ARC Advisory Group has written extensively on the important
topic of asset information management (AIM). While numerous
cultural and organizational issues come into play, technology
clearly provides the foundation for every AIM program. It
provides the means for organizations to efficiently collect,
organize and manage the volumes of drawings, lists, specs,
manuals and databases associated with a typical capital asset
investment. It also enables organizations to sustain the
integrity of this information throughout the asset life cycle
with consistent enforcement of proper quality management
processes. Finally, it empowers every asset management
stakeholder with convenient access to the information he or she
needs to work safely, accurately and efficiently.
Selecting the right AIM technology is challenging. Assets
vary significantly across industries, and organizations have
different asset management strategies. This leads to unique AIM
requirements in areas like information content, business
processes and the stakeholders that must be supported. IT
solution providers also have a wide range of perspectives on
AIM, creating a diverse landscape of AIM products. To establish
a winning AIM technology environment, owner/operators need to
clearly understand their needs and the capabilities of
different solutions. AIM technology impacts organizational
performance, provides metrics for evaluating current AIM
capabilities, and offers advice on mapping gaps to functional
requirements for new AIM investments.
Asset-intensive groups need AIM-specific technology.
Good asset information enables asset-intensive organizations
to optimize the returns from their substantial investments in
equipment and facilities. Poor asset information
can lead to staggering financial losses and significantly
increased risks of environment, health and safety (EH&S)
incidents and operational disruptions.
The requirements for good asset information are simple and
straightforward. It has to be complete, accurate and consistent
to avoid confusion and costly mistakes. In addition, it has to
be timely, accessible and understandable so people can leverage
it for higher efficiency and better decision-making. But
achieving these goals is difficult for most organizations,
primarily because they lack the right AIM technology.
People in the asset management trenches understand the
importance of good asset information because they see how poor
information impedes their efforts. But management often ignores
their calls for AIM improvements, believing mistakenly that
existing IT programs and investments already cover AIM.
Management doesnt understand how AIM is different from
other information management challenges.
While the technology needed for AIM is similar
to that used in other information management programs, asset
information has certain characteristics that merit special
attention by IT organizations. These vary by industry, asset
type and organization, but some typical examples include:
Unique technical information forms and formats not
supported by conventional information management
Extremely long lifetime and stringent, regulated
Extensive, complex cross referencing between
documents and data that must be considered in information
quality management processes and user interfaces
The need to support widespread duplication of
information across a variety of locally managed
Complex handovers of volumes of new and modified
information during greenfield and brownfield projects
Many external stakeholders whose use and
modification of asset information has to be closely monitored
and coordinated with internal quality and security
Addressing these kinds of special issues is fundamental to
ensuring that the organization always has good asset
information. Since conventional information management
solutions do not do this, organizations have no choice but to
acquire or develop technology that does. At a minimum,
organizations should augment their existing information
management strategies with certain AIM-specific capabilities.
In many cases, it will be wiser to roll out a new,
enterprise-wide AIM solution and simultaneously enable the
organization to take advantage of industry best practices and
new technology developments.
Establishing requirements for your AIM technology
While every asset-intensive organization can benefit from
AIM technology, the solutions that each should deploy varies
according to factors like industry, asset management strategies
and current IT environment. So it is vital that
organizations establish a proper set of general requirements
upfront to guide their AIM technology decisions.
To serve this goal, the organizations general AIM technology requirements have to
address several critical issues. First, the organization needs
to communicate the improvements that it expects from its
implementation of AIM technologies and how it will benefit.
Second, it needs to clearly define the asset information
environment that AIM will have to support, in terms of the
information to be managed and how this will be used to support
asset management processes. Third, it must identify the
stakeholders that the AIM environment will support and their
needs for special features and tools. Finally, the requirements
should explain how AIM will be integrated with the existing IT
environment and how existing
capabilities are to be leveraged to support AIM.
Sid Snitkin, vice president at ARC,
has over 30 years of experience in automation,
information systems, and manufacturing. Dr. Snitkin
hold BS and MS degrees in physics from Carnegie
Mellon University, and an MBA and PhD in operations
research and artificial intelligence from the
University of Pittsburgh.