Digging For Gold

Dec. 21, 2004
Enterprise asset management (EAM) delivers much more than a maintenance solution. The EAM approach also facilitates the use of asset performance data to support corporate decision-making and business performance.

Manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware of their need for an enterprise perspective on the maintenance of critical corporate assets. Leaders are migrating beyond point solutions that fail to link the maintenance of assets with corporate goals and needs. Their concern is that corporate asset performance goals can be easily obscured by the limited focus of departmental agendas. Companies now seek to optimize maintenance execution with corporate goals. Their growing solution is the concept of enterprise asset management (EAM) where solution providers offer complete lifecycle management of strategic assets. Typical offerings include Maximo, a software suite from MRO Software Inc., Bedford, Mass., PassPort from Indus International Inc., Atlanta, and Datastream 7i from Datastream Systems Inc., Greenville, S.C. All three packages help manage asset events including planning, procurement, deployment, tracking, maintenance and retirement. The result: Maintenance is now gaining a new enterprise visibility in the quest for corporate performance. EAM solutions tend to be scalable and bring benefits to manufacturers regardless of size. For example, MRO Software says its Maximo solution can be deployed at small to midsized companies as well as at large, globally distributed organizations. MRO's traditional competitors include Datastream, Indus and Rockwell Automation. Increasingly, the enterprise focus of EAM is attracting ERP suppliers such as JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and SAP AG. Intel's Journey At intel corp., every dollar invested in EAM brings cost savings of $4.50, says Michael (Mick) Flanigan, vibration analysis engineer at the company's flagship Hillsboro, Ore., location. He leads an EAM initiative designed to monitor critical production processes and support management decision making. The latest phase of Intel's ongoing EAM program is a condition monitoring implementation that collects process data. "It upgrades our ability to get a better account of the exact operating condition of our machinery across the entire company," says Flanigan. "We're automating to cut back on the field time of technicians manually taking rounds of sensor readings." Using an integrated condition monitoring solution from Rockwell Automation, Intel has designed and implemented a comprehensive scalable system that allows the company to effectively monitor machinery and equipment trends across all of the company's 14 manufacturing sites. Flanigan says work on the condition monitoring update began in the late 1990s. "We started by researching the best monitoring techniques, deciding what equipment required monitoring and the number of data points needed." Operating data is routinely subjected to statistical analysis with JMP, a program developed by the SAS Institute Inc., Cary, N.C. "That helps us determine corrective maintenance, and it also allows us to hold our equipment vendors to a tighter tolerance." Flanigan says that statistical validation of new equipment performance is one of the biggest benefits for Intel. All new equipment coming into any Intel plant must meet the existing operating parameters as established by the company-wide monitoring system. "We built a new factory in Oregon where we had a failure rate of 28% on new equipment coming in, and we were able to reduce that to 2% to 3%. Being able to screen new equipment coming in means that we're not going to be fixing things a year after purchase and be stuck with the under-performing equipment. Our improved ability to analyze performance enforces the vendor's responsibility to give us a good piece of equipment." Flanigan says the data easily documents problems that have eliminated vendors from the bid process. Intel's EAM solution is soon to evolve into a Web-based system. "At the moment we have servers set up at each global location. They collect data at their specific sites and they share that data with a central repository. "We classify our machines by type with all of the equipment falling into 35 classes. Then we categorize everything by operating parameters that could cause fluctuations in temperatures, pressures and vibration. Horsepower and the presence of variable frequency drives are also identified." Asset data was not a shared resource a decade ago, when Intel's EAM journey was beginning. Each manufacturing site was almost its own company in terms of its perspective on assets. Intel had seven different solutions that predicted failure only 30% to 40% of the time. Flanigan says the inadequate asset performance data made it difficult to determine the best equipment choices. Today, corporate-wide data is handled by Rockwell Software's Emonitor Enshare Enterprise Asset Health Software. The software compares readings against preset parameters and provides advance warning of equipment degradation or failure. It enables Intel to track performance and trends over the life of the equipment. Intel also uses MRO's Maximo software to monitor maintenance execution and GE's Cimplicity package for facilities