Operational Excellence in Heavy Asset Industries

Life as a plant manager can be a daily challenge. You are responsible for a smooth running operation which includes uptime, periodic maintenance, flawless production, operational efficiencies, and regulatory and safety compliance. In addition to trying to maintain the integrity of reporting and decision support systems at the same time. No wonder it takes a special kind of talent to run a multi-million dollar plant. This special talent remains hostage to accurate asset information.

It is often said that the plant managers are as good as the underlying asset data. All key decisions regarding planning, operations, and maintenance are based upon asset information. Loss of accurate data can lead to adverse financial and public relations outcomes.

This challenge is compounded by the following facts:

  • The asset data can and does reside in various formats from paper drawings to proprietary formats. Not all of these are mutually compatible.
  • Once profiled and structured, data easily becomes inconsistent over time. Plant shutdowns for maintenance alone can cause thousands of asset master data changes. Not all of these can be easily captured or documented.
  • Mergers and acquisitions, regulatory changes, and plant additions can further cause data to be inconsistent or incomplete.

The plants my team managed struggled with all of these. One consistent theme, during the operations reviews, was the incomplete or inaccurate asset information. In most organizations, it becomes a diffused responsibility with some finger pointing across IT, plant managers, and production. For large capital projects, the cost of ineffective information can cost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in direct and indirect costs.

An example of improvement in direct costs is shown below. Generally, the maintenance staff spends about 30% of time in actual hands on work. This can be increased to 50% of travel time, searching for parts, seeking information, etc. can be reduced with accurate asset data. The indirect costs such as lost production, compliance, etc. can be easily four to six times the direct costs.

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Fortunately, the industry has recognized this pain point and accurate and complete master asset data is now possible in the SAP environment. The emerging solution is the extension of their master data governance platform for critical data objects.

Find further information on SAP® Master Data Management, Enterprise Asset Management Extension by Utopia here.