Photo Credits: Eventful People
The recently held Connecting SAP Enterprise Asset Management conference in South Africa, organized by Eventful People, once again brought together numerous thinkers, customers, partners and asset managers from around the globe.
In this article, we’ll share insights from some of the standout presentations and highlight the latest trends in Enterprise Asset Management.
Trends and Opportunities in Asset Management
Patrick Crampton-Thomas, VP of Asset and Service Management at SAP Solution Management, highlighted the emerging market dynamics and opportunities in the field of asset management and maintenance, including:
- A Shift Towards Agile Maintenance: There is a growing trend towards agile maintenance approaches that are responsive to risks and focused on improving asset performance.
- Growing Asset Complexity and Connectivity: The market is experiencing increased asset complexity and connectivity, leading to the emergence of new business models and services.
- Integration of Maintenance and Service: There is a need to integrate maintenance and service across the supply chain and enterprise to enhance resilience.
- Changing Worker and Environmental Pressures: Environmental and workforce pressures are driving changes in asset management practices.
SAP offers unique value that addresses these challenges head-on. SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) provides solutions that connect equipment strategy, planning, and execution with a single digital thread. This helps continuous improvement, reduces operational costs, and promotes a circular economy. Businesses can connect everyone to the most up-to-date data, integrate maintenance across the supply chain, and collaborate with partners to optimize technician travel time. Moreover, SAP’s Intelligent Asset Management Solution Portfolio facilitates collaboration on a single version of truth for optimal asset management
With SAP’s Intelligent Asset Management (SAP IAM) solutions and adopting a dynamic and prescriptive approach, businesses can increase overall asset performance. SAP’s solutions help companies to realize sustainability goals by extending equipment life, engaging in the circular economy, and managing environmental risk. Businesses can also reduce costs through increased efficiency by integrating processes across assets, enterprises, and networks.
Sailing in Rough Seas: The Case for Maintenance Mobility
Annabelle Roux, Founder & SAP PM/EAM Consultant at Gentackle, presented a strong case for maintenance mobility projects, which she likened to Shackleton’s trans-Antarctic expedition. Mobility projects are notoriously risky due to their rapid pace, demanding infrastructure and skills requirements, and the investment needed.
One of the critical characteristics of maintenance mobility projects is their ever-evolving nature, driven by advancements in technology that continuously offer better solutions. These changes encompass short application release cycles, revised product roadmaps, evolving out-of-the-box functionality, infrastructure upgrades, and operating system file formats. Embracing mobility projects requires a quick-to-deploy approach, with mobile applications taking just a few months to be up and running using project methodologies like SAP Activate and off-the-shelf software.
To ensure successful execution, Roux emphasizes the importance of preparation, drawing parallels to sailing smartly to reach the shore safely. She proposes a five-step strategy: mitigate risks, involve stakeholders, demonstrate capabilities, make informed decisions, and persevere through challenges. Benchmarking through pre-assessment tools like Gartner Peer Insights, product demos, SWOT analysis, and cost estimates is advised to make well-informed choices.
Various solutions can be considered within maintenance mobility, including responsive web applications, native mobile applications, standalone applications, integrated applications, custom (in-house) applications, and off-the-shelf (SaaS) applications. Conducting a Proof of Concept (POC) becomes crucial to validate the chosen approach. The POC involves prioritizing business requirements, defining the scope, designing mock-up screens, creating prototypes, and seeking feedback from many business users.
Maintenance mobility projects, once implemented successfully, offer several competitive advantages. These include reduced data entry time, a paperless environment, real-time labor and data tracking, remote system access, increased productivity, improved analytics, and higher business maturity. A well-designed mobile application fosters increased user engagement through an intuitive UI/UX, interactive processes, usage KPIs, and the ability to attract young talent.
