Jay Lee, Professor of Engineering and Director of the Center for Intelligent Maintenance Systems at the University of Cincinnati always tells me “It’s all about equipment health.” Dr. Lee’s doctoral and post-doctoral researchers have uncovered many equipment health issues in a variety of factory settings and developed analysis tools to help manufacturers correct and improve the situations.
Until now, I really haven’t seen much from the analyst community digging deeply into asset health. Dan Miklovic, a respected manufacturing IT analyst, now works with LNS Research covering Asset Health.
Miclovic writes in a recent blog post Why Healthy Assets are the Foundation of a Healthy Business.
“It seems everyone in business these days is obsessed with driving productivity or quality improvements, or talking about driving costs down or improving sustainability. Why then do so many still treat plant (or asset) maintenance like ‘that cousin we don’t talk about?’ ”
He speculates, “So maybe it’s no wonder businesses tend to think of asset maintenance as a cost of doing business that we need to minimize, thinking that in doing so it means we don’t have problems. Unfortunately, asset maintenance and asset management are not the same thing, and while we should be managing our assets, too often we just maintain them, and then rather poorly.”
He cites some disturbing recent research indicating roughly 3 out of 4 plants in the world still practice reactive maintenance as the norm. When surveyed, contributors to LNS Research’s recent studies show that among all the applications typically used to support business, asset health management ranks lower than most with only 38% adoption.
Miklovic calls for management to invest in the tools maintenance and reliability professionals and engineers need to go beyond reaactive maintenance. He adds, “Asset Health and Performance improvement is difficult without adequate investment and getting the necessary funds to invest in the technology needed to accomplish your goals is a prerequisite.”
Of the software applications available to manufacturers Asset Management fares the worst in LNS Research studies. Half of companies surveyed have no plans to implement it. Manufacturing Execution Systems and Data Historians are next on the do not plan to use scale with 40% each.
Obviusly we are not investing in tools to help plants improve overall performance. It is important that we learn to speak “executive-ese” to convince executives about the critical need to improve our tools.