Asset naming conventions can take many forms. Our previous article, 3 Asset Naming Convention Options to Consider, provides an overview of possible naming conventions that you could use to name assets in your CMMS. Listed among those options is the opportunity to create your own naming system, which is what will be covered in this article.

This article is part of a series of articles on the topic of asset naming conventions. Read our other articles on this topic:

How to Create Your Own Asset Naming Convention

A manufacturing facilities floor with multiple pieces of machinery that can be identified through an asset naming convention.

Asset naming conventions help identify assets throughout your facility.

The following information can assist you in developing your own asset naming convention for your organization. Keep in mind that there is no single, best way to do this, as each organization has different needs. At the very least, we can offer some food for thought and best practices to help you create an effective asset naming convention.

Asset Naming Convention Components

Asset naming conventions consist of two components: 1) a unique asset number and 2) a descriptive name. The asset number is a way to uniquely identify an asset within a CMMS or other computerized maintenance tracking system. Numbers must be unique so that duplicate records do not exist and that maintenance activities can be traced back to specific individual assets. A descriptive name further helps identify assets and ensures that all stakeholders are speaking in common terms when discussing maintenance needs.

Naming Assets

Organizations that create their own asset naming convention should decide what components work best for their stakeholders. For example, organizations that do fleet maintenance may embed manufacturer – but not location information – into the asset name, as vehicles are constantly on the move. Facilities management organizations may use location information, such as an address, as a part of the asset name. Below is a list of potential components that you may embed in your asset number:

  • Asset Type: Motor, HVAC unit, press, boiler, etc.
  • Characteristic: Make, manufacturer, model, revision, color, size, etc.
  • Location: Country, state, site, address, building, floor, room, factory line number, etc.
  • Numbers: Manufacturer serial number, VIN number, equipment code, etc.

Describing Assets

As for the descriptive asset name, that part is up to you. It is recommended that you only include enough information as necessary. In fact, a CMMS may limit you as to how many characters (i.e., letters and numbers) can be stored within a field. Asset descriptions may include:

  • The asset type
  • A description of the sub-type of that asset
  • A defining characteristic

For example, a light bulb may be described as “Lamp, Fluorescent, 40 Watt.”

Asset Naming Convention Examples

The following are two examples intended to help you visualize how an asset naming convention might be structured.

Scenario 1

An organization operates out of a single building with a moderate number of assets. A possible naming convention may look something like AAA-###, where:

  • AAA represents a three-character code identifying the type of asset (e.g. AHU = “Air Handling Unit”, Chiller = “CHL”, CNC lathe = “CNC”, etc.)
  • ### represents the uniquely identifier, such as a number (e.g., 001, 002, 100, etc.)

Example: CNC-001.

This example refers to one of the CNC lathes located at the facility. The description might be “CNC, 2-Axis, 4500 RPM”.

Scenario 2

An organization has plants in multiple locations across the United States. Each plant has multiple buildings that house several assets of the same type, such as air handling units. The asset naming convention for this organization may be of a form AA-BB-CCC-###, where:

  • AA represents the state postal code abbreviation (e.g., AZ, CA, WI, etc.)
  • BB represents the building number (e.g., B1, B2, B3, etc.)
  • CCC represents a three-character code identifying the type of asset (e.g. AHU = “Air Handling Unit”, Chiller = “CHL”, CNC lathe = “CNC”, etc.)
  • ### represents the uniquely identifier, such as a number (e.g., 001, 002, 100, etc.)

Example: WI-B2-AHU-003.

This example refers to one of the air handling units in building 2 at a Wisconsin-based facility. The description might be “Chiller, Reciprocating, 150 TR”.

Of course, the examples in this article represent naming conventions with varying degrees of depth and do not represent all possible naming structures. It is up to your organization to determine the format, structure, and depth of your naming convention.

Asset Naming Best Practices

Asset naming conventions do not need to be complex in order to be effective. The goal of developing a standardized naming system is for users of your CMMS and other employees to be able to recognize an asset, its location, or its purpose at-a-glance. Keep the following best practices in mind when crafting your asset naming convention:

  • Be Logical: Maintenance technicians should be able to draw meaning from asset names. Do not label boilers as “XYZ.” Instead, use a more logical code such as “BOIL” or “BLR”.
  • Be Consistent: Terminology, abbreviations, and numbering schemes should not vary. For example, all chillers could be abbreviated as “CHLR”. All numbering should use the same number of digits. For example, the first record created under a number scheme that uses three digits will be “001” instead of “1” or “01”.
  • Be Unique: Each asset name should be unique to prevent confusion.
  • Avoid Duplicate Data: Asset names do not need to include information that is defined elsewhere (although, they can). Search capabilities in a CMMS make this information easy to find.
  • Leave Room for Growth: Naming conventions should leave room to easily add new asset records – which may be subsets of existing records. For example, separate asset numbers by 100, 500, or 1,000 for major subgroups.
  • Prioritize the Use of Letters: Numbers, when used alone, hold little meaning. Letters can be much more informative and make asset names easier for employees to interpret.
  • Use a “Drill Down” Approach: Employ a hierarchical structure that allows users to “drill down” to relevant, granular data.

Set Yourself Up for Success with FasTrak Consulting Services

Creating an asset naming convention can be a challenge for first-time CMMS users. At FasTrak, we offer CMMS consulting services that will help you and your team maximize your use of FTMaintenance. An FTMaintenance consultant will work with you to understand your current asset environment and develop an effective asset naming convention for your organization. Contact us today to learn more about FasTrak’s FTMaintenance consulting services.