IT Broadens Approach To Asset Management

Technology used to track plant floor devices and facilities as well as systems

A new enterprisewide approach to asset management is emerging in which IT organizations will be asked to look beyond their hardware and software to track plant floor equipment, facilities, real estate and other properties.

Although few companies have adopted what industry experts are referring to as total asset management (TAM) or strategic asset management, analysts and industry executives say that large manufacturers will lead the charge during the next year or two, with services firms and other industries following suit within a few years.

The shift to this more comprehensive approach is being driven in part by the proliferation of intelligent self-notification technologies being built into plant floor equipment, said Houghton LeRoy, director of consulting at ARC Advisory Group Inc. in Dedham, Mass., which published a report on the topic last month.

The TAM approach will create more work for IT managers, but it could also let companies track, manage and depreciate all of their IT systems and other equipment more efficiently.

"The outcomes for strong performance and bad performance are the same, whether it's an offshore drilling platform that's not performing at capacity or you've lost track of several hundred PCs that you have under a lease," said Chip Drapeau, CEO of MRO Software Inc., an asset management software vendor in Bedford, Mass. "All have the same ramifications: You're leaving money on the table and operating at substandard service levels."

One MRO customer that's using TAM to improve its bottom line is Lockheed Martin Asset Solution Integration Services, a Titusville, Fla., division of Lockheed Martin Corp. that's tracking and managing assets for 12 NASA centers across the U.S. Under the 10-year deal that began in October 1998, Lockheed Martin is helping NASA track everything from radar dishes to forklifts.

Lockheed Martin has consolidated 26 work-control systems used to track equipment at each NASA facility into a unified Oracle-based data repository. By eliminating the need to support so many legacy systems, Lockheed Martin has helped NASA meet its head count and cost-reduction goals, said Gail Talbott, a program director at Lockheed Martin.

Among the key challenges Lockheed Martin faced were tagging the entire inventory of equipment from all 12 space centers and developing a common set of business rules for managers at each location to use. To help do that, Lockheed's team had its trainers work closely with NASA maintenance engineers to go over the requirements of each space center, said Talbott.

"Each center thought they had a unique way of managing assets," she said. "As it turned out, they pretty much tracked their assets the same way; they just used different terms."

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Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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