What is enterprise asset management (EAM)?

Enterprise asset management (EAM) is the combination of services and systems that control assets and equipment to utilize the assets for productivity and cost.

Enterprise asset management

Enterprise asset management (EAM) combines systems, services, and software to control assets and equipment. The goal is to optimize the utilization of assets for better productivity and cost management. “Enterprise” refers to the assets across departments that support the bottom line for functions like procurement, inventory, and HR.

Ideally, EAM optimizes asset management through the lifecycle, manages productivity, and reduces the operational bottom line. The purpose is to get a larger picture of goals and objectives by accounting for worker skills, HR tasks, and asset information. EAM typically involves asset maintenance, supply chain management, and work management.

While EAM and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) tend to be associated, they’re functionally different in their centralized approach to the maintenance management process. EAM manages assets and supports their performance from beginning to end, including work orders, inventory, associated documentation, and possible maintenance.

Devices connected through the Internet of Things (IoT), like sensors, vehicles, and machines, can help with the incorporation of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) systems into EAM. This helps with the gathering of insights for better practices, informed decisions, better efficiency, and effective preventative maintenance.

EAM software

EAM has a future in the cloud with SaaS services, as organizations are rapidly migrating to the cloud and services that are managed from a centralized location—ideal for asset management. Data needs can be more easily accommodated using cloud software, as there is flexibility in storage options and storage expansion.

An EAM system should be applied for better planning, execution, tracking, and optimization of assets and materials. EAM can sometimes be compared to computerized maintenance management systems (CCMS), but there is a distinct difference between the two despite their overlapping objectives. EAM software and its holistic view can account for MRO materials management, asset lifecycle management, work order management, service contract management, labor management, financial management, and analytics.

Organizations can assess, track, optimize, and manage assets, including their reliability and quality using EAM, which is crucial to operations and the bottom line. There are several types of assets, including fleets, equipment, machinery, pipelines, and standard equipment needed for production and automation. There are best practices to help teams work in a complex environment with greater control and efficiency.

Every day, organizations are looking for better ways to manage their enterprise assets—especially as value and interest in the assets increase. Laws and regulations have detailed requirements about the management of assets, including privacy and accessibility concerns. There is a high risk to not accounting for assets, their costs, their whereabouts, and their documentation—this is a great incentive to apply EAM to all types of asset management practices at all levels. EAM provides the opportunity for companies to glean real-time insight into assets as they apply to company revenue and operational needs. EAM helps organizations:

  • Maximize asset utilization: IoT and analytic tools can provide real-time data to extend the reliability and life of physical assets as well as report on any preventative maintenance that may be necessary.
  • Manage aging assets and infrastructure: More informed strategies through risk management in business processes for equipment lifecycle management.
  • Resolve issues before they happen: EAM software can have preventative measures for equipment maintenance to keep operations continuous and stable for preemptive disruptions.
  • Monitor assets intelligently: Data can be aggregated through departments for more streamlined alerts and decision making. AI-powered monitoring can provide insights about the state of the assets.
  • Centralize asset information: An asset’s location can be reported to maintenance managers, and critical assets workflows are automated to be more accessible.
  • Elevate maintenance management: Asset tracking has complex health, safety, and environmental concerns. AI, IoT, and analytics can enhance maintenance to optimize for these conditions.
  • Consolidate operational applications: All assets can be managed from a single technology system, which standardizes processes for ideal functioning across the business and multiple teams.

Asset lifecycle management

All assets and associated data can be documented and stored in an easy to access location for alteration or reporting. The assets can be managed along all steps of the asset management lifecycle, which provides flexibility.

Graphic showing the features and functions of enterprise asset management (AEM).

Planning

Work processes need to be planned and scheduled in order to best function and be completed. Resources are better used when all orders can be easily viewed on Gantt charts, which help with navigation through the details of the orders and corresponding needs.

Work order management

Carefully track and diagnose work orders and associated issues, quickly analyze needs, and turn over the work order to the proper team to craft a deliverable. Also oversee scheduling, assets, involved employees and contractors, and track work through the process.

Maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) materials management

Materials and their demands can be better understood as parts are properly managed within a facility, both automatically and manually. There can be better oversight into costs and inventory management and procurement. Forms of MRO management include material handling, equipment maintenance, tooling and consumables, infrastructure repair, and production equipment repair.

Labor management

Employees and contractors can be trained, certified, and assessed when they are responsible for asset management. They can also be tracked across necessary work orders, maintenance, and association with assets.

Financial management

Analyze work costs and find proper financial software for the management of project spend and accounting. EAM systems can analyze work orders, the cost of production, the cost of downtime, emergency scenarios, and predictive maintenance that is often costly when not properly anticipated.

Reporting and analytics

Issues with assets can be spotted before they grow into larger issues, and predictive maintenance can be administered. A facility will be able to make more informed decisions by collecting key performance indicators from the entire facility, running reports, and analyzing the reports for a holistic analytical view.

While they are often associated with each other because of their degrees of use for maintenance and management, there are key differences between CMMS and EAM.

What is CMMS

CMMS, or computerized maintenance management system, primarily oversees operations and maintenance through the cycle of the asset, or the time when the equipment is actively being used. Some of the primary functions include management of inventory and work orders, tracking assets, and scheduling maintenance.

At the core of a CMMS is a database with a model that organizes data about assets and maintenance needs while also accounting for equipment and materials. A CMMS database enables:

  • Asset registry: Store information about assets like serial numbers, positions, costs, codes, statistics about performance, documentation like videos and images, availability, and data gathered from IoT sensors.
  • Preventative maintenance: Organize assets that are under different orders, then schedule preventive maintenance as needed. Work orders for maintenance can be automated based on time, usage of an asset, or a preset amount of time for the lifecycle of an asset.
  • Reporting: Gather, analyze, and report on information collected from assets, such as availability, performance, MRO inventory, and maintenance needs. Reports can cover anything from asset availability to labor and material costs, materials usage, and supplier assessments.
  • Inventory: Manage inventory and costs, resupply automatically, or mange suppliers.
  • Work order management: Collect information about work orders, including the number, description, type, cause, associated persons, and the necessary materials for the work order. Management of work orders can also include scheduling employees, assigning out work order needs, reviewing the status of work orders, attaching associated information or documentation, and reserving the necessary equipment for use.

The difference between CMMS and EAM

CMMS and EAM are often used interchangeably. While their goals and functions are certainly similar, there are important differences between the two. EAM solutions encompass CMMS capabilities, but not all CMMS tools have EAM functionalities—EAM systems are a more comprehensive and sophisticated system than CMMS. CMMS may be an appropriate solution for smaller sized enterprises, and EAM is more appropriate for larger enterprises, who have outgrown CMMS structures. But it does ultimately depend on the intended use of the system and the assets being accounted for.

An EAM system handles larger and more complex assets across applications and locations. It can account for work orders, costs, reports, and inventory. CMMS software handles planning and some predictive maintenance, at which point an EAM system could be useful for predictive maintenance or analytical recommendations based on the information gathered from the centralizing CMMS system, assuming they are being used in conjunction with each other.

EAM is relevant across several industries, including:

  • Utilities and energy: The transmission of services from utility and energy companies require assets like power lines and pipes, which need to accommodate scheduling and geospatial information.
  • Mining and petroleum: Such industries have a strong emphasis on safety, compliance, reliability, and performance in their workflows. Costs can be reduced with standardized and improved maintenance practices using EAM.
  • Manufacturing: EAM are part of overall process management for manufacturing sectors that include defense, electronics, industrial products, and automotive. It can track a product lifecycle and manage requirements.
  • Transportation: Logistics and services function best with an EAM application, as it provides details about inventory and assets. Such uses can include fuel management, spare parts, bay schedules, and driver logs.
  • Nuclear power: Organizations stress the importance of EAM to manage assets in order to support regulations, including detailed state management, escalations, e-signatures, and workflows.
  • Healthcare: EAM helps manage relationships between equipment readiness and facilities. It can also help locate assets, comply with reporting, integrate with health information systems, and monitor facilities conditions.
  • Life sciences: Helps with the monitoring of facilities, mobile assets, and equipment. This is also important for meeting crucial regulatory requirements.

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