Counting your inventory before it hatches

Thinking about using an iPad or phone to scan your inventory?
“Saving” money with consumer grade phone cameras may cost you in the long run.

From UPC to QR codes, the omni-present black and white bands are everywhere. And, with the growth of smart phones, those funky lines and squares can be read by anyone. But, should that drive your bar code reading choice for your Maximo system? Probably not.

Bar Code Question Mark

Using a Smart phone to scan your inventory may not be very smart.

Why can’t I use my smart phone? Well, you can use your smart phone…or iPad, for certain asset management applications. I prefer using a rugged tablet for work orders and mapping. For quick approvals of work orders, a smart phone is great. I know: You’ve heard the argument about the cost of dropping and breaking a device. And yes, while there are cases that make iPads a little more rugged, they won’t make up for the down time when they do break.

But that’s not the total argument
Here’s something you may not have considered…try to scan with any type of speed with one of those devices and your going to find out the limitations of that snazzy device. You’ll see that cycle counting is going to take much longer than if you used a dedicated mobile scanning device.

Well, why is that?
The problem lies in the technology to capture the bar code. Smart phones, and by extension, iPads and other consumer grade tablets use their full color cameras to capture and interpolate the image. Plus, each time you snap that image, the camera needs to take a few seconds to auto-focus and take the picture. They also can blur, possibly misreading the scan, although it is more likely that it just won’t register and you have to repeat the effort again, which also translates into lost time and productivity.

Commercial grade scanners (and there are some built into rugged tablets), are designed specifically to read the black and white bars…or more to the point the white space between the bars. They capture the image quickly in one shot, because they don’t need to focus. Because they are designed specifically for reading bar codes, you can bet that performing a physical count of your inventory in Maximo is going to go much faster. And that’s not even taking into account bar codes on high shelves that your phone can’t see clearly

Maximo is an Enterprise level system. Doesn’t it make sense to use enterprise level equipment to make it as efficient as possible? You bet your sweet WONUM it does!


Kat Pullen is a Convergence Specialist at DataSplice, LLC, a mobile computing company founded in 2001 to deliver handheld technology to Maximo users in the field. One of her first gigs at DataSplice was hardware sales, and she’s heard a tale or two about bad bar code scanners.

Maximo for Spacial

This is part of an ongoing overview of the specialized industry systems by IBM Maximo

IBM Maximo Spatial Asset Management

Dynamically visualize asset relationships with geographic information system technology.

IBM Maximo® Spatial Asset Management provides users with the visibility to see complex

Terra from Space with Luna, courtesy of NASA

Where in the world did I leave my asset?

GIS information. This solution provides a geospatial context of work, assets and relevant land-based features, which improves reliability, longevity and efficient work execution.

  • Seamless user experience provides access to dynamic GIS functionality, instead of simply viewing a static map.
  • Aligns with the specific business needs and improves work planning and analysis while eliminating the need for data duplication.
  • Leveraging GIS functionality inside Maximo® creates efficiencies in business processes and improves communication.
  • Allows organization to take advantage of data that is not maintained in their GIS systems, but provides valuable insights for decision making.
  • New features enhance performance, usability and security.

Features

  • Industry specific capabilities for electric, gas and water transmission and distribution
  • Rational consolidation
  • Internet architecture
  • Spatial Enablement

Advantages

  • Built on Maximo, provides industry specific capabilities to support compatible unit estimating (CUE), crew management, tracking of labor skills and certifications, integration with fixed asset accounting, mobile workforce management, design tools and spatial (GIS) enablement.
  • Allows utilities to consolidate multiple work and asset management solutions across business units, including transmission, distribution, power generation, water/wastewater treatment, vehicle fleet, facilities, and IT assets into a single platform and database.
  • Provides a standards based, Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) certified platform that is Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) enabled.
  • Supports visualization of assets, locations and work orders, leverages investment in GIS.

Benefits

  • Aligns with the specific business needs and provides a greater fit out-of-the-box into the complex utility eco-system.
  • Lowers total cost of ownership for IT departments while providing a common platform for all asset management users promoting best practice throughout the enterprise.
  • Open architecture that integrates easily with other business applications in the enterprise.
  • Improves work planning and analysis while reducing data duplication.

IBM Maximo for Utilities offers integrated work and asset management for transmission and distribution including compatible unit estimating (CUE), crew management, meter management and GIS integration.

Maximo: Is it a Game, a Band, a Person or What?

Doing a quick search for Maximo will bring up all types of results. Did you know that there’s a game and a band named Maximo? It’s even a first name.

But to us in the Asset Management world, it means business. All types of business. Maximo isn’t just one system: It actually has components structured specifically for particular industries. Over the next few posts, I’ll be talking about some of the different aspects of our favorite EAM.

Maximo Gonzalez

Maximo Gonzalez can help you with your flat back swing. He probably can’t help you with your facilities management

IBM Maximo Strategic Asset & Service Management Solutions

IBM Maximo Asset Management

IBM Maximo Asset Management is an integrated productivity tool and database that helps you manage all your assets types on a single software platform. Built in a service-oriented architecture (SOA), Maximo Asset Management delivers a comprehensive view of all assets types, their conditions and locations, and the work processes that support them, to provide you with optimal planning, control, audit and compliance capability.

The maximo database provides critical information about asset resources, including key attribute, their configuration, and their physical and logical relationships to other resources.

By using Maximo Asset Management user interface, you can establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor asset conditions and trigger automated action based on changes. You can create, assign, monitor, notify, and report on key process components such as work orders, service desk tickets, and purchase orders, including status, from start to finish. You can also include attachments, such as maps, pictures, and URLs to each record or task to enhance communication and productivity further.

Consisting of six key modules Maximo enables companies to successfully manage assets and their associated services, including production equipment, facilities and transportation assets; all in full alignment with their business objectives.

Features

  • Manage all of your asset deployment, specifications, monitoring, calibration, costing and tracking from a single system.
  • Manage your vendor contracts with comprehensive contract management support for purchase, lease, rental, warranty, rate, master, blanket and user-defined contracts.

Advantages

  • Comprehensive maintenance work management solution for planned and unplanned activities including long- and short-term planning, preventive, reactive and condition-based maintenance, schedule management, resource optimization and key performance indicators.
  • Define service offerings and establish service level agreements (SLAs) to help align service levels with business objectives.

Benefits

  • Plan inventory to meet maintenance demand precisely, making the right parts available at the right location when needed.
  • Scalable service oriented architecture with a flexible business process configuration platform that adapts to your changing business requirements and easily connect with the rest of your enterprise systems.

Business benefits

  • While traditional CMMS systems focus on maintenance, Maximo Asset Management is an Enterprise Asset Management system that provides comprehensive support for your asset, maintenance, resource and parts supply chain management needs.

Over the coming months, I’ll touch on some of the industry specific IBM Maximo solutions

Kat Pullen is a Convergence Specialist at DataSplice, LLC, a mobile computing company founded in 2001 to deliver handheld technology to Maximo users in the field. Working as a freelance graphic designer, she originally took on a contract with DataSplice in 2004, and the rest, as they say, is history. As a “Convergence Specialist” she is a jack of all trades in the company, but has settled back into the world of sales and marketing.

Why Fact Based Data is Critical to your Maximo Implementation

After attending Pulse 2013 you are overwhelmed with ideas and visions from every direction; Cloud, Security, Instrumented Assets, Analytics, Mobile, and Social Media.  Big data is a big priority for IBM.  In other words a Smarter Planet.  But it doesn’t take long to descend from the cloud, get back to where the rubber hits the road and to try to relate what all of that means to many of us just trying to implement the basics of Maximo.  Clean, reliable, accurate data is the single most important aspect of your EAM because your credibility and the credibility of your business depend on making informed decisions based on accurate data.  40% of all Maximo implementations fail because they are not rooted in objective fact based data.

Data that Matters
How many of us have been in the situation of defining requirements and we ask managers or users what data they want and invariable they say: we want it all, whatever the system can provide we want it. The better question to ask is:

What data drives the decisions and improvements that you need to do your job.  Having it all is a recipe for disaster unless you have multi-million dollar budgets, a business need, and the resources required to gather, secure, analyze, and act on large volumes of random data.   The more you want, the more it cost, and the more complicated it is to get it. Collecting data just for the sake of it is a waste of time for most of us.  Don’t load Maximo up with dirty data because it erodes system credibility and the trust of the users.  Less good data is better than more bad data. Of course that leads to the argument that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.  Make sure that whatever data is deemed necessary is justified with a business case.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Don’t do things that don’t matter. Bad data leads to bad decisions.

Business Process Re-Engineering
When you finally define the data that matters, you need to determine how you currently get that data into the hands of those that need it.  Relentlessly scrutinize your business processes and get answers to the following questions:  Why you do, how you do, what you do, and who does it?

Analyze how you can do this better and streamline your business processes to support the data you need and the way you get that information to the right people.

“Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler”

Albert Einstein

It is important to simplify the user experience.  If you don’t, you won’t consistently get the data that you need. Remove road blocks and meaningless steps in your processes.  Don’t make users do things that don’t matter to them. “Make it work like I do” by using smart phones, tablets, and configuring Maximo to support the user’s work processes.  Optimize the technology to take advantage of pushing/pulling data from users, reduce double entry, make it easy to capture what was done, and access what needs to be seen.

Realistic Expectations
My definition of success is if results meet expectations.  Having realistic expectations about the data is very important to how you interpret the successfulness of Maximo delivering what you need.  For example, you want to capture labor and material costs on a work order:

Case A –

  • User enters whatever hours and materials they want on the work order

Case B –

  • Labor hours entered in a time/attendance/payroll system integrated with Maximo work orders to capture labor hours/costs.
  • Materials are charge to work orders via issues from inventory
  • PO materials and contracts are charged to work order upon receipt

Two very different expectations in terms of the data being captured and the degree of accuracy.  Don’t expect Case B results if your data reality is Case A.  Remember the more you want, the more it cost, and the more complicated it is to get it.  You have to decide how important the data is, how much it will cost to get it, and set realistic expectations.

Why is this Important?
Because everything discussed above provides the design specifications for your Maximo Implementation:

  • Data requirements
  • Business processes needed to support data gathering
  • User expectations of the results to be delivered by Maximo

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else”.

— Sidney Heyward

This is the foundation, roadmap, and the requirements for designing and building out Maximo to support your business needs.  As you build and test, you compare the functionality against the requirements and expectations.  “Going Live” is the reality check and of course never goes quite like we anticipate.  All of us have to deal with the changing winds, rough conditions, and political currents of our work environment that are constantly trying to take us off course.  Don’t lose sight of why we use Maximo:

  1. Asset Reliability – if your assets aren’t running you are out of business
  2. Improved Efficiency – streamline business processes to gather data
  3. Command and Control – your success depends on making informed decisions based on accurate data

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About Randy McDaniel:
Randy has a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the California State University at Fullerton and has spent over 35 years in the field of maintenance engineering, maintenance planning, capital projects construction, and facilities maintenance. His industry experience includes oil refineries, petrochemical plants, universities, steel mills, assembly plants, lumber mills, and utility plants.

He has spent time as a Maximo senior consultant providing business process re-engineering assessments and managing Maximo implementations. A vocal advocate of Maximo, Randy has been the Chairman of the Southern California Maximo Users Group since 1998 where he often presents best practices, tips and other real life Maximo experiences.

Currently Randy is the Maximo System Administrator and Facilities Management Information Systems Integration Manager at the University of California Los Angeles. He manages the implementation of Maximo and provides IT integration direction and vision for the General Services business unit.

This post originally appeared on the Tivoli User Community boards on March 18, 2013, and is reprinted with permission of the author