Maintenance mobility projects are an essential step in modern asset management. While they come with inherent risks and challenges, their benefits in increased efficiency, productivity, and user engagement make them a worthy investment for forward-thinking organizations. By embracing maintenance mobility, businesses can chart a course towards a more sustainable and competitive future.
Key Considerations When Implementing a Mobile EAM Solution
Ken Choi, Partner and Co-Founder at S4A IT Solutions also shared his insights into the critical factors that organizations should consider while implementing a Mobile Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solution, including:
#1: Integration with Existing Systems: The first key consideration is the seamless integration of the mobile EAM solution with existing systems. Choi highlighted various integration considerations, including core maintenance execution functionality, document management systems (DMS), geographic information systems (GIS), master data management (MDM), and asset inspection functionality and data.
#2: Mobile Platform Selection: The second consideration pertains to the selection of the mobile platform. Factors such as developer support, cost, integration capabilities, compatibility, user experience, security, and performance are discussed when choosing between different mobile device platforms, such as iOS, Android, Windows, and HTML5-compliant browsers.
#3: User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX): The third essential consideration focuses on the user interface and experience. User-centered design, intuitive navigation, streamlined workflows, consistent visual design, and responsive and adaptive design are the keys to enhancing user experience, adoption rates, and efficiency and gaining a competitive advantage.
#4: Security & Data Privacy: Ensuring data privacy and security is the fourth key consideration. Businesses must have strategies for protecting devices, networks, and data from unauthorized access and attacks. Measures such as enforcing strong access controls, encrypting sensitive data, and regularly updating security software are mentioned.
#5: Training & Change Management: The fifth consideration is the importance of providing comprehensive training and change management. Practical training ensures competence, maximizes adoption, enhances efficiency, improves data accuracy, and empowers problem-solving. Change management activities like defining a clear vision, stakeholder engagement, change readiness assessment, communication plan, and continuous improvement can have a considerable impact.
#6: Scalability & Futureproofing: The final consideration is the scalability and futureproofing of the mobile EAM solution. Technology compatibility, security measures, vendor support, and a roadmap are crucial to ensure the solution’s long-term viability.
By focusing on these considerations, businesses can enjoy the full benefits of a mobile EAM solution, including real-time access to asset information, improved maintenance and uptime, increased data accuracy and integrity, and enhanced collaboration and communication.
Enhancing Asset Management
SAP Business Network for Assets
Lloyd Keays, Incubation and Pioneering Executive for SAP Business Network addressed the complexities of managing diverse assets within different companies. Each company possesses unique assets, such as airplanes, robots, transformers, and pumps, with various related concepts like access control, safety documentation, maintenance logs, spare parts, and firmware updates. Managing these assets can be challenging due to their complexity and the need for collaboration with external service providers.
The presentation identifies a key issue in asset management – siloed information and limited collaboration. Asset-related information often resides in isolated systems like ERP or manufacturer databases, making it difficult to share data and collaborate effectively with service providers and manufacturers. Lack of collaboration can result in suboptimal maintenance, inefficiencies, and missed opportunities for improvement.
To address these challenges, Keays introduced the “Business Network for Assets.” This network bridges the gap and facilitates collaboration by providing a platform for modeling and sharing asset data across different companies while respecting access control and privacy. Manufacturers can push updates, documentation, and part availability information directly to users through this network, enabling better collaboration and optimization.
The SAP Business Network Asset Collaboration enables seamless collaboration for optimal maintenance. Work orders can be sent through the network, granting service providers access to security material, maintenance information, and firmware documentation. By leveraging the knowledge and expertise of manufacturers and service providers, users can improve asset performance and achieve operational excellence.
The value of collaborative asset management is emphasized throughout the presentation. It transforms asset management from an isolated endeavor to a collaborative effort, allowing companies to optimize asset performance and leverage shared expertise. Collaborative asset management enhances maintenance, reduces downtime, and unlocks new opportunities for asset optimization.
