All posts by Infor EAM

Cloud-Based Asset Management Tracks Activity Across Hundreds of Small Outlets

When you operate more than nine million square feet (840,000 square meters) of retail space across more than 1,100 small points of sale, facilities maintenance can become very challenging, very fast.

It isn’t that any of the properties requires daily maintenance—and that’s the problem. None of the spaces needs enough time or attention to justify the daily presence of an internal maintenance specialist. But they still need to be managed and maintained at a level that will impress and delight customers—in this case, the more than 13 million shoppers who buy more than 115 million clothing items per year from Gruppo Coin, Italy’s leading fast-fashion business.

“With all those points of sale, there are a lot of assets to manage, including electrical and air conditioning plants; smoke detection, fire safety, and alarm systems; public address and sound systems; hoisting systems; and the hardware for its data transmission systems,” Infor notes in a case study on Gruppo Coin’s Enterprise Asset Management strategy. Weekly, bimonthly, and monthly maintenance requires strict scheduling, but the system also has to be flexible enough to accommodate unexpected alarms or maintenance requests.

The Way It Was
Gruppo Coin manages its equipment and facility maintenance through Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with 20 different external providers. In the past, a 20-member technical team monitored maintenance activities, while the outside vendors “relied on Excel spreadsheets and Word files sent by email, text messages, and telephone calls to manage both planned and extraordinary maintenance activities,” Infor reports.

“These were absolutely insufficient tools for guaranteeing that our technical services provided suitable and effective monitoring and control over maintenance services,” said Gruppo Coin’s Manager of Technical Services, Andrea Scussel.

“This lack of specialized tools made it impossible to precisely check and analyze compliance by our external suppliers with the services stipulated in the SLA contracts,” he recalled. So “it was also impossible to keep track of actual costs and overall efficiency of the services.”

Moving Enterprise Asset Management to the Cloud
Gruppo Coin set out to reorganize its maintenance system around three key objectives.

The company wanted a database of its physical assets.

It sought an information management platform that could deliver a clear picture of all its facilities’ current status, as a basis for managing supplier relationships and ensuring SLA contract compliance.

And it was concerned about cost control, particularly for unplanned service calls generated by individual sites.

After a two-month search, Gruppo Coin placed its confidence in Infor Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). “It seemed clear to us that this company was particularly active, receptive, and flexible concerning our specific requirements,” Scussel said. And EAM delivered, with a cloud-based system that:

  • Gives store managers an up-to-date view of all their assets, including upcoming maintenance calls and resulting costs and material use
  • Provides a “virtual bulletin board” for scheduling, prioritizing, and monitoring specific tasks
  • Allows the company to benchmark and standardize practices across an extended network of small to medium-sized stores
  • Will allow for historical analysis as more data is added to the system, enabling the company to streamline maintenance procedures and optimize costs.

The ‘Irreplaceable Control Tool’
Gruppo Coin is still working to extend the EAM system to all its assets. But there’s no question that Scussel is satisfied with his IT solution and pleased with Infor.

“The application has kept all of its promises,” he said. “It has become an irreplaceable control tool and an important benchmark for the company. Infor knew how to listen to our needs, and supported the creation of a work group that was aimed specifically at meeting our demands and translating them into the best solutions.”

Click here for a copy of Infor’s Gruppo Coin case study.

EAM and GIS: Connecting the dots

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The role of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has changed profoundly—from basic mapping applications to becoming an integral part of enterprise decision making. Why? Because these systems have evolved to the point where they can be combined with other data to help identify patterns—where customers are buying, where your organization is spending, where waste is occurring, how to deploy personnel, where coverage areas exist, and how to prioritize issues.

An enterprise asset management (EAM) system combined with GIS greatly improves maintenance efficiency by helping you easily identify and pinpoint widely dispersed assets for preventive maintenance and regular inspections, and by consolidating field work assignments based on job groupings in a selected geographic area. The ability to access assets right on a map–creating work orders and viewing asset history from the map objects—is a real time saver, and provides a big-picture view of emerging patterns.

Discover how Infor EAM enables your customer service representatives, field service planners, schedulers, and field technicians to quickly and efficiently find information, keep better records, create work orders, plan routes, and address issues.

To learn more about Infor EAM GIS, read the brochure.

Meeting the world's oil and gas needs in the 21st century

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Oil and gas supply and demand is a central issue not only to the health of the global economy, but the global ecosystem as well. According to U.N. estimates, 82 million people are added to the earth’s population each year–and all of these people will require affordable energy options.

