The Silicon Review
The world is busy; busy as a bee in producing what once upon a time was unattainable. And it seems humanity never fails to reward the world with better, faster, and bigger innovation. Innovation is bringing in great ideas, concepts, and designs to help the world be a better place. As Denis Waitley said, “You have all the reason in the world to achieve your grandest dreams. Imagination plus innovation equals realization” - a valid statement to be admired always.
The wise words of Mr. Waitley inspired a fledgling company to produce the finest innovative product in the market. They wanted to ensure customer, as well as company, success.
Christened Asset Performance Technologies, Inc. in 2004, they set out to be the company that specializes in creating balanced equipment reliability with plant availability for their customers. Asset Performance Technologies (APT) is founded on Reliability Centered Maintenance principles and works relentlessly in producing high quality Preventive Maintenance (PM) solutions at a very reasonable cost.
APT’s Founders were asked by EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) to commercialize the PM Basis Database (PMBD) upon which they had been working for over a decade. APT re-branded it as the Asset Strategy Library (ASL) and has been growing this collection of expert content on how equipment fails and what to do about it since that time. More importantly, APT’s founders created software analytics and algorithms to optimize the recommend maintenance strategies for any business’ economic constraints (e.g. cost of a lost hour of production, cost of a maintenance man hour, etc.). EPRI’s PMBD arose in the US nuclear industry in response to the difficulties in applying the RCM analysis techniques to land-based facilities. And as a key part of the Nuclear Promise Initiative (to reduce O&M costs by 30% by 2018), the industry is now benefitting cloud software platform to increase equipment reliability while reducing maintenance cost. APT calls this Value Based Maintenance (which the industry has also adopted and published in an efficiency bulletin from the Nuclear Energy Institute or NEI). 20% of the electricity in the US is produced by 99 nuclear reactors at this time. Nuclear energy is a key part of US infrastructure and our national security – it is safe, reliable, and carbon neutral. APT is helping these plants compete more effectively with natural gas fired plants (which have much lower costs these days), according to Mark Benak, CEO of APT.
“Manage your equipment strategies anywhere - on our cloud-based planning platform,” says CEO
APT’s first software product (called PRO-M) was a desktop application. It was retired in 2015 and replaced with Preventance.com to provide global scalability of the application as a “software as a service”, more aggressive named-user licensing plans, and predictable, recurring revenue for APT.
They used a traditional software pricing model (upfront fee + ongoing maintenance & support fees) for launching the desktop platform. Adoption was slow due in part to the relatively larger, up front and site-based licensing fees. The cloud-based software allows their customers to take much less financial risk up front, start with a few users, and grow their usage of Preventance throughout the enterprise as its successful usage is proven in house, adds Benak.
APT always try to listen to its customers for ideas on new features that would benefit the entire user community. However, the most important responses from our customers were around the need for consulting services to get the most out of Preventance and implement the recommended maintenance strategy changes. Hence, APT launched its Services division in late 2016 to fulfill this customer need. Plant operating are being asked by owners to do more with less. APT can provide those expert services and is building up its virtual reliability team for the entire industry.
“Nothing sells itself no matter how great you might think your product is.”
You must aggressively market and sell your offering, acquire early adopters, and ensure they are successful in order to attract more clients, says Benak.
A company must be ready for any kind of turmoil; accepting this and working on removing the turmoil is what a company’s attitude should be. In the words of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, “If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.”
When offering new unique tools, it is difficult to acquire the early customers since the company was relatively unknown back then. Moreover, APT has customers in a variety of industries from power generation to chem/petrochem/refining, steel production, etc. Each market vertical believes it may
be unique – however, the equipment from the same vendors across industries. It is simply operated differently. APT’s content and software consider the functional importance and operating context of the equipment when optimizing maintenance strategies so that our tools truly apply to any asset-intensive industry.
Beyond the horizon
The depth and breadth of the maintenance strategy and failure mode content in the Asset Strategy Library (ASL) is unparalleled and already proven in the power generation industry (by EPRI). APT’s Preventance software not only offers a technical basis but also a financial basis for maintenance decisions. A truly optimal maintenance plan financially balances the cost of equipment maintenance with the cost of equipment failure – APT is the only company to offer such unique capabilities.
APT is the only company to offer optimal (i.e. balanced) maintenance plans for asset-intensive industries. APT will continue offering new functionality to Prevantance.com, such as improved reliability and costmodels, reporting, asset registry tools, life cycle management, etc.
All set with a game-to-win, APT seems to know their way to the global platform as Benak confirms by stating, “APT hosts its application and data on Microsoft’s Azure platform and is helping asset-intensive industries realize the benefits of Software as a Service”.
Roll out the Red carpet for the CEO
Mark Benak (CEO) is a technologist, entrepreneur, and angel investor with over 25 years of experience. He also serves as Board Advisor to the Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm and served as Chairman for Incitor (now xF Technologies), a novel developer of synthetic enzymes for biofuels. Mark co-founded InLight Solutions, developing optical solutions for Life Sciences problems.
Previously, he was a staff scientist with the institute for fluid mechanics (LSTM) at the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg and a research engineer with the Daimler-Benz AG in Stuttgart. Mark received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.