Temporal Information for Assets & Products

Temporal information is information whose validity is defined by a start and end date. On my business card this might be the date I started working for the company and it will be valid until such time as I am no longer employed by that company.

Assets & products are two sides of the one coin – the asset being the Operator’s view and the product being the Manufacturer’s view. Each stores temporal information that is of interest to the other but both currently rely on a handover mechanism that assumes the information is static.

A Social Network connecting Assets & Products allows temporal information to be shared and other forms of collaboration to be enabled.

What is Temporal Product Information?

A Manufacturer’s business revolves around manufacturing, selling and supporting its products and they will manage information around those products that is required for them to conduct their business. The Manufacturer receives a purchase order for sale of products and this transaction will typically be managed in the company’s ERP system. At the time of issuing the purchase order the product information that is sent by the Manufacturer to the purchaser is valid. However, if a purchase order was placed at another point in time there could be significantly different product information that is handed over. Here are some examples of product information that frequently changes over time that Operators would be interested in:

  • Manufacturer – companies and/or brands are merged and acquired constantly. The company that manufactured the product might be totally different to the one that the Operator needs to deal with for maintenance in future.
  • Country of Manufacture – after an acquisition / merger it is common for Manufacturers to consolidate / optimize production facilities. So whilst the product that was originally purchased might be manufactured in a certain country, there is no guarantee that replacement products and parts will be manufactured in that same country.
  • Vendor – if a product was purchased from a Vendor there is no guarantee that the Vendor will retain the right to distribute and service the product on behalf of the Manufacturer into the future.
  • Spare Parts – Products evolve and so do the spare parts that support them. Consider the impeller of a pump in a mining application. The Manufacturer of the pump might develop superior materials that make the impeller longer wearing and these new impellers will have different part numbers than those that were valid at the time a purchase order for the original pump was placed.
  • Obsolescence – when a Product fails to meet the commercial requirements of the Manufacturer it is discontinued. In some cases the Manufacturer will introduce a replacement Product (supersession), but in just as many cases the Manufacturer will opt to not offer any replacement Product (obsolescence). Once a product becomes obsolete then the availability of support for the product will cease to become available over time.

“Products are related to assets and both change over time”

What is Temporal Asset Information?

According to ISO 55000 an “asset is an item, thing or entity that has potential or actual value to an organization”. And“asset management is a coordinated activity of an organization to realize value from assets”. The Operator builds master data about his assets and loads that into an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system to manage maintenance work on the asset. Whilst asset information could be temporal across all asset types, only assets that are comprised of manufactured products would be of interest to Manufacturers.

The main business of a Manufacturer is to sell his products and one of the key requirements to succeed in that over the long haul is to maintain a relationship with the organization that is using his products. That relationship allows the Manufacturer to sell genuine replacement products and parts, value added services and keep his competitors out of the account. Here are some examples of asset information that frequently changes over time that Manufacturers would be interested in:

  • Owner – in construction of plants a common workflow is for a contractor to purchase products and then deliver the integrated asset to the owners of the asset. The Manufacturer might have sold to a contractor who then transfers ownership upon delivery of the asset. The eventual owner is often a joint venture with multiple shareholders that change over time and the Manufacturer has little or no visibility into who currently might own his products.
  • Operator – companies are merged and acquired constantly so an Operator today might not be the Operator tomorrow. In some instances contractors may be contracted to operate the plant.
  • Shutdown – a shutdown period has a start and end date. Assets will be out of service during this period and major overhaul activities will be scheduled. This could require parts and services from the Manufacturer being available during this period.
  • Overhaul – rotable assets are taken out of service and overhauled when out of service.
  • Disposal – equipment could be disposed of for a variety of reasons, such as a upgrading of a plant. If the asset is no longer installed then the Manufacturer will also want to know about this.

Operators & Manufacturers disconnected

There are significant amounts of temporal information about assets and products that Operators and Manufacturers update in their respective databases. However, current information exchanges are off-line handovers of data which results in Operators and Manufacturers being unaware of changes that impact their respective businesses.

Stephen Crampton