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Class structure

The right software can bring structure and consistency to asset registers, minimising the risk of bad data and inaccurate maintenance plans, argues Paul Durant, Strategic Project Manager at FSI

There is an administration overhead to maintaining data in any system, which means that for FM providers, mobilising asset registers for new properties or contracts can be time-consuming. Even with import tools or mobile data collection methods, this is likely to be a multi-step process. You define the contents of your asset register first and then, once the asset register is complete, you import or create the planned maintenance requirements for each individual asset.

Additionally, working with large amounts of data can make it challenging to be flexible and agile. When asset identification or asset maintenance strategies change, it can be hard to retrofit new requirements to old asset registers and existing planned maintenance tasks. Sometimes it is difficult to see the full picture of the data held in your software.

You may be able to analyse basic statistics such as the number of planned maintenance tasks, and identify assets that have no maintenance tasks. You can go a little further and show the detail of the maintenance tasks you perform for each asset, but, unless the person looking at that data is an experienced and knowledgeable asset manager, how do you know whether you are maintaining those assets correctly?

This can lead to maintenance black holes and gaps in your asset management program that might go unnoticed for months or years, perhaps until the point of failure. These challenges are compounded by the possibility that you might be working with an inconsistent and inaccurate asset register to begin with.

The quality of an asset register can be compromised over time due to a number of factors such as changes in FM software or provider, asset technology advances, staff turnover, and changes to industry guidelines. Plus, keep in mind the human error factor, such as data entry errors and differing asset descriptions.

A consistent and accurate asset register is the starting point for an effective asset maintenance strategy. If you don’t know whether assets in your asset register have been classified accurately, you can’t be certain they are being maintained correctly.

In Concept Evolution from FSI, asset classifications work on the principle that any effective maintenance strategy relies on accurate asset data, and imposes a structure that ensures assets are identified correctly and consistently.

Using this type of software, acceptable rules for asset registers can be implemented, on a building by building basis if required, including:

  • Which classifications of assets are allowed?
  • What is the recognised terminology of each type of asset (name, code, description, Uniclass ref, SFG20 ref)?
  • What are the expected relationships between these assets?

Once rules are defined they can be used to:

  • Cleanse and standardise names and classifications of assets in existing asset registers
  • Control the types of assets that can be added to specific buildings or types of building (for example by use, retail, industrial, residential and so on)
  • Identify and correct gaps in the asset register, including automatic creation of ‘compulsory’ assets that should exist in every building or on each floor or location in the building.

This enables you to know exactly what assets you expect to have within your buildings, and by extension those you don’t, giving you a solid foundation for the next step in your asset management strategy: how are these assets maintained?

Asset classifications ensure you know exactly what assets you have, but also ensures that you are maintaining them correctly. Industry maintenance guidelines and tools such as SFG20 allow you to create a comprehensive catalogue of maintenance task templates. These can include the steps you should be undertaking, links to regulations, service frequency, and estimated times and costs for
each step.

With direct links between classifications of assets and the planned maintenance tasks needed to maintain each classification to the appropriate level, asset managers can predefine all of the planned maintenance requirements for assets in any facility they manage. How is the asset maintained, and how often is each PPM task issued?

Maintenance rules vary from building to building based on the type of facility, or even according to an agreed standard of service that is provided under the terms of the contract.

With all rules held in the same CAFM/IWMS system that will be used for ongoing management of the maintenance activities, additional information that is specific to the FM operational processes can also be held, essential for true soft landings. These rule requirements would be outside the scope of a non-CAFM/IWMS regime management solution, and include options such as identifying appropriate contracts and suppliers for the work, identifying shift pattern requirements, and perhaps most importantly, using information from assets or buildings to intelligently determine a first service date for any planned maintenance.

For existing bulk planned maintenance imports, it can be difficult or time-consuming to set next service dates for tasks. Some imports deal with this by creating imported PPMs with next service dates on the same day, leaving you to reschedule directly in the system.

The asset classification regime rules can set realistic service dates based on information such as the last known major service or the installation date of the asset, or even the opening date of the facility. This ensures that PPM service dates are distributed accurately across the calendar year, minimising additional administration for scheduling or labour load analysis.

Like the asset classification rules themselves, once maintenance regime rules have been defined they can be used to analyse and cleanse planned maintenance task data in existing systems, or to drive automated actions for new assets. Almost all administration tasks involved in mobilising planned maintenance for new buildings can be automated:

  • Adding new assets to the asset register: the system will automatically generate required PPM templates
  • PPM template requirements for assets can be generated on demand or triggered by other actions, for example change in status from new to active
  • Reclassification of assets (or if maintenance requirements evolve over time): inconsistencies in data are identified and corrected, suspending invalid PPMs and creating correct ones.

Mobilising new properties in CAFM/IWMS systems can be time-consuming and repetitive. Even semi-automated processes such as spreadsheet imports require time and effort, and include some margin for user error. Asset classifications reduce the mobilisation tasks required for new properties and address the common obstacles between you and effective asset management in your FM software.

About Sarah OBeirne


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