Vendors are taking steps to leverage trends and technologies in their ongoing quest to improve and simplify asset management processes. New technologies deepen the ability to manage assets effectively. Recent capabilities added to Oracle eAM are 3D laser modeling with Oracle AutoVue to virtualize and improve shutdown planning, and geofencing with Oracle Spatial to ensure personnel, parts and fleet are where they’re supposed to be for maximum efficiency. “It’s a mashup of the technologies coming together, allowing the workers to have more intelligence at their fingertips, and the information to be fully integrated with the ERP,” says Stephen Slade, senior director at Oracle.
Running asset management software natively on the browsers of Apple iPads, iPhones and Android-based phones is a capability of IBM Maximo. Lineside machine operators who require easy input for maintenance might benefit from an iPad or touch screen. Mechanics and technicians require mobility and might run disconnected, making iPhones or dedicated mobile devices more suitable. “Mobility for the workforce has been and will continue to be an important enabler to connect the shop floor with the information they expect from their enterprise systems,” says Mary Bunzel, IBM’s worldwide manufacturing industry leader.
Social media is influencing contemporary asset management software. “IFS is rolling out a number of new initiatives to enable social media-like capabilities within IFS Applications, in a secure manner, promoting communication between co-workers,” says David Andersson, director of IFS Labs. IFS Talk is a Twitter-influenced hub where IFS Applications users can ask each other questions, comment, share media and get help. IFS WikiHelp allows enterprises to build collective knowledge by placing application help data into a wiki format. IFS Communicator enables real-time communication via chat, phone or video conversation.
Maintenance technicians might partake in virtual reality training from Invensys Operations Management. EyeSim training kiosks provide lifelike, 3D plant process navigation using a games console controller.
Improving energy management
The single largest operations and maintenance expense in many sectors is energy, says Rod Ellsworth, Infor’s vice president of global asset sustainability. Energy is also a leading indicator of asset performance. “When there’s a problem with an asset, it manifests itself as excess energy,” he says. The company’s Asset Sustainability application enables companies to monitor, measure and control energy usage, reducing the cost of energy and carbon emissions. “A good asset management decision in the past might be a bad asset sustainability decision today. Extending asset life is less important when a replacement would substantially reduce energy costs.”
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SAP takes the Perfect Plant approach to ensuring high-performing assets. “The approach can directly affect urgent issues such as the efficient use of energy via the SAP Industrial Energy Management solution,” says Paul Boris, vice president of advanced manufacturing solutions at SAP. “Perfect Plant allows assets to be monitored and fed back to operators or the control room, automatically triggering alerts or requests to the core EAM systems, all via fixed or mobile devices.”
For the maintenance of smart assets in the smart grid, Ventyx enables an automated approach. From AMI meters and instrumentation in the substation to transformers for SCADA reporting, the new assets need to be tracked properly, monitored and maintained. “It’s the unglamorous but necessary aspect of the smart grid,” says Steve Radice, vice president of utility T&D solutions for Ventyx. “It doesn’t look good for a utility if it’s not maintaining its assets in a more modern way than break/fix mode.” With Ventyx Asset Suite, and Service Suite, a smart grid device with a potential problem can communicate automatically through the back channel and generate a service order or dispatch service without the customer knowing about it.
Cloud computing can give small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) access to affordable, easy-to-use and easy-to-own asset management software. “SMBs tend to be strapped for IT support, if they have any at all,” says Mike Stone, vice president of global marketing for AssetPoint. “They don’t want to worry about servers, databases, version updates and disaster recovery. They need asset management on demand.” AssetPoint’s new TabWare Express cloud computing solution starts at $40/month per user and can be up and running in days.
E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, managing director of Additive Communications, at email@example.com.