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IIOT and Remote Assets: Changes to the Enterprise Asset Management Landscape

Contributed By GenesisSolutions, An ABS Group Company

Industrial Internet of Things and Remote Assets

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) has experts discussing the implications of a more connected, interoperable asset network. With greater insight into machinery on the plant floor, businesses can predict production more accurately, understand the technical limitations of their equipment and plan repairs long before their assets fall into disrepair. That said, does the IIOT conversation change when it comes to maintenance of remote assets?

We discuss three (3) considerations for asset owners and operators monitoring and maintaining remote assets.

"More than 30% of assets owned by companies qualify as remote." 

What to Expect from IIOT Remote Asset Monitoring & Management – and What Not To

According to a recent Aberdeen Group study, more than 3 out of every 10 assets owned by the average company qualify as "remote." From the perspective of a business adopting or expanding Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) strategies such as proactive maintenance, ignoring nearly one-third of assets would not be prudent.  This is especially relevant since it is not uncommon for onsite asset performance to depend heavily upon remote assets. As such, utilization rates for remote asset tracking, condition monitoring, data capture and predictive analytics aimed at asset failure have risen dramatically between 2014 and 2016.

However, as is the case with all big data acquisition and analysis, it is not what you glean from your assets that counts. What really matters is how business leaders convert that raw data into useful intelligence. In what ways can companies with remote assets use operational data more effectively – as well as the sensors and telemetry technology harvesting that data – to extend the best EAM practices from the headquarters into the field?

1. Devise a stratification/prioritization system for remote assets

We understand that mapping asset dependency without the inclusion of remote assets would constitute a sizeable gap in EAM, and without including those assets, this may call in doubt the principle of EAM. Master asset lists (MAL) are a first step for any organization hoping to take asset management to the next level and every noteworthy piece of equipment, component or subassembly must make it onto that MAL for it to be of any use in criticality ranking.

Asset criticality for remote technology requires a slightly different approach than that used for onsite assets. Moreover, while managers might look for similar factors when deciding criticality rank or maintenance prioritization parameters, they may weigh them differently than they would if dealing with equipment within a facility. For instance, does failure history for a particular remote asset usually involve software (potentially resolved wirelessly) or hardware (requiring a visit)? Since travel expenses to remote assets can add expense to a maintenance budgets, the decision to visit should factor into the criticality equations, as well as work order prioritization for maintenance. Businesses should also invest in ways to perform automated operational diagnostics to reduce the number of incidents for which maintenance crews are sent.

Additionally, remote asset management strategies can borrow and refurbish tactics used in onsite EAM to further reduce travel costs. Maintenance teams equipped with innovative EAM solutions such as IBM Maximo can leave locational information regarding remote assets as they would with ones on site, thus optimizing resources spent to hunt down assets and determine the relevant offending component.

2. Never underestimate nature

The largest, most obvious difference between remote assets and onsite assets is environmental. Remote assets typically do not have the kind of protection afforded by a state-of-the-art warehouse. Depending on location, remote assets may also experience a completely different climate and weather than their base of operations deals with – think about long oil pipelines or a fleet of vehicles owned by a logistics provider. Thorough remote asset management involves not only monitoring the affect the elements may have on equipment but also acting on maintenance data in a timely manner to mitigate repair costs.

One example of how nature can impact remote asset maintenance comes to mind: In 2011, a multinational telecommunications provider reported that about 1 out of every 6 fiber optic cable cuts which the organization dispatched maintenance teams to repair was caused by squirrels. In fact, that figure represented an improvement over the prior year, when squirrels were behind 28 percent of all cut cables. In a separate blog post, the company estimated the cost of the parts and labor for fiber optic repair was around $2,500 per cable severed.

These types of problems happen to all remote asset owners. The ability to differentiate an anomaly as compared with a trend through greater operational awareness could make a significant difference in resourcing for remote assets, possibly more than for assets on site seen every single workday.

"Supervisors, operators and maintenance teams should maintain an open dialogue about data capture."

3. Discuss data capture with asset operators

Even in industries such as logistics where asset operators spend most of their time in and around equipment still considered remote, remote asset management will play an evolving role. However, it will be important for supervisors, operators and maintenance teams to maintain an open dialogue about data capture.

Controversy surrounding electronic logging devices (ELD) and other emerging telematics have soured many truckers as this technology further bridges the gap between monitoring operators and monitoring machinery. ELDs, for instance, focus primarily upon hours of service reports to make sure that drivers get the rest necessary to deliver goods over long distances. That said, the same types of devices also record driving habits such as speeding and heavy braking. While it is no secret that this form of data acquisition feeds into driver performance records for safety reasons, organizations can also justify collection of this nature as necessary for proactive maintenance. This is justifiable since sensing vehicle wear can optimize scheduled maintenance and give logistics companies a clearer picture of asset availability in the near future.

In order to prevent drivers from feeling obsolete, or as if telematics violates their privacy, always involve them in discussions around remote asset initiatives. Explain what the technology monitors – and what it will not – and why it is necessary to collect that data so that maintenance costs can be reduced and so that the company may invest more in drivers. While sensors may catch minute thermal or vibrational changes, ultimately, drivers can be valuable when it comes to reporting. Providing a clear and accurate description as to why the data collection may be necessary could mean the difference between a driver being at odds with asset managers and maintenance crews and working together for their mutual benefit.

Learn more about our Asset Performance Optimization services.

 

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