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All asset management businesses in the manufacturing industry need to be as efficient as possible. When processes, systems and equipment are running smoothly, profit margins are maximised and optimum quality is achieved

Enterprise asset management (EAM) software enables businesses to manage even the most complex range of assets over multiple sites. This works in conjunction with Industry 4.0 concepts and technologies.

The right EAM system allows manufacturing organisations to:

  • Save money through improved efficiency
  • Maintain robust regulatory compliance
  • Improve operational efficiency
  • Maximise asset & equipment uptime & first-time fix
  • Effectively manage supply and demand
  • Ensure the highest quality products

EAM software will usually replace paper-based systems, which requires manual entry of data and results in duplication of work, with different processes being managed by different departments. This frequently results in errors, and requires continual checking and auditing.

Proactively maintaining a company’s assets

Keeping track of mobile assets is often a major headache for businesses. The best EAM systems enable exact knowledge of the location of all assets, using GPS data.

Knowing the location of all assets enables:

  • More efficient allocation of resources
  • Faster response times
  • Instantly know where equipment is, when it’s needed

Not only can an EAM system allow users to escalate things quickly, but they can know exactly what’s wrong, what is needed, and how it’s going to be fixed. This ensures that the right technician is called out to fix it, and that they have the right level of expertise according to the complexity of the problem at hand.

The right systems can be used to not just proactively maintain equipment, but other business assets as well. This includes plants, machinery and tools, buildings and infrastructure, stock, and vehicles and distribution.

This aids effective auditing – and therefore ensures the complete safety of everything the business does.

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How automation saves time and reduces errors

An EAM solution with a mobile solution embedded removes much of the scope for human error in asset management, by replacing multiple paper-based or spreadsheet systems with a central platform.

The right system automatically optimises maintenance planning, stock location, and asset allocation, across multiple sites and asset types. Maximo® has a strong integration framework which will allow companies to bring any other system data (SCADA or PI-Historian) to inform the maintenance process through automation as required.

It also allows companies to integrate monitoring and control systems in the EAM solution to bring data in automatically.

Verification processes can be added at any stage, in order to enforce proper processes – for example with configurable forms, and signature verification.

The right solution can:

  • Ensure that regulations are followed
  • Integrate all required condition-based data
  • Schedule equipment maintenance
  • Generate work orders
  • Capture geographical location of assets
  • Confirm that all tools and equipment are present, safe and calibrated

Data added to an EAM system should be available immediately to all users – giving valuable extra management information.

Industry 4.0 technologies make this possible, as machine-to-machine communication transfers data directly, without human intervention.

Making use of Industry 4.0 Technologies

The manufacturing industry is trending towards automation and data exchange in key technologies and processes. This includes:

  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Cloud computing
  • Cognitive computing
  • Artificial Intelligence

Use of technology and the IoT sensors makes predictive maintenance possible in large manufacturing organisations. This allows machine owners to perform cost-effective maintenance and determine it ahead of time before the machinery fails or gets damaged.

Companies are now able to do this across the world – such as monitoring assets on a site in Thailand, whilst being in the UK. This provides significant efficiency, asset uptime and safety advantages to manufacturing companies – and the right EAM system makes all of this possible.

Stringent quality control and assurance

As part of a business’s manufacturing processes, strict quality control and assurance measures are required. The right system can help with this, because if the equipment that’s manufacturing the actual products is properly maintained, then the products being produced will be to a higher quality.

It also helps with production line quality assurance testing, as the solution should be able to highlight when a particular piece of equipment is producing too many errors.

That way, users know when equipment needs to be checked and maintained. Efficiency is improved by speeding up this process.

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Inventory Management and Supply Chain

The goal of inventory management is to have the right product in the right place at the right time. This requires inventory visibility — knowing when to reorder, how much to order and where to store stock. An effective EAM system makes this possible.

Manufacturing businesses require an accurate view of inventory to:

  • Guarantee fulfilment of customer orders
  • Reduce shipment turnaround times
  • Minimise stockouts, oversells and markdowns

Too little inventory can result in unhappy customers. But a large inventory comes with its own challenges. That’s where the right EAM solution can help manufacturing businesses to find the right balance between having too much inventory on hand or not enough.

The key features of successful inventory management include:

  • Track inventory across the supply chain
  • Move a product to where it is most valuable
  • Create and manage purchase orders
  • View reporting and analytics data
  • Automate shipping to reduce errors

By optimising the supply of products with the demand for them, manufacturing businesses can minimise stock holding and maximise required output at the right time.

Selecting the right system

There are many asset management solutions available to manufacturing businesses – and IBM Maximo® is just one of them. This system is widely acknowledged to be the gold standard in EAM software.

IBM Maximo® is Gartner’s independently rated No.1 EAM solution for the past 10 years, and is widely used by bluechip firms. This is because it addresses the entire lifecycle management of an organisation’s physical assets to help them maximize value.

The alternative option – an ERP system – does not do this. Using an ERP system to manage assets may leave an organisation lacking in the areas critical to enterprise asset management: scheduling, workflows, standardization, key performance indicators, best practices, analytics and predictive maintenance.

Remote working with Fingertip

In addition, IBM Maximo® has built-in functionality to interface with mobile software, which allows IBM Maximo® to be updated directly from the point-of-work, in real time. A major provider of mobile solutions is Peacock Engineering, whose ‘Fingertip’ mobile add-on is one of the most sophisticated and flexible available.

Fingertip can generate work orders from any location, and capture vital data at the point of work, saving businesses valuable time and keeping their system and assets running even more smoothly.

Fingertip can also be used in ATEX and DSEA hazardous environments. It can work entirely offline if required, and updates IBM Maximo® as soon as an internet link is restored.

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