17 April 2012
Re-energise asset control
Soaring energy costs demand better business controls to stay competitive. Global asset sustainability delivers exactly that, says Infor Global Solutions' Rod Ellsworth
Companies spend 20% to 30% of their operating and maintenance resources on maintaining their property, plant and equipment – and far more on energy, which typically constitutes over 50% of operational and maintenance (O&M) budgets.
With energy prices soaring and continually eroding profit margins, asset-intensive companies are now facing a daunting situation: how to combat this, while at the same time remaining competitive and profitable, and also deal with growing concerns about carbon emissions and other environmental pollutants, energy being one of the primary contributors.
To meet these demands, leading software companies are stepping up to provide advanced tools for monitoring energy consumption from the enterprise to the asset level, to support maintenance, replacement and process control decisions. These tools factor energy management (monitoring, measuring and identifying non-conformities) with traditional asset management functions. The upshot? The elimination of waste for better operational efficiency, lower energy costs and improved regulatory compliance from lower carbon emissions.
"It's no secret that energy costs have been climbing over the years, and energy availability and reliability is a growing uncertainty," states Rod Ellsworth (pictured), vice president and product architect, Infor Global Solutions. "That has changed the business landscape dramatically, as companies using sizeable plants, facilities and equipment have watched their profits fall. In fact, in some cases energy costs are taking anything up to 80% or more of a typical commercial or industrial company's non-labour operating and maintenance budget. And, of this, estimates are that between 10% and 60% is wasted. "
Businesses such as he describes have, of course, been practising enterprise asset management (EAM) for years. However, the really successful ones are now relying more than ever on smarter asset management. "It's no longer enough to look at excessive inventory, downtime and non value-adding paperwork to reduce waste, without integrating energy performance into the mix," Ellsworth cautions.
The convergence of energy and asset management has resulted in a better approach to asset management, called global asset sustainability. This, he says, is the way forward. "Now energy costs have become such a key factor, businesses needs to know precisely how much energy a specific asset consumes, coupled with its performance. And that includes whether an asset is consuming more energy than it ought to; something that has often been invisible in the past.
Get that right, and it allows enterprises to continuously monitor and manage the energy consumption of their assets and drive improved financial results throughout the enterprise, all while managing assets for optimal performance."
Ellsworth's deep understanding of how managing assets can affect corporate sustainability and profitability is not surprising – he architected and spearheaded the development of Infor's global asset sustainability solution, Infor EAM Asset Sustainability.
Traditionally, companies assessed three factors to determine overall equipment effectiveness (OEE): availability, performance and quality. Their goals were to maximise uptime, guarantee that performance of an asset meets the specifications rating and keep each asset's output at optimum levels. Now there is a fourth important component to achieve this: energy efficiency. Together, they make up what is referred to as the 'global asset sustainability index; optimal performance at the least energy cost'.
"Infor EAM Asset Sustainability goes beyond enabling organisations to gauge individual asset performance; it also captures a global, enterprise-wide view of all asset performance to minimise energy waste and the associated costs to ensure the best operational, financial and environmental performance for the company," states Ellsworth.
"It provides an end-to-end solution, from energy policy to the plug, integrated into asset management, with the constant monitoring of all assets at every level within the business, comparing the expected efficiency levels against the actual, not only to identify maintenance needs, but also replacement candidates."
Infor's solution provides the intelligence and communication when asset performance is degrading – much earlier than traditional asset management systems, says Ellsworth – to allow corrective action to reduce O&M costs, while minimising the risk of asset failure.
If it's true that energy prices are heading in one direction only, such technology may well prove critical.
Infor Global Solutions
Infor (Solihull) Ltd
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