But supply isn’t the only pressing issue. The energy sector must also find ways to provide options that:

  • Are cost-effective for consumers yet allow a decent return for producers
  • Help support global energy security without undermining global trade—or the economies of nations critical to the world’s energy supply stability
  • Optimize environmental stewardship to balance energy affordability with environmental impacts

The only way to change negative and divisive perceptions of today’s energy market is through the development of a realistic, measured energy strategy—one that recognizes the challenges for all energy sources yet eschews the rhetoric and political posturing by focusing on economics and environmental impacts.

Technology will play a central role in rebuilding plant operations and maintenance strategies so that they revolve around up-to-the-minute data–a key component of remaining competitive. Modern enterprise asset management (EAM) systems track real-time data that is accurate and immediate, enabling decisions about how to operate in the safest, most cost-effective, and most productive way–decisions that will have a profound impact on future growth and profitability. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can be used extensively within the upstream oil sector to help manage local variations in language, currency, and business standards in financial management. Other key benefits from an ERP system can be generated from service management, lean manufacturing, quality management, and wholesale distribution.

Learn more about the complexity of meeting the world’s energy needs. Read the industry perspective paper: “Outlook for oil and gas supply and demand in a global energy context.

Does Weather Affect Your Assets?

Energy Star logo Watching the news about the recent storms in the Midwest and Northeast got me thinking about the impact weather has on our lives and our surroundings. We all know that preparing for weather events is critical, but many times you just want to get through the event, not optimally sustain your environment. Yet sometimes you take overkill measures to avoid the most extreme dangers, such as stocking up food for a month as a blizzard approaches or building a bomb shelter to protect you against a hurricane. Seems a little excessive, right?

Do you use that same approach to your operations? Do you truly understand the impact of weather on your operations and the efficiency of your equipment? What maintenance practices can you employ to better sustain your equipment and its efficient operation through changing weather conditions and ensure that it gives you optimal availability, capacity, and quality? 

There are ways you can make it through tough seasons—and even thrive during these times. You can monitor how changes in weather affect your assets and incorporate those attribute measurements into your asset management strategy. Did you know with Infor EAM Asset Sustainability, you get embedded integration with the EPA’s Energy Star portal? It incorporates degree days into asset performance analysis to give you the insight and knowledge into how to maximize your operational efficiency, even when environmental conditions are not perfect.

How do you factor weather into your energy and asset management strategy? Leave a comment to this post with your thoughts and ideas.

Posted by Jay Ratliff, Manager, NA Business Solutions Consulting, Infor EAM and Public Sector

Maintenance as a Cost Center?

For the past 15 years, I’ve been living and breathing maintenance in a variety of management, consulting, and sales roles. I’ve certainly witnessed the evolution of technology throughout the years; however, there are some things that have remained the same.

What hasn’t changed? The way executives view their maintenance department, which can oftentimes be as a cost center. It seems the only time maintenance gets noticed is when a piece of equipment is down and production stops.

For those of you not in maintenance, consider this about your maintenance department and staff. If an organization lacks a proper maintenance software system, good procedures and practices, and knowledgeable technical staff to maintain the equipment, your assets’ health won’t get the attention it needs to operate efficiently. This lack of attention will ultimately lead to your equipment breaking down more often.

By investing in software, procedures, and technical staff, you can transition your maintenance operations from a reactive approach to a predictive or proactive approach. Your assets will cost less to operate and their failure rate will drop. The attitude toward maintenance will change, and you’ll see significant savings in productivity, inventory, and contract labor. 

If you can reduce your corporate operating costs by switching to a predictive approach to maintenance and add those bottom-line savings back to your net income, then perhaps maintenance can be viewed as more than a cost center.

Need help getting started? Please leave a comment to this post with your thoughts and ideas or send me an email, and I can help walk you through improving your operations and managing your equipment.

Posted by Johnny Bofilios, Director, Global Asset Sustainability, Infor

Are You Generating Your Own Electricity?

To say that there’s a lot of interest in cloud computing today is probably a gross understatement. Both Forrester Research and Gartner are predicting that more than 40% of companies will get most of their software from the cloud by 2015, up from 3% today. This represents a 1,400% increase in just four years. So what’s driving this rapid adoption of the cloud?

The best analogy might come from the past. At the turn of the last century, every company that needed electricity to run its business used its own generators to create power. This was a natural evolution from the water wheels and other mechanical solutions used before the invention of electrical power. But this approach required capital expense, installation effort, and continual maintenance, and it wasn’t very efficient at a macro level. Generating electricity also wasn’t the core of these businesses. Companies generated their own electricity because that was their only option at the time. 

It didn’t take very long before some bright individuals realized that they could offer a much more efficient, flexible, and economical solution by creating a “network” for delivering power. By having a network in place, fewer locations could generate power at much larger capacities, leveraging huge economies of scale. Teams that were 100% focused on power generation could operate these central facilities, relieving their customers from having to develop their own power generation expertise. It also allowed their customers to avoid the significant capital and maintenance expense that came with owning their own power generators. With a power grid (network) now in place, companies quickly moved from generating their own power to buying power-as-a-service.

