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What is EAM? The Circle of (Asset) Life

8 min read

So, you're running a business with dozens or hundreds of assets at your feet. How are they operating? Are they healthy? Does one piece of equipment impact a specific process in ways you've scarcely imagined? Asset maintenance can be a daunting task. It's your kingdom, after all. In terms of generating value and revenue, no part is too small.

Cue Elton John. While we don't want to Disneyfy your management strategy, acknowledging your assets' true state is akin to the opening scene in "The Lion King" when Simba is presented to his subjects. You need to be able to see the ecosystem below you with piercing clarity — the large machines, the tiny components; the full facility in the context of breakdowns and optimized repairs. It's the asset lifecycle: an ever-changing perspective on what you should fix or replace at just the right time.

Like Mufasa dispensing pearls of wisdom as your asset management matures, we want to explain how to master the environments you're in charge of, reducing downtime, repair costs and production or performance issues on any scale.

There's one phrase to solve it all: EAM, or Enterprise Asset Management software.

Join us as we analyze what EAM represents, why it's unique and how a modern EAM system tends to work in practice. Don't worry. There aren't musical numbers — just the regular kind.

EAM software: The truest view on your maintenance

The more you know about your assets in real time, the better you can optimize them. Enterprise asset management software is used to control and care for your machines and equipment. In a nutshell, it tackles preventive maintenance across your entire inventory. You'll see how every asset behaves, runs and stays at peak output, which allows you to set a precise maintenance schedule workflow. Whether you're a facility manager handling several sites or a line and safety supervisor in a complex production environment, you need this technology to improve results, avoid accidents and limit maintenance expenses.

EAM software, therefore, reveals the ongoing status of your assets from the minute they're first activated through to their eventual decommission. That's why we mention the lifecycle — aggregated, ongoing asset data reporting on faults, risks, maximal performance and the results of your maintenance team's work until the asset isn't useful anymore.

There's more to it, though. An EAM solution should consist of:

  • Real-time asset lifecycle information visualized in graphs, charts and tables on a simple dashboard.
  • Predictive analytics to forecast repairs or replacements.
  • Work order management to notify technicians when maintenance is due.
  • Cost controls for inventory and repair tasks.
  • Contract management for additional specialists when you need them.
  • More data surrounding work order costs, project budgets and integrated financial platforms.

Ultimately, then, you aren't just overseeing assets but controlling everything that makes maintenance effective and affordable. EAM software sheds light on the tools, skills, money and information required for optimal repairs, as well as tracking trends for iteration. With EAM, you can set priorities for technicians and alert them to new repairs, giving them more context and guidance. It's the end-to-end platform that never leaves anyone in the dark.

Where it differs from CMMS management

You may have heard of a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), or already use one. It's similar to EAM software, but there are key differences. They might decide the course of your next asset investment.

CMMS has been around for almost four decades, primarily serving manufacturing and specialized plants.  Like enterprise asset management, it automates your maintenance schedule, creating detailed registers with work plans and component data. The software sets tasks, priorities and alerts for your engineers, directing them towards critical projects or telling them when inventory drops below a desired level. It also generates reports on all maintenance activities.

However — and here's that phrase again — CMMS doesn't monitor the asset lifecycle. In other words, you have a centralized database and automated task manager for maintenance, but can't see how these endeavors tie back into performance, budgeting, compliance or some aspects of human competency.

For example, a good CMMS tracks how long an engineer takes to finish the job, yet it doesn't share perspective on whether the repair brought your asset back to optimal functionality. It can't link asset uptime to profitability. That means you might be fixing a piece of equipment over and over, unsure whether the time, effort and funds are worthwhile. Equally, you're missing procurement and disposal details, which suggest when and how the asset should be retired, as well as how much a modern replacement might cost. CMMS doesn't account for warranty periods, either.

That being said, there are situations in which a CMMS might be preferable to EAM:

  • CMMS is generally more affordable upfront: If you have limited funds for preventive maintenance, or want to test the waters before committing to a larger investment, you might favor this platform.
  • EAM suits enterprise business: While EAM is incredibly useful for any organization, it becomes more effective when you have a huge spread (hundreds or thousands) of assets on your hands and complex costs to weigh up.
  • CMMS helps you manage a handful of asset vendors: More vendors bring additional agreements, warranty conditions and invoicing demands on your business, which EAM is well-placed to support.

Side note: You may have also come across the term Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). This refers to software that helps you manage all business activities e.g., maintenance and beyond. Finance, sales, HR, marketing and other disciplines are guided from a single data center. Since ERP supports more, broader use cases, it's less essential for asset-heavy businesses. Of course, you can integrate both platforms; this is a common method for installing EAM. Insights for Professionals has a great explainer on the split between ERP and EAM and their mutual benefits.

How EAM software works

Okay, so let's get to the nitty gritty. How does enterprise asset management software launch and start tracking everything in your facilities?

