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Hit the Books: EAM for Higher Education Makes Learning More Reliable

EAM for Higher Education

Where might universities and other institutes of higher education see value in onboarding enterprise asset management (EAM) solutions before the next school year?

Another school year has almost reached its end, and as college students across the country dream their summertime dreams or map the trajectory of their postgraduate lives, university administrators have plans all their own.

As institutes of higher learning rely on papers, exams and theses to test how well their students sponge up knowledge and apply it professionally, so too must they assess the strength of their asset management programs or begin considering the benefits of enterprise asset management in new places.

After all, what is a university other than a collection of educational assets designed to provide a safe and informative learning environment? Asset reliability isn’t just for the production line – when school equipment retains its availability, students have the potential to learn more. In this context, EAM preserves the quality of a good higher education as much as it does asset uptime.

Where might universities and other institutes of higher education see value in onboarding EAM solutions before the next school year?

"40% of U.S. and Canadian academic institutions were built in the 60s and 70s."

Updating facilities for the challenges of higher education today

According to the latest Sightlines “State of Facilities in Higher Education” report, 40 percent of all U.S. and Canadian public and private academic institutions were built in the 1960s and 1970s, when the post-war educative explosion required hasty construction to meet the spatial needs of college-aged baby boomers. Since then, many facilities managers in higher education have struggled to slowly correct the mistakes of the past while optimizing superfluous space for smaller student bodies.

Sightlines also discussed the second largest facilities-related expansion in North American history currently underway: 30 percent of all higher education construction has occurred in the last 20 years. Compared with its predecessor, this generation shows a higher overall construction quality while also integrating complex mechanical systems supporting modern sensibilities like energy efficiency and environmentally sustainable operations.

So whether facilities managers will spend the summer reinventing the colleges and universities through major renovations or regulating on-campus utilities technology, EAM solutions like comprehensive CMMS software, gap analysis and proactive maintenance programs bring value to any large-scale project. Facilities management teams can effectively retain more actionable knowledge regarding their employers’ most integral assets, centralize the data across a platform accessible from mobile devices and aggregate asset telemetry for greater operational visibility.

Enhancing audiovisual learning in and out of the classroom

College students these days couldn’t pick a chalkboard out of a line-up. Hyperbolic? Probably, but the sentiment rings true: Classrooms today are completely different than they were when our parents were enrolled. Technology has infiltrated nearly every classroom and lecture hall, and it’s up to school administrators, facilities managers and audiovisual teams to figure out how to protect it and its interoperability.

When a projector light burns out or a dongle stops working, professors relying on multimedia presentations waste valuable class time on reactive, corrective maintenance. Work order prioritization could resolve these problems quickly and even provide relevant parties with a portal to report issues as they occur. That way, a maintenance professional wouldn’t be busy repairing an air conditioner in an empty classroom when 30 students and one stressed-out professor wait across campus for technical support.

Personal technology in an educational setting has also grown in popularity – a McGraw-Hill Education survey found students use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to study (81 percent), get better grades (77 percent), bone up right before class (62 percent) and save time in the learning long run (48 percent). As such, colleges and universities with large-scale wireless internet and data centers housing digital resources for students must ensure their high-tech assets run at maximum uptime availability to keep the next-gen learner connected.

Boundless inventory management for school resources, no matter what

While education tops the list as the greatest resource a college or university could hope to provide, facilitation of that resource requires many others.

People live at colleges, eat their three squares there and collaborate with others to bolster better learning. In effect, facilitating an environment conducive to proper schooling may require careful attention paid to chairs in the study hall, forks in the dining hall and, yes, even the toilet paper stock in a given dormitory.

Go ahead and laugh, but you try passing microbiology or postcolonial literature without a roll of two-ply.

Likewise, a facilities manager needs the right organizational resources to balance this vast ecosystem of supplies under his purview spread across disparate buildings comprising a single college campus. EAM not only gives facilities managers a window into demand for each of these resources but also up-to-the-minute actionable inventory data that helps schools save money by optimizing supply procurement.

Schools can also apply the same inventory management framework to track the use of everything from liquid soap refills to powdered fluorine for student laboratories. EAM runs on imagination, of which no college campus is in short supply.

"Trade schools maintain a higher reliance on asset performance than traditional four-year colleges."

Putting the 'tech' back into technical school

Finally, and perhaps most obviously, secondary trade schools potentially have the most to gain from employing EAM strategies.

A single principle governs technical institutions: Learn by doing. As such, these schools maintain a higher reliance on asset performance than traditional four-year colleges to provide students with a consummate education. If students studying automotive engineering, for instance, have to work around issues with faulty equipment, they’re directly deprived of the hands-on, real-world experience they not only sought out, but the institution promised upon enrollment. It’d be unacceptable to tell students at conventional colleges to share textbooks or desks, right? Well, asset reliability issues at trade schools could prove far worse.

Trade schools should complement their asset-intensive curricula with powerful preventive maintenance strategies aimed at preserving equipment year after year. Not only would smarter asset management potentially allow for larger classes and greater tuition – you’re welcome, registrar – but caring for assets, however generally, is a lesson no technical student should go without.

Higher education facilities managers: Don’t let summer slip away without addressing any serious gaps in asset management and maintenance on campus. Single-platform EAM solutions like IBM Maximo asset management can cleanly integrate into on-site operations already in place or establish an efficient managerial framework any academic would grade highly.

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