Published September 06, 2023 in Blog
The right system is critical to proactively maintain your assets in a state of good repair.
In the last 20 years Trapeze Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) has emerged as the tool of choice for transport authorities to manage their fleet, facilities, and rail assets. Despite this, many agencies still find themselves using older or in-house-built maintenance management systems that might not meet all their needs today.
Can your maintenance management system really make or break your operations? You better believe it!
In the face of massive technician shortages, unyielding regulatory requirements, and fluctuating ridership patterns, transport authorities are having to “do more with less” every day. More than ever, managing these industry headwinds requires that agencies realize the significant benefits of modern systems and workflows.
Let’s learn the seven signs that you’ve outgrown your current asset and maintenance management system—and what you can do about it.
If you’re still using paper forms and clipboards to manage your shop, it’s time to get rid of paper for good. Working with paper forms creates at least twice as much work as any automated system. From filling in the form to transcribing it into your system to filing and retrieving old sheets—how much time are you spending just shuffling paper around?
A modern EAM system lets everyone fill in what’s needed on the shop floor at a terminal, tablet, or smartphone just once. Imagine knowing data doesn’t need to be transcribed, handwriting doesn’t need deciphering, and you readily have access to everything in one single place. With a modern EAM system, there’s no hunting through files or spreadsheets required.
Even better, once something has been entered into the system, other tasks can automatically be started without anyone needing to do anything. Parts can be ordered, records can be updated, warranty claims can be started, and work orders can be generated and distributed. Everything becomes an easy and automated process when your EAM system is intuitive, updated, and maintained.
Stop pushing papers and start getting your real work done. Let computers do the paperwork with automated, intelligent workflows designed specifically for transport.
Nothing ever stays the same. Once you put a system in place, sure enough, no matter how much you planned, an exception will come up. And you make a workaround for it. For a while that’s okay. A good system is dynamic enough to be able to incorporate new things and you can eventually get rid of workarounds; but what if you have more workarounds than actual work?
When you’re juggling five or ten spreadsheets to pull data together into something you can use, that may be a sign that there’s a problem. If the answer to the question, “let’s take a look at what’s going on with the data” is creating another spreadsheet, you’ve outgrown your system.
Spreadsheets are great for when you need to do something quick, easy, and fast. A good asset management system should let you update workflows to changing conditions. New rolling stock, asset types, or parts shouldn’t mean shoehorning something into your system to “make it work for now”—it should just work.
The biggest problem with spreadsheets is keeping track of them. Someone does a “Save as…” for yet another workaround and now you don’t know which is the right spreadsheet anymore. Spreadsheets get corrupted, lost, and deleted. If your agency is running on shared spreadsheets and you’re always looking for the right/newest/up-to-date version, it’s time to make a change for the better.
All computer systems need maintenance to run smoothly. For modern systems, most of that can happen in the background without anyone even knowing. But as systems age, especially if your system is homegrown and completely custom, things start to break. It’s harder and harder to patch things and keep the system in line with what you’re doing today versus 10 years ago.
All of that work and additional stress falls on IT. From keeping servers running and updating the operating system (if you even can), to cybersecurity, IT has their hands full. More often than not, as systems age, IT is doing more work to keep the system working than it’s actually working. And if a critical system, like maintenance and asset management, isn’t working; people have to resort to paper or just skip entering the data.
Then where are you? A backlog of paper to enter into the system once it’s back up or huge gaps in your data. How will you know what’s going on in the shop if you can’t track what’s fixed, broken, or ready to come into the shop?
Critical systems need to be rock solid and running all the time. Downtime should be minimal and shouldn’t affect day-to-day work. If you hear the ticket system is down more than you’re getting tickets entered, it’s time for a change.
To work effectively across departments, your data needs to connect and sync with other systems. If your maintenance system can’t connect with HR, Purchasing, Payroll, or your ERP, chances are your people need to manually enter data from one system into another. This takes time, effort, and, more than likely, mistakes are going to be made.
When your maintenance and asset management system is siloed, you can run into problems like wrong parts being ordered (or not ordered at all), people not being paid correctly for overtime, and capital asset tracking in your ERP can become woefully out of date. Human error is only natural, but a system that survives on manual entries can mean more opportunities for mistakes to be made.
With a modern EAM system when someone gets a part from the stock room, an automatic workflow is triggered to order more of that part when your inventory falls below a threshold. Everything goes straight to purchasing automatically. What if your ERP system always had the correct state of good repair data because your asset management system was in constant sync with it? No more creating spreadsheets to compare thousands of assets between the two systems. No more significant inefficiencies and data errors. With Trapeze EAM, your agency can have one system, one set of descriptions, and no extra work.
Many legacy or homegrown asset management systems have minimal reporting capabilities, and if they do, they are hard coded so that they can’t be modified without completely altering the software. One simple change to the software can be a massive headache, and reduces or stunts the asset management system to a point where it causes more problems than it provides solutions. In this scenario, your asset management system puts you in a box with no room for growth or change.
Without the proper data analytics capability to understand exactly what your data is telling you, your operations suffer. One of the most stressful times of year for transport authorities is gathering all the necessary data for TAM Compliance and NTD reporting. If your EAM system can’t consolidate data across multiple systems, you’ll spend weeks or months generating and joining reports across various spreadsheets and trying to understand your capital asset data.
If you could save yourself the headache by working with an intuitive asset management system that provides you with a single source of truth, why wouldn’t you?
A lot of asset management systems were created long before smartphones and tablets became everyday tools. But luckily for us, technology has advanced immensely over the past 20 years and has brought in a new wave of asset management systems that have capabilities that homegrown systems simply don’t have. Not only has technology advanced, but the rate at which it becomes outdated is far faster than it used to be. If your current system can’t keep up with present-day demands of technology, you’ll feel that on multiple levels of your operation.
Many asset management systems use antiquated processes for in-field technicians and are still relying on paper forms or manual entry when staff are on the job. Not only is this time consuming, but it leaves more room for error and causes lag time in visibility of that data. Newer EAM systems leverage mobile and handheld devices, allowing staff to tackle maintenance challenges while on the move. With an asset management system that has mobile capabilities, technicians can view their work assignments, perform inspections, track time, and take pictures of equipment defects while in the field. Information and data are automatically synchronized into your EAM system, resolving issues at a faster rate.
In a system that you’ve outgrown, your crew won’t have access to newer tech like mapping with GIS/GPS. Many agencies have hundreds of assets that are spread out over a large area, making them harder to track and organize with manual processes. Modern asset management systems have interactive mapping systems that allow facilities and maintenance of way rail inspection crews to locate maintenance hot spots, track their findings on work orders, or toggle between street view or satellite view. This can optimize operations, increase productivity, and help you find additional cost savings.
If you often find yourself bogged down by tasks that could be easier with access to productivity-enhancing technology, your legacy system could be not only stunting your productivity, but also putting your operations at risk with inaccurate and after-the-fact data entries.
We’ve all experienced that feeling where a task is so overwhelming that you just don’t know where to start. Issues start to pile up, and it all feels like too much. So, you sit on it and sit on it until you have to address your problem, but you’re still not sure what those first steps should be. If this is how you’ve been dealing with your legacy asset management system, it’s a clear sign that you’ve outgrown it.
When you’re paralyzed by an outdated system, it means that you’re always reacting instead of acting. Maintaining your assets becomes a laborious and time-consuming problem because you’re not utilizing an EAM system that proactively handles administrative tasks like triggering a parts order or informing you when repairs are required. If you’re always behind the eight ball, you end up leaving room for service delays, inviting poor mean time between failures, and keeping buses off the street due to long repair times or inventory stock outs.
With a modern EAM system, you can stay ahead of the curve and stop issues in their track. You’re able to prepare for the future and support new transport industry trends, like supporting the transition to zero-emissions vehicles. A configurable asset management system can help you successfully maintain and monitor EV chargers after installation to ensure that your vehicles are safe and on the road on time.
Even if only a couple of these signs click with you, it’s time to think about how you’re really managing assets. Are you just keeping your head above water or are you forging ahead? Are you ready for new technologies and the transition to zero-emissions or will you be creating more workarounds to keep things running “just a little bit longer”?
Ask yourself, isn’t it time that asset management saved you time instead of giving you headaches? Talk to the Trapeze EAM team and see how we can help.
Enterprise Asset Management