The ultimate goal for any Maintenance Planner or Asset Manager is to ensure “Asset Reliability” for the plant. Asset reliability is to ensure maximum equipment life and equipment running time; thereby reducing the total production loss. This is extremely critical for Asset Intensive industries like Oil & Gas, Power generation, Utilities, Airlines and any industrial production unit. For them, any down time due to “unreliable” assets means losses amounting to millions of dollars, potential loss of business and can even lead to safety issues.
Smart, Accurate and Reliable Asset Data from the field
All the industries would have a Computerized Maintenance Management Solution (CMMS) in the form of a global Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or legacy Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software solutions which, actually, streamlines the entire maintenance process of the organization from daily work management to the routine maintenance process. But, most of the asset maintenance execution is performed on the field, where the machinery is deployed and it means that there is always a delay in work reporting; as well as redundancy in work reporting back into the CMMS/ERP systems. This is where the Asset Intensive companies, that aim to enhance the “Asset reliability”, can adopt an Integrated and Secure Mobile Solution for executing their asset management activities.
What Does it take to Build an Intelligent Mobile Asset Management Solution
Understand the challenges to implement a good Mobile Maintenance Solution
With the proliferation of mobile devices and smart phones, the companies have already embarked on the Mobile Asset Management journey. It is important to ensure that the mobile applications have user adoption, which is effective to use and makes the life of the maintenance engineer easy. In order to design a good Mobile Maintenance Solution, the program managers should consider the following aspects:
- Business functions to mobilize: CMMS is an entirely big system and all the features and functions that are to be mobilized should be clearly identified and prioritized. You cannot run the entire back-end EAM solution on mobile, and whatever you mobilize should be integrated with the back-end system and third party systems for updating data in real-time. The mobile EAM solution should work together with the integrated ERP system modules like supply chain, human resource, project management and finance.
- User Experience: Maintenance is a job that is always performed at the field. The technicians can be working in an air-condition unit, near a compressor or in a mine area. There can be extreme conditions and hence, the mobile application should provide faster and simpler user experience to maintenance engineers. Also, selection of the device is important, and in tough external conditions, a rugged device which can handle drops and extreme temperatures can be considered.
- Articulate the challenges that need to be addressed: The program manager should identify the problem that needs to be addressed and then, implement a good mobile solution. There can arise a need to collect real-time asset data or accurately tracking of equipment location or to avoid redundancy and manual paper work.
Specific Mobile EAM Application Functions that can Boost Asset Reliability
Business Functions that can be ported to Mobile EAM
As explained in the previous sections, asset reliability depends on maximizing the Mean time between production losses (MTBPL) and reducing the number of production losses. Any functionality, that increases the MTBPL, provides detailed Asset information and also, improves overall Plant/Asset safety. It is considered to be essential and effective for Mobile EAM functions.
In order to reduce the MTBPL, it is imperative that the breakdown is reported promptly. Also, any faulty equipment or condition needs to be reported quickly so that the maintenance team can swing into action. This is where “Maintenance Work Request” or “Notification” can be done using EAM on mobile application. A person can take the image of the problem, using his mobile phone, and enter the problem description, equipment details etc. and create a quick work notification from mobile. The maintenance engineers are then, notified on the breakdown and are required to act quickly to reduce MTBPL.
Online Equipment Details
While working on a problem, a maintenance engineer should have easy access to the equipment details. He needs to see the equipment’s serial number, child equipment or components, standard parts and parent-child structure (Bill of material). Using an EAM mobile application, one can design intuitive representation for viewing the equipment details and parent-child structure. Also, one can see the images of the Asset on mobile for quick identification, and view documentations and training manuals attached to the equipment on the mobile.
Asset Location Identification on Mobile
Ever thought of maintenance engineers working on linear assets or distributed assets? It would make their work easier when they could, quickly, search the location of the faulty equipment using their mobile phones. In case of a technician, who wants to repair a Municipal Water Distribution system pump, if the pump is “geo-tagged” using RFID, the EAM mobile application can quickly and accurately identify the location of the equipment. Thus, reducing the overall downtime.
All problems are not easy to be identified and solved. There should be some quick reference to the problem reporting. The mobile EAM application can be used for retrieving the history of previous work orders in a prompt manner, problem resolutions for a particular work so that the technician need not carry loads of paper work to the site and indulge in making phone calls to understand the problem.
Notifications on Mobile
The EAM mobile application can be enabled to receive real-time notifications and alert from the back-end system for any work order assignment or past requirement. This ensures that the field technician is always informed in real- time and can, immediately, attend to the problem.
Two Critical Functions
There are two critical mobile EAM functions that need to be highlighted and which provide great convenience and real-time updates to the entire system.
Work reporting from the field
This is an important EAM feature that can be mobilized. Almost all maintenance work orders are executed from the field, near the equipment. The maintenance engineer is able to gain access to the following in order to complete the work order, using the Asset management mobile application:
- View maintenance work details
- Record meter readings
- Inspection checklist
- Report material and labor on real-time
- Report Problem and resolution codes
- Capture images of the equipment to include in the work order
Managing inventory information, manually, has always been challenging. Any shortage of material during an emergency maintenance or manual work reporting is always error prone and redundant. The maintenance technicians can perform the following inventory functions using a mobile EAM application:
- Scan barcode and issue material to maintenance work orders
- Get instant alerts on safety stock
- View on hand material spares’ availability
- Create a Material Requisition for procurement
Work Offline – We still live in uncertain conditions
It can never be predicted where the maintenance work normally happens. It can be inspection inside a container ship, during meter reading for an excavator in a mine or while fixing a compressor inside a power plant. Some of the work is carried out under harsh conditions and sometimes, data network can be a challenge. In such situations, the mobile application should be able to work ‘offline’ without data. It should be able to execute work reporting, view major details of equipment, view parts availability and work order details in offline mode. When the Internet connection is restored, any offline pending data should be able to synchronize with the system.
Benefits of having Mobile Maintenance Application
Much research has been conducted, to quantify the benefits of mobilizing the EAM functions on mobile. The key benefit of having a mobile maintenance application is undoubtedly, the effectiveness in having the real-time collaboration and information of the maintenance tasks. This reduces the manual and time-consuming activities as well as erroneous transactions. Some of the business benefits are listed are:
- Increase in wrench time by 40 minutes a day, which means 1200 minutes a month, i.e. a technician can increase the number of equipment services and more ‘Asset touch’ per day
- Reduction in Overtime
- Reduction in Work Order backlog
- Increase in first time fix rate (FTFR) by 30% by enabling technicians with hand-held mobile applications which allow them to view job schedules, retrieve equipment history, work on resolution from knowledge base, know about spares availability on real-time basis
- Instant condition based maintenance data entry from mobile
- Avoid spares supply shortage by better inventory control management system
Mobility creates a knowledge-based driven maintenance and highly effective and informative maintenance execution. Maintenance managers can take more pro-active decisions through real-time maintenance data available to them. In this age of innovations, people have improved data network, smartphones and PDAs. The companies need to have a long-term vision in embracing Asset management mobility. Adoption of GPS technologies, RFIDs, rugged tablets and robust web service integration methods will help maintenance organizations to build highly secure mobile maintenance application integrated to the enterprise systems. This will provide aid in obtaining maintenance data and better connect between mobile technicians, managers and customers. It will, also, result in the overall reduction in cost and efficiency.
Sr. Consultant and Product Manager – Oracle Enterprise Solutions