New maintenance technology has saved organizations billions of dollars in labor and spare parts costs by streamlining their operations, as approaches have evolved from reactive, to preventive, to predictive maintenance. Despite these changes, a maintenance manager never stops seeking new ways to maximize availability and reduce costs.
As if maintenance professionals needed more acronyms, here comes asset performance management (APM). According to research and advisory firm Gartner, APM is defined as the group of software tools and applications designed to optimize performance of operational assets.
The definition is broad on purpose, as APM suites combine three key applications that offer a large swath of capabilities. What’s more important is how quickly these applications are being adopted:
Gartner projects that by 2018, 50 percent of asset-intensive organizations will rely on APM to help them optimize the performance of their critical assets. (The full report, Market Guide for Asset Performance Management, by Leif Eriksen and Kristian Steenstrup, is available to Gartner clients.)
To keep you up-to-date, we’ll offer a clear overview of what APM includes and how it can benefit asset-heavy industries, such as manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, transportation and utilities.
What Is Included in an APM Suite?
An APM platform includes software and tools used to gather and stream condition data, in order to maximize the performance of assets. Some vendors are now packaging these components into integrated solutions.
A major factor in the growth of this type of system is the increase in low-cost devices and sensors that can be mounted on assets to stream real-time condition data. The key to getting the most out of an APM solution is leveraging this data for proactive maintenance.
“We see condition monitoring and predictive maintenance adding value and context to that data and turning it into actionable insights and delivering it to the right person at the right time for more proactive maintenance,” says Kim Custeau, director of asset management systems at Schneider Electric, a provider of energy and asset management (EAM) solutions, such as Avantis EAM.
Gartner’s list of APM software capabilities are split into three categories based on the application:
|Asset strategy and risk management||
|Predictive asset management||
|Condition-based maintenance (CBM)||
As you can see from the capabilities, an APM is focused on using data from various sources to help make decisions regarding maintenance. This may cause some confusion in relation to a typical EAM or computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), so here is a simplified way to differentiate the three:
There is some obvious overlap with these systems, and most vendors offer integrations among the three. To give you another way to look at APM, we can break down how it collects and analyzes data to enable smart decision-making.
1. Collect: The first step is collecting real-time condition data from assets. This is typically enabled by placing sensors on machinery that monitor various states of an asset, such as temperature, vibration or lubricant quality.
2. Analyze: Users establish minimums and maximums for each asset type, and the system will send the maintenance team notifications based on whether real-time condition data indicates a potential failure.
3. Visualize: All of the data, from condition data to historical maintenance data, can be presented in various chart and graph styles to help identify trends in operations.
4. Act: The APM approach requires the use of an EAM to take action as notifications roll in. The EAM can automatically create work orders to address maintenance tasks prescribed from the analysis phase so that expensive failures are less likely to occur.
Custeau says an APM, by automatically triggering the appropriate action, can “close the loop” on the process. This use of data to generate an effective solution illustrates the true power of an APM system.
What Are the Benefits of APM?
The benefits of using an APM are similar to what an organization would experience with most comprehensive maintenance systems, just taken further. APM offers a positive impact on every major KPI a maintenance team tracks.
Custeau says Schneider Electric APM users regularly experience:
- 20 percent increase in asset availability
- 20 percent reduction in operations and maintenance costs
- 35 percent reduction in inventory costs
- 20 percent increase in workforce efficiency
In addition, these users see an average of $50,000 in avoided costs by catching failures early and $4 million in avoided supply chain costs.
Many of these benefits stem from the APM’s holistic approach, taking into account the way each asset affects other assets and the entire operation. This helps maintenance teams determine asset risks and the actions that can alleviate those risks.
“This interconnected nature of how equipment operates contributes to opportunities for improved uptime, which can be best achieved by a holistic APM solution,” Custeau says.
Here’s a basic example of APM’s benefits: A maintenance manager in a manufacturing plant has a production line of assets, from boilers, to molds, to conveyors. Each of these require different maintenance schedules to perform their tasks effectively.
Using historical repair data, the manager decides to adjust the settings of the conveyor so that it operates at a faster pace. With an APM system in place, over time, the manager could view the operating conditions of the assets that perform an action on the conveyor.
This data may reveal that the increased conveyor speed has a trickle-down impact on the other assets on the line, and that maintenance should be scheduled more frequently to avoid expensive failures.
An APM includes all the systems and tools necessary to identify these asset relationships and lead to the benefits mentioned above.
What Do You Need to Get Started?
An APM can deliver benefits to any organization that has invested in assets, but Custeau says a large volume of assets isn’t the best reason to use an APM; the criticality of assets is more important.
“If you operate in a world where ‘run to failure’ is a viable strategy, as replacement costs are very low, then APM isn’t likely a good fit,” she says. “Alternatively, those organizations that have invested resources into their plant or equipment stand to gain the most from an APM implementation.”
There are two major reasons to move toward an APM solution:
- To gain more value from existing assets
- To move beyond reactive maintenance toward a proactive process
Companies that want to invest in APM should move up the maintenance maturity ladder one rung at a time. Vendors can evaluate your process to help fill in the gaps and lead the organization toward greater asset performance; It’s likely you already have some APM components in place.
Finally, Custeau offers a few tips to prepare for an APM implementation process:
- Identify exactly where equipment maintenance costs have traditionally been high
- Identify where maintenance costs are unpredictable
- Evaluate the company culture around reliability and how employees interact with assets
Address these considerations first to determine where APM actions would have the most significant impact on costs and maintenance schedules.
“By identifying specific opportunities for improvement, it is easier to then start a project that can be readily managed and measured—and then scaled across the entire organization,” Custeau says.
An APM system’s greatest strength is its ability to integrate applications so teams can view maintenance holistically, revealing relational effects to make smarter decisions and improve asset lifespans.
Just remember to focus on assets that are critical and expensive to maintain to gain the most value.
Now that you know how an APM can improve your operations, here are some next steps to take:
- Read about how P-F curves and additive manufacturing can improve maintenance. These maintenance processes can supplement an APM method and help deliver more value from assets.
- View top CMMS and EAM user reviews and descriptions. Many modern vendors offer applications that can integrate with or supplement an APM.
- Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more information about APM and how to find the best system for your needs.