Getting the most from EAM Software – Part 2

tech on computerBy Carlo Odoardi: Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software is a powerful tool for those responsible for maximizing the value of industrial assets as well as those who perform maintenance work on those assets. But often, EAM software falls short of delivering all of the benefits it could. This is the second part of this blog article.

Eliminating ‘Shelfware’

Before we talk about how to solve this problem, let’s define the term ‘shelfware’. Shelfware is software bought by an organization or company that ends up sitting up on a shelf somewhere, unused. That is a waste of money and a waste of prospective hope for an organization. I refer to shelfware as a curse that affects an organization. A curse is an act or an expression of misfortune to befall a person or a group of people. This curse has a real and all too familiar pattern.

At first, responsible managers allocate resources for a project to identify and improve the reliability of known poorly performing plant assets. These are bad actors — equipment that is known to fail on a regular basis. Next, well-intentioned facilitators engage company personnel to identify the equipment “bad actors” and document the required preventive maintenance tasks.

The curse rears its ugly head, however, in the third step, which is, in essence, inactivity. The analysis ends up in a binder, on a shelf, or in a directory instead of being implemented. Nothing gets performed on the physical assets on a routine basis. If this is what your implementation looks like, you have fallen victim to the shelfware curse!

But how do you lift the curse?

I believe the only logical path to reversing the impact of this curse is to implement an asset health model. This requires four distinct steps.

1. Put in place an asset health monitoring system. This system could take many different forms.

2. Convert preventive maintenance tasks into a format that is conducive to that asset health monitoring system.

3. Collect asset health monitoring data in a logistical way in the EAM software.

4. Regularly update the tradespeople that are walking the PM routes. These are the people that go out in the plant floor, walk the equipment and investigate and determine the physical asset health of the equipment on a regular (or routine) basis.

“When You Want What You’ve Never Had, You Must Do What You’ve Never Done!” – Thomas Jefferson

Implement best practices Implementing best practices requires imagination. We must visualize a compelling future state but deal with the present reality. You need to keep one hand on heaven and one hand on earth, so you are constantly looking forward to that compelling future state but dealing with that present reality at hand. A qualified consultant who has been a part of multiple EAM and process improvement projects can identify specific practices that have worked elsewhere that will work for your organization. But when it comes to implementing them, I advise people to pay close attention to what I call the ‘Lucky 7’.

An old philosophy that I have heard in the sports world for many years is that “you have got to be good to be lucky.” That is why I call these the lucky 7.

1. Knowledge. You need to educate everyone on the industry best practices you want to implement. You can’t leave anyone behind.

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply; Willing is not enough, we must do” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

2. Training. Coach everyone to ensure a sustained understanding of what it is you are trying to achieve. Most people will do a training session and then leave it at that. I believe there has to be a continual cycle of training in order to sustain that understanding. The objective here is to reinforce the knowledge so that one generation continuously influences the next generation of co-workers and it becomes ingrained and part of the culture.

Manager: “If I spend all that money training my people, they’ll just go work elsewhere!”
Trainer: “What if you don’t, and they stay?”

3. Teamwork. Teamwork builds awareness and through that awareness, you generate consensus — and the consensus is ‘buy-in’. If you have ever heard anyone talk about ‘synergy’, that is what teamwork is all about. Synergy allows you to build something bigger than the sum of the parts. Don’t Commit Your Team to Physical Asset Reliability …Commit Your COMPANY to it!

4. Planning. You have to be able to map the physical tasks that need to be performed. Those tasks have to be changed into activities or routines to be done on a regular basis. The activities and routines need to speak to overarching initiatives and to the goals that senior management has set out to achieve for the organization. Because ultimately, that senior management team, the executive management of a company, has a vision that they are trying to realize and that vision cannot be achieved without those goals, initiatives, and activities.

If You Don’t Create the Future You Want, You Must Endure the Future You Get

5. Focus — everybody talks about focus but what is the focus? I believe focus is being ever mindful about the priorities in front of us that we need to achieve success. Mindfulness is all about being aware of what it is we are trying to achieve in a prioritized set so that we don’t get distracted by extraneous tasks. Only with that genuine focus can we achieve real success.

If You Don’t Know Your Destination, How Will You Know When You Get There?

6. Measure. We must be constantly measuring asset health on the plant floor, in order to get that visibility in a software tool like EAM. From the EAM software package, we can communicate and share ubiquitously throughout the organization.

Vision Without Action is a Dream; Action Without a Vision is a Nightmare!

