What if you could minimize the time spent on searching for missing documents? Or cut the risk of making bad decisions due to incorrect information? Take advantage of cognitive preventive maintenance and improve the efficiency of spare parts planning? With digital asset information management, you can do all this and much more. Let’s explore the opportunities more closely in the context of a utility company.
Maintaining legacy information
Many utility companies go back 100 years or more. This means that there’s a lot of legacy information that’s been created a long time ago when the rules and procedures for producing and managing information were different than today. However, if you manage your legacy information efficiently, you can use it to create value even now. Doing a maintenance action, for example, involves using documented information about the asset being worked on. In the past, you would have needed to visit a physical archive to retrieve a printed drawing and then check that the drawing accurately reflects the physical reality.
The Plant Manager in 2020
The Plant Manager in 2020
Now, most documents exist in the digital realm and you can retrieve information from various different sources. But how can you be sure that the document you have is up-to-date?
Let’s imagine you have a maintenance work order dated May 2018 connected to a drawing last updated in October 1994. You will have to do extra work to visit the asset and check whether it really matches the information in the drawing. Most likely it doesn’t, as the asset is bound to have been changed or modified in the intervening years. Obviously, scanning a document and storing it in a digital format is not enough, you also need to build a relationship between the information and the asset and maintain the information so that it’s always up-to-date. Only then will your digital data provide the users with relevant information.
Handling large volumes of information
In the utility sector, assets are typically fairly large. This means that the number of drawings alone connected to one asset may be as high as 250,000. Needless to say, trying to find just the right document could in this case be compared to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack – unless there’s a proper system in place. Digitizing the drawings and managing the documentation process efficiently can help you filter out the relevant information. Studies show that this may cut the time spent searching for information in half.
Leveraging augmented reality
Augmented reality (AR) is set to take off in a big way in the utilities sector. In maintenance operations, AR can be used, for example, to reduce the need to physically visit an asset to check its condition and take corrective actions. To leverage AR, however, sets certain requirements for the underlining data, such as future-proofing your documentation by making sure that all changes done to a real-world asset are also included in its 3D model. Otherwise you risk your model becoming obsolete.
Leveraging Artificial Intelligence
Using Artificial Intelligence (including machine learning and cognitive analytics) is one step towards what’s called cognitive predictive maintenance, where a computer program gives recommendations on how to tackle emerging operational deficiencies before they develop into full-blown failures. These recommendations are based on a combination of historical failure data, real-time readings, and related resources, such as digitized manuals, warranties, or technicians' notes.
Anticipating maintenance needs
Digitalization can help you get the most value from your asset information by detecting patterns of anomalies that would be difficult for the human eye to perceive. Discovering relationships between certain kinds of alarms and certain assets or drawings, for example, helps identify the root causes of recurring problems or events and come up with effective ways to respond to them. This way you can improve the efficiency of your preventive maintenance operations and spare parts planning.