Honeywell asked me to contribute an article on Lifecycle Management to their in-house newsletter, “Insight.” The shortened piece appears here. I thought I’d put the original, unedited piece here for everybody’s edification:
The Reality Behind the Buzzword: Lifecycle Management
By Walt Boyes, Editor in Chief, Control magazine
“It’s a bird, it’s a plane! No, it’s a buzzword! It’s Lifecycle Management!”
Lifecycle management means many things to many people. Ask a manufacturer in the European Union what it means, and he’ll tell you, “It’s green manufacturing!” And while instrumentation and controls vendors have been specifically exempted from the first implementations of the EU “Restrictions of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) Directive 2002/95/EC,” it is clear that they, and their customers will have to begin thinking about coming into compliance very soon. This definition of lifecycle management talks about the beginning of a product’s life, and its disposal after its useful life is over.
“Asset management” is another buzzword that people often use interchangeably with lifecycle management. This, of course, is significantly different than the EC Directive’s use of the term, since most asset management implementations deal, not with the beginning of a product’s life, or its end, but rather concentrate on its useful life expectancy.
Like many buzzwords, lifecycle management is shorthand for a way of thinking about things. In its lowest level implementation, lifecycle management is concerned with the hardware and software necessary to run a manufacturing plant, either continuous process, batch, discrete, or hybrid. In its middle level implementations, lifecycle management is concerned with the life cycle of products that are made in that manufacturing plant and the supply and distribution chains that feed that plant and take products to customers. At its highest level implementations, lifecycle management is concerned with the life of the entire facility.
How can lifecycle management be so many things to so many different parts of the enterprise? It is a way of thinking about things, a philosophy, rather than hardware or software or an application. It is much like Six Sigma, or TQM in that in order to practice lifecycle management, the entire enterprise must change the way it thinks and acts.
Thinking “lifecycle management” will change the way we build plants. This way of thinking has already started to permeate the life sciences industries. Many plants are being built or re-built with the processes on skids, so that the entire plant can be modularly assembled and re-assembled to provide the level of rapid response to competitive changes needed to operate globally in the 21st Century. Thinking “lifecycle management” means incorporating the ISA S95 and S88 standards into process design, as well as process control.
Thinking “lifecycle management” means a completely different way of working with engineering and design firms, contractors, integrators, process equipment and automation vendors than most manufacturing enterprises have been willing to try. It becomes necessary to consider the relationship with each of these entities and the lifecycle of each relationship, and how to achieve the best performance from each of these relationships over the entire life of the individual relationship. Thinking “lifecycle management” means, therefore, that enterprises will have to focus less on lowest price and more on greatest value. And not just on the value at the time of purchase, but the value over the entire life, both of the purchase, and the enterprise itself. By itself, this is radical thinking. Imagine if an emphasis on “total cost of ownership” is top-down driven from management and becomes the way enterprises behave.
Engineering and design firms, the architect and engineering companies that have traditionally designed and built manufacturing plants, operate on short term tactical planning cycles. In, out, and gone describes their approach to working with an enterprise. If their value to the enterprise, as well as their output as designers, were to be considered over the lifetime of the plant they built, this approach would not last long.
The choice of process equipment and automation systems would also shift from “quick hit, low price” to enduring partnerships between equals and maximizing value across the entire life cycle of the products, systems and services they sell. These partnerships will need to be entirely bidirectional, and equal so that maximum value is created.
Thinking “lifecycle management” means a different way of dealing with employees, too. Companies practicing lifecycle management can no longer look at their employees as disposable or replaceable human “resources” but rather have to consider the total cost of each employee over the employee’s lifetime, as well as the total value of that employee’s entire career. Labor relations and management practices will need to change as “lifecycle management” thinking pervades the enterprise.
So, lifecycle management is more than greed manufacturing, or plant-wide asset management. And like Six Sigma, or TQM, it will pervade those enterprises that begin, from the top down, to think that way.