7. Leadership. Last, but certainly not least, I firmly believe that leadership needs to constantly and consistently guide and drive progress. Leaders must take away any kind of barrier for the staff and the organization. Leaders must eliminate any organizational risks that may exist so that staff can focus on everything in the other 6 areas of these lucky

Leaders Don’t Just See Different Things, They See Things Different!

The Role of EAM Software

EAM software needs to facilitate all elements of the Lucky 7, the planning, scheduling, execution, and follow-up. It needs to allow management to analyze the performance of the physical assets. Is performance on track, is it off track, and if so, what needs to be done to improve so that the next time we go and plan and schedule and execute the work, we know what it is we need to do to make things better. That is what continuous improvement is all about.

Complexity is one thing that tends to be a barrier to EAM projects in terms of achieving this. It is something that I personally found characterizes every software application of this type to varying degrees – it is not the programmer’s fault, nor the vendor’s. There is a need for that complexity if it is to adapt to the changing needs of diverse organizations. However, the vast expanse of functionality and the different ways it can be leveraged mean that coaching and mentoring is critical.

Somebody who knows the software, the processes it will facilitate, and who can relay these things in a way specific to the customer’s needs, becomes a key success factor. If you can find that facilitator, they will help implement change in a way that makes sense for your organization. Personality and attitude are EVERYTHING! …Engage the right people.

“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others” – Sir Winston Churchill

Selecting the right software

Every plant maintenance system, whether it be a standalone computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) or a fully integrated EAM application, will support time-based maintenance. However, there are two other very important aspects to maintenance today that aren’t so well-achieved in software solutions, which also need to be addressed.

The first of these is Predictive Maintenance – or PdM. PdM technologies need to link data from the equipment either through a real-time, data capture configuration or through human effort. This way, EAM software can display critical values on a degradation curve, called the Potential to Failure (P-F) curve. The P-F curve measures reducing levels of failure resistance over time or use. Not all software does that, and this is one of the elements necessary for good PdM functionality. Measurement, control, and, henceforth, management get easier once we put in place degradation curves on all of the equipment. Of course, not all equipment will behave according to a degradation curve. Some equipment fails in such a way that there is no warning or fails without anyone knowing it is failed. Because of that, EAM software should also support something called ‘Failure Finding’.

Failure finding helps you identify equipment that is already in a failed state. These are the most insidious kinds of failures in the industry because they happen to protect equipment. For example, a circuit breaker that fails in such a way that no one knows it is in a failed state. When the circuit is supposed to be protecting overloads, the breaker cannot trip out since it’s already failed. In this ‘multiple failure’ scenario, the circuit that the breaker should be protecting will experience devastating consequences from the overload condition.

In conclusion, to be viable in today’s proactive maintenance workplace environment, a software solution must support not only preventive (or time-based) maintenance approaches, but also PdM techniques and failure finding approaches to ensure protective equipment is not already in a failed state.

Getting the most out of EAM software involves much more than technology, it also requires us to take four specific steps:

1. Correcting Limited Thinking. A lack of understanding is evident in the way many of us talk about proactive maintenance.

2. Changing the Cultural Mindset. There is absolute, without a doubt, a certain way people think, act and behave in any organization, and oftentimes this needs to be changed.

3. Eliminating Shelfware. One of the problems in the industry is the senior management team invests a lot of money into software products that are guaranteed by the vendor to deliver on the value promise. However, they end up sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust – poorly used, underutilized, or not implemented at all. This is an obvious impediment to realizing value.

4. Implement Best Practices. Your organization is not the only one dealing with the challenges that you face every day. The ability to use EAM software to facilitate and automate best practices is an obvious way to maximize the benefits delivered by the software investment. Implementing successful best practices, using the ‘Lucky 7’, goes a long way to Making Good on the Promise of Asset Performance.


This article was originally provided by Carlo Odoardi. He is a Maintenance & Reliability professional with a passion for helping asset-intensive companies achieve sustainable, world-class operational performance. For more than 25 years he has consulted extensively on industrial culture change, business transformation, advanced industrial technologies and Management Information Systems. Today, he specializes in the design and implementation of physical asset reliability standards, practices, processes, and enabling technologies. Carlo holds a Master of Engineering degree from the Intelligent Machines and Manufacturing Research Centre (IMMRC) at McMaster University and an Associate’s degree in Electronics Engineering Technology from Ryerson University. He is the past Chair, Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP) Ontario Chapter. Carlo is an Associate of Conscious Asset.