monitoring. Flanigan says all three are now being integrated so that facilities management data (pressures and temperatures) can be correlated with changes in vibration or oil viscosity. Eventually all three packages will feed data into one central Web view, says Flanigan. The goal is to facilitate the analysis of cause and effect across a wide variety of maintenance situations throughout Intel's global operations. When Intel's EAM is mature, engineers and managers will access asset data via the Internet by pulling up a map of any of its manufacturing sites around the world. A mouse-click on a building will bring up a summary of alarm conditions and provide the option of accessing the operational data of individual machines. "By then we will have seamlessly integrated our software packages and be able to quickly run a wide variety of statistical analysis reports," he adds. "Time-wise, we're about two to three years from that point." He says the addition of wireless condition monitoring sensors will be necessary. Reliability is already the greatest contribution of EAM at Intel, says Flanigan. The improvement is evident in facilities and equipment, the tools inside the fabrication plants, the wafer yields and uptime. Flanigan proudly notes that his Oregon site, where R&D is centered, "leads the company in reliability and predictive maintenance." Lessons Learned Flanigan says one challenge of implementing EAM lies in trying to document the cost avoidance benefits during the project's justification process. "The direct cost savings are substantial and easy to document, but EAM's even more dramatic benefit is cost avoidance. At best it is a fuzzy number, but we do know that we have been able to avoid downtime and production loss. Those numbers come out very large because we know our downtime costs are very expensive." Another lesson involves setting up data collection. "More is not always better," says Flanigan. "Initially we started out monitoring every conceivable point using multiple sensors on every piece of equipment. Eventually we learned how to limit our monitoring to get the right data. His advice: Factor in a learning curve and use statistical analysis software to help determine the best monitoring trade-offs. A growing number of manufacturers are building their EAM strategy via application service providers. For example, in February, Air Liquide America LP signed a $4.5 million, five-year contract with Rockwell Automation to provide condition-based monitoring equipment and service. Rockwell supplied its Entek-brand vibration analysis equipment to remotely monitor critical machinery and equipment involved with the production of industrial and medical gases. Rockwell Automation monitoring technicians will help Air Liquide's maintenance personnel analyze the information gathered, identify developing faults in equipment and correct them before they negatively affect production or safety. ERP vendors view EAM as a logical extension to their enterprise solution. Earlier this year Cascade Engineering, a specialist in engineered plastic systems and components, implemented MLS, an EAM solution from an Atlanta-based ERP vendor, FBO Systems Inc. The move integrated Cascade's maintenance activities into the manufacturing process, says Chris Lipka, supply-chain manager. With a unified view of asset data from previously autonomous divisions, Cascade has become more proactive, able to identify trends and actively improve inventory control, forecasting, asset optimization and warranty utilization. With EAM, managements are reshaping the maintenance process so that it makes rather than breaks production schedules, notes Bob Hagler, FBO's CEO. Ultimately, however, those new approaches bring operating benefits that relate to the corporate goals of operating efficiency and business competitiveness. Manufacturing thinking that once limited maintenance to departmental cost containment is now in transition to a bigger concept: revenue generated per dollar of asset investment. At Cascade, for example, reorganized maintenance cribs have resulted in dramatically increased inventory control across the 5,000-plus individual items required to keep the company's 3,000 and 5,000-ton presses running. That change has not only reduced inventory duplication, but also curbed overstocking in all 12 plants, adds Lipka. Further, by consolidating suppliers of maintenance items, Cascade has been able to leverage volume discount purchasing. These benefits, starting with an instant reduction in inventory over the first six months, have already had substantial economic impact. Equally beneficial and typically overlooked is the visibility Cascade gained on warranty coverage of expensive equipment components. Before EAM, failed components were simply replaced as there was no tool to track warranty status, Lipka explains. MLS tracks all parts and equipment under warranty and sends schedule reminders as components approach warranty -- a capability that promises significant savings. Cascade also points to its new enterprise asset management capability as further aligning the supporting roles of MRO purchasing and inventory management with the company's overall objective of lean manufacturing and maintenance initiatives.

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