Technical asset management: more than maintenance

We tend not to think very much about the equipment that keeps workplaces comfortable and functional. Technical assets can be described as a sort of “invisible infrastructure” under a building, behind the walls and over one’s head, but not often noticed. Yet, this infrastructure is absolutely central to the experience of a building. How would you feel working in a building with poor heating, lighting and air circulation?

It is also critical to the carbon footprint of a facility and the total cost of ownership (TCO) for building owners. Technical asset management is a strategy designed to optimize performance and reduce carbon impact with data-backed transparency.

What is a “technical asset” anyway?

According to ISO 55000 GB/T 33172 an asset is anything that can create value for your organization. Technical assets, in this regard, are highly critical equipment and machinery that power the most essential systems in a building, such as electricity, heating and water. In other words, technical assets are the bedrock of your entire operations. If any one of these assets went offline – your production and operations would have to stop, leading to potentially disastrous financial impact.

Technical asset management (TAM) is a holistic and comprehensive approach to keeping critical machinery and systems running reliably and efficiently. It covers the spectrum of needs regarding upkeep, namely:

  • Corrective, preventive & predictive maintenance
  • Flying teams & remote asset management
  • MRO (Maintenance, repair and overhaul) & spare parts
  • OEM (Original equipment manufacturer) & asset installation

All these services rely on robust documentation, equipment data & processes; the whole operational chain is highly digitalized. Aden clients see the results & monitor in real-time the asset management performance through digital dashboards.

TAM is a service that provides businesses with comfort and safety in the office, a controlled production environment and creates a context in which businesses are freed up to focus more on their core needs.

CMMS, MRO, OEM… why are there so many acronyms?

Engineers and technicians love acronyms, but too often they are used as magic words to solve operational and industrial problems. Most of the time, the real answer lies in a deep understanding of the operational and material situation of the client, long experience, and healthy work discipline based on international standards. Never let your service provider hide behind jargon!

Is TAM only used at manufacturing and industrial sites?

Wherever an organization is relying on an asset to perform well and sustainably, TAM has a role to play. We all need high-performing office buildings, schools and hospitals as much as industrial clients need a reliable supply of compressed airHVAC and electricity. Technical asset management is a service needed across the built environment. By ensuring assets are running properly, TAM ensures the safety, comfort and performance of those relying on them to do their daily work.

What is the difference between predictive, preventive and corrective maintenance? And which one is best?

Corrective maintenance is the basic form of maintenance. In short, it means responding to problems after an issue or a breakdown has occurred. If your maintenance plan is heavily reliant on corrective maintenance, you probably have a problem – but that said, corrective maintenance has its place and is often sufficient for rudimentary and less essential assets. Paired with a good maintenance management system, corrective maintenance work orders can also happen in a timely and efficient manner. For critical assets, however, corrective maintenance is something you want to avoid.

Preventive maintenance relates to upkeep before a breakdown happens; it includes inspections and regulatory visits to standard exchange. Highly critical assets at your site should all have a preventive maintenance plan and MRO strategy in place to ensure that assets perform more reliably and at their peak for as long as possible.

Finally, predictive maintenance sits somewhere in the middle, where patterns of wear & tear are identified (often detected through high-level expertise and devices) and used to predict the breakdown potential of an asset before it impacts operations. Using a combination of IoT devices, vibration analysis, and even AI, engineers can pinpoint red flags and act on them to avoid costly downtime or asset failures.

But which one is best? Don’t get fooled by companies that say you need all predictive maintenance, all the time. Proper technical asset management uses a mix of all three types of maintenance, according to the risk profile of the client (operational, reputational and regulatory). The goal is to strike the right balance between the three to optimally use available manpower and to keep systems functioning better and without interruption.

Good asset management vs. bad asset management

In simple terms, a bad TAM provider thinks in day-to-day terms, while a good TAM partner builds a strategy based on where a client wants to be in the coming months and years, proactively finding ways to bring the organization to that point, whether the goals are financial, environmental, or both.

The best asset management takes a deep dive into a client’s operations to understand the criticality and risk level of each piece of equipment, machinery or system. It comprehensively documents which assets are linked to strict governmental regulations, compliance requirements, or ESG targets. All of this information is then used to craft a customized and responsive TAM strategy.

Good technical asset management systemically ensures transparency of this process by digitizing and centralizing all information, making it easily accessible for all stakeholders as required by ISO 55000.

Finally, technical asset management relies on its teams. TAM professionals should be certified, trained and evaluated using a standardized framework focused on the client’s success and asset lifecycle performance.

What’s the connection between technical asset management and Net Zero World Initiative?

TAM combined with digitalization is one of the most concrete areas for action for net-zero efforts. It’s estimated that the building sector accounts for 39% of global C02 emissions. A huge share of this can be traced back to technical assets such as chillers, boilers, compressors, HVAC systems and more.

The lowest carbon-emitting assets are the ones that have been properly designed or selected, correctly installed and tested, and given the proper amount of care throughout their lives. This is the fundamental work of technical asset management. Selecting a TAM partner rather than a simple provider is a critical investment in your organization’s impact and future.

What are the main business outcomes of good TAM strategy?

Businesses with a successful TAM strategy consistently outperform their peers in terms of supply chain agility, operational efficiency and financial profile. Most importantly, they can sustain their performance over long stretches of time, benefitting in the long term from all the value created.

Better performing assets means more comfortable facilities and more reliable business operations, which leads to higher performing employees, steadier business development and stronger relationships with clients. It also makes you more prepared to present operational data for clients, governments and investors. This puts your business at a distinct advantage over your competitors.