Asset Management & Smart Maintenance

Part 2: Looking after Planes, Trains, Clean Energy and Human Health; 5 more hard earned lessons involving people and data

Everything works wonderfullyEssentially successful Asset Management is about people making data driven decisions through the Lifecycle. So in Part 2 of Dr Michael Provost’s blog on ’23 lessons learned the hard way’, Mike shares five insights he has gained involving people and data in his  journey to world class Asset Management.  This adds to the 6 Business lessons he shared in Part 1 of this series.

Part 2: The People and Data Lessons

7.Share to gain

Partnerships between all interested parties create the ‘win-win’ situations that ensure success. Customers and end users have deep knowledge of asset performance in their own operations, but lack information about the same assets used by others elsewhere. Asset owners have a vested interest in ‘cradle to grave’ asset performance and maintenance, but usually lack asset technical and operational skills. Sub-system suppliers have deep knowledge about the performance of components that they produce, but often fail to see their operational contexts. IT and communications vendors keep abreast of the latest developments in their fields of expertise, but lack asset technical and operational experience. Asset manufacturers and systems integrators have access to the asset design, modelling and analysis tools and data, as well as the ability to bring all the above parties together; however, they will only succeed in offering Asset Management services to their customers if they offer the means for everyone involved to collaborate for mutual benefit.

8. Never underestimate the persuading you will have to do, at all levels in your organisation, or the power of the ‘heroes’ who feel threatened by strange new ways of doing things

No-one ever got fired by doing what worked yesterday, whereas plenty of people have lost their jobs by deviating from the status quo. Many people, from upper management to those at the ‘sharp end’ of your business, will feel that their jobs are being put at risk if their unique ‘head knowledge’ and ways of working (which will have made them key organisational players and offered lucrative opportunities for enhancing their power and earnings) are made more generally accessible to others by Asset Management initiatives. They will fight the changes brought about by Asset Management with all the energies and internal politics that they can muster. If the person who needs to act on Asset Management information isn’t convinced by it, you have wasted everybody’s time and money.

9. Beware of people who just ask for ‘data’ and/or confuse data with information

Many people don’t know what they want to do with data. Help them to articulate what they really need, by talking about identifiable measurements and focussed information requirements, not ‘data’; this approach rapidly improves the chances of success. People can rarely explain to you what they need on a ‘blank sheet’, but are much more willing and able to provide constructive feedback when you show them examples of what can be done.

10. Asset Management is a chain, from sensor to business action

The process of data gathering from sensors fitted to assets, data gathering and transmittal to a central location, data storage, data visualisation, data analysis and problem diagnosis, followed by assembling together the right resources (information, tools, spares and qualified people) at the right time and in the right place to take the required actions to keep your customers happy is a complex and fragile chain. If any link in this chain breaks, no matter how trivial, the whole process collapses.

11. Don’t put the data cart before the business horse

Many Asset Management initiatives start with specifying the data to be recorded on assets, without thinking about what is to be done with it. This usually results in the wrong data being recorded and/or transmitted at the wrong times and frequencies and opportunities for gathering what data is really needed are lost. Alternatively, the request is to ‘measure everything, all the time’, in the belief that transmission bandwidth is infinite, IT is zero-cost and the question of what is to be done with the data will be resolved eventually. This usually results in unmanageable data volumes in which the real signals are lost in a quagmire of digits in a database. Business needs drive analysis requirements, which in turn drive data gathering (both sensors and frequency of data gathering and transmittal). You can measure anything; you could measure everything; you should only measure what creates value.

Note: This series of blogs is based on material originally produced for the Society of Automotive Engineers (Jennions 2014): it has also been presented as a paper at the IET/IAM 2014 Asset Management Conference in London, UK (Provost 2014). It is reproduced with permission from both the SAE and the IET.

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