Fast-forward 100 years. Most companies have their own data centers, servers, storage solutions, and backup solutions that require capital expense, installation effort, and continual maintenance, and they aren’t very efficient at a macro level. But now with the Internet (network) in place, there are a few software and service companies such as Salesforce, Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure), Google, Savvis, and Infor that are following in the footsteps of the Edisons. They’re building huge industrial data centers that are much larger, more capable, and more available than what companies need and can afford to build for themselves. These providers are leveraging significant economies of scale and labor that come with multi-tenant solutions. Teams focus 100% of their time on managing and maintaining the equipment and software, allowing customers to avoid the significant capital and maintenance expense of owning their own data centers and servers. With the Internet now fully in place, companies are quickly moving to buying Software-as-a-Service.

Does this mean that all software will now be consumed as a service? Probably not. Some companies today still generate their own power because of their special business needs. But it does mean that a rapidly growing number of companies will probably move most of their solutions to the cloud as the analysts predict. Remember that companies 100 years ago really didn’t want to generate their own power. They just wanted the electricity. Today companies don’t want to generate their own software solutions. They just want the functionality.

Now you have a choice. Are you ready to quit generating your own software delivery solutions and move to Software-as-a-Service instead? I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment to this post.

 

Posted by Jim Plourde, Vice President, SaaS Systems, Infor

Getting Lean with Better Performance Maintenance and Tracking

The best way to get fit and stay fit is to maintain an exercise regimen and eat less junk. The same is true for your plant and equipment. By implementing a planned maintenance program and identifying maintenance waste items, you can create an environment where lean maintenance and lean manufacturing coexist. In the long run, you could improve reliability, realize significant gains in process efficiencies, and reduce the costs of maintenance activities.

Read how one food and beverage manufacturer has done just that.

Have you implemented lean strategies to leverage the full value of your assets? What maintenance regimens do you have in place to address equipment and plant repairs? Are you implementing lean on the factory floor? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please leave a comment to this post.

EAM User Conference: Registration is Open

In case you missed the announcement, the Infor EAM Customer Forum 2011 will be held in Greenville, South Carolina, November 7–10, 2011. That’s right, Greenville, SC—the world center for all things Infor EAM (formerly Datastream). Join us at the largest gathering of EAM users and product experts, and participate in over 80 hours of sessions dedicated to EAM. Take advantage of the hands-on lab, which will be open during the entire conference.

If you’re an Infor EAM customer and want to learn best practices on maintenance, reliability, and energy efficiency—or you simply want to get more out of your Infor EAM investment—you can’t miss this event. Take a minute to visit the conference website and register to take advantage of the Early Bird discounted rate. The entire Infor EAM team looks forward to connecting and collaborating with you in Greenville.

Predictive Technologies Enhance Equipment Reliability

I’m a Weather Channel junkie…I’m fascinated by weather in general and how it affects our lives, every day, all around the globe. What’s even more fascinating to me is how the meteorologists are able to accurately (well, almost always) predict weather conditions for nearly every corner of our planet, days—sometimes weeks—in advance.

Thousands of years ago, people simply watched the sky to determine weather patterns. As the centuries progressed, so did meteorological technology. Now armed with satellites, computer modeling, and analytic skills, meteorologists have the tools they need to report accurate forecasts to help us plan our days and not get caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella.

Weather forecasting got me thinking about predicting asset conditions—even imminent failure—and the tools that we have at our fingertips to help avoid problems. Having the right tools to monitor and measure the condition of your assets can help detect when changes occur in an asset’s condition and enable you to predict and address problems before they occur (like take an umbrella to work when there’s rain in the forecast). Just like meteorological technology, the tools and technologies used to monitor assets have increasingly become more sophisticated and give us a real-time view of how they operate on a daily basis.

Sheila Kennedy of Plant Services wrote this great article about advancements in predictive tools and products being delivered by a number of companies, including Infor. The tools feature improvements in connectivity, usability, portability, and affordability.

What technology and/or tools do you use to monitor your assets and circumvent problems? What advances have you seen in the evolution of monitoring processes and analysis? I welcome your thoughts and ideas.

Posted by Scott O. Hall, Account Manager, Professional Services, Infor EAM

EAM + SCADA = Energy Savings

Driven by the desire to improve its energy efficiency and condition monitoring, a wastewater reclamation authority embarked on a project to integrate its supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and enterprise asset management (EAM) applications to enable that objective.

Read the full Plant Services article now in this installment of What Works to see how this facility improves energy efficiency and condition monitoring.