Installation and integration

At MicroMain, we have a clear six-step process for bringing your EAM online. We get to know your current system, the premises you're managing and the outcomes you're looking for.

  • Step #1: We'll schedule a kickoff call to discuss the project's timeframes, deliverables and requirements. Afterward, we'll send you Excel data templates and documents to make the transition more seamless.
  • Step #2: Next, we offer pre-data import consultation, improving data transfer by discovering how you work and what systems support it. You'll have a database engineer and Software Implementation Specialist (SIS) for guidance throughout this meeting. This is when we'll start to fill out those Excel templates together.
  • Step #3: The asset data is imported after you've done the final sign off
  • Step #4: We'll arrange a meeting to review the quality and consistency of the data we're transferring. If anything appears false or needs to change, we'll resolve it.
  • Step #5: In our penultimate step, the SIS provides a three-day on-site consultation and training service, so your key maintenance personnel get a grasp of EAM.
  • Step #6: That's it — we're ready to go live!

Real-time data collection

Once the EAM software is active, it'll gather data across your organization: equipment, sensors, IoT devices or whatever else reveals your assets' condition. Additionally, it'll receive information from existing CMMS or ERP software. Geographic data, meanwhile, helps the EAM pinpoint necessary asset maintenance activity at several sites. All of these details are immediately analyzed and displayed to your users. MicroMain's EAM solution uses several core metrics for variables like the Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) across the asset lifecycle. 

Asset groups

Maintenance is easier when your machines and equipment are sorted into neat and tidy boxes, each grouped under custom parameters. For instance, you might want to view a particular type of physical asset in one location. High or low-performing assets can be separated, as well as those undergoing or due for maintenance. Grouping assists inventory management, too, digging into the specific tools and materials you have on hand at any given time.

Automatic alerts and updates

EAM software constantly looks at asset performance indicators and plans maintenance for you. When a repair is on the cards, you don't need to do anything. The platform will alert the relevant team members and map out their workflow, reporting on what they're doing and when it's complete. Throughout the process, you have a digital paper trail for compliance standards, which can also be used to benchmark vendor quality.

Finance support

Remember when we talked about financial insights? They live here, too. Enterprise asset management software stores reports for your finance department, informing cash flow and expense claims. From the dashboard, you can set alerts around your budget, discovering when repair tasks or replacements are creeping over the line.

That's the grand overview, but there's much more to explore once your EAM is up and running. For now, let's explore the advantages you can look forward to, making your maintenance kingdom a bountiful place for decades to come.

What maintenance mastery brings to your business

Once a choir starts singing and you're a grownup Simba surveying the asset landscape (metaphorically speaking), your business has a lot to celebrate.

For starters, every asset will be working more consistently and effectively. Preventive maintenance leaps to action ahead of time, so you're almost never caught off guard for repairs. That doesn't mean that surprise breakages won't happen — they're inevitable. But when sudden asset downtime does occur, you have the confidence and awareness to send the right technicians out to fix it. Since these professionals have defined workflow orders, they know what to do, which tools to use and where they need to be. Therefore, you'll return to peak production much faster than you would without an EAM.

If several repairs aren't showing good results, however, then something's wrong. Either the asset has a severe malfunction or your maintenance teams aren't using the appropriate techniques. This opens the door to further investigation. You might want to retrain the technicians on best practices, use third-party specialists or replace the asset altogether. One metric in particular, Mean Time to Failure (MTTF), reveals how long machines or components tend to last before they're irreparable. Are you seeing a high number of low MTTF rates? It's probably wise to reinvest and switch suppliers, because these assets are costing your business more than you may realize.

Either way, the burden of responsibility is taken off your hands, letting you focus on other tasks while the schedule continues and reports on maintenance activity. As EAM data piles up, you'll make stronger business decisions based on your most profitable assets. It's a cost/benefit equation. In effect, you're working smarter, not harder. Future investments have much firmer ground for a positive impact on your business model.

So, you'll optimize output, repair tasks, inventory management and investment strategies. What about the customer experience?

Better maintained assets allow you to meet product quotas and delivery deadlines. If you're a customer-facing business (a gym or sports center, say, or remote working environment), then preventive maintenance chases gremlins out of your system before they become a problem. With less asset downtime, people place more trust in whatever product or service you're providing to them. Customers aren't let down or frustrated. Steadily, you'll strengthen your reputation in key markets. Customer, supplier and wholesale relationships improve, leading to repeat orders, subscriptions or memberships.

We can't leave without mentioned health and safety, too, both for employees and anyone visiting your sites. Restoring or replacing your assets before an issue occurs limits the risk of a serious injury. It's another mark in your favor for trust, accountability and consistency.

And even though we're Lion King fans here, "hakuna matata" has no place in our maintenance philosophy. We should worry about the assets in your care. Squaring up to the reality of the asset life cycle — and all of its complexities — improves your stake in a competitive industry. With MicroMain, you have the only EAM software you'll ever need. We'd be happy to show you a demo or discuss your asset goals. Okay, Elton. You can go home now.


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