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Integrating EAM to Enable Strategic Asset Management

The seminal ISO55000 standard released in January 2014 provides a strategic framework for realizing business value from physical assets. More depth can be found in asset-specific methodologies, such as the International Infrastructure Management Manual (IIMM) or the knowledge base of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). These excellent methodologies determine "what to do" from an asset lifecycle standpoint, but require integrated execution processes and systems - a tactical enterprise asset management (EAM) platform - to support the "how to do it." On paper, this strategic-tactical integration looks simple, however, most companies have separate organizations, processes and systems for each asset function. As an example, the maintenance department manages work with their computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), while the capital project and contract teams use different solutions. This fragmentation greatly hinders lifecycle objectives, from improving build versus repair decisions to optimizing as-built handoff after construction.

This challenge is more significant for larger infrastructure businesses that can have hundreds of systems spread across multiple asset classes, functions and sites. Trying to provide basic information feedback, such as aggregated asset cost information, can be very daunting. As illustrated in Figure 1, many organizations have this infrastructure profile, including municipalities, ports, industrial plants and utility complexes. A 2008 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) article captured this system fragmentation challenge: "Although the use of these [information] tools has, undoubtedly, improved the efficiency of managing infrastructure assets, ironically, it exacerbated the negative impact of process fragmentation by creating information gaps between these processes. The majority of the software tools were developed to function as stand-alone systems, and many have limited or no capability for sharing or exchanging information with other tools."¹

Figure 1: Strategic asset management requires a supporting
tactical EAM platform (integrated processes and systems)

U.S. Navy's EAM History
Like similar infrastructure organizations, the U.S. Navy's installation profile was very fragmented in 2003, with over 400 separate organizations and systems. At that time, an initiative was started to integrate all asset functions under a regional command, or facility engineering command (FEC), with the objective to both reduce overhead and improve asset process capability. It was quickly realized, however, that the hundreds of disparate applications would prevent EAM process integration. Consequently, a major effort was placed on globalizing and integrating best of breed systems - build the tactical EAM platform.

Figure 2: U.S. Navy's EAM profile before and after organization and system unification

As a starting point, the Navy deployed the IBM Maximo to 50 percent of its bases, however, there were eight separate instances with different customizations. Over a three-year period, a single platform Maximo system was built and deployed to all 72 installations in support of all asset types - facilities, utilities, equipment and fleet. This was a monumental effort that required significant configuration. As a CMMS, Maximo provided excellent maintenance support, however, the Navy also needed project and contract capability for a full EAM solution. Consequently, composite applications were developed and integrated with Maximo and legacy systems. This allowed a facility manager to pass project and contract requests from Maximo and interact directly. A data store was also deployed that supported geographic information systems (GIS), reporting and portal integration. This combined solution, illustrated in Figure 3, provided both the horizontal integration across the asset lifecycle and the vertical EAM functionality.

Figure 3: The Navy's tactical EAM platform in support of unified asset organization

Leveraging Today's EAM Capabilities
The Navy, like many other companies, implemented an integrated EAM system supporting basic lifecycle processes. Since that period, EAM systems, like Maximo, have improved significantly, making it easier to support lifecycle asset processes codified in ISO55000.

Strategic alignment: Every organization boasts strategic goals of increasing asset efficiency and reducing costs; they appear like the sunrise in nearly every strategic plan. Today, Maximo has robust capabilities, such as a key performance indicator (KPI) engine that can display real time, cascading metrics to manage these objectives. However, exposing these objectives requires significant thought and configuration. As an example, capturing total asset costs requires labor and material charges linked to assets via work orders.
The key is to develop solid asset plans with measurable objectives tied to discrete processes and data fields - this is hard work. One of the country's largest wastewater utilities spent significant resources configuring a new EAM system only to find out the solution did not meet their business needs. To remedy this, it conducted a full assessment that compared the current and desired end state. This provided the groundwork to properly configure Maximo, which now supports the wastewater utility's best practice goals and will allow it to reap the benefits into the future.

