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Defining 'Performance' in Asset Performance Management

An APM strategy can offer a more advanced, holistic approach to efficient asset usage

Philippe Desjardins

Philippe Desjardins is a lab productivity scientist, Lab Enterprise Division, Agilent Technologies

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Asset performance management (APM) is a unified strategic approach to lab operations that increasingly plays a crucial role in analytical labs. The growth of operational complexity in many labs has reached a critical threshold, coupled with an ever-growing demand for greater efficiency. 

Surprisingly, a recent global lab sustainability survey indicated that only 27 percent of labs surveyed reported that they are working to improve lab efficiency and optimization of resources.1 APM can help.

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APM uncouples the pressure, leading to increased availability and utilization of lab assets and improved efficiency. It helps laboratories focus on their core competency—science—while a dedicated partner whose core competency is centered on operations optimizes lab performance. This approach affords unprecedented visibility and asset control while reducing costs and increasing sustainability.

The functions of asset performance management

APM comprises various service programs based on core capabilities that enable the right service program or combination of programs to meet business goals. These programs are designed to evolve with the journey to lab excellence by providing lab operational agility while reducing regulatory risk.

Core capabilities that define APM:

  1. Asset control
  2. Digital services
  3. Compliance assurance
  4. Expert guidance 

Asset control encompasses the foundational and ongoing assessment of instrument fleet composition and service strategy and is fundamental to attaining control of scientific assets. By knowing what you have and why you have it, you can be certain that lab equipment configuration and maintenance programs will optimize business objectives.

Digital services improve all aspects of asset control, providing data-driven insights to ensure more informed business decisions while significantly reducing the burden of operational tasks and enabling lab personnel to focus on their science. 

Critical to success, compliance assurance ensures that the lab complies with regulatory requirements. Compliance assurance requires knowledgeable compliance experts who can help confirm that the lab meets regulatory requirements  to reduce audit risk.

Expert guidance from a suitable operations partner with extensive industry knowledge can be a game changer, safely implementing changes required to optimize operational agility and strategic growth. A leading biotechnology firm implemented each component of APM and now serves as a prime example of how and why other labs should do the same. They had already implemented APM at their vaccine development and manufacturing facility before the pandemic struck. The strategic optimization of their lab structure, the amplification of data intelligence, and the availability of expert advice collectively facilitated a rapid transformation of their operations. Their objective was to fast-track the delivery of vaccines within an unmatched timeframe. The combination of data intelligence and expert guidance was a critical factor in their response, highlighting its significant value. Expert guidance continuously improves lab operations to exceed business goals and ensure a seamless transition with sound change management methodology, particularly during the implementation of digital technologies.

Asset performance management versus traditional asset management

Traditional lab asset management and APM both aim to optimize the use of lab assets, but they approach this goal in different ways. Traditional asset management focuses on the physical management of lab assets, whereas APM is a more advanced, holistic approach. APM is a central operations strategy that uses digital capabilities and expert guidance for greater visibility and utilization of all assets to optimize asset performance and achieve operational efficiency. 

Digital capabilities refer to the essential digital skills, technologies, and practices that enable an organization to manage and optimize the performance of its assets effectively. These capabilities often include asset data management and predictive monitoring and analytics.

Critical digital capabilities: 

  1. Inventory and Service Management
  2. Asset Monitoring and Alerts 
  3. Asset Lifecycle Analytics 

Inventory and service management is superior to traditional methods, which rely heavily on antiquated forms of record keeping such as Excel spreadsheets, due to the increased accuracy and immediacy of information. As digital inventory is constantly updated, lab managers can gain a  deeper and more holistic lab-wide view of lab assets’ composition and balance. . A digital services capability keeps track of service records and is a launch point for new order requisitions based on the digital inventory.

Asset monitoring and alerts are the next layer of visibility and control, with instrument utilization and health under constant surveillance. For example, instrument utilization heat maps display a holistic view of an asset’s use for a given timeframe, providing valuable data to determine fleet composition and balance. Alerts watch individual instrument health and immediately send notifications if a consumable is running low or an instrument has gone offline.

Asset lifecycle analytics combines data from the digital elements described above to enable deep insight into fleet dynamics by interrogating data in different and valuable ways. For example, a plot of instrument usage versus service for every instrument in the lab enables data-driven decisions regarding which instruments to relocate, replace, or retire, and additional adjustments that may be required to maximize business objectives. 

Performance and sustainability

Principally, the performance in APM is all about maximizing the efficiency, reliability, and lifespan of an organization’s assets while reducing  operational costs and risks. APM is a unified strategy that assists lab personnel, processes and practices, and instrument systems to work together toward sustained operational excellence.

A digital lab is undoubtedly more sustainable, as lab optimization and sustainability go hand-in-hand. Applying data intelligence technologies and knowledgeable industry insight improves lab operational efficiency. Producing more with less energy is a win-win for science and the environment.

Ultimately, implementing APM through digital enablement and expert analysis provides a clear advantage in the competitive lab space but, more importantly, is quickly becoming a prerequisite to survive and thrive in the digital lab era.