Nothing lasts forever, as the saying goes, but some things last a very long time. Equipment used for construction, however, is not usually one of the long-lasting assets. The damage, wear, and general poor maintenance such equipment sustains leads to a shorter-than-hoped-for existence.
Most construction equipment and tools are expected to last for 10,000 hours of usage, according to Asset Panda. Certainly, it depends on what the item is, what parts are used, and on many other factors. Some pieces of equipment or tools stop working at just 2,000 hours, while others can go for 25,000.
The construction industry has also seen a steep increase in equipment costs during the pandemic, as inflation also peaked in 2022. In June 2022, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported engineering and construction costs increased for the twentieth consecutive month, as prices for materials and equipment, labor, and shipping continued to rise. In 2023, we are beginning to see material and equipment costs fall, although they are still much higher than pre-pandemic numbers.
As equipment costs remain high, companies are faced with a choice: Maintain it or replace it. And while replacing it is costly, maintaining it can be frustrating. What is needed is a plan, at the beginning of the equipment’s design and production followed by the time with the company that manages its total lifecycle.
Equipment manufacturers have long designed their gear to last—if it is maintained according to their manuals. The days of “planned obsolescence” are practically over, especially in the heavy equipment categories. Cranes and dozers are not designed to be replaced every 3-5 years. Indeed, structural engineering is experiencing a change toward a lifecycle-oriented design to address the continuously increasing societal, political, economic, and environmental demand for sustainability that minimize risks arising from aging, deterioration, and natural and human-made hazards.
Increasing competitive pressures, tight labor markets, and growing environmental compliance requirements make equipment companies adopt a more holistic management approach that spans the product and asset lifecycle. Lifecycle design should include an examination of:
• Physical, chemical, and mechanical processes involved in the degradation of mechanisms used and located in severe environments;
• Methods and strategies for lifecycle design and assessment of deteriorating structural systems under uncertainty;
• Lifecycle-management concepts for equipment under conditions of uncertainty and the application of such concepts in the management process; and
• Principles and implications associated with the scheduling and application of maintenance policies for deteriorating equipment.
And then the equipment leaves the factory and goes into service. As IBM points out, assets are the lifeblood of any successful business—from software programs tailored to meet an enterprise’s unique needs to a pipeline that stretches across oceans. One of the most important strategic decisions a business leader can make is how these assets are cared for over the course of their lifespans. Whether you’re a small enterprise with only a few assets or a large-scale corporation with offices spanning the globe, ALM (asset lifecycle management) should be a fundamental part of your operations.
What’s an Asset?
There are many different types of assets, both physical and non-physical. Examples of physical assets include equipment, office buildings, and vehicles. Non-physical assets include intellectual property, trademarks, and patents. Again, IBM points out that each asset a company acquires goes through six main stages over the course of its life, requiring careful maintenance planning and management to provide its owners with a strong return on investment.
- Planning: In the first stage of the asset lifecycle, stakeholders assess the need for the asset, its projected value to the organization, and its overall cost.
- Valuation: A critical part of the planning stage is assessing the overall value of an asset. Decisionmakers must consider many different pieces of information to gauge this, including the asset’s likely length of useful life, its projected performance over time, and the cost of disposing of it. One technique that is becoming increasingly valuable during this stage is the creation of a digital twin.
- Digital-twin technology: A digital twin is a virtual representation of an asset a company intends to acquire that assists organizations in their decision-making process. Digital twins allow companies to run tests and predict performance based on simulations. With a good digital twin, it’s possible to predict how well an asset will perform under the conditions it will work.
- Procurement and installation: The next stage of the asset lifecycle concerns the purchase, transportation, and installation of the asset. During this stage, operators will need to consider factors including how well the new asset is expected to perform within the overall ecosystem of the business, how its data will be shared and incorporated into business decisions, and how it will be put into operation and integrated with other assets the company owns.
- Utilization: This phase is critical to maximizing asset performance over time and extending its lifespan. Recently, EAM (enterprise asset management) systems have become an indispensable tool in helping businesses perform predictive and preventive maintenance so they can keep assets running longer and generating more value.
- Decommissioning: The final stage of the asset lifecycle is the decommissioning of the asset. Valuable assets can be complex, and markets are always shifting, so during this phase it’s important to weigh the depreciation of the current asset against the rising cost of maintaining it to calculate its overall ROI (return on investment). Decisionmakers will want to take into consideration a variety of factors when attempting to measure this, including asset uptime, projected lifespan, and the shifting costs of fuel and spare parts.
