The Future Plant: Current Challenges In Integrated Enterprise Asset Management

Alexandra Glombik

Part 3 of a three-part series

Asset management has changed significantly since Horst started working as a machine technician at a manufacturing plant 20 years ago. As he’s climbed the career letter to become an asset manager, Horst has created a modern maintenance environment that solves many of the industry’s most pressing problems.

Back in the days when he was a machine technician, Horst’s repair and maintenance jobs were assigned manually by his maintenance manager. Because company processes were not connected to each other, a lot of time and effort was spent on side activities, such as finding the right documents or ordering replacement items through the procurement department.

Today, an integrated asset management system helps decrease those activities to a minimum and significantly enables an end-to-end flow of maintenance processes. Bringing together asset performance KPIs and value-based maintenance strategies, the asset management system sits on top of a comprehensive master database that stores all available asset information – from machine manuals to maintenance histories. Much like Horst’s old maintenance manager, today’s system has a full overview of what tasks need to be done, in which order, and by what time.

By consolidating prior knowledge, present performance data, and best-practice asset strategies, the system produces a checklist for each asset that is linked to concrete tasks and schedules. The timing of these tasks strongly depends on the triggers that have been defined within the scope of the maintenance strategy.

These can be classic calendar-based triggers, assuming that certain maintenance procedures need to be repeated at fixed time intervals. Or the triggers can also be bound to particular events or usage levels that indicate that maintenance needs to be done after a certain threshold is reached or a certain event happens.

The system knows all of this information and can directly turn it into executable outputs. In this way, it is the system – not Horst – that automatically assigns machine technicians to open jobs. The system also provides all the information the technician needs to address the particular problem – from the geographic location of the asset to the manufacturer’s latest manual.

More importantly, this eliminates the need to spend a considerable amount of time organizing maintenance activities. It gives the responsible parties direct access to the necessary procurement and logistics channels through their mobile devices. Also, it automatically coordinates communication to downstream processes in closed loops.

For example, when a mechanical problem is identified, the system immediately notifies production line managers and suggests relevant changes to production plans. It also coordinates maintenance and production plans so that, unlike in the past when production and maintenance did not talk to each other, both departments work hand-in-hand to ensure the highest level of productivity.

The question logically arises: What tasks are left to Horst as the asset manager?

Well, even though the system handles a lot, making real decisions still depends on Horst.

With his expertise, he provides the necessary input on asset strategies and formulating related goals. He is also in charge of managing business-critical problems and finding suitable solutions that fall out of the system’s usual scope. Therefore, he still plays an irreplaceable role in asset management; however, his work is significantly supported by an integrated management system.

By enabling technologies for the smart factory, companies are achieving Mission Unstoppable: making facilities management a transparent, manageable process.

Alexandra Glombik

About Alexandra Glombik

Alexandra Glombik is a working student at SAP. As part of her job, she supports the Business Transformation CxO Advisory Office in several research projects regarding future market opportunities. In her Master thesis at Technical University of Munich, she deals with the SAP S/4HANA Cloud ecosystem.