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The 10 most challenges in Linear Asset Management and solution options

Maintenance of linear assets (A kind of networks) is completely different from maintaining non linear assets like a fleet, machine. They through lot more challenges in modelling and executing the maintenance work compared to non linear assets. The ability to model and execute the maintenance these assets is what can tap the huge market potential in this segment.

Assets can be broadly divided into two categories namely Liner and Non linear. If we underrated non linear assets, it is easy to understand linear assets. Non linear assets are like Plant, equipment, Machine, fleet etc., they are confined to a size and specific location etc., Maintenance of them is relatively easy. Linear assets are not specific to single location. Linear assets can be like roads, runways, gas pipe lines, electrical transmissions, rail tracks, telecom lines etc., where they are not specific one single location. They more or less represent a network. Many linear asset networks cross over with other networks and can also be a place holder of many non linear assets. For e:g one railway track can connect to other railway track and also holds many non linear assets like traffic control systems, stations, power generating equipment and more importantly other parallel linear asset like power cables etc., Maintaining these assets requires much more capability than maintaining non linear assets.
There are many challenges that will surface in maintaining these assets. All these challenges need to be addresses adequately by any ERP to realize the benefits. Again the challenges will be different for different industries and this blog lists these challenges a generic manner.

1. Modelling of the linear assets: As the linear assets are not confined to a single location but widely spread across some geographies, modelling of these assets is the first most challenge for any ERP. This modelling can be either engineering or visual in nature. For e.g. a metro rail network is spread across a city. Typical asset hierarchy may not work here.

2. Assigning the non linear assets to the linear assets: Every linear asset can be a place holder for many non linear assets. For e.g.  a national highway contains traffic signals, light posts at definite locations also requires maintenance.

3. Parallel networks: There are some networks that work in parallel. A metro rail network requires a parallel power lines. Failure of any of them can result in stoppage of the services. Modelling of such networks is a challenge.

4. Intersecting networks: Networks that cross over. Typically can operate independently but the shutting down of one network can result in shutting down of other network. A metro rail network and a road network can operate independently but the shutting down of one network can result in shutting down of other network due to cross over at some places. This requires additional tag out processes.

5. Planned downime of the network: The linear assets or networks does not offer too much of a time for planned down time. They need to be scheduled typically on a weekend or public holidays by virtue of their connection to the public life. At times they need to be scheduled in summer only. This leaves additional challenge for the ERP systems.

6. Increased load on other networks: At times when one network is down, the traffic is to be diverted to the other network. This mean, some networks can't be planned for maintenance in parallel. Higher load on other networks means more usage that could result in breakdown as well.

7. Skilled personnel in performing the maintenance: Maintaining the linear assets needs a crew (group of technicians) from different departments to work at the same time. e.g. technicians from civil and electrical departments.

8. Special equipment in performing the maintenance: Maintaining these assets needs at times needs special crew. For e.g. a crane or excavator and their operators would be special equipment in executing the maintenance of these assets. Also arranging the required consumables to complete the maintenance work location requires initial assessment and planning.

9. Work orders planning and execution: Work order planning and execution requires much more co-ordinated process than non linear assets.  For e.g. arranging the crew from different departments, approvals from other departments even though the other department is not involved in the maintenance work. At times the maintenance of all networks is to be combined due to geographical constraints and same crew members. This also requires additional tag out processes.

10. Maintenance analytics: Apart from planning and executing the work, the ERP should generate the required analytics like down time trend, cost of maintaining the network, allocation of the costs to different networks etc., requires additional features.

Any ERP that can beat these challenges is sure to tap the huge market and we will see how Oracle EAM is offering various solutions to address these challenges in the subsequent blogs.

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