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Author's profile photo Rory Shaffer


NextGenerationEAM – What’s this all about? ( Part One )

The Greatest Generation, The MyGen, GenX’rs, The Lost Gen –so many concepts and so many years covered and still we are talking about the
NextGen to come.  Too often we jump into the fray without understanding the foundational points that define the
subsequent conversation.  So let us start with some basics shall we….”Next” implies not today or yesterday but something
to come.  A bit of a challenge then to have a conversation that would express a concept that is of the “Next” category
as I’m certainly not able to see into the future, sadly I can only make educated and informed predictions.  Still let’s move on with the level set. 

“Generation” in this context means that we are working with a set of ideas or concepts of a given vintage or group.  Still the most important word to define and the focus of the phrase in question is “EAM” ala Enterprise Asset Management.  So for this conversation let’s use this definition; “EAM” is the convergence of all supporting processes in such a way that it drives the maximum availability,effectiveness and financial stewardship from each investment unit (USD $) for a given asset.

So now that we are all grounded in the concept, let’s consider the following simplified mind map;


We see that the concept is initially focused on four major thoughts or nodes of the map, namely The New Workforce, Mobility, Visualization
and Data.  At the center of the map is the EAM practitioner the guy or gal in the field working on ours or the customers assets.  Someone often
overlooked maligned and so misunderstood that some executives would even question the need to invest in the resource let alone undertake a philosophical
change to managing assets.  Yet few others have the chance to see the asset in action to physically sense the device and provide a guiding touch or wrap with a hammer as needed.  This person we are speaking of is referred to as technician, mechanic, operator and many other monikers and although my
preference would be operator as this is what I was classified as in my day, I shall use “Technician”. 

Node 1 – The New Workforce.
The presentations that cite Ageing Workforce are many and we need only look around the ready rooms of your plants to see hard evidence.  Physical plants are generally not filled with the latest “sizzle class” technologies to attract the youngest and brightest emerging from our universities, trade schools and militaries.  As well given recent global economic conditions the in place workforce has been very anxious to move into retirement.  This results in a stagnation
of the ladder of opportunity and given that we age daily this further shift drives the age into the grey hair zones.

Even though we are battling these and many other factors there are points of light in the story of NextGenEAM.  One of these interesting observations is that
the realm of EAM Technician has been breached by non-traditional workers from varied backgrounds.  No longer are the workers only coming out of the traditional backgrounds or experiences.  The visionary practitioners are expanding the hiring pools to look for skill sets that move them out of the broke fix mentality and into a sense, monitor, adjust and operate mode.  More in line with the EAM philosophy then past stovepipe organizational thinking what didn’t
value collaborative thinking and consultative communications from the plant floor to the engineering halls. 

The result is that today one may likely see someone with a traditional mechanical or technical background working with a technician that comes with
the added plus of a finance background to identify the issue that is costing the firm too many Opex dollars. Is this mash up of traditional roles a bad
thing?  I think not.  I would offer that we seem to exist in a dangerous group think that was fueled by our training and hiring practices of old.

These new assets we are installing work in ways that use technologies that could not have been reasonably foreseen when most of our current generation of EAM Technicians where newly minted apprentices or first day journeymen.  Is it realistic to expect them to singlehandedly manage?  We should embrace their perspective and contribution to the pursuit of asset availability – certainly one of the primary tenets of EAM.

One thing is for certain. The New Workforce is not at all what we saw some 10 years ago, Y2K the internet and pervasive computing has rewired the worker that is coming into HR for an interview and has already slipped into the psyche of our current technicians like a Trojan house delivered by their progeny.

In my next post we’ll continue to expand my mind map and explore the explosive amounts of data and how it plays a role in the NextGenEAM.

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