Serving up asset management

Asset management is like pizza that comes in many flavors and styles. It can be cut into several pieces, cooked with ingredients from home, or ordered out. So, would you like yours thin crust or deep dish?

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Paying the Delivery Person
Getting AM vendors to tell us how much an entry-level AM software package costs was fruitless. Several vendors weasel-worded their answers, essentially saying, “How much does it cost for a user not to install asset management?” 

Only one actually answered the question. “An Indus AM solution can cost as little as $125,000 or as much as several million dollars, depending on the capabilities required, the number of users, and many other factors,” says Indus’ Frazier. “In the long run, ‘best of breed’ AM solutions more than pay for themselves in a relatively short time.”

“We’ve been offering software deployed as a pay-per-use service running on a central web server for years, but there are no takers so far. Part of the problem has been that operating companies are very protective of their data.”

For a single plant, you may not have too many options. You may have to buy the software outright. For companies with multiple locations, who can set up a central server, several options exist for per-seat costs, site licenses, or an enterprise license.

You don’t necessarily have to spend a zillion dollars on AM software. “An asset management system doesn’t have to be expensive to be useful,” says Todd Stauffer, marketing manager at Siemens Energy & Automation. “Inexpensive ‘entry level’ AM packages are useful for plants that have limited budgets for maintenance.”

ABB’s Reierson confirms this assessment. “A widely held opinion is that an asset management system must be installed on a grand scale to provide measurable results,” he notes. “This is a misconception. Today’s asset optimization solutions can be incrementally implemented, on a physical location basis or by asset type, and still provide immediate payback.”

You have plenty of options, including purchasing AM software for your plant, putting AM software on a central company server, leasing, purchasing and many combinations of each. In this case, it definitely pays to shop around and compare all the options.


Slicing the Pie

There are eight basic pieces of the Asset Management pie:

  • Condition monitoring—Diagnostic and status information from smart instruments, fieldbus equipment and devices with embedded web servers provide real-time data relating to equipment health. Specialty software analyzes the data to identify problems.
  • Maintenance management—CMMS takes real-time diagnostic information, data involving equipment usage and availability, plant schedules and other factors into consideration, and determines when an “asset,” such as a control valve, needs maintenance.
  • Loop tuning—Using real-time and historical data, loop tuning software can identify when a process loop needs to be adjusted for maximum efficiency.
  • Process optimization—This software analyzes overall process or unit operations, identifies problems, and recommends changes to improve an entire process.
  • Plant historian—Captures real-time data from the entire process, and makes it available to operators, process engineers and maintenance people for analysis.
  • Document management—Organizes, updates, and makes available a host of documents, including manuals, regulations, equipment schematics and so on.
  • Supply chain management (SCM)—Based on an evaluation of available assets and incoming orders, SCM tells the plant what to make.
  • ERP—Runs the enterprise’s financial business. 
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