We live in a time that economists are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The first industrial revolution was characterized by steam power, the second by electricity, and the third by electronics that contributed to automation.
The Fourth Revolution is a digital one. “It is characterized,” says the World Economic Forum, “by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” Essentially, the Fourth Revolution is defined by the Internet of Things (IoT).
The IoT is that extension of the internet that connects physical objects with each other, and it is upending how nearly every industry does business. Experts project that the number of active connected devices in the world will grow from 10 billion in 2020 to 22 billion in 2025.
Worldwide investment in IoT technology is expected to top $1.2 trillion in 2025, and IoT technology is quickly proving itself a great way to save money and improve efficiency. Asset-tracking IoT devices in particular will grow from 20 million to 72 million devices by 2022, according to research from Mobile Experts, Inc.
From smart sewers to Amazon Alexa, the IoT is reshaping American life, not only in the consumer space but also in the industrial and manufacturing spaces. The Industrial Internet of Things exists within the larger IoT framework but includes only those smart devices that support and enhance manufacturing and other industrial processes. The IIoT creates connected factories that capture, analyze, and communicate data much faster and more accurately than a human-touch system ever could.
Conducting the business of manufacturing and industry within a rapidly accelerating Fourth Revolution requires a fundamental realignment in how companies think about their capital assets. The most effective and productive way to manage capital assets is through IIoT devices, which are growing in popularity as asset tracking tools primarily because they’ve distinguished themselves by their ability to provide continuous status updates, warn companies of upcoming breakdowns, and minimize risks.
What is asset management?
Asset management is a broad term that often refers to how firms manage their financial vehicles or investments. In the manufacturing and industrial world, however, asset management typically refers to how a company manages the capital items it uses to produce its goods.
Peter Welander of Control Engineering says, “The term ‘asset management’ has been broadly applied to cover many facets of a common question, which at its heart can be summarized as, ‘How do I eliminate, reduce, or at least manage my risk of equipment failure and the associated costs and losses of production?’”
Asset management systems provide an array of specific benefits. Research at the University of Nebraska finds that asset management improves financial performance, manages risk, improves services and outputs, demonstrates social responsibility, and enhances organizational sustainability. Effective asset management can also elevate corporate reputation and optimize growth.
Welander divides effective asset management into two parts—technical solutions and work processes. The first part deals with the smart technology that manufacturers and other industrial firms employ to accrue, manage, and communicate data. The second focuses on the question of how to use the data the technology has captured and communicated.
“An effective asset management program has two positive results,” Welander says. “Interruptions to production are minimized, which supports maximum possible production, and unnecessary maintenance operations are reduced.” Achieving those results begins with finding and implementing the right technological solution.
How do IIoTs improve your asset management strategy?
Gartner conducted an extensive study entitled the Magic Quadrant for Industrial IoT Platforms in which their research shows these distinct IIoT technology functions.
Staff can manage entire fleets of devices remotely, controlling each piece individually or operating them as a group. Company employees can troubleshoot devices and even determine predictive maintenance strategies for pieces at risk of failure thanks to data from the IIoT sensors. By providing maintenance only when needed, companies can avoid spending time and money on devices that are in good working condition and don’t need a tune up.
Sensa Networks’ solutions, for example, allow users to identify patterns or trends in failures, and the remote sensing equipment enables managers to detect and rectify misuse of company assets—a common cause of breakdowns. Because staff members use IIoT sensors to conduct remote diagnostics, these devices must be reliable, available, and resilient. The best IIoT sensors include failure identification and recoverability functions.
IIoT solutions integrate with software tools and technologies across the company. The introduction of smart technology solutions is requiring operational technology and information technology to integrate in new ways so that data gets collected and stored in real time without the need for a human touch. While integration could prove challenging, most IIoT solutions integrate seamlessly with existing software systems.
Smart devices can ingest, store, provide, track, and secure data without human interference. The information they collect and analyze allows businesses to know where expenses generate, discover which assets actually improve organizational performance, and streamline processes for efficiency and effectiveness.
Still, Marc Phillips, Director of Marketing at IIoT World, says, “The harsh reality of industrial IoT is your connected system will be inundated with traffic from many sources and hostile environments. Without centralized data management … your IoT data lake will degrade over time.” Successful data management means you need to keep track of your data’s sources and adapt your systems to respond to data of unknown origins. With customized tracking and insight reporting, this level of data management is not difficult.
For data to be valuable, it needs to be clean and secure. IIoT technology virtually assures that data stays clean thanks to few, if any, human hands touching it. IIoT technology also provides data security through the cloud. Fortunately, to be secure, it is not necessary to protect every sensor or every device. It is only essential to incorporate IIoT data sources and end points into a larger cyber resilience plan in order to assure that data remains inaccessible to outside entities.
Choosing the right IIoT technology to help your company save money and improve efficiency doesn’t require extensive technological know-how. You just need to know what benefits you seek from an IIoT solution.
Sensa Networks, a purpose-driven organization dedicated to optimizing operations and lessening environmental impact with Industrial IoT smart devices and M2M (machine-to-machine) data sharing, can help your organization cut costs and become more sustainable. Sensa Networks provides simple, flexible products and supports them with great customer service. Sensa’s IIoT products are so effective that brands like Walmart, Supervalu, and the University of Texas invest in them. How can Sensa Networks help your company?