By Rachel Romanski, SAP
As companies adjust to new realities in the age of COVID-19, many seek ways to minimize face-to-face work as much work as possible. For organizations whose people do their work mostly on computers at their desks, this adjustment has been doable. These workers can log into work streams from home, attend meetings via Zoom meetings, and use online collaboration tools to share their work product and generate documents.
For manufacturers who make things in plants and factories, it’s been more challenging. How do you maintain social distance and COVID-related compliance in a busy plant? By now it’s obvious that the way forward involves a mix of strategies and policies that involve wearing masks, staggering shifts, reorganizing work areas, and more.
One key to success has been to find creative ways to help critical workers do as much work as possible off site – thus minimizing their time on site. And one area where manufacturers can score a quick win in this regard is with mobile asset management.
Grabbing the low-hanging fruit
When it comes to digital transformation, asset maintenance may not be the topic that generates the most excitement. But it certainly represents low-hanging fruit that companies can easily reach to realize significant ROI quickly. As it relates to coronavirus, mobile asset management can help maintenance workers monitor asset health from afar and only come on site when actual work on the asset is needed.
Yet, COVID-related advantages notwithstanding, let’s be honest: this is the way assets should be regularly managed in today’s digital economy. When it comes to the work associated with asset maintenance, the benefits of automation are obvious.
Streamlining processes and increasing wrench time
Mobile asset management taps into your maintenance execution system, helping you to go paperless. Instead of collecting endless work orders and submitting work completion form in a manual fashion, maintenance technicians can monitor asset health on their devices and work on the management by exception principle.
Alerts make the technician aware of issues that need to be addressed. Some of these may be resolved remotely, some may require an on-site visit. If a visit is required, the mobile asset management system captures all relevant data about the maintenance event and can provide quick, accurate instruction. This can speed mean time to resolution and maximize technician wrench time.
The technician has all the information about asset health and history to get to work and resolve the issue faster. With integration into inventory systems, the technician can quickly find any parts needed – directly from the mobile app. If the work to be performed is challenging – or if, perhaps, the technician is new to the job – detailed work instructions and even 3D videos can help deliver the information needed at the point of work. And upon work competition, all new information is entered into the system. Labor costs can be captured instantly.
Getting predictive – and prescriptive, too
Streamlined maintenance processes are only the beginning, of course. The next step is incorporating IoT sensor data from machines for real-time situational awareness of asset health. A good mobile asset management tool will help simplify the job of consuming incoming sensor data and provide tools for analyzing it.
Such data and analysis can form the foundation for predictive maintenance scenarios that enable you further optimize the maintenance function. With predictive maintenance, for instance, instead of replacing parts on a predefined schedule (preventative maintenance), you can analyze the data to accurately predict when a part may fail – and replace it shortly before it goes. This can maximize the lifetime value of parts while optimizing technician time.
The same data can be used not only to predict asset failure and avoid downtime but also to actually prescribe courses of action. For example, your mobile asset management solution might actually act on a prediction of asset failure – automatically triggering a work order for maintenance and managing the associated workflows through to completion.
Looking beyond the current crisis
From digitalizing maintenance and streamlining processes to predictive and prescriptive maintenance scenarios, mobile asset management provides a clear path forward for organizations seeking to increase efficiency and effectiveness in a critical area of manufacturing operations.
While the current COVID crisis provides an impetus for moving forward quickly in this regard, a move toward greater maintenance automation is a smart move on purely business grounds. You’ll be able to optimize technician performance, boost asset uptime, and increase your return on investment for the machines you depend on to achieve and maintain manufacturing excellence.
To learn more about how you can improve both the safety and performance of critical workers through mobile asset management to get “back to best” take a look at a recent IDC report here.