Enterprise Asset Management in AX 2012

You’ve probably noticed by now that these posts are my personal take on implementing Dynamics AX (that is that the opinions in these posts are my own, and do not reflect the position of my current, past, or future employers).

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been working with an ISV solution from To-Increase: Enterprise Asset Management for Microsoft Dynamics AX (EAM-AX) – and that’s where this post has come from.

My first impressions of EAM are very favourable. It passes the Albert Einstein test. It’s simple, but not too simple.

EAM is used to manage plant or capital equipment. I’ve been working with a construction company who are going to use it to manage a fleet of about 500 light vehicles diggers and cranes – but it can also be used as a plant maintenance solution.

I’ve been working with four main areas of the module:

  • Objects
  • Planned maintenance
  • Work orders
  • Operating costs

An Object is a unit of capital equipment (like a truck) or any equipment that has to be maintained (like a production machine). Objects can be stand alone:

Or objects can be organised in a hierarchy (for instance an item of plant equipment):

Objects are defined by ‘Specifications’ and the really neat feature is that Specifications are completely configurable – like product attributes and batch attributes – you simply define the name of the specification and its data type. Any number of Specifications can be recorded against an object, and unlike product attributes there’s a useful inquiry form which can be used to find objects based on their specifications:

Alongside Specifications we also have ‘Condition assessments’. They too are completely configurable, but are recorded as date/time stamped records – so a history is recorded. For instance we could log the driver/operator of a truck over time:

Planned maintenance is setup via ‘Maintenance sequences’ defined for each object. Each maintenance sequence generates one or more planned tasks (a bit like master planning planned orders I guess) triggered by date or by a counter. Obviously for vehicles we’ll have registration fees triggered by date, and planned maintenance triggered by mileage. For capital equipment the trigger could be operation hours. These planned maintenance tasks are viewed in the rather oddly named ‘Object calendar’:

They’re used to create work orders in a process very like firming master planning planned orders.

A Work order has one or more lines, and each work order line is related to single object. We haven’t gone far into this project yet, but I get the feeling that most work orders will have a single work order line, and those that have more than one line will still relate to a single object, but that isn’t enforced by the structure of the system – it’s just a convenient way to organise the workshop mechanics.

So I forgot to mention that each Object is related to a Dynamics AX Project – which is obviously going to be used as the cost collector for the object, and is also going to be used for planning and forecasting. (Incidentally, production plant equipment can also be linked to a production resource (a.k.a. work centre) which is a nice integration for EAM being used for Plant maintenance). Each work order line is related to its own project, which is created as a sub-project of the Object’s project. Sounds complicated, but it’s a perfectly logical way of tracking costs.

The work order reveals its integration to projects in a couple of ways – these menu options will be familiar to anyone who’s seen a Dynamics AX project:

And the Work order ‘Journals’ form is a single form for creating (and posting) the various types of project journals (Hours, Items, and Expenses):

Of course, if you choose, you can post journals directly to the under-lying projects.

Finally there’s a nice Operating cost display:

It’s difficult to demonstrate this using screen-shots, but the buttons across the top dynamically add or remove columns – a bit like a pivot table, but much easier to use.

I guess I’m still in my honeymoon period – I’ve only been working for EAM for a few weeks – but so far I’m impressed by the functionality offered and its ease of use.