Do you love spreadsheets? I do! I mean what’s not to love, all those columns, rows, formulas, and don’t forget, pivot tables!

But seriously, spreadsheets are easy to manipulate and most of us have used them at one point or another. In fact, I bet you can’t find an engineer without a spreadsheet.

Even though spreadsheets might seem like an easy solution to managing your asset performance management (APM) program, I’m here to help you realize there are at least seven reasons why they won’t. Take a look below:

1. Errors

Do you want to operate your plant or facility based on errors? Spreadsheets can be easily manipulated, but that can mean more opportunities for spreadsheets to contain errors.

Unlike spreadsheets, APM solutions are tested and go through formal verification processes. You can trust the data collected in APM solutions are error-free.

2. Security

Where do you store your spreadsheet? On a shared drive? In a cloud? That’s all well and good but how do you maintain control over it? How do you track revisions and changes? How do you test those changes? Do you know who is responsible for making those changes? Is your sensitive company data now out in the cloud in an unsecured location?

These are all questions to consider when thinking about your assets. APM solutions are designed to hold your company data in a secure manner, with the right level of access to the right individuals. This provides clearer visibility and transparency.

3. Connectivity

By using a spreadsheet, you cut ties to much of the available data coming from your assets. Sure, you can make connections, but with an APM solution you can connect disparate systems—such as historians, EAM systems, and condition monitoring solutions—into one integrated view. This type of connected data can drive an effective APM program by providing a single-view of risk, maintenance prioritization, and optimizing costs.

4. Analysis vs. data manipulation

Spreadsheets require a constant effort to add new data and maintain existing data. With an APM solution, you can bring data together and measure its accuracy where appropriate as well as automate the data to gather analysis.

Think of it this way, an APM solution allows engineers to solve problems (often times in real-time) instead of being IT data scrubbers.

5. Maintenance

What happens if the person responsible for updating your asset performance spreadsheet leaves your company? What about the person who is analyzing the data? The knowledge captured in that spreadsheet can be lost or passed along with little training.

By using intelligent asset strategies, human recommendations are continuously collected and balanced with operating parameters, analytics data from systems, and data from physical assets. This way, you’ll have a seamless library of tribal knowledge that is passed along to the next generation of employees. 

6. Leveraging mobility

Sure, you can view a spreadsheet on a phone or tablet, but is that an effective way to communicate information that will help run a business?

APM solutions offer robust mobile capabilities that include capturing data from any location as well as the ability to view and manipulate that data in real time. This will not only help drive your business objectives, but help you make more informed timely decisions about your assets when necessary.

7. Automation and predictive analytics

Today’s leading APM solutions offer automation capabilities that are impossible to create in a spreadsheet. And last time I checked, it was not easy to gather predictive analytics from a spreadsheet. APM solutions can offer these with a few simple clicks. Again, this makes achieving and surpassing your business objectives through asset performance obtainable.

As APM solutions define more connections and analytics, the gap between a basic spreadsheet and APM will only continue to grow.

So, can asset performance management be done in a spreadsheet?

I hope these seven reasons convince you the answer to that question is no.

If you'd like to learn more about GE Digital's APM solution and implementing intelligent asset strategies, click here.

Enabling Intelligent Asset Strategies

Business communication for business optimization

Continuously Maximize Asset and Operational Performance

Asset Performance Management from GE Digital helps asset-centric organizations drive safer and more reliable operations while ensuring optimal performance at a lower sustainable cost by enabling intelligent asset strategies. APM's holistic and risk-based intelligent asset strategies balance performance and cost by considering design, operational procedures, and maintenance plans for all assets. With APM, you get a risk-based view of the impact of asset performance management activities to help you make the best decisions.

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About the author

John Renick

Director of Partner Solutions, GE Digital

John is currently the Director of Partner Solutions for Meridium, from GE Digital. Over the last 18 yearshe’s worked with asset-intensive industries to define, grow and deliver asset performance management(APM) solutions. He’s established partnerships and worked closely with Meridium’s global network ofpartners, including SAP, GE, Emerson, Rockwell and others, ensuring those partnerships deliver valuablesolutions to customers. In addition to sales and marketing expertise, he’s directed innovation in areassuch as asset condition monitoring, GIS integration, mobility and operator-driven reliability, big data,analytics and the industrial internet (IoT).