Rethinking Asset Data

by | Feb 2, 2020

Enterprises count on their asset management system to be the “master” from which all other applications pull data. For most business functions, this works well while providing consistency and control to the enterprise. Still, the fundamental way data is collected, stored, and managed has led to challenges, particularly for maintenance operations. The reason for this is simple – maintenance requires accurate and reliable engineering data, and engineering data is continuously evolving.

Typically, when an asset management system is set up, a moment-in-time snapshot is pulled from the engineering platforms’ document control program, and a record is established in the asset management system. This “as-built” approach fails to account for the fact that as facilities go through maintenance cycles, the engineering data changes. Yet, the asset management system data is rarely, if ever, updated. As maintenance applications pull from the asset management system, the information is often obsolete, which causes delays and errors and poses unnecessary safety risks. The more experienced engineers would often bypass the asset management system’s data in the maintenance application and pull data directly from the engineering systems, especially when the data in the maintenance system just did not make sense. Like, when the specs called for a valve that was discontinued ten years ago, but only an engineer with years of experience would know that. Clearly, this is not sustainable or a best practice.

So, you are right. Your asset management system is broken in regard to serving maintenance applications. So how can we fix it?

There are many approaches to this issue; messy middleware, inaccurate AI solutions, and expensive asset management bolt-ons are all available, but no software will solve the problem. Software does not address the evergreen nature of the engineering data and the workflows involved in ensuring that the data is accurate and reliable.

The answer is not a simple fix; it requires a fundamental change in how you approach the data. It requires digital transformation and the building of an ecosystem between asset management and engineering data systems. The ecosystem needs to allow data to be updated where it was authored and routinely push fresh updates to the asset management system and maintenance applications. Updates made in the maintenance applications need to be reflected in the engineering programs and vice versa in close to real-time.

Approaching this problem can seem insurmountable. It is a difficult ask of IT departments and out of scope for engineers. You need Engineering IT expertise. A process-driven Engineering IT solution with connections, workflows, and stewardship that brings engineering systems, asset management, and maintenance together into an ecosystem will solve your asset management system problems and set your maintenance group up for success by reducing costly delays and errors, as well as mitigating safety risks.

ProLytX is an Engineering IT firm based in Houston, TX, and is a leader in this field, coaching clients to success with a unique combination of engineering and IT skills.  If you want to learn more about ProLytX and how we can help you bridge the gap between IT and Engineering, find us at