Driving efficiency: Strategies for launching and scaling APM solutions

March 26, 2024
Supported by the right strategy and roll-out, asset performance management solutions can improve equipment and process efficiency within a short timeframe.

Process manufacturers are facing heightened pressure to squeeze more out of their plant operations amid challenges such as a shortage of skilled labor, tightening budgets and an increased focus on sustainability. In this landscape, operational efficiency emerges as one of the main drivers of digitalization initiatives, presenting an opportunity for organizations to demonstrate impact and maximize returns on digital investments. 

Asset performance management (APM) solutions play a pivotal role in enhancing operational efficiency. These solutions provide early warnings to minimize process disruptions and ensure optimal asset performance, thereby setting the stage for broader innovation and sustainability initiatives. 

APM can be an effective digitalization gateway, in part, because of its ability to help maintenance and operations teams gain real-time visibility into process and equipment health that can very quickly be turned into efficiency improvements. For instance, the knowledge gained from prescriptive APM solutions can lead to early and actionable insights that prevent costly disruptions. Disruptions can be anything from equipment breakdowns and product loss to energy inefficiencies and excess inventory. To put it simply, APM solutions with prescriptive capabilities ensure that maintenance is performed exactly when it is needed, at the most cost-effective point.

While these initiatives have grown more strategic and mature in recent years, navigating where and how to start remains a challenge. Supported by the right strategy and roll-out, APM solutions can improve equipment and process efficiency within a short timeframe. Today’s industry leaders are following a series of steps to set their organization down the right path:

Find the right partner

When searching for an APM provider or solution, organizations should look for partners with industry-specific domain knowledge, as well as a shared understanding of industrial processes and the process manufacturer’s unique needs. The best partnerships are grounded in collaboration and feedback offering post-implementation support, a commitment to continuous innovation and open channels of communication. 

Gain buy-in across the organization

To get the most out of a new APM deployment, operations managers should take into account what it will mean for everyone from the plant floor to the executive suite, and develop a phased roll-out plan accordingly.

Vision workshops are a useful tool in which key stakeholders can contribute. They help identify areas or units in the plant most vulnerable to process disruptions, define key performance indicators (KPIs) crucial for the rollout's success and designate champions within the organization to spearhead the new APM deployment.

Aggregate the right data

Gathering the right data sources is also an important step in facilitating high levels of collaboration and accuracy. The most successful APM solutions aggregate data from diverse sources, including sensors, yield metrics and product quality parameters, to enable real-time process and equipment monitoring.

Identify and track progress

Ongoing tracking of KPIs, which should be based on a well-thought-out value-capture strategy and an active communication and management plan, maintains stakeholders’ focus on both short-term objectives and long-term success. As part of the roll-out plan, operations leaders can also identify periodic checkpoints to ensure KPIs are being met and opportunities to scale APM solutions are being identified.

Start small, but think big

By prioritizing specific workstreams and critical equipment first, process manufacturers can leverage APM as a sure-fire way to improve efficiency and achieve their larger digital ambitions. Starting small and learning from initial implementations enables plant managers to naturally build expertise to support more advanced implementations and new KPIs, such as avoided environmental risks.

In conclusion, a well-defined long-term digital strategy is essential for process manufacturers to successfully deploy, integrate and scale technologies across their operations. This strategy, rooted in clear objectives aligned with broader business goals and supported by comprehensive metrics and benchmarks, ensures a focused and effective deployment. By prioritizing strategic implementations and leveraging the right APM solution, organizations can swiftly realize efficiency gains, driving operational excellence and sustained growth.

Pratibha Pillalamarri is the Senior Product Marketing Manager, APM at Aspen Technology, Inc. Pratibha joined the AspenTech APM product marketing team in December, 2020. She has more than 15 years of experience across different industries in various capacities: in technical services, as a process engineer and as a senior project manager. In her current role Pratibha uses her diverse experience to understand customer issues and connect them to cost effective, AI-powered asset performance management solutions. She has a master’s degree in chemical engineering from University of Houston, a master’s degree in process engineering and an MBA from Hamburg University of Technology, and bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Madras.

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