February 27, 2023

| 4 min read

How to create naming conventions for assets

Give your maintenance team a brief verbal description of an asset that needs repair, and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. “Which generator unit? The one in the storage room in the sub-facility by the tool shelf? Gotcha!”

While this kind of informal naming convention works fine for word of mouth, it doesn’t work when you have multiple generators, multiple locations, or you start working with a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). It also gets you into trouble when working with new team members or contractors who don’t have the same knowledge of your facility that you do.

That’s why maintenance teams must establish a standard practice for assigning naming conventions well before using any software.

This article will show you best practices for choosing naming conventions, including the benefits, the different types, and how to set them up in a system.

The benefits of asset naming conventions: Find your parts and equipment way faster

Asset naming conventions make it easy to identify an asset, equipment, or parts when filling out work orders, preparing parts purchases, or doing audits. They keep things simple and easy to remember.

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The benefits of asset naming conventions across the maintenance department

Other than finding information in your CMMS quickly, here are a few ways asset naming conventions can improve things for your maintenance team:

  • Quicker employee onboarding: New employees will need to get up to speed on locating assets to do their job. By having standardized asset names in place, they will have an easier time figuring out where everything is and less time trying to find them.
  • Clear communication: A good naming convention makes it easy to identify exactly which asset you are describing. Names should be straight to the point leaving little room for miscommunication for the technician reading them.
  • Consistency: When new assets come online, a standardized naming convention makes it easy for technicians to name new assets in the system.
  • Efficiency: Standardized asset naming allows technicians to locate assets within the system quickly. Also, finding and sorting assets becomes easier because data can be grouped based on name.

Components of a good asset naming convention

Good asset naming conventions should follow some logic, so anyone can easily find what they're looking for. Before starting your process, there are a few things you need to identify:

  • Choose which assets you want to focus on first. Starting this process is easier if you tackle it asset by asset. The best place to start is with assets that are used most frequently.
  • Decide what information you want to cover in your conventions. If multiple locations access the same information in the software, include a location code for each asset. For example, adding a location component to a mobile asset makes no sense if it needs to be renamed every time it moves.

Potential asset naming convention components:

  • Location: Country, site, building, floor, room, department, etc.
  • Usage type: Production, development, testing, research, etc.
  • Equipment type: Engine, generator, pump, air conditioning unit, etc.
  • Make/Manufacturer
  • Model/Rev

Tips for creating a system for creating asset naming conventions

The simpler, the better. Less complex conventions make your naming strategy more effective, easier to remember, and easier to use. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an asset naming convention for a piece of equipment:

  1. Consistency is key
    Keep terms, abbreviations, and numbering schemes consistent. For example, all conveyor belts should be labeled "CONVEY" or "CVB." All numbered conventions should follow the same pattern, like, 001, 002, 003, 004, etc.
  2. Don't overcomplicate
    Keep the abbreviations simple. This is meant to make things easier and will be challenging if techs need to look up the full name whenever they access an asset. Don't do things specific to brand titles or items that can change, like labeling one set of boilers "JDBO2"; instead, pick something easy to decipher, like "BOIL."
  3. Don't duplicate
    Asset names don't need to include information that can be easily found anywhere else in the system. This includes stuff like color, serial number, asset age, or condition of the asset.
  4. Prioritize the use of letters
    Numbers have very little meaning when describing a person, place, or thing. The same goes for naming assets. Stick to letters that are easily interpreted and slightly resemble the original name.

Putting asset naming conventions into practice

The easiest way to establish best practices for your asset naming conventions is to do it right from the beginning. If you are using a CMMS, do this during the implementation stage. This way, when your organization grows or purchases new assets, there won’t be any conflicts, and you won’t need to redo any work.

For example, let’s say you have multiple plants across North America, each with several buildings containing XLA lasers. To keep things simple, you could name them “XLA Laser 001” for building one at the US plant.

Naming conventions
Example of naming conventions for an XLA laser

This comes in handy when searching the CMMS for old issues on XLA lasers using the version code to reference closed work orders.

Don’t worry if these asset names look complicated. With the right software, consistent labeling and sticking to best practices in this article, your team will get the hang of it in no time.

Create an asset management policy for your company with this free, easy template

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