Asset tracking and management play a vital role in getting the best return on an organization’s investment in buildings and equipment. The first step in managing physical assets is to build a central inventory of all assets that require maintenance.

Asset tracking: central repository offers single view of all assets

It is essential to have well-structured asset data in one place. This enables you to have a single view of all your assets. It also provides related information such as maintenance history and inspections, compliance needs, current condition, location, and costs.

Inventory tree structures

The best way to structure your assets is to build a double tree structure for mapping your installed base. Such a structure represents a hierarchy and shows the relations between the different elements.

The first one is the LOCATION structure: by following this tree structure, you are able to move from geographical regions, over sites, to buildings, floors, rooms, etc.

The second one is the INSTALLATION structure, which covers all building assets like HVAC, electrical installation, building, and fire safety. These can be further broken down into subsystems. You can split the HVAC branch for example into installations such as air handling units, heating system, and chillers. Each installation can further be split into relevant sub-elements. In an air handling unit, for instance, we can distinguish filter section, fan, humidifier, cooling coil, heating coil, etc. At every level, it should be possible to link a bill of material (BOM) to the equipment, listing the most important spare parts. This will help technicians quickly retrieve the parts they need for their interventions.

Installation and location trees are two different types of structures. Ideally, they are not merged but linked to each other. Each asset can then be associated with a location in a flexible way. That way, it is possible to move installations from one place to another without having to relabel the installation (and thus lose its maintenance history).

Asset inventory: level of detail

How granular should a tree structure be?

As a general rule, try to limit the level of detail. The more detail you put into your structure, the more time it will take to keep it up to date, and to label your assets for tracking purposes.

Adding a level of detail is justified if it is needed for compliance. Another reason could be that you want to be able to track maintenance history or costs. For example, you want to know the cost of all humidification systems in your building.

Asset classification

In order to streamline asset identification, use a standard taxonomy (e.g. OmniClass or Uniformat), which categorizes technical installations and components.

Locating and interacting with assets via CAD or BIM

CMMS software can help you create an asset register using CAD or BIM as sources of as-built data. It also enables you to search and visualize rooms and assets on floor plans or in a 3D BIM model. You can search for assets by category or other criteria. And you can visualize the results with highlights on floor plans or even on a 3D model.

In doing so, the software provides spatial guidance for maintenance operations or replacement of assets. Suppose that a manufacturer issues a recall on a specific item, then the software will enable you to easily locate all instances of that item in your physical environment.

CMMS software like myMCS imports layouts/geometry from CAD or BIM and stores all spatial information as intelligent database objects. Whenever the data is modified on floor plans/3D models, the changes are reflected in the database. Because of a deep integration with BIM (embedded BIM), you can quickly search and visualize your assets at any time.

Asset tracking and management

For tracking purposes, you should identify every asset in your inventory with a label or tag. Consider using QR codes or barcodes: these codes can be easily scanned with a mobile app at each activity.  A technician scans the code when he starts an intervention; the associated work order will then be automatically linked to the correct asset, at the right level. All activities get automatically logged onto work orders and linked to the installation. This enables the manager to have full control of both cost and technical history.

Asset tracking lays the groundwork for maintenance and real estate management

CMMS software can support you to inventory and track assets. Want to learn more or need guidance on best practices? Feel free to contact the MCS team.