Creating and executing an effective asset-management strategy can produce a wide range of benefits such as:
Scalability of best practices: Today’s asset lifecycle management strategies use cutting-edge technologies coupled with rigorous, systematic approaches to forecast, schedule, and optimize all daily maintenance tasks and long-term repair needs.
Streamlined operations and maintenance: Minimize the likelihood of equipment failure, anticipate breakdowns, and perform preventive maintenance when possible. Today’s top EAM systems dramatically improve the decision-making capabilities of managers, operators, and maintenance technicians by giving them realtime visibility into equipment status and workflows.
Reduced maintenance costs and downtime: Monitor assets in realtime, regardless of complexity. By coupling asset information—thanks to the IoT (Internet of Things)—with powerful analytics capabilities, businesses can now perform cost-effective preventive maintenance, intervening before a critical asset fails and preventing costly downtime.
Greater alignment across business units: Optimize management processes according to a variety of factors beyond just the condition of a piece of equipment. These factors can include available resources (e.g., capital and manpower), projected downtime and its implications for the business, worker safety, and any potential security risks associated with the repair.
Improved compliance: Comply with laws surrounding the management and operation of assets, regardless of where they are located. Data management and storage requirements vary widely from country to country and are constantly evolving. Avoid costly penalties by monitoring assets in a strategic, systematized manner that ensures compliance—no matter where data is being stored.
EAM to the Rescue
EAM are a component of asset lifecycle management strategy that combines asset management software, systems, and services to lengthen asset lifespan and increase productivity. Many rely on CMMS (computerized maintenance management systems)to monitor assets in realtime and recommend maintenance when necessary. Top-performing EAM systems monitor asset performance and maintain a historical record of critical activity, such as when it was purchased, when it was last repaired, and how much it costs an organization over time.
Preventive maintenance helps prevent the unexpected failure of an asset by recommending maintenance activities according to a historical record and current performance metrics. In other words, it’s about fixing things before they break. Through machine learning, operational data analytics, and predictive asset health monitoring, today’s top-performing asset lifecycle management strategies optimize maintenance and reduce reliability risks to equipment or business operations. EAM systems and a CMMS designed to support preventive maintenance can help produce stable operations, ensure compliance, and resolve issues impacting production—before they happen.
Among the companies seeking ways to help contractors implement a solid EAM is Siemens Digital Industries Software. Siemens and IBM are expanding their long-term partnership by collaborating to develop a combined software solution integrating their respective offerings for systems engineering, service lifecycle management, and asset management.
The companies will develop a combined software solution to help organizations optimize product lifecycles, and make it easier to improve traceability across processes, prototype, and test concepts much earlier in development, and adopt more sustainable product designs. The goal is to help organizations speed innovation and time to market, which can lead to improved quality and lowered costs.
The new combined SysML v1 standards-based suite of integrated engineering software is expected to support traceability and sustainable product development using a digital thread that links mechanical, electronics, electrical engineering, and software design and implementation. It is intended to span the product lifecycle, from early design and manufacturing to operations, maintenance, update, and end of life management.
Initially, the companies are working to connect IBM Engineering System Design Rhapsody for systems engineering with solutions from the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio of software and services including Siemens’ Teamcenter software for PLM (product lifecycle management) and Capital software for E/E (electrical/electronic) systems development and software implementation.
Putting It All Together
Taking advantage of this is Manitou Group. Manitou Group has teamed up with Siemens Digital Industries Software to develop a global solution for managing the lifecycle of its products. As part of the Group’s digital transformation, the implementation of this tool aims to standardize its design processes. Manitou Group has chosen Teamcenter software for PLM from the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio.
Dedicated to the management of the machine database, the elements linked to the various components and their nomenclature, Teamcenter will be implemented to streamline and simplify product design on all of the Group’s 10 production sites in the United States, India, Italy, and France. The first stage of this implementation, up to 2024, concerns definition of the core model and preparation for deployment. The Group’s goal is to implement the solution in the United States by the end of 2024, with roll-out in Europe and India estimated for 2025.
By implementing this global solution, the Group will be able to optimize the time spent on its product development, while working on a single tool that allows the entire product lifecycle to be centralized. About 1,600 users, primarily working in the design and R&D offices, in the methods, technical documentation, and after-sales departments, and in the marketing teams, will be impacted by this change in the next three years and will be given training within the Group.
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