How managers can move their organization from reactive emergencies to planned activities
Angela Testa, senior vice president of operations at American Campus Communities, strengthens operations without compromising a healthy work environment
An asset inventory is a long process, so it is crucial that the team collects, identifies, and inventories the essential information. Often-overlooked inventory opportunities to consider in this plan include these:
Respect the investment. The institution made investments to buy the assets and has invested resources to maintain them. Documenting asset warranty information often can lower the cost of repairs and ensure the institution receives all the benefits warranted by the investment. Document warranty information, and determine a way to make it easily accessible to those who need it.
Respect assets and equipment. Most mechanical assets can be grouped by a standard classification, but this does not mean they have the same functions, importance or maintenance requirements. For example, a shell-and-tube heat exchanger and a plate-and-frame heat exchanger can perform similar functions, but their maintenance tasks are much different. Give the equipment the respect it deserves, and collect the relevant information pertaining to the type and function of the asset within each standard classification.
Respect the location. A large institution has critical and non-critical locations. Some assets, such as eyewash stations, are considered bounded assets, meaning they demand a certain level of regulatory maintenance and inspections regardless of location. Managers need to consider the location of non-bounded assets when determining their importance, the level of asset data collected and the allotted maintenance resources. Prioritize the location of assets in relation to their importance to the overall mission of the institution. If the institution were to encounter a crisis in the future, it would help to have equipment and assets separated into categories such as life safety, critical and non-critical, along with a location priority hierarchy.
Empathize with technicians. Often, the inventory team does not have to maintain the assets, so have respect for the individuals who operate and service them. Record information that is useful to someone performing preventive or corrective maintenance. General information such as manufacturer, model, and serial number is mediocre. Detailed information, including asset specifications and design, equipment spare parts and the functional description of the initial system design, is more beneficial. Inventory details such as cubic feet per minute (CFM), CFM per square foot, which air handling unit serves which room and available filter options have proven priceless amid the pandemic’s challenges.
The criteria for each type of asset should be organized so the data can be easily recorded during the physical inventory. Managers should consider creating standard asset templates specific to each equipment type that allow the team to record data on a tablet while in the field.
The next piece of the puzzle is to determine the way data collected is added to the CMMS. While manual data entry is an option, loading the data directly to a database saves an enormous amount of time and effort. The construction of templates for loading asset information is critical. The templates should be vetted by the information technology (IT) team, and the dataset should be configured to seamlessly update the CMMS database. Managers should discuss these options with the IT group to determine a plan to take the data on the tablet and update the database.
Implement the plan
Now that the inventory team has a clear direction and can share project expectations with stakeholders, the next step is identifying where to begin and how to track progress. Use location information to work with the individual departments to establish a schedule.
Determine when and in what quantities to update and validate the CMMS with the asset data. When batch-loading the data, perform the data transfer regularly throughout the project. If manual input is the option, enter the asset data regularly. By evaluating the data immediately, managers can closely track the quality and progress and adjust before the process is too far along.
One successful tactic is to conduct a one-building beta test. Complete the asset inventory on one complete building, evaluate the effectiveness, ensure it uploads and updates the CMMS as expected, and adjust before moving on.
Before managers can effectively maintain and grow a successful maintenance program, they need a clear understanding of installed systems and equipment. Regardless of the organization’s situation, focus on completing one initial goal, plan to spend far more time on planning and organization, and input and use the data immediately to create small wins along the way.
Adam E. Lucido is maintenance program manager with operations and maintenance at the University of Chicago. Brian Cowperthwaite is senior director with operations and maintenance at the University of Chicago.
4 Steps to Creating an Action Plan for Asset Inventory