I Was in the Dark
Remember the adage, “If everyone is responsible, then no one is responsible.” I spent the first six years of my career as an Army Officer in charge of soldiers and facilities that perform equipment (trucks, generators, missile launchers) repair. I later worked in the civilian world as a robotics Project Manager and next a spare parts distribution professional in the food manufacturing industry. So basically, I fixed heavy equipment in the Army, built robotic assembly lines as a Project Manager, and provided an array of spare parts to large factories. In those early years, it never occurred to me that no one specific person in my professional circle was responsible for the lifecycle management of the expensive equipment under my care. To me, it simply seemed that there were two groups in operations…those who operate stuff (read “break stuff”) and those who fix stuff.
A Fresh Idea...What is Asset Management
In mid-career, I was hired by a major offshore drilling company embarking on a new operational strategy for deepwater drilling…my new role would come with the title of “Asset Manager.” My primary asset was a drilling vessel and its accompanying high-value equipment. The idea of centralizing responsibility for lifecycle management of high-value equipment in the role of a Rig Manager for Assets captured my imagination and never let go because it opened my eyes to why organizations ultimately buy and repair equipment—to maximize its value over the intended lifespan of the asset. What is the value proposition of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a brand new well-equipped drilling vessel, but only doing minimum maintenance on high-value assets such as thrusters or deck cranes simply to maximize short-term cash flow?
After I absorbed discovering the concept of Asset Management (what is asset management) and the professional pleasure of arriving at the “why” of my work in maintenance/spare parts management, I began to ask different questions. Why did my new employer decide that Asset Managers are essential? Who would be my immediate supervisor and what would his role be? Who would the Asset Managers report to at the executive level to ensure the mission of Asset Managers would receive robust support at the top?
Not a House Built on Sand
Thankfully my employer undertook this new venture with a progressive approach. My immediate manager also held the title of Operations Manager – Asset and the lead executive was VP of Asset Management. With this structural management hierarchy in place, I received training and certification as a professional Asset Manager. I was exposed to theory and best practices of Asset Management. My immediate manager served as a mentor and provided support when needed to resolve priorities among other less long-term (but seemingly more urgent) problems demanding resources as always is the case in today’s business world focused on short-term results. My executive leader ensured the company properly resourced Asset Management, looked after revising the company’s management system instituted real processes to assist Asset Managers in uniformly executing their responsibilities, and most importantly championed the development of an Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS).
Central Question after What is Asset Management
So back to the first question, “Who drives Asset Management in your company?” The proven best practice is definitely not “Everyone.” The why is straightforward. Most operators of equipment are focused on using it, breaking it, and getting it fixed FAST! Most Maintenance and Supply Chain professionals are focused on their internal customers who, by definition, are the equipment operators. What is the paradigm shift leading to the embrace of Asset Management by a company? It’s the corporate realization that there must be managers with direct authority and lines of custodial responsibility to drive and execute lifecycle management of equipment. And like any managerial activity within a business, these Asset Managers must report up to executives who have the responsibility to ensure these Asset Managers deliver measurable value to the organization.
How to Start
So, what’s the Asset Management strategy in your company? Maybe there isn’t one. But it’s very likely your company has physical assets. If your organization has not discovered Asset Management as a best practice, perhaps you can start by asking the simple question: “Who has the responsibility to make sure our expensive physical assets are operational and cost-effective over their intended lifespan?” You could even revert to a more basic question if needed to begin the dialogue: “Do we know the intended lifespan of our high-value assets and if not, why not?” You may find getting the discussion rolling is the hardest step in the journey!
We’re Here at RigServ to Help Asset Management Help Your Company
Does your business have an Enterprise Asset Management system? Do you have high-value equipment in use or in a storage yard but no up-to-date database housing data attributes of that equipment? Do you have maintenance procedures that interact with operators everywhere attached to your high-value assets? If you answered no to any of these questions but want to answer yes…contact us here at RigServ so we can discuss solutions that fit your company.