How to Truly Leverage Data for Asset Performance Management

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In this special guest feature, Bryan Friehauf, EVP and GM of Enterprise Software Solutions at Hitachi ABB Power Grids, discusses how to leverage data for Asset Performance Management (APM). Bryan has over 20 years of experience within the energy and software industry. Previously, he was the General Manager for GE’s Asset Management business. Bryan holds a degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Preventing information overload and an organizational attention deficit is crucial for every business. For the energy industry, despite having access to more data than ever, organizations struggle to make use of the right data. This becomes an issue for critical systems like asset performance management (APM).

If equipment operators have incomplete or partial data sets, the ability to forecast, access and analyze the health of assets, like generators, is diminished. It’s also important to incorporate roles, ownership, collaboration, and decision-making processes into APM applications that are supported by data algorithms. If you’re working in a traditionally non-digital native industry, how can you help your company master this change in approach?

Gaining the right data

APM is important not only for maintaining the health and lifespan of critical assets but also for saving time and money. If equipment operators don’t have the right data or all of the data, insight and forecasting is limited, and they could miss critical information indicating failure. To gain a full view of an asset’s life cycle and health, operators need both historical and real-time data. Historical data will show how things have changed with respect to time and forecast future behavior. Real-time data will show how an asset behaves while operating under a certain set of conditions right now.

To gain historical data, operators must have both IT and operational technology (OT) insights.  IT systems will tell you how an asset behaved when it failed and what the root cause was. Data historians on the OT side will tell you how an asset is operating from a control system. Based on the data provided, operators can decide whether or not to act. Historical data can also indicate what will happen to assets under ambient conditions and give further indication of the action needed.

Making the proper analysis

The analysis is just as important as the data. There is so much that data can tell operators about their assets, but they often rely on the IT team to confirm what is going to make the biggest impact, economically and operationally. The contribution of each individual asset plays into maintaining the entire system. It’s not always the most critical, expensive asset that can impact the entire business.

Properly analyzed data can tell operators where they can avoid spending money to ensure better maintenance, for example. Consider equipment operators that perform routine preventative maintenance on critical assets. Without visibility into historical and real-time data, how do they know if the effort they are putting in is actually improving availability as intended? Proper analysis can show what maintenance routines are most effective, helping to better allocate resources, time and ultimately make a more cost-effective impact.

Ensuring successful collaboration

To be successful in APM, IT teams need to present equipment operators with actionable recommendations. Equipment operators don’t need the full dataset and the math behind the analysis, but they need to be able to trust IT’s recommendations. In order to make the proper analysis and resulting decision, the two need to collaborate.

IT teams have to understand the data and the corresponding applications that leverage the data to provide strong recommendations to the field. These teams bring in all new data sources – from the cloud to the edge – and break down traditional silos, deciding which information is necessary to make decisions. Equipment operators then take that information and perform the necessary maintenance. Ensuring everyone across the business understands what’s at stake and the important role they play is a key step to getting everyone on the same page and working together.

Putting it all into practice

Utility company Ameren Illinois manages millions of data point inputs for asset health evaluation. Historically, much of this data has been in silos, however, making it inaccessible for asset health analysis and performance forecasting.

Through the implementation of an APM solution and consolidated analysis from the IT team, Ameren’s equipment operators are now able to gather vast amounts of information on each asset from multiple datasets and evaluate them to determine the health of their assets and manage their risk.

Additionally, the APM system’s structured knowledge capture helps Ameren develop best practices and institutionalize this knowledge through online progress diagrams, forms and training tools. Combined with streamlined workflows, all of this helps to maximize worker productivity for Ameren’s young and transitioning workforce.

With the right data and processes in place, whether in the energy industry or otherwise, companies can leverage insightful data to better and more effectively manage their operations. Allowing various groups to contribute to the full picture will foster the buy-in needed to successfully complete actions. This collaborative process produces better decisions, and the resulting alignment drives more effective execution and increased productivity.

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