Asset & Equipment Management

Have you got your assets covered?

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) and Enterprise Asset Management Systems (EAM) are now widely deployed technologies in business and government facilities. These systems have proven their value over the past decades but continuous improvement in asset management technology has opened up a whole new realm for Facility Managers. Years ago, the driving force in deploying a CMMS was to ensure equipment warranties were not voided due to improper maintenance, thus saving money and extending the life of necessary building systems. Planned/Preventive maintenance routines kept equipment in good working order and provided the opportunity for a technician to visit and inspect the equipment on a regular basis.

If a pump has a failure between planned maintenance tasks, then a demand work task is generated as soon as the failure is noticed. The issue there is that if the failure goes unnoticed for a period of time, damage to other equipment could be a risk. To avoid this from happening, manufacturers may place sensors on equipment from the factory that will send an alert when a failure occurs. Sensors can be added to existing equipment by facilities managers in order to have a quicker response time when a failure occurs.

Pro-active Performance

Modern CMMS systems are bristling with sensors but not only at the equipment level, they are distributed throughout the facilities. Motion sensors turn off lighting when the room is vacant for a period of time. Temperature sensors keep the spaces in a comfortable zone when occupied, then lower the temperature and reduce air flow when unoccupied. This not only saves energy, it also extends the life of equipment. Beyond motion and temperature there are WiFi sensors that detect when a wireless device connects, thus a person is in the vicinity of the wireless hotspot. These can be useful for determining how many people are in a conference room, for example, and adjusts the cooling accordingly.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

When building and equipment sensors are connected to the Internet, they will each have an IP address – a unique identifier of a device connected to the Internet. Whether it is a laptop computer, a cell phone or a wireless hotspot antenna it is a “thing” that is connected. In this context it usually means anything that isn’t a computer or a cell phone. Collectively, all of the millions of small devices connected to the Internet are called the Internet of Things (IoT). All of these sensors will be connected to the Cloud – a database somewhere that collects all of the sensor data for analysis.

With all the equipment and sensors in constant communication, a modern CMMS system can ‘see’ the big picture and respond quickly when a parameter is out of range. If a corner of the building is suddenly experiencing a drop in temperature, a work task can be automatically generated and a technician dispatched to investigate, before any employee picks up the phone to report an uncomfortable environment.

Your Room is Ready

With the “Return to Work” initiatives underway, employers are exploring innovative ways to enhance the comfort and workplace experience for their staff. Dynamic room reservation applications allow employees to pre-book a desk or office ahead of their arrival. When the room is reserved, a work task is generated to have a custodian refresh the space before the arrival and to clean the space after they depart. Furthermore, if the systems are advanced, air conditioning or heating can be controlled from the room reservation system so the space is comfortable upon arrival.

Asset Lifecycle Management

When it comes to asset & equipment management the main focus is on maximizing the life span of the asset and ensuring efficient operation and minimizing repairs and energy consumption. From the moment the asset is acquired and in-service until the time it needs replacing, is called its lifecycle. In a smaller facility, such an elementary school, there may be only a half-dozen major assets, like boilers and HVAC equipment, so keeping them maintained is fairly manageable without needing a computerized system. But when you get to a university campus, with hundreds of assets and systems, maintaining them from a spreadsheet or notebook is not possible. A CMMS system is absolutely necessary to organize and plan maintenance scheduling. Parts consumption and labor can be forecasted, making staffing more efficient.

Mobile Productivity

Not until just a few years ago, technicians in the field would start their day picking up paper work orders from the trades shop then go about their repairs for the day. At the end of the day they return to the shop with their notes, handwritten on the work orders. They, or an assistant, would then enter their time and notes into the system. If an emergency came up during the day, the technician would receive a phone or radio call to retrieve a work order, or perhaps given instructions verbally. With today’s mobile devices and wireless connectivity, this time-wasting activity is eliminated. Now field technicians have the day’s work sent to their mobile device, no need to visit the shop. Updates or new work is just sent immediately without disruption. If a technician notices a needed repair, they can create a work task on the spot and assign it a priority. No paper transactions and everything in real-time!