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APM - It's time for Performance Appraisal for Assets

Performance Appraisal? ...for Assets? Does it sound different? Yes, this is the closest analogy I could relate to Asset Performance Management (APM) / Asset Health monitoring, which is much talked about now a days. Employees are valuable assets of an organization. So are the production assets such as Equipment and Machinery which are also playing vital role in the well-being of an Industry. APM is the concept focusing on the performance of individual assets (Equipment, machinery, transportation vehicles, etc.) on their real time performance, downtime, and their efficiency and maintenance parameters. Some of the examples of APM tools are from GE, Schneider Electric etc. Though APM is not so new, it started getting traction in recent days due to fast pace technological advancements such as Big Data, Internet of Things, Machine learning, Smart Systems and Cloud computing. In this blog we will surf through the concept of APM, its latest trends and benefits.

Gartner defines APM as a concept which "encompasses the capabilities of data capture, integration, visualization and analytics tied together for the explicit purpose of improving the reliability and availability of physical assets. APM includes the concepts of condition monitoring, predictive forecasting and reliability-centered maintenance (RCM)." As mentioned, it is an extension of various maintenance strategies bridging the gap of visualization and analytics of real time asset health.

The offerings of APM gains more importance as it considers the real time alerts, historical data, failure patterns and intelligence from operating environments (such as Weather, Speed, Pressure, Voltage etc.) which provides a more accurate insight on the issue. Further, tracking the performance of assets within a manufacturing facility or workshop is easier as the assets are confined to a boundary. However, asset performance monitoring becomes difficult for moving assets and linear assets located across a vast area in Transportation, Energy, Oil and Gas industries.

Let us now see the various technological advancements which are paving the way for new avatar of APM (or) Asset health monitoring.

Big Data: Big Data is one advancement organizations are capitalizing to gain more insights from the asset usage history, maintenance parameters and failure analysis. It provides a framework which constitutes -
     • Descriptive info (Details of what happened to the asset)
     • Diagnostic info (Root cause for the issue)
     • Predictive info (Consequences if no action taken) and
     • Prescriptive info (How to react based on the data insights).
Prescriptive analytics is another topic of interest which is being utilized by APM tools to decide, optimize and act as needed.

IOT: These are the days were everything becomes smart. Smart Devices, Smart Cities, Smart World!!! Now it's time for Smart assets which can talk to each other, transfer data and react to the situations autonomously. Low cost sensors, excellent online / offline network connectivity, mobile applications are enabling assets to virtually speak out when something goes wrong / they are not comfortable. APM tools utilize these inputs to provide real time data in a smart way!

Bundled Applications: In the recent past, organization have heavily invested on EAM applications which were focused more on implementing maintenance strategies and recording asset maintenance data and hence APM tools were developed separately and then integrated with EAM applications. Since this gap was existing, many organizations have not opted for APM tools as it involved separate integration. However, this gap is being bridged in the recent times by the EAM applications vendors themselves. One such example is IBM Maximo Asset Health insights.

Cloud Computing: Cloud computing allows for having the APM tools available on cloud with much lesser infrastructure investments. This is an added advantage which organizations can capitalize to reap the benefits at a lesser cost. As we are witnessing more and more technological advancements day in and out, future of APM is bright enough to exploit the asset intensive industries. One of the latest research article mentioned that we are in the age of APM 4.0!

Coming back to our analogy, as employee performance management involves setting up goals, getting updates, provide feedback and evaluate based on outcomes - Asset performance also encompasses the following:
     • Identifying Performance Metrics and KPIs for the assets
     • Collect real time and historical asset data
     • Analyzing the data against the metrics and scores
     • Publishing the appraisal results

APM is proving to be a holistic solution for improving the asset performance and is expanding its wings across the organizations. APM brings with it benefits of
     • Improved asset health (healthy assets means healthy organization)
     • Improved uptime
     • Real time data for effective maintenance decisions
     • Reduced maintenance spend due to optimized schedules.

It is time for the organizations to relate themselves with the wellbeing of their assets, listen to them and take appropriate actions to make them perform better. Better performance - Better results - Better retention!!!

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