Asset Complexity is Creating New Dynamics in Asset Ownership & Maintenance

By Jason Kasper posted 11-07-2018 06:58 AM


The new reality of maintaining complex assets

The requirements for having complete ownership of critical assets is changing. Technology infusion has increased at a furious pace for all types of assets, enabling more information analysis and generating new insights for maintenance.  However, as these new assets come in the door Owner/Operators find they don’t know how to take advantage of some of their modern capabilities.  Why?  They simply don’t have the skill sets required, or the technology footprint needed to digest this information.  Maintenance departments have focused their efforts on the maintenance skill sets required over the previous 50 years, built from long operational histories on working with certain assets.  Now, the assets themselves are able to diagnose their condition, in near real-time. 

This skills gap creates an opportunity as OEMs bundle new services using their own software, analytics and data created from new complex assets.  These new assets are more complex than ever before, including new materials, electronics, and software.  As this new equipment comes online and their legacy counterparts are replaced, a distinct advantage goes to the manufacturer of the asset because they own and control the information generated as they operate.  Furthermore, they designed and have the expertise in the new materials used and new technologies incorporated into these assets..

So how do Owner/Operator’s compartmentalize this changing state of maintenance to benefit their bottom line and increase maintenance effectiveness for the long term?

Data is the “As a Service” enabler

OEMs are increasingly taking the stance—they who build it, own it.  An area where this is abundantly clear is the data generated from the myriad of sensors placed on equipment. It increasingly means that any diagnosis attempted to understand issues related to its efficient operation and maintenance requirements cannot be diagnosed unless you acquire a service from the OEM that enables you do to so.

Conversely, the Owner/Operators using these complex assets should be aware of how much operational data they want the OEM to see.  For instance, it’s more than likely you will be running your asset differently and gain some operational efficiencies.  This is a competitive advantage for you in the marketplace; this information should not be readily shared back to the OEM.  If it is, they may use it as part of their service offering to a competitor thus improving their customers’ operations as the industry expert. 

Success is determined by taking control

Moving certain maintenance responsibility over to OEMs requires stringent management of Service Level Agreements.  This includes monitoring to make sure they are reaching their guaranteed uptime agreements—Owner/Operators should have plenty of experience with this through working with 3rd party contractors.  It also means a new way of thinking about planning and scheduling.  How do you handle an OEM field service team coming in the door before there may be a problem?  Coordinating a total or partial stoppage of operations without an unplanned shutdown will be a difficult sell to the Executive team. 

Another area to control are the assets with “As a Service” agreements within a system of assets.  This means there will be a combination of assets in the Owner/Operators’ control and others for which the OEM has responsibility.  If these assets are part of a production line, reliability centered maintenance approaches will be required to determine which asset is at fault.  If the OEM is guaranteeing uptime, but the problem is another asset, in front or behind, you will have to work jointly to resolve the problem. Is this in your “As a Service” agreement?  This can turn out to be a nightmare without the proper rules of engagement established. 

Preparing for the future of Product Complexity

The new reality of technologically advanced assets is here.  As time goes by, more issues will be uncovered and turn into maintenance best practices, supporting both the Owner/Operator and the OEM.  Here are some recommended ways to prepare for a complex asset future:

  • Onboard your maintenance teams with the latest technology. Build the expertise in-house on how to monitor and predict maintenance failure with assets you own. This will enable you to manage the assets that are in an “As a Service” model with a higher level of understanding.
  • Contracts are king. Make sure of contingencies provided for guaranteed uptime.  What are the remedies when a complex asset goes down?  You do not want to be left in the lurch because the agreement was unclear as to who handles what maintenance activity.
  • Pilot projects will develop the learning curve. Be sure to test out new business models and data sharing capabilities with assets less critical to the operation. This will uncover items you may not of thought of and prepare you for what to include in future “As a Service” contracts.
  • Look for proof of maintenance competence within the OEM. Just because they offer maintenance doesn’t mean they understand the people, process, and technologies required to do it.  Remember, Owner/Operators are the experts in their business.   

Finally, do not get left behind and completely reliant or beholden to OEMs for maintenance.  Continue to train your Maintenance departments on the latest techniques, technologies, or newest materials.  This prepares your team to monitor OEM agreements and jump in to the age of asset complexity.

Jason Kasper, Aras Corporation

Jason Kasper joined Aras Corporation in April 2017 and is a Product Marketing Manager with his primary focus being Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul, Manufacturing Execution Systems and their importance within the Product Lifecycle. Jason has over 20 years of experience in working with customers to develop enterprise software solutions for industries such as Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Mining & Metals, Utilities, and Transportation.

Before joining Aras Corporation, Jason was an Analyst at LNS Research, focused on Asset Performance Management, Internet of Things, and the Digital Twin.  Prior to this, Jason held senior level positions at Meridium, IBM, ABB and Aspen Technology dedicated to the development of industry solutions for asset intensive organizations with a primary focus on Enterprise Asset Management and Asset Performance Management markets.  Jason holds a BS in Management from California State University, Chico and an MBA from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University.