Advanced MRO functions: Numerous studies have demonstrated that dramatic improvements in wrench time can be achieved by streamlining practices aimed at getting the right parts and tools to the right workers at the right time. It is not uncommon for organizations to realize 25 to 30 percent improvement through effective planning, scheduling, work packaging and material optimization. Traditionally, EAM systems had limitations in supporting these advanced processes, but this has changed with these advancements:

  • Advanced work planning and scheduling - These tools have been built within current EAM packages and through third-party products. These powerful tools provide improved drag-and-drop capability and robust resource integration. This improved usability is placing advanced scheduling within reach of more companies.
  • Mobility - Traditionally, mechanics communicated with paper, losing transit time and accurate data capture. Today's mobile technology provides amazing capabilities: manage work on the fly, real time lookup, simplified data entry and automatic routing. The key is to align the right process via mobile application with the right device; fortunately, there are many choices today.
  • GIS integration - Spatial technology provides a graphical look at the enterprise to save time in locating assets, grouping work and visualizing related equipment. For pipe and transmission networks, Maximo provides a linear asset capability. For a large state's department of transportation, integration of Maximo, linear GIS and mobile significantly improve its inspection and work capability.

Advanced acquisition functions: Historically, project and contract management were not part of a CMMS. This resulted in a major gap between the "blue collar" or MRO team and the "white collar" engineer and contracting group. Today, however, Maximo can better support both groups - more of a "gray collar" solution.

  • Project management - Maximo now supports dynamic Gantt charts, unlimited sub-projects and resource leveling. This allows fully integrated work and project capability. One of the largest K-12 school districts uses IBM Maximo to manage both maintenance and capital projects for its ~ 14,000 buildings and sites. 
  • Contract management - Traditionally, asset owners have used third-party or custom applications to manage complex contracts. Today, Maximo has improved internal capability and extended pre-award functions through its Emptoris acquisition. Additionally, Maximo can import as-built data through an industry exchange format (COBie adapter) and support of building information modeling (BIM).

Technical enablers: Modern EAM systems have evolved from rigid applications that required businesses to change to very flexible solutions that could support multiple asset types and functions. However, this flexibility, built on a multi-layered Web and Java platform, must be managed with smart tools and techniques to minimize costly customization.

  • Complex business rules and functions - Some third-party products allow advanced capability without expensive coding or jeopardizing the upgrade to the next Maximo version. For example, TRM RulesManagerTM allows for graphical screen configuration and auto-population of fields, validation and navigation, which both improve key processes and enable more complex business rules. 
  • Interfacing - Maximo leverages Web services for transactional interfaces, which requires much less coding and error handling as compared to traditional data broker solutions. Additionally, adapters exist for the most popular enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
  • Industry solutions and functional add-ons - Maximo offers industry-specific configurations for key verticals, including facilities, oil and gas, utilities, nuclear and transportation. In addition, there are numerous third-party products, such as lockout-tagout, planning and scheduling, reliability centered maintenance (RCM) and equipment monitoring. Many innovative businesses build their own solutions by cloning and modifying Maximo applications.

Putting It All Together
There is increasing focus to improve business value through asset lifecycle optimization, which is now codified in the ISO55000 standard and supported by best practice communities like the Certified Reliability Leader (CRL) program. To accomplish this, large, multi-asset companies must leverage their people with effective strategy, processes and systems. If properly configured and extended, today's systems can support this lifecycle capability and become a compelling tactical EAM platform.

Figure 4: Putting it all together by enabling strategic asset management
through effective strategy, processes and system


1. Halfawy, Mahmoud R. "Integration of Municipal Infrastructure Asset Management Processes: Challenges and Solutions." Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering. American Society of Civil Engineers, May/June 2008.

About the Authors

Scott Stukel, CMRP, ITIL, is a Senior Engineer and Business Consultant with Total Resource Management (TRM), where he leads process reengineering, best practice and technology implementation projects. He has over 23 years of engineering, asset/maintenance management and technology experience across numerous public and private industries.

Scott Smith, PE, is an EAM Solutions Architect with Total Resource Management (TRM). He has over 29 years of leadership and management experience in the U.S. Navy infrastructure domain, including public works, maintenance, construction and contracting. He was the Navy's lead for the initial Maximo implementation and later served as the global EAM program manager.

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