Asset management: coupling business and technology

Dr Zakwan Skaf - lecturer in Diagnostics and Prognostics, School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing, Cranfield University – examines the growing significance of asset management.

Asset management is playing an increasing role in sustaining the competitive capability of many businesses in a global market.

It is an integrated process to enhance the effectiveness of lifecycle, utilisation and return from an asset.

In a large business, reducing costs related to asset maintenance, repair, and ultimate replacement are at the top of management concerns.

Moreover, downtime in any asset system ultimately results not only in high repair costs, but also in customer dissatisfaction.

Condition-based maintenance for cost reduction

Maintenance costs form a large proportion of asset management costs, and a reduction in these costs can represent significant savings to the business.

Historically, maintenance strategy would have been at schedule intervals but with companies increasing need for cost reduction and efficiency, there is a need to go to condition based maintenance (CBM).

CBM is a maintenance strategy that monitors the actual condition of the asset to decide what maintenance needs to be performed.

CBM dictates that maintenance should only be performed when certain indicators show signs of decreasing performance or potential failure.

CBM techniques uses condition monitoring data to more accurately optimise maintenance cost and so the productivity of the asset will increase.

Further advantages can be seen through potential reductions, unscheduled maintenance, and less consumption of resources.

Compared with reactive maintenance, condition-based maintenance demonstrates considerable advantages and has become the pioneering maintenance strategy in practice because it increases productivity, improves quality, and provides the feeling of safety and reliability to staff.

For CBM to work a lot of capabilities – commonly known as an Integrated Vehicle Health Management (IVHM) – are needed. IVHM is a relatively new comprehensive technology, enabling many disciplines with an integrated framework.

In IVHM, real-time sensory data obtained from the equipment is analysed continuously to detect and forecast the health states and to plan maintenance based on the forecasted health.

Prognostics for better decision making

Generally, many decisions related to the future plan of asset maintenance are made by maintenance personnel without assuring the maximum benefits from operating the asset and minimising the risks associated with it.

Therefore, for supporting maintenance personnel in their decision making process; prognostics information must be considered in order to achieve optimal maintenance strategies.

Prognostics – the ability to predict the health status of a given asset, for a predefined time in the future or forecast the failure’s time, and its remaining useful life (RUL) – form an inherent part of Condition-based maintenance (CBM).

Prognostics provide information on the RUL of a given asset, which allows the decision maker to take appropriate actions that form the basis for optimised maintenance decisions.

The RUL information can be used for short-term and long-term decision making strategies.

Short-term decisions typically derive value from taking actions based on prognostics at the asset level, such as calling a head to arrange a maintenance action and modifying the operation conditions.

For the long-term decisions, prognostics information can be used for planning strategies to manage the business, such as optimising logistics and adapting lifecycle cost models.

As a result, benefits of the prognostics information will enable the industry to achieve reduced costs, increased asset safety and availability via better maintenance planning.

Delivering effective asset management strategies

In summary, reducing costs of asset maintenance is necessary for the delivery of effective asset management strategies.

Effective asset management strategies require only performing maintenance when needed which can be achieved by implementing condition-based maintenance strategy.

Prognostics is essential for condition-based maintenance because it can contribute to the overall advice on effective asset management through the critical role that it has in decision making.

Finally, installing IVHM system on an asset enables condition-based maintenance and provides tools to enhance the decisions of maintenance personnel.

Cranfield’s IVHM Centre:

The IVHM Centre, at Cranfield University, was established in 2008 to further the development of the business and technology of asset management.

The IVHM Centre delivers generic IVHM solutions from our research. We aim to help professionals who are building their skills in efficient asset management to identify business opportunity where efficient asset management can release significant benefits in business productivity and asset performance.

Also, we support commercialisation, reducing time to market and combine technology, business and technology transfer solutions. We have a robust innovation cycle and applied research demonstrators with access to a world class asset management community and new market opportunities which influence development of industry standards and policies.

Our applications are found in aerospace, defence, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, medical, and facilities management.

Major Partners:

Cranfield’s IVHM Centre - Major Partners