Challenges in Digital Asset & Maintenance Management

Crebhan Hughes
4 min read

1. Challenges Faced by Facilities & Maintenance Teams

High Turnover of Staff: The growth of pharma and similar industries has led to increased competition for staff, leading to a revolving door of operations, engineering, and maintenance staff as workers move from facility to facility this turnover significantly impairs the organization's collective memory and understanding of asset locations and tacit knowledge.

Time and Resource Drain: Thousands of work hours are squandered annually as teams scramble to both locate and navigate to fixed and mobile assets. This inefficiency echoes through the operational chain, resulting in costly delays and production downtime.
steep learning.

On-boarding Efforts: Newly hired engineers, technicians, and contracted workers face a steep learning curve from the first day on-site when it comes to learning a site's layout and asset geography. A lack of efficient asset mapping can extend this acclimatisation period from days to often months, further exacerbating inefficiencies.

Knowledge Silos: Experienced workers might possess extensive, yet incomplete, asset knowledge, be it in “excel mania” or custom drawings. These silos of expertise lead to inconsistent experiences and work outcomes, especially when tackling the elusive last 10% of assets that are often more challenging to locate.

Disperate Systems: Maintenance, BIM, IoT, calibration, building management, and other operational systems often function in isolation. This lack of integration creates data gaps that prevent teams from making informed, real-time decisions.

Mean Time to Repair: In corrective maintenance scenarios, the overarching goal is to minimize time to recovery. However, this aim is often compromised due to challenges faced of prompt asset and alarm location in the field.

Loss of Tacit Knowledge: Currently, there's no standardized platform to capture and share essential asset locations, videos, photos, or notes. When a seasoned worker leaves, or is simply tied up with additional work, their information is unavailable to other team members—representing an irreplaceable loss to the facility.

Navigational Inefficiencies: Even when workers know the location of an asset, the absence of route optimization tools results in wasted time and effort. Plus, workers are often uninformed about specific requirements for accessing particular assets or rooms, like Permits to Work (PTW)and access requirements, or specialized safety protocols.

Over-reliance on Outdated Tools: Excel sheets, complicated CAD drawings, and legacy systems, often personalized to an individual's understanding, are still the go-to solutions for asset location. These methods are not only outdated but also not scalable or easily understandable betweenworkers and departments.

Lack of Optimisation for Routine Checks: Workers often perform routine asset-related tasks without a standardized, optimized procedure. With these tasks often being carried out weekly or monthly by different individuals, this lack of uniformity results in significant time and resource waste due to workers not knowing the optimal way to execute the routine.

2. Common Questions Plaguing Technicians

  1. What's the best way to complete this walk-down?
  2. Where is XV-B121790?
  3. How do I get to this room?
  4. What does that asset look like?
  5. What do I need to get to this asset?
  6. Where is this alarm?
  7. What does this room look like?
  8. How do I view the locations of all these assets?
  9. Where are all the facilities plant rooms, noise areasand ATEX areas?

3. The Cost Implications: The Financial Toll of Operational Inefficiencies

Navigating the maze of asset management in large process-intensive facilities presents several challenges. Yet, these challenges don't just disrupt operations - they come with a hefty price tag. The following conservative figures are based on reviews from our customers, and our experience having over 50 years of experience in maintenance and operational roles in large process-intensive facilities globally

The Time Lost in Asset Location and On-Boarding
  1. With 40 operations and maintenance technicians
  2. Average of 1.5 hours per week wasted locating assets and escorting workers
  3. 60 hours wasted per week—or 3,120 hours per year
  4. Average cost of employment of €70,000 per worker
  5. Total lost time comes to €105,000 per year.

  1. 4 new staff a year due (10% attrition rate)
  2. 8 hours per week are wasted for the first 3 months due to the new worker learning the sites layout and asset geography
  3. 96 hours per new employee lost per year = €2,016
  4. 384 hours lost across 4 employees per year = €8,064
Total of €113,064 wasted per year in locating assets
Imagine about how much time you would spend planning and executing a route in your personal life without Google maps!
Avergae time lost per worker per week due to asset location

4. Operational Delays and Downtime

Downtime in the pharmaceutical industry can cost on average between $100,000 and $500,000 perhour, with some incidents costing $20,000 a minute, equating to $1.2M per hour (Kruglyak, 2021).Even if we take a conservative estimate, a single hour of downtime can be detrimental. Delays inlocating assets or alarms, can often contribute to such downtime scenarios.

Unoptimized Navigation
  1. Average of 12 hours wasted per week lost on routine tasks by the maintenance department due to unoptimized walk-down routes
  2. Total cost of employment 33.60/hour per worker
  3. €403 wasted per week
  4. €20,966 wasted per year

  1. If only 5 minutes was wasted per task locating and navigating to assets (fixed or mobile) across the facility
  2. 1000 tasks per month (maintenance, production, & engineering)
  3. 83 hours wasted per month = €2,800 per year
  4. €33,600 wasted per year
Total of €54,566 wasted per year due to inefficient navigation

The Total Cost of Inefficiencies

total cost of inefficiencies due to asset location

The total cost of the inefficiencies doesn't account for other unqualified but significant costs, such as extended production downtime due to delayed asset and alarm location, lost institutional knowledge, and system inefficiencies. In a competitive industry where efficiency is key, these costs aren't just numbers—they're leading indicators of an operational model that requires transformation. PlantQuest's intelligent asset mapping solution addresses these challenges, offering a robust, scalable, and cost-effective solution that's tailored for the complexities and demands of modern process-intensive facilities. By investing in intelligent asset mapping, facilities stand to recoup these losses, enhancing operational efficiency and turning hidden costs into visible profits.

5. Conclusion


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