You’ve heard about IoT and how it simplifies the work process with advanced data analytics. Smart LED, smart home appliances, smart devices are the basic examples of what we call the wonders of IoT. However, it’s not limited to consumer space. The demand for customization, enhanced customer experience, simplified complex process, and a need to automate the processes using digital solutions have encouraged industry owners to look for more innovative ways, leading them towards IIoT, i.e., Industrial IoT.
Industrial IoT, in simple terms, means employing sensors to collect the data and then turning that data into valuable insights through cloud software. Integrating IoT for asset management means making your systems smart enough to self-correct the small issues and act predictively by analyzing the data for more efficiency.
Owing to its benefits, nowadays, many asset-intensive industries are incorporating IoT for asset management to leverage real-time information that can further help in removing production bottlenecks, reducing errors, tracking accurate data, getting valuable insights, etc.
Want to know more about leveraging smart asset management solutions? This article is a complete guide to IoT asset management: the demand for IoT asset management, its objectives, advantages over traditional solutions, industry-specific use cases, and the components of smart asset management systems.
Demand for IoT Asset Management
IoT and Industry 4.0 are changing the businesses operated by interconnecting data, assets, and processes. By embedding sensors, many asset-intensive industries are leveraging IIoT to improve operational efficiency and explore growth opportunities.
Harley-Davidson, for instance, leveraged IoT to reconfigure its manufacturing facility and managed to reduce the time it takes to produce a motorbike from 21 days to 6 hours!
John Deere revolutionized their farming business by adding sensors to its tractors to collect real-time data such as moisture, temperature, and weather conditions of the fields.
Industries like Manufacturing, Industrial Machinery, Logistics and Transportation, Oil and Gas, Heavy Machinery and Construction, Equipment Rental, etc. which are in constant need of asset monitoring solutions can integrate IoT. It actively tracks every detail of their asset such as its work status, current location, lifetime value, condition, etc. without any human intervention. In addition to these, a combination of different sensors and technology can optimize their inventory by automating all their business workflow, thereby, resulting in more agile operations, and improved efficiency. With IoT asset management solutions, industries can reduce their operational costs and instead generate different sources of revenue.
Asset Management Objectives
Before starting, it is important to have a clear view of why you want asset management and what kind of changes you would want to bring with it in your system. Hence, first, you need to list down different