Maintain moving targets with asset management

Agility and insight pave the way for mobile asset management.

By Sheila Kennedy, contributing editor

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In brief:
  • Mobile assets often represent a significant capital investment, and their performance can directly impact the bottom line.
  • A higher degree of visibility is required to manage assets that are mobile rather than stationary.
  • Meeting these needs with the right software, technology, and best maintenance practices will enhance your fleet’s reliability, efficiency and lifespan.

Virtually every organization operates some number of mobile assets, whether it’s lift trucks, haul trucks, executive cars or air compressors. Regardless of whether mobile assets represent a fraction or majority of your asset pool, the maintenance challenges are the same.

Properly managing portable and drivable assets requires all the usual work, asset, and inventory management capabilities. Unique to this asset class is the importance of location awareness and knowledge of equipment condition and energy consumption. Meeting these needs with the right software, technology, and best maintenance practices will enhance your fleet’s reliability, efficiency and lifespan.

High value, high importance

Mobile assets often represent a significant capital investment, and their performance can directly impact the bottom line. “In certain industries, there is much higher concern about equipment uptime and condition. If a mining truck goes down, for example, it causes severe productivity loss with obvious revenue consequences,” explains Ralph Rio, research director for ARC Advisory Group (www.arcweb.com).

Close to $1 billion in mobile and facility assets is maintained at the Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (Source: DMMWRA)
Close to $1 billion in mobile and facility assets is maintained at the Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (Source: DMMWRA)

Close to $1 billion in mobile and facility assets are maintained at the Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority (DMMWRA, www.dmmwra.org), says Reliability Manager Bill Miller. Examples of mobile assets maintained on-site are compressors, process air blowers, mowers, and equipment trailers.

It also has a 160-plus vehicle fleet maintained by the City of Des Moines Fleet Services Division at a central garage downtown. Included are end loaders, tandem dump trucks, over-the-road tractor trailer trucks, crane trucks, service body trucks, paneled vans and Gators, plus three TerraGators used to spread treated biosolids over farm fields, which alone are worth $500,000 each.

When it comes to operating and maintaining mobile assets, MTA New York City Transit is in a league of its own. It moves roughly 2.3 billion riders throughout the city annually. Its revenue service is provided by “rolling stock,” which includes 6,400 subway cars, 5,900 buses, and 2,300 paratransit vehicles. Its non-revenue mobile fleet includes trucks, cars, cranes, cherry pickers, generators, and other mobile equipment. In total, three quarters of a trillion dollars worth of assets are managed.

The transit system operates around the clock, every day of the year. “Our highest priority is to keep our service levels up to meet customer expectations,” says Michael Salvato, asset management program manager for MTA New York City Transit (www.mta.info/nyct). “A big challenge in planning and scheduling maintenance is matching the work to available service bays, labor, and materials,” he explains.

Software drives insight and action

A higher degree of visibility is required to manage assets that are mobile rather than stationary. Software for asset management, condition monitoring, location monitoring, and energy consumption monitoring provide a more complete picture.

Asset management software: DMMWRA matched its asset management software to its business objectives. “We implemented maintenance best practices here a few years back, and we set up and configured our enterprise asset management (EAM) system around those best practices,” says Miller. The EAM solution is sustainability-focused and incorporates reliability-centered maintenance (RCM), condition-based maintenance (CBM), energy consumption monitoring (ECM), facility condition assessments, root cause failure analysis (RCFA), and geographic information systems (GIS). DMMWRA also integrated its EAM, process control system, and data historian, allowing reporting of integrated data.

The maintenance organization is paperless, says Miller. Employees either use a smartphone or iPad to access EAM information or go back to the storeroom or to one of the zero-client computer centers located throughout the site.

“Our storeroom is picture perfect,” says Miller. “All assets and parts are barcoded and have priorities and criticality ratings, and they are broken down by type. The asset parts list shows all quantities in the storeroom and whether we need to order more.”

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