Case study: Tracking multiple high-performance buildings

A company optimized capital expenditures through asset health analytics

By George Hawkinson and Jarrod McMains August 31, 2020

A multinational consumer goods company needs to keep operations running across more than 225 sites around the globe, while also planning a budget for plant and system upgrades. This required continually reviewing processes, data, systems and tools. Recently, leaders sought a better solution.

Specifically, the client needed a solution that would allow the company to easily and effectively enrich existing data to make better decisions. This would move the company toward its ultimate goal — to take accurate, current asset conditions and prioritize an impactful expenditure of its more than $1 billion budget.

However, asset data was scattered across the organization in various systems with different formats and categorization standards. This made drawing correlations on trends or defining overall needs to improve business operations nearly impossible. AssetLens, a cloud-based software as a solution technology and a multidisciplinary implementation team met the challenge.

AssetLens aggregates existing data, enriching it with key health and priority metrics to inform capital expenditure decisions. For this client, a set of algorithms was applied to calculate asset health and priority based on existing quantitative information. In this way, employees across the organization would evaluate assets in a data-driven, quantitative and consistent manner.

Early in the project, the organization’s existing data needed to be integrated and configured. An organizational hierarchy and quantitative data requirements were established. These were tailored to fit the client’s data availability, business and organizational needs. A data interchange format was shared with the client to format existing asset data into a consistent and repeatable structure for seamless import. Going forward, any data added to AssetLens follows this consistent structure regardless of the legacy system data structure.

As a mobile-first system, AssetLens allows the client to take the solution to the factory floor, regardless of whether devices are connected to the internet. Employees can enter, edit or review data while standing at the assets. The solution also allows a user to attach photographic documentation of asset issues, providing additional support for the data-driven health assessment.

With this system in place, the client has an enhanced ability to not only visualize existing asset data but also have enriched insights in the form of asset health and priorities. This makes the data useful to a variety of employees throughout the company. Clearer, more informed decisions on effective capital budget allocation are now possible.

The client set out to unlock its existing data and enrich it with additional health and prioritization insights. That goal is now being realized as the company continues to engage with the software solution and implement it in sites around the world.

As the solution is adopted and implemented across the client’s entire organization, the company is finding benefits beyond enhancing its capital investment planning process. For example, having a standard data structure allows the company to share and collaborate on best practices across the organization. This provides a deeper understanding of the benefits of different maintenance practices relative to the health and life of assets. Integration with other key site asset processes, such as the conversion of surplus assets into revenue, is also possible.

Combining asset health information with other key system data helps the client analyze the asset health in combination with energy consumption data, financial data and production data. Finally, the client can mitigate asset failures by identifying at-risk assets before a failure event — one that previously would have cost the organization time and money — can occur.

Author Bio: George Hawkinson is a project manager and technology consultant at 1898 & Co., part of Burns & McDonnell, where he helps clients improve corporate sustainability, operations and management and capital improvement projects. Jarrod McMains is a controls and energy engineer in the Global Facilities Group at Burns & McDonnell, specializing in building automation, energy efficiency and sustainability services.