In a multi-plant environment, getting everyone aligned and managing their assets in a similar way can be challenging. Geographical separation, lack of documentation, limited corporate assistance, and absence of standards are some factors that inhibit teamwork and encourage individuals to do things their way. “Go Your Own Way” is a great song by Fleetwood Mac, but it’s not a great asset management strategy. When sites take different management approaches to identical and similar asset classes, it introduces variability, risks, and higher costs into the operation. What’s more, a golden opportunity to leverage resource knowledge and build an asset management community within the organization is missed.
Standardizing how the company’s assets are cared for makes sense, and it’s not as hard as one might think.
Let’s start by breaking down the asset management operation into its five key elements: data, practices, organization, technology, and performance management.
Standardizing Asset Management Data
Your standardization journey starts with your EAM master data. Everyone should use the same naming conventions, codes, hierarchies, nomenclature standards, and taxonomies. When it comes to master data, there is no room for deviation. Master data is master for a reason. Your reporting and ability to effectively and efficiently use the EAM software system are dependent upon standardized master data structures.
Standardizing Asset Management Practices
The next step is standardizing practices, processes, and procedures. Work management, MRO materials management, and procurement processes should be the same across all of the plants. The plants should identify, control, plan, and schedule work in similar manners. Minor deviation is allowable at the procedure level to accommodate personnel or resource constraints, but adherence to the practice must remain the same. For example, it is a best practice to develop a weekly maintenance schedule. The development of this schedule is not optional, but the timing of when the schedule is published might vary based on work schedules. Practice makes perfect. That is definitely true in asset management.
Standardizing the Asset Management Organization
Asset management is best done from the top down. This starts with the executive team. There should be an organizational asset management policy and strategy as well as a common set of objectives that guide asset management decisions. At the functional level, everyone should operate in swim lanes—even the folks wearing multiple hats within the organization. Roles and responsibilities should be defined across the asset management operation. The Maintenance Planner at one plant should be responsible for the same things that the Maintenance Planner is at the other plant. Having a clear and defined asset management vision with the right organizational structure puts people in the best possible position for them to be successful at what they do.
Standardizing Asset Management Technology
The concept of standardization is not new in the technology arena. Organizations have spent millions of dollars standardizing IT systems (ERP, EAM, etc.). This makes sense. Managing disparate applications across the enterprise hurts reporting and is more work. Consolidating and centralizing software systems is a common focus of many multi-site organizations. The key here is not to get software tunnel vision. Software alone will not make you successful. Standardizing the software is good, but don’t stop there. You still need to standardize the elements such as data and process that make the software perform.
Standardizing Asset Management Performance Management
The last step is to standardize how you monitor and measure performance. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be the same across all sites. Asset management auditing tools and methods should be identical. All of the sites should be measured and scored the same way, against the same set of standards.
Standardizing asset management operations across the enterprise makes sense. It establishes common actions and common vernacular, getting the whole organization working and thinking together. This creates a culture of improvement. In lone-wolf operations, gains at one facility are limited to that facility. But when asset management is standardized, improvements at one facility can be duplicated at other sites, creating more value and improving return on assets.
SwainSmith, Inc., is an EAM solutions provider. We have been helping multi-site organizations for over 23 years standardize on best practices. If we can help you get everyone aligned and marching in step, please contact us at email@example.com.