2010 SUMMIT: Improve asset management with smarter information tools

IBM's Mary Bunzel explained how today's software tools help solve asset management and information integration challenges.



Today's information technologies and processes have improved asset management strategies, according to Mary T. Bunzel, worldwide industry leader for manufacturing, IBM. Speaking at the Manufacturing/Automation Summit, March 28-30, 2010, hosted by Control Engineering and Plant Engineering magazines, Bunzel discussed advantages and implementation challenges of maintenance, repair, and operations software (MRO). Not all assets are created equal, she noted. Manufacturers need to prioritize by deciding which assets contribute most to the operation. Some may run to failure, but others can differ in strategy. Predictive strategies and analytics might be applied to the most valuable assets to create more lead time and flexibility, she said.

Sensors can communicate system needs into MRO, a portfolio of assets, providing a solution set for enterprise, plant equipment, software, fleets of assets and all conditions above.

Significant MRO evolution has taken place, from the:
- Chaos of logbooks to
- Reactive nature of paper-based predictive maintenance records to
- Proactive calendar and meter-based nature of adding resource lists, parts, and labor to
- History that helps with work planning via prediction-based management and condition-based software to
- Full enterprise asset management. In this form, maintenance, repair, and operations data become a business information system, which "has the opportunity to completely transform industry."
When in economic crisis, she says, the natural reaction is for companies to go into a preservation mode and not invest in the next generation of opportunities, but these companies also miss the boat as they emerge from the recession.

Next generation MRO tools can help manufacturers:
- Do more with less, extend the life of current assets, maintain product quality, manage waste (labor raw materials and energy), and grow the business.
- Overcome operational hurdles, such as globalization over multiple sites, cultural changes, scheduling pressures, and the need to transform data into information.
- Better manage risk, related to regulations, health, and safety issues.
- Address technological challenges, such as short and long term data flow, removing silo walls, and justifying focus on MRO tools, to create the most throughput at the lowest cost.

Increasingly the IT organization is partnering in MRO efforts as a team member, in part to help "green" become a revenue opportunity.

Parting advice? Companies need to redefine what businesses they're in and want to be in, re-evaluate processes, rationalize systems, benchmark and measure, and create new sources of revenue.
An effective MRO implementation can help connect silos, help standardize and analyze what's going on, and build-in agility, Bunzel advised.


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