Realizing the benefits of collaborative asset management, organizations can achieve cost savings, improve operational outcomes, and stay ahead in a competitive landscape. The future of the Business Network for Assets is continuously evolving, with ongoing developments to enhance data modeling, standardize templates, and integrate with procurement and supply chain processes. As the network evolves, it will further empower organizations to optimize asset management, drive innovation, and achieve strategic objectives.
By embracing collaboration and utilizing the Business Network for Assets, companies can enhance their maintenance processes, improve asset performance, and gain a competitive advantage in the market.
SAP Asset Performance Management (APM)
Justin Lester, Director of Enterprise Asset & Supply Chain Management at Denbury, explained why it is important to follow a systematic approach driven by asset criticality when deploying an asset maintenance strategy.
Brian Williams, Solution Owner for SAP Asset Performance Management (APM), then provided insight into how SAP APM offers a set of tools and features that can be used to assess the risk and criticality of assets, develop maintenance recommendations, and monitor asset health.
SAP APM uses an aligned data model with SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), allowing for a seamless data exchange between the two systems. It also provides a risk and criticality assessment that helps identify the most critical assets to the business and, therefore, which are most likely to have a negative impact if they fail.
Williams also discussed maintenance strategy development, which uses the results of the risk and criticality assessment to develop maintenance recommendations for the identified assets, and recommendation management, which helps to track the status of recommendations and ensure that they are implemented promptly.
APM can be used to assess the risk and criticality of assets based on various factors, including the asset’s function, location, and history of failures. Asset managers can use APM to develop maintenance recommendations based on standard reliability methods such as Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) and Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), monitor asset health by tracking data such as vibration, temperature, and pressure, and even generate maintenance work orders based on the results of the asset health monitoring.
EAM Inspection Checklists
This is not the only way to enhance asset management. Annabelle Roux of Gentackle, delivered a compelling presentation showcasing how new checklist management solutions within SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) can enhance maintenance processes, increase efficiency, and contribute to a company’s competitive advantage.
Checklists are crucial for various purposes, such as preventive maintenance, standard work orders, and safety checks. Without a dedicated solution within SAP, users resorted to workarounds like paper checklists, custom development, or third-party digital forms.
To address this gap, SAP introduced the inspection checklist process, which plays a crucial role in the overall maintenance workflow. A checklist, in this context, refers to a legally binding document utilized for conducting inspections or checks on assets. It is essentially a view in the work order that contains lists of items to be inspected. The results of these inspections can be recorded either in the backend or using mobile devices for added convenience and flexibility.
Innovation is the Answer
Mesuli Mdluli, Engineering Maintenance Manager at CCS Logistics, explored the importance of asset management, highlighting various reasons why it is imperative for organizations. He clearly outlined the benefits of asset management, including the reduction of safety risks, environmental impact, and legal risks associated with operating assets, as well as the improvement of operating performance and overall cost reduction.
Mdluli also explored the concept of Life Cycle Cost (LCC) as well as the integration of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in asset management. He mentioned various AI tools, such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), that can enhance asset performance. Sustainability must be emphasized in the context of asset management, especially considering the many ways sustainable practices have yielded positive results, such as reduced energy consumption and improved water efficiency.
Innovation is a key factor in addressing existing challenges and achieving organizational sustainability. Executives need to consider investing in innovative technologies and incorporating them into business strategies to achieve societal, economic, and environmental goals while maintaining organizational success.
Real World Cases
Navigating Change in a Reactive Operational Environment at the City of Cape Town
Melissa De Sousa Alves, Head of Technical Services at the City of Cape Town also shared insights into achieving operational efficiencies through the application of a Reactive Incident Management Application (RIMA) in a reactive operational environment. It starts with an overview of the organization’s structure and change drivers, including a growing population, aging infrastructure, and demanding customers. The major challenge faced is data quality and quantity due to a largely paper-based system and outdated information. She highlighted the benefits of RIMA, such as enhanced decision-making, improved data quantity and quality, and traceability of completed work, and discussed the integration of RIMA with other SAP systems and the potential cost savings and benchmarks that can be achieved.
Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) as a Pull Factor for S/4HANA Public Cloud at Royal Eswatini Corporation (RES)
Nqobile Maseko-Ntiwane, Applications Services Manager at the Royal Eswatini Sugar Corporation (RES) shared the digital transformation journey of RES, focusing on their move to S4HANA Public Cloud for Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). The primary motivation for this move was to upgrade from SAPECC EHP 8 to S4HANA to meet a deadline, but it also aligned with RES’s goal of becoming an intelligent enterprise.
Implementation took a phased approach and collaboration through MIRO, virtual, and in-person design thinking. The focus was on becoming an intelligent enterprise, and the first phase of EAM implementation involved activating best practice processes for Reactive Maintenance, Proactive Maintenance, and Improvement Maintenance.
Lessons learned included the importance of executive involvement, business-led projects, support structures, and understanding the implications of customizations in the Public Cloud.
Beginning the Enterprise Portfolio and Project Management (ePPM) Journey at Hydro Tasmania
Scott Geappen, Asset Initiatives Specialist at Hydro Tasmania, also shared his experiences and Enterprise Portfolio and Project Management (SAP ePPM) journey. Hydro Tasmania is Australia’s largest generator of clean, renewable energy and water manager. They operate a significant number of power stations, generation machines, major dams, and waterways.
Hydro Tasmania is implementing an Asset Management Portal to improve asset management and a Portfolio Project Management (PPM) system to optimize project management. The current state of portfolio management shows challenges in tracking and reporting project progress, lack of visibility, and incorrect future forecasts. The ideal situation is a system that easily shows project status, offers clear linkages, and appropriately allocates overhead costs.
In the presentation, Scott proposed a consolidation of reports and systems, streamlining processes, and identifying key setup changes in SAP for value flow. The proposed program includes reviews of PPM, PS (Project System), Financial setup, and Maintenance Delivery tools, followed by implementation based on resource availability and business priority.
The Human Factor
Ensuring Users Are at the Heart of Technical Implementations
He stressed that prioritizing user satisfaction, usability, and accessibility leads to better products, increased user adoption, higher engagement, and targeted business success. User-centric approaches can directly impact user experiences, drive adoption for targeted benefits, gain a competitive advantage, and decrease operating costs.
Choi mentioned several user-centric best practices, including conducting user research, creating user personas, developing user-centric designs, testing early and often, and iterating and improving based on user feedback.
It’s an approach that companies like Apple, known for its simple and intuitive products, and Amazon, which offers personalized recommendations based on user behavior to enhance the shopping experience, have mastered very successfully.
By prioritizing user needs, wants, and behaviors, organizations can improve user experiences, increase usability, reduce development costs, and gain a competitive advantage.
People and Parts
Tim McLain of Missing Link Supply Solutions also focused on the role of human factors in ensuring effective asset management and maintenance – this time from the employee perspective. He emphasized the importance of collaboration and communication between these departments to achieve efficiency and reduce operational costs.
It’s important for all departments to support the Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) teams to improve the demand signal and trigger the entire Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO) and services supply chain.
There is a real need for Supply Chain Management (SCM) to support EAM in understanding the impact of a “GOOD” signal and a “POOR” signal in the context of scheduled and unscheduled requirements, free-text spending, and the overall supply capability.
Collaboration, communication, and data quality will improve working capital, inventory health, and overall supply chain effectiveness. Individuals should spend time in different roles to gain a broader understanding of the organization’s operations. Understanding the necessary components and instructions is crucial to achieving desired outcomes and improving performance.
The 2023 Conference once again brought countless new ideas and case studies to the forefront. While this article merely touches on a few, there are plenty of ideas still to share.
Before concluding, we extend our gratitude to Eventful People for their phenomenal effort in orchestrating this conference.
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