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Using Asset Lifecycle Management to Improve Your Supply Chain

A successful ALM implementation starts by identifying key areas and key performance indicators for improvement and creating a strategic long-term vision

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According to the Gartner Group, a company that effectively and efficiently implements an automated Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) program can anticipate a saving of 15-20 per cent of the Total Cost of Ownership.

That is because ALM is the complete end-to-end management of equipment through each of the lifecycle stages, from acquisition to receipt, return, warehousing, order fulfillment, transportation, installation, maintenance, sparing, repairs, decommissioning, redeployment, and finally retirement.

Tracking assets through every step of their lifecycle requires a robust mobile solution to provide accurate, real-time information across the field, warehouse, datacenter or back office. Prior to integrating ALM many companies recorded transactions in batch, at the end of the day, week or even month. In an asset centric solution this is no longer possible. Therefore, it is critical for the solution to make it easy for staff to capture asset transactions in real-time by scanning 1D or 2D barcodes, or utilizing RFID sensors, from a variety of mobile devices including smartphones and enterprise grade scanners. The solution should be able to operate in both online and offline modes in order to accommodate assets in remote areas or other locations with poor or no connectivity. The mobile application should be easily tailored to the specific business processes and data capture requirements of the enterprise in order to avoid frustrating the field force with unnecessary data entry activities. A complete ALM solution also needs to consider hardware and labels along with software, identifying the right combination for the specific needs of each enterprise.

Telecommunication companies and communication service providers stand to benefit from ALM more than most other industries, as they are pouring billions of dollars into networks to support their operational growth. The industry as a whole is investing $350 billion annually in capital expenditures, along with related operational expenses of maintaining a network of that size. A potential 15-20 per cent improvement presents a huge opportunity for competitive advantage by protecting margins and redirecting some of that money to other revenue generating initiatives.

Many Telecommunication, Utilities, and Oil and Gas companies still attempt ALM through paper trails, spreadsheets, ERP, OSS or BSS. The problem is these solutions have one common weakness - a substantial delta between what happens with assets in the real world and what is reflected in the asset-tracking database. To have accurate visibility, insight and control of your assets from end to end, you have to have ALM in the center of multiple systems. This improves the accuracy of the data by means of data reconciliation as well as data collection. A great ALM solution can reconcile and verify any and all asset data regardless of the source(s), to provide every connected system with the most accurate data possible, at either a high or low level. This ensures the integrity of CSP asset information, reduces the need for physical audits and serves as the database of record for all assets.

A successful ALM implementation starts by identifying key areas and key performance indicators for improvement and creating a strategic long-term vision. It may be tempting to attempt to solve the complex myriad of problems at once, but successful implementations usually start in phases and continue to deliver value incrementally. As the ALM solution starts to unlock data that was previously inaccessible, additional opportunities for improvement may be identified.

CATS ALM from Fulcrum Technologies is a solution that companies are turning to in order to fine tune their Supply Chain with Asset tracking and management. This solution is highly configurable, has a robust mobile front-end, and the ability to integrate with and reconcile all relevant ERP, OSS, BSS and legacy systems.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Brian Hodges

The author is the Marketing Director for Fulcrum Technologies, and is a frequent speaker on Supply Chain, Asset Lifecycle Management, and Business Optimization

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