The Top 5 APM Blog Posts of 2014 and What to Expect in 2015

maintenance management analyticsSometimes we get so wrapped up in our work we don’t have time to follow all of the social media posts and utilize all the online resources to stay on top of topics we need to cover. So as you start out 2015 we went back and looked at what were the top posts about Asset Performance Management (APM) (excluding vendor-specific posts) based on both page views and Twitter likes and retweets and LinkedIn likes and comments.

The top five posts are summarized here, with links to the original posts so you can stay on top of what is hot in APM-related topics.

#5: The Internet of EVERYthing Will Engage EVERYone

This post in July focused on the organizational implications that the Internet of Things (IoT) will have. The posting wasn’t APM-specific, but certainly is relevant to APM since asset health and performance monitoring is one of the earliest ways the IoT is being introduced into organizations. While the post ranks number five in non-vendor page views, it is one of the most “liked” and retweeted posts that still regularly gets mentioned in a lot of automation-related blog posts and on automation-related websites.

The heart of the post was the introduction to the question of IT versus OT (operational technology), and where the boundaries lie. The net-net of the post was that some applications and the associated business processes, like ERP, are almost always the domain of the IT organization while process control systems are almost always the domain of the automation group within operations.

The challenge comes when you get to what are often called “level 3” systems like MOM or APM solutions and their associated business processes. It seems that how different organizations segment responsibility for these areas varies significantly, often even within an industry. The specific recommendation was that organizations need to start educating everyone in the enterprise about how all systems, from automation through business systems, are interconnected and need to interoperate for the enterprise to get the most benefit from them.

#4: Applying Maturity Models to Asset Performance Management

Another July post reviewed LNS Research’s approach to maturity models and how you should apply them when implementing business process improvement initiatives in your organization. It was specific to APM and used the Carnegie-Mellon approach to maturity models to illustrate the difference between organizational maturity and maintenance philosophy approaches.

The key concept introduced in this post was that people often confuse their migration from reactive to preventative to predictive to condition-based and finally to reliability-centered maintenance with organizational maturity. It hammered home the point that a highly mature approach to APM probably used all of the various different maintenance paradigms, as required by each asset depending on the criticality of the asset. You are encouraged to take the mini-survey and tell us about the approach you are taking to APM.

#3: Too Many Manufacturers are Sending Information the Wrong Way

This September post was also IoT-focused and not specific to APM but as we noted above, given APM’s early role as an IoT proof-point, it still relevant to APM. This post also drew more comments than a lot of blog posts on the site, most likely because it presented a viewpoint that runs counter to what much of the marketing hype we see in industry around executive dashboards and the value of giving senior executives drill-down capabilities about plant information.

This particular post took the position that a better use of plant-floor to business systems connectivity was to give operators on the shop floor business performance indicators instead of giving senior executives operational performance indicators. I made the argument that if operators knew how their actions directly influenced productivity and profitability (and were appropriately rewarded for making proper decisions) that they would make the right decisions so that senior executives could focus on more strategic activities like product line or market expansions instead of trying to diagnose plant operational issues.

#2: A Metric Misused or Misunderstood is Worse Than No Metric at All

This August post was actually a follow-on to my most widely read and cited post, which was also metrics related. It still is drawing tweets and retweets as well as linked from numerous metrics-related posts on both automation and business process improvement sites. It provided some insight as to how metrics are often misued and what you need to avoid if you don’t want to misuse them.

The thing about metrics, particularly as they are used to measure people’s performance is that what you measure tends to be what people then manage towards, and so you end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy in that people focus on making sure the metric looks good, not necessarily that the process is actually operating optimally. This post also talks about what happens when you miscalculate a metric, which leads me to the number one most widely read post I had in 2014.

#1: Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) as a Metric–Don’t Misuse It

OEE has its roots as an APM metric that is instituted as organizations deploy Lean strategies and Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). LNS Research has done quite a bit of research about how OEE varies among different industry types and how you actually measure OEE. This post provides some cautions as to how organizations should use OEE when they are trying to manage their APM and plant productivity performance.

OEE is essentially a measure of how productive a machine or manufacturing process is. It is the cross product of performance, productivity, and quality. It is obviously closely linked to APM since a poorly maintained and performing production asset can neither produce products with good quality nor at a rate that is optimal. Every organization that is pursuing an APM strategy needs to be using OEE but they need to use it correctly. This particular post explains the limitations of OEE as well as the risks associated with misusing the metric.

What to Expect in 2015

This raises the question as to which of these topics will be hot in 2015. Clearly the IoT will increasingly capture attention and organizations will struggle with the organizational implications of information everywhere. We continue to see change management emerge as a key challenge to new technology deployment in our surveys. We will continue to offer thoughts on how to leverage the IoT to improve asset performance. Metrics will also likely be a much talked about topic in 2015, as enterprises continue to focus on operational excellence and competitiveness. With the rollout of our APM practice later this month, we expect some detailed data on what APM metrics enterprises are using, as well as how they are using them, which we will share as soon as the data is available.

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All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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