understanding of an asset. Therefore, information management systems for asset data must include technical data management tools as well as the business workflows and industry-specific user interfaces that allow all roles to participate in the information management process.
Unique Customer Requirements for Success
When considering the range of IT solutions for attacking this problem, the business must weigh factors such as the current state of business processes and IT systems in use as well as what the optimized or end-goal processes and systems should look like. Is the business simply focused on data migration between applications or are ongoing asset operations impacted by the solutions that remain in place? Will the resulting IT systems be centralized or will the processes surrounding asset data governance need to include “continual data migration” and integration between disparate systems? Is the information problem purely an IT exercise or will business end-users play a role in the ongoing collection and infusion of critical asset information? Questions such as these can muddy the water in terms of what an optimal solution will look like and what combination of IT solutions will meet the overall goals of the business.
In a follow-on post I will discuss technologies to consider for solving these complex issues. I am also very interested in your own experiences with the topic so drop me a line or post a reply!