Last week we shared our maintenance maturity model, which describes the five stages organizations travel through on the journey to asset management excellence. This week we’re going to talk more about the vehicle that gets you there: management systems.

Understanding maintenance maturity

First, let’s review the maintenance journey. Most organizations start with a maintenance program that’s reactive and creates a lot of waste. As the maintenance program matures, the organization becomes more strategic about managing its assets. It uses preventive maintenance, EAM and PdM technologies, and MRO inventory management to increase uptime and reduce cost.

The most successful maintenance programs mature into enterprise asset management programs. Enterprise asset management expands the maintenance program beyond the maintenance department. It mobilizes the whole organization to better manage physical assets, breaking down silos and rallying other business functions, such as procurement and capital project management, to support asset maintenance efforts.

How to drive improvement in asset management

On that journey, the biggest challenge is one of management. How do you manage all of the business activities that affect assets—such as scheduling work, stocking spare parts, contracting vendors, and analyzing reliability—to ensure that they are working together to create the most value? How do you manage all of the supporting technologies—EAM, PdM, IIoT, and others—to deliver the best results?

To manage assets and maintenance effectively, a business needs a formal organizational program for asset management. In industry terms, such a program is called a management system.

Management systems for physical assets

Management systems (not software systems) are organizational programs that businesses use to achieve certain goals. They are best known from the realm of quality management, where ISO 9001 quality management systems are standard practice.

But a management system can be used in any area that requires formal structure and management control. It uses documented processes, policies, and performance measures to align business activities with goals and to coordinate efforts across business functions and locations.

Industry standards for asset management, including ISO 55001, ISO 41001, and PAS 55, support a management system approach. They validate the use of management systems as a best practice for asset maintenance and management.

What does an asset management system look like?

An asset management system has five key areas:

  1. Organization and management documentation provides the leadership component, including corporate policy, objectives, strategy, and organizational structure.
  2. Practices, processes, and procedures define how work is performed, how spare parts are managed, and how MRO parts and supplies are purchased.
  3. Data standards and coding schemes lay a foundation for good master data management (MDM) in the CMMS or EAM software system.
  4. Performance management tools establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and auditing programs for the asset management system.
  5. IT requirements provide guidelines for configuring all asset management technology, including EAM software; IIoT technology; and integration to SCADA, ERP, and production control systems. This element connects the management system (the practices and the processes) with the information system (e.g., EAM). Coordination between the technology and the practices is critical for success.

Together, these five areas cover every aspect of an asset management operation—people, process, data, technology, and more.

Why are management systems a best practice for asset maintenance?

A management system provides documented standards and direction for maintenance organizations:

  • Ensures that procedures are executed the same way by different technicians at different plants.
  • Establishes standards for data governance, which improves CMMS and EAM software performance.
  • Defines roles, responsibilities, and reporting relationships for maintenance and MRO supply chain functions.
  • Standardizes KPIs for asset management at all business locations.
  • Creates an organizational program for continually auditing and improving the asset management operation.

This kind of organizational program for maintenance doesn’t take a lot of work to build, and it offers an unparalleled degree of control and insight into the maintenance operation. If you’re serious about driving down costs, improving productivity, and achieving business objectives with your maintenance operation, a management system is the way to go.

SwainSmith helps clients design organizational systems for maintenance and asset management. Our SynergyTM series provides a fully documented system for managing maintenance work, MRO materials, and MRO procurement. It makes the design process simple and fast, and it also establishes a foundation of best practices. If we can answer any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@swainsmith.com or 828.215.9471.

Tracy Smith

Tracy S. Smith has been helping organizations solve their asset management challenges for 20 years. He is the president of SwainSmith, Inc., an EAM solutions company. He also offers complimentary 30-minute EAM consultations. No sales pitch or a pesky follow-up call. Just straight answers to your questions—and an objective, experienced assessment of your issues and goals.

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