PLM, Smart Factories and Hexagon’s Holistic Vision for Asset Management

How CEO Ola Rollén is gearing up HxGN EAM, and the journey towards a broader asset performance management domain.

Last year, Hexagon’s CEO Ola Rollén made the decision to acquire Infor’s Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solution. Today, the solution is called HxGN EAM.  But Rollén did not buy Infor’s EAM software simply to acquire a solution for maintenance management of industrial facilities, or for a larger customer base.

There is something bigger in the tall grass: specifically, that the $2.7 billion he invested was to gain a component for a broader industrial system which could eventually contribute to his vision of integrated tools. This integration of these tools would include everything from plant and factory design solutions, to a seamlessly connected chain of product development, manufacturing, factory maintenance and operational performance software and hardware. In short, the goal is a platform for intelligent product development, and the “last mile” of such a solution is contained in the pieces that Infor EAM would add: maintenance management, performance control, and factory and machine economy.

Ola Rollén saw a path towards expanding EAM, on the journey towards Asset Performance Management (APM). But neither the EAM nor the APM aspects should be seen as isolated phenomena. Rather, Rollén’s vision seems to lie within a bigger picture where various domains—PLM, ERP, automation, factory optimization and EAM/maintenance—increasingly extend into each other’s territory. Nothing stands on its own for those who want to create a sharp, future-proof product development platform. Integration is the password, and the trend is moving towards broader, federative platforms and exchangeable modules of software.

Hexagon’s leader, Ola Rollén. (Image courtesy of Hexagon.)

Hexagon’s leader, Ola Rollén. (Image courtesy of Hexagon.)

In a previous article, I called Rollén, “The King of CAM.” As to forward his goals towards a unified platform, Hexagon has purchased of the CAM developer Vero Software in 2014 and laid the foundation for an expansion far beyond the ownership of engineering and geospatial software companies (like Intergraph, Leica Geosystems, and around 20 other hardware and software companies for industrial metrology, sensors, software and more).

But Hexagon didn’t stop at the Vero acquisition when it comes to sub-PLM investments. Surprisingly, Rollén also bought the CAE/Simulation & Analysis company MSC in 2017. Moreover, as previously mentioned, he moved beyond market expectations once again, with the $2.7 billion purchase of ERP giant Infor’s EAM division.

A Smart Move on the Path towards Intelligent Manufacturing

In this context, anyone who aims to build a broad intelligent manufacturing system in the future is putting together a puzzle where the picture includes every workflow in the lifecycle that such a system could contain. Based on the model of what you want the solution to accomplish, the new broader platform comes together in a step-by-step fashion where the aim is to fill in the missing pieces. For this reason, the visionary does not specifically buy one software or another, but rather buys components that functionally fill the gaps in a new holistic solution and workflow.

HxGN EAM (formerly Infor EAM) is an enterprise asset management software solution for monitoring and managing the deployment, performance and maintenance of fixed and linear assets to help eliminate operational surprises and reduce overall operating costs. (Image courtesy of Hexagon.)

HxGN EAM (formerly Infor EAM) is an enterprise asset management software solution for monitoring and managing the deployment, performance and maintenance of fixed and linear assets to help eliminate operational surprises and reduce overall operating costs. (Image courtesy of Hexagon.)

This is also one of the most important trends to arise in recent years. Specifically, more comprehensive systems around the business domains in which you work—and the software side of industrial IT is no exception. The ability to connect the capabilities of factory facilities—from product development, via operations, to maintenance, performance efficiency and more—based on broader connected system solutions, is a model with a promising future.

From this perspective HxGN EAM, which mainly deals with factory maintenance and connected issues, is an important aspect of smart, intelligent factory facilities. Within the Hexagon group, the Intelligent Manufacturing and Asset Lifecycle divisions already have a range of solutions for various areas included in intelligent factory systems, such as factory design, simulation, CAM/CNC software for metalworking, metrology (various forms of measurement validations), sensor solutions and more. The overall picture is one of a sharp, fully-integrated EAM solution that fits like a glove. The general direction of the development journey is from EAM towards Asset Performance Management.

Hexagon has set this journey in motion, manifested in the recent launch of the company’s Asset Lifecycle Intelligence division of the SaaS-based HxGN EAM, version 12. This is the second major launch since Hexagon acquired the business in October 2021.

150 Improvements in the New HxGN EAM Version

An abundance of improvements have recently been announced for HxGN EAM. A few outstanding examples are Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCA), Asset Investment Planning (AIP) and the mobile app Digital Works. Peter Bynarowicz, product manager at Hexagon’s Asset Lifecycle Intelligence division, comments on the new version in a press release from early December.

In general, the new version 12 of HxGN EAM has expanded functionality in all areas. As mentioned in the introduction, among other things the module for Asset Performance Management (APM) with Root Cause Analysis (RCA) has been expanded, enabling calculations and visualizations of Asset Investment Planning with EcoSys as well as increased functionality in the HxGN EAM Digital Works mobile app.

Peter Bynarowicz, Hexagon.

Peter Bynarowicz, Hexagon.

“We’re confident that this new version of HxGN EAM will drastically reduce the impact of failure events,” said Peter Bynarowicz, Product Manager, Hexagon’s Asset Lifecycle Intelligence division. “Our new RCA system allows customers to analyze incidents, diagnose equipment failures and apply findings to equipment RCM models for future prevention. It’s one of the first holistic embedded RCA systems available on the market.”

The AIP module has also undergone major and comprehensive improvements in version 12. A new graphical interface means that it is now possible to visualize the cost of maintenance and where investments should be made in the future. The new Constraint Optimizer engine is used to calculate how much investment is required to achieve a certain level of performance on selected assets.

Users can see the results of their investment plans in EcoSys where they can also compare different investment scenarios. These AIP improvements make it possible to ensure that critical facilities and equipment are provided with sufficient financial resources to perform as desired.

(Image courtesy of Hexagon.)

(Image courtesy of Hexagon.)

In the latest version of HxGN EAM, several new features have also been added to the Digital Works mobile platform. It is now possible to add your own tabs that link to important and frequently used external web pages. The calibration module provides increased control over the measurement precision of readings. It is also possible to capture and record information about operational disturbances and problems, which can then be used in the RCM module.

“Our cloud-first mentality was absolutely key to developing and delivering HxGN EAM v12. We have a patented, cloud-based solver that adds a lot of intelligence to our product and delivers immense value to our customers,” Bynarowicz said. “HxGN EAM v12 includes more than 150 enhancements. Not many products in the field are including that many improvements that quickly, and doing it in a non-disruptive way. We’re really proud of this solution and feel confident it will fulfill the needs of current and future customers.” 

An example of a HxGN EAM dashboard. (Image courtesy of Hexagon.)

An example of a HxGN EAM dashboard. (Image courtesy of Hexagon.)

Sights Set On More IIoT, Intelligence And Machine Learning

The aim of the development journey is undoubtedly the orientation towards the wider APM concept, where maintenance is paired with integrated solutions to sharpen the performance of factory facilities.

In this, the vision—alongside smart, practical and economic solutions—means a lot.

Looking towards this horizon, Rollén believes that HxGN EAM should support organizations in moving their critical asset management to a predictive maintenance approach as they evolve from EAM to APM.

“APM’s foundation includes a wide range of risk-, condition- and reliability-based maintenance instruments, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and applied technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning),” says Rollén. “APM can deliver accurate, reliable data, information and strategic insights that can not only drive your decisions but also ensure compliance with policies that align with your company’s investment plan.”

They are not there yet, but they are a significant way through a journey that never really ends. The important thing is that the visionary power is in place. And that is one of the most important driving forces, alongside the purely technological solutions and the ability to execute.