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Asset-intensive organizations require good asset information management

12.01.2011  |  Snitkin, Sid,  ARC

Keywords: [asset information management] [AIM] [documentations] [management]

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 doesn’t 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 platforms
• Extremely long lifetime and stringent, regulated recordkeeping requirements
• 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 applications
• 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 processes.

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 program.

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 organization’s 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. HP

The author 

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. 

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