5 Pitfalls with Asset Management System Implementation for Utility Companies

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Utility companies face significant challenges when it comes to managing a large and aging infrastructure of dispersed assets, and as a result, asset management system implementation for utility companies has become a top industry priority. In recent years, digital systems have drastically increased the efficiency of asset management practices in the energy and utility industries. Consumer and governmental preferences have also shifted toward clean and renewable energy sources. This change has put an additional burden on utility companies as they decide which assets to retire and how best to spend their budget for new equipment.

Coupled with aging infrastructure, consumer preferences for modern service practices have also created a push for new asset management systems. In this post, we’re going to look at five common pitfalls that utility companies face when implementing an asset management system. As you will see below, businesses that take a systematic approach to utility asset management are more likely to find success and identify new ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

1. Not Consolidating Digital Systems

One of the biggest mistakes that a company can make when implementing an asset management platform is failing to plan for third-party integrations and system consolidations. One of the main benefits of a centralized asset management system is the easy access to data that covers several functional areas. Seeking out an end-to-end Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solution is an excellent way to replace several smaller systems with a single platform. Additional benefits of a single asset management system include streamlined financial planning and comprehensive metrics and reporting.

2. Overlooking Real-Time Data

Electrical breaker boxes at a solar power plant

A fully functional asset management system will be able to collect data from several different sources including facilities asset management tags, utility asset labels, sensors, and RFID tags. It’s important to optimize your system and ensure that all available inputs are properly connected in a way that enables real-time data collection. Real-time data makes it easier to coordinate maintenance work among engineers and determine the optimal operating conditions for all utility assets and equipment.

Most asset management systems also include advanced field service management tools for monitoring your assets and employees in the field. Collecting accurate data also leads to more meaningful metrics that can be used to align your procurement team with other departments and functions. An asset tracking system is only as good as the data inputs, and failing to collect accurate data is one of the biggest pitfalls to avoid.

3. Lack of Contingency Planning

Another important factor that can often be overlooked during utility asset management system deployments is contingency planning. Most operations will have business continuity plans in place, but it’s crucial to align these practices with your new system. An electronic asset management platform can be a valuable asset during emergency situations when plans must be changed quickly.

One example is access to real-time visibility into your assets and infrastructure, which can make reallocating resources significantly easier. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all an important lesson in contingencies: You can’t always anticipate disruptions, but you can prepare how you will respond.

4. Not Managing the Entire Asset Lifecycle

Field service technicians repairing power lines

Much of the U.S. energy infrastructure has aged far beyond the intended life of the equipment. With this reality, asset lifecycle management should be an important consideration for energy and utility companies of all sizes. By tracking the entire lifecycle of each asset, companies can better control expenses and budgets. This workflow also makes it easier to determine long-term infrastructure investment plans and when to properly decommission an asset.

If any assets are missed during the rollout, it can be difficult to locate the error later and complete the tagging process. Any assets that exist offline will not have a place to store important information such as warranty agreements and maintenance records. All assets which the company maintains should be properly identified and cataloged prior to your system rollout.

5. Lack of Regulatory Planning

The utility industry is a heavily regulated sector, and each company must remain vigilant and prepared for meeting regulatory compliance requirements, audits, and necessary certifications. One mistake that some companies make is failing to integrate their regulatory requirements into their asset management system. Your asset tracking workflows should make the audit process easier by giving your team quick access to all pertinent information about each asset. These systems also assist in clarifying equipment ownership and responsibilities to ensure that all proper maintenance work is completed.

Utility companies must constantly search for ways to reduce their costs while improving the reliability of their networks and infrastructure. It’s a big task and, as we’ve discussed in this post, there are some major pitfalls that can make the process even more difficult. Remaining vigilant and creating a robust asset management plan before proceeding with asset management system implementation are some of the best ways to ensure that your tracking system is accurate and reliable.