IBMRO: IT and asset managers mix at Pulse 2008


By Paul Studebaker, CMRP, editor in chief

Jun 17, 2008

Anyone who doubts that the Industrial Era has met the Information Age probably wasn’t among the 4,700 IBM Tivoli and Maximo customers recently gathered in Orlando, Fla., for the Pulse 2008: Get In Touch, In Tune, In Sync user conference.

Presentations made clear the parallels between the roles of IT managers, who support massive data throughputs, and plant professionals, who keep machinery pumping out products: Both get little attention when things go well and too much when they don’t because downtime is measured in thousands of dollars per minute. Both disciplines need systems that help them monitor conditions, pinpoint incipient and emergency failures, diagnose and prescribe repairs, analyze energy consumption and track people, parts and materials.

Labor long ago overtook equipment as the largest cost of a data center. Now, energy costs also are higher than hardware costs, and are rising fast. (Do you think globalization has been tough for manufacturing professionals? Server farms might start to be located preferentially in low-energy-cost places such as Canada’s northern provinces.) Both IT and industrial asset management software must take on new functionality.

So at the Pulse event, IBM introduced Maximo Asset Management 7.1, which provides support for linear assets in addition to improved ability to manage asset life cycle and maintenance management for a wider range of assets types including production, facilities and transportation. These improvements help automate management and control of a greater array of critical assets from a single, service-oriented architecture (SOA) platform. Known as application consolidation, this trend allows a more holistic approach to managing critical assets across the enterprise and reduces the costs associated with separate asset-management systems. Adding Maximo 7.1 to its existing asset and service-management capabilities improves IBM’s ability to deliver on the vision of application consolidation.

“The first Maximo solution was introduced more than 20 years ago, and it’s been helping customers manage critical assets ever since,” says Bill Sawyer, vice president, Maximo operations, IBM Tivoli Software. “The additional IBM resources, in the form of developers, software engineers and industry experts, that we were able to add to the Maximo 7.1 development effort meant delivering to our customers a more comprehensive offering, sooner.”

Addressing the unique attributes of linear assets helps industries such as railroads to manage railways and signals, municipalities and state governments to manage highways and roads, utilities to manage power lines and public water pipelines, oil & gas to manage pipelines, and telecommunications companies to manage cables and communications infrastructure. These industries have a requirement to manage critical assets that are part of a distributed system.

Enhanced capabilities for work management, job plans, work order tracking, service requests and reporting provide deeper asset-management capabilities across the enterprise and eliminate the need for smaller systems that manage only one or two asset types.

Maximo 7.1 also benefits the IT organizations that deploy it. By reducing the number of systems required to manage enterprise assets, it can free up IT department resources for other projects. Improved user interface and system flexibility makes 7.1 configurable with no special training, and efficient data migration capabilities mean a quicker and less costly implementation process.

Advancements in managing access control provide better regulatory compliance and risk management. Combined, these allow IBM to claim a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for Maximo 7.1 compared with separate standalone asset-management systems.

“As part of the Tivoli family of products, Maximo is part of a larger set of solutions including service management, green data centers and mobile solutions that deliver additional business improvements,” Sawyer adds.

A basic version, IBM Maximo Asset Management Essentials, is available for smaller implementations that require only a subset of the asset-management features included in IBM Maximo Asset Management. This version supports IBM’s offerings in the small and medium business markets.