Enterprise asset management (EAM) software is one of the best EAM tools available for improving asset performance, as well as many other critical functions. With the right set of tools and a bit of training, EAM users can facilitate a wide variety of tasks, including asset tracking, work order management, regulatory compliance, employee engagement and the implementation of a comprehensive preventive maintenance strategy.
Compared to disparate spreadsheets and solitary checklists, a quality EAM solution can make a tremendous difference in a facility manager’s efficacy—and the company’s bottom line.
Still, an EAM solution is only effective when it integrates properly with an organization’s goals, infrastructure and evolving needs. When searching for the best EAM software, there are several critical questions to consider:
Can the product track all of the company’s physical assets, from vehicles and heavy machinery to tiny replacement parts?
Will it help achieve specific goals, such as preventive maintenance implementation, document consolidation and employee training improvements?
Will the solution’s architecture and interface integrate with the company’s existing systems and technical expertise?
Will the solution offer data that is actionable for the specific type of assets or industry segment?
To answer these questions, it’s important to first understand a few basics about EAM software and how it fits into modern enterprise operations. Prospective buyers should also consider advanced features such as work order automation and high-tech condition monitoring. Armed with this knowledge, asset managers and other enterprise stakeholders will be well equipped to make sound purchasing decisions for their organizations.
What is enterprise asset management software?
To fully understand the role of an asset management software, we should first consider EAM’s more lightweight cousin: a computerized maintenance management system, or CMMS. Designed to manage the operational portion of an asset’s life cycle, CMMS is primarily designed for maintenance scheduling and work orders.
In contrast to the common alternative—spreadsheets—CMMS offers users a singular, comprehensive view of asset maintenance and greater insight into total cost of ownership (TCO). Given its time- and cost-saving advantages over manual methods of asset management, CMMS has grown rapidly in popularity since the 1980s. In fact, a recent MarketWatch study projected a 9.8% five-year compound annual growth rate in the CMMS software market, from $720 million in 2019 to $1.26 billion in 2024.
EAM software offers the basic features of CMMS but with additional functionality and insights. EAM systems emerged in the 1990s as rapidly improving networking technology allowed users to bridge the gaps between facilities and job sites. This allowed EAM solutions to track not only equipment and parts, but to integrate the entire ecosystem in which they are used: teams, users, production roles and more.
Just as importantly, enterprise management software tracks the entire life cycle of an asset, including procurement, maintenance, disposal and replacement. This capability offers users a far broader—yet still detailed—picture of their physical assets, as well as the ways in which those assets can be used most effectively.
EAM platforms are suitable for construction, manufacturing, fleet and facilities management enterprise applications. Recently, there’s been a growing interest in EAM for energy, infrastructure and health system use.
Understanding enterprise needs
CMMS software may be a powerful tool for small- to medium-sized business, but for the modern enterprise, EAM software tends to be the platform of choice. Large organizations with multiple facilities campuses, far-flung job sites and extremely large inventories need a comprehensive view of their assets to understand how they can be optimized. When thin margins, high-dollar contracts and tight deadlines are at play, every hour of productivity matters. And those hours can only be maximized with fine-tuned asset performance.
Given these needs, as well as the amount of capital investment today’s enterprises have to consider, it’s no surprise that EAM growth eclipses that of CMMS. A MarketsAndMarkets study suggests EAM will grow from $5.1 billion in 2019 to $8.2 billion by 2024. The driver of that growth? The need enterprises have for a 360-degree view of their assets.
Features and qualities to consider in EAM software
Equipment maintenance capabilities aren’t the only things to consider in an enterprise asset management solution. A robust EAM system should offer a rich set of features that improves multiple facets of your organization, from employee training to regulatory compliance.
Of course, the asset-focused features are the showcase, and they should allow you to not only schedule maintenance effectively, but to fine-tune every aspect of your asset performance. Here are the features and qualities you should evaluate:
1. Centralized documents and data
Look for maintenance histories, manufacturers’ warranties, regulatory requirements and every other piece of critical information to be available in a single, well-organized repository. In practical terms, that means your EAM solution should allow you to add various electronic document file types and categorize them in a way that makes sense to your users.
2. Hierarchical inventory management
In the enterprise environment, highly detailed asset categorization is a requirement, not an option. Consider a top-level category named “lift,” for example. From forklift to scissor lift to boom lift, you should be able to create as many subcategories as you need, each with its own tiered list of additional distinctions.
Furthermore, that hierarchy should allow you to break “whole” pieces of equipment, however you define them, into their constituent parts. From large industrial machines to tiny components, every item should be accounted for and paired with information about its location, backstock and acceptable replacements. Do you have enough replacement parts on stock at your northeastern plant to perform the upcoming maintenance on the facility’s injection molder? That’s the kind of specific query your inventory management software should be able to answer.
3. Customizable triggers
For some assets, the most sensible maintenance schedules are time-based, such as performing a certain task every month. For others, you may need to perform repairs after a given number of miles, revolutions or production runs. Others still may require a combination of the two, or perhaps even a complex algorithm that uses multiple variables to determine ideal maintenance triggers. All of these details should be customizable within your EAM system.
4. Predictive maintenance capabilities
In addition to time- and use-based triggers, many enterprises are moving toward predictive, or condition-based, maintenance for assets with the highest upkeep and failure costs. For example, a manufacturing facility may monitor fluid pressure within a piping system to identify when and where leaks are most likely to occur. They may also use sophisticated algorithms to determine how many production cycles can occur before a temporary shut-down is truly required.
To facilitate condition-based maintenance, the best EAM software include sensor integration and automatic anomaly detection. Friction, vibration, gas emissions, hot spots and electrical discharge can all be monitored with appropriate software, and problems can trigger alerts and work orders.
5. Work order, inventory and procurement integration
Whether it requires hand tools, digital devices, replacement parts, heavy equipment or a combination of the above, maintenance invariably places demands on your inventory. As maintenance triggers lead to work orders, those work orders’ inventory requirements should in turn trigger inventory alerts. From there, purchase order recommendations should consider the current stock of available items. In short, it should never come as a surprise that a required tool isn’t available at a job site, or that you’ve run out of replacement parts for mission-critical assets.
6. In-depth analytics
Which assets, job sites and crews are incurring the greatest maintenance costs? When and where is production being slowed the most? The ability to aggregate and analyze massive amounts of data to spot these kinds of trends is one of the primary reasons to adopt a digital EAM solution. With maintenance schedules, maintenance histories and production data in a single location, your EAM solution should make it easy to identify opportunities for improvement that might otherwise remain undiscovered.
Reporting is an essential feature of an EAM solution. Even if the asset manager has all the data in order, those working in larger enterprises will need to be able to share the data with others in a format that makes sense and can be presented, emailed or duplicated easily.
For example, a report summarizing the year-over-year spending on parts and materials inventory might be valuable to accounting departments. Regulators might request lists of previous inspections and corrective actions. Investors might be interested in a list of all the new assets acquired in the last quarter.
The reports generated by your EAM software should be comprehensive enough to build a narrative of what's really going on within your operations but still condensed enough to make for an easy read. Dense reports with no visuals are cumbersome. Instead, your EAM should produce a snapshot that has the substance needed to answer questions quickly.
8. Employee training management
Well-trained operators are more productive, and they cause less wear and tear on the equipment, vehicles and heavy machinery they use. Employee training should be integral to your asset performance improvement plan, and an EAM solution should help coordinate that training. Likewise, the software should help you organize certifications and regulatory documents, alerting you when specific employees are due for certification renewals.
9. Flexibility and mobility
Your enterprise isn’t siloed in one building, campus or job site, and your EAM solution shouldn’t be, either. Users must be able to log in and access information from anywhere within your organization, with all data stored and updated centrally—ideally hosted in the cloud.
Furthermore, on-to-go users should be able to access EAM data from mobile devices, and that data should be easy to view. A smartphone can access just about any browser-based repository, but without a mobile-optimized app, this information can be difficult to read, scroll and type. Workers shouldn’t have to print out checklists, write logs by hand and transfer them to a computer after the fact. They should be able to enter information into a mobile app that seamlessly integrates with the same system other users are accessing from laptops and desktop computers.
How to learn more
ManagerPlus is an enterprise asset management platform that offers all the features modern enterprises need, plus the customization required to account for each company’s unique needs.
From procurement to disposal and everywhere in between, your enterprise needs an EAM software package that offers a detailed, bird’s-eye view of the entire asset life cycle. As you’re shopping for a solution, consider ManagerPlus, a leader in asset management for fleet, construction, facilities and manufacturing industries. Our comprehensive suite offers:
Fine-grained, hierarchical inventory management
Automated work orders, purchase orders and inventory alerts
Asset location tracking for improved collaboration
A customizable analytics platform for tracking maintenance KPIs
Internet of Things sensor integration and predictive maintenance capabilities
An easy-to-implement cloud-based platform
The flexibility and portability of a fully integrated mobile app