Physical Asset Configuration

What is physical asset configuration?

Physical asset configuration is a comprehensive, actionable digital twin, or virtual representation, that contains up-to-date information on the composition and structure of a managed item or property. The physical asset configuration comprises all the mechanical, electrical/electronic, software, and associated document-related components of an asset, as well as the history of configuration changes during its operational use. Physical asset configuration data may include technical documentation needed for service activities, as well as information on service materials such as parts and kits.

The purpose of creating and tracking physical asset configurations is to simplify the process of supporting and servicing high-value products in the field. Physical asset management software manages the complex web of information associated with the physical asset configuration, reducing the cost and time needed to create and deliver critical service documentation while also improving the quality and efficacy of the information. Through physical asset management software, all stakeholders are assured of obtaining up-to-date visibility of the serviced physical asset configuration.

Physical asset configuration is also a critical set of information used by service lifecycle management (SLM) software to ensure timely and correct servicing of products during their operational life. This software’s service asset management (SAM) functionality provides an open ecosystem that makes physical asset configurations accessible to OEMs, customers, and third parties involved in delivering effective service to managed assets.

It is important to have accurate records of physical asset configurations for a broad spectrum of manufactured products, but especially for those that are complex and are characterized by relatively long product lifecycles: equipment, machinery, devices, vehicles, and more. For many of these products, manufacturing portfolios have grown in recent years to include a large number of product variants, including different physical configurations and geometries, different software and hardware configurations, different components and assemblies, and other variations. In order to properly service such assets throughout their operational life, the physical asset configuration tracks the asset and updates the configuration through installation, deployment, maintenance, repair, and upgrades.

Service engineer in a factory evaluating physical asset configuration using software on laptop.

Service engineer leverages physical asset configuration

Elements of physical asset configuration

Physical asset configurations provide a framework for defining the current state of a managed asset as it evolves during its operational life. Accurate visibility of the physical asset configuration depends on tight coupling between two bills of materials (BOMs). The service BOM (sBOM) [link to glossary page] is the neutral representation of the product with a defined set of OEM service-related definitions. The physical BOM represents a specific instance of an asset. As a result of this coupling, the physical asset configuration provides service technicians with live, up-to-date, contextualized asset data.

Physical asset configurations can be used by the SLM system to populate service documents, as well as to update the physical BOM and other service-related bills and protocols.

Physical asset configurations include:

  • Contextualized design date including design requirements, validated configurations, service requirements, change history, and design specifications

  • All relevant configuration information that comprehensively describes the physical asset in its as-designed, as-built, and as-maintained states

  • Complete history of each asset and its traceable systems, assemblies, and components

  • Technical information that defines each asset’s traceability, life characteristics, life limits, applicability, and utilization

Benefits of physical asset configuration

By tracking physical asset configurations, manufacturers and service organizations are able to provide timely and appropriate service to assets in the field, which increases the assets’ performance, efficiency, and life during their operational use.

Additional benefits:

  • Improved asset management

  • Better impact planning

  • Consistent, up-to-date configuration information for all stakeholders

  • More efficient service activities

Analyst Report

Modern Service Lifecycle Management For Aftermarket Efficiency and Effectiveness

CIMdata highlights the need for modern Service Lifecycle Management solutions coupled with product lifecycle management (PLM) to successfully address the planning, design, production, and operation of long-life assets.