EAM Systems Move to the Next Level in the Age of Digital Transformation

By Ed O'Brien

Category:
ARC Report Abstract

Overview

Even with the broader and deeper functionality offered by today’s EAM systems, owner-operators increasingly look for more from these solutions to support their digital transformations.  This includes serving as a central data repository for enterprise asset management (EAM)  users, as well as enterprise users beyond the maintenance department.    

Fortunately, advances in the underlying IT infrastructure now enable expanded enterprise reach for EAM systems, and often at a lower cost than previously possible. Indeed, improved connectivity now enables access to and from IIoT, ERP, MES, PLM, RCM, and other systems.  As a result, even in this relatively mature market, today’s EAM systems continue to add even more value.

EAM Systems - Design and Deployment at an Inflection Point

Many asset-intensive organizations are now evaluating when and how to upgrade their maintenance and operations systems.  Not surprisingly, EAM is often at the center of these discussions.  These companies are also considering how to best modernize their overall asset management capabilities to meet today’s more complex needs, often as part of a larger digital transformation initiative. 

This is a particularly important time in EAM system and design as organizations are moving away from siloed maintenance management products to true, enterprise-level solutions.  In many cases, development is moving in parallel with advances in underlying IT design and configurations.  These offer new opportunities for broad data visibility, information sharing, and native interoperability.  This represents an improvement over many legacy systems, which are often siloed and require costly, time-consuming, and often unreliable customization.  Newer IT platforms, enhanced EAM solutions, improved connectivity, and expanded deployment options (including SaaS), offer compelling new options for EAM users.

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Expanded Role for EAM Systems

EAM systems have largely transitioned from siloed work- and maintenance- management systems to be truly enterprise-ready systems.  Many of the new features and capabilities are the result of changes in the underlying IT infrastructure and technology stacks initiated to sup-port digital transformation.   

As part of this expanded digital transformation strategy, companies look to transition to real-time (or near-real time), mobile-first, and often SaaS-enabled, enterprise-level maintenance management systems.  Many also seek expanded connectivity opportunities made possible by vendors’ increased use of open architecture, open APIs, integration hubs, native interoperability, and enhanced predictive abilities. 

The Rise of Mobility in EAM Systems

Today’s ubiquity of mobility and mobile devices of all kinds are driving a “mobile-first” mentality in both our personal and professional lives.  Mobility options have impacted EAM tools as well, often in the form of ruggedized versions of phones, tablets, and laptops.

Increasingly, maintenance teams can plan, troubleshoot, execute, and record work via mobile devices. ARC Advisory Group’s research indicates that, currently, almost half of EAM work orders are still handwrit-ten by maintenance personnel, with clerical personnel entering the data into the system later.  This introduces inherent data latency into the maintenance process.    

The other 50 percent of technicians now use mobile devices to access work orders and enter data.  ARC believes nearly all WOs will be man-aged via mobile devices in the future.  These systems allow technicians to assess complaint, cause, and correction options on mobile devices, including researching viable repair options, needed (and available parts), and other information needed for a fast and efficient preventive or corrective maintenance process.

Still, it is often difficult for some maintenance organizations to identify the tangible benefits of electronic WOs.  This is often because they don’t have timely access to data and information.  

Mobility in EAM, including handheld smart devices, has grown in capability with technologies like GPS, GIS, and RFID.  Embedded cameras, barcode scanners, and Bluetooth apps can be used to automate some data collection efforts.  In addition to improving data quality, these mobility capabilities support more powerful applications, improved business processes, and enhance business value.

Modern, often-ruggedized mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, phablets, etc.) can make life easier and more productive for EAM users.  This is particularly true for maintenance workers who can access work order instructions, equipment hierarchies, part numbers, inventory in-formation, and similar information wherever they are.  

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Keywords: Digital Transformation, EAM, Asset Management, Maintenance Management, Predictive Maintenance, ARC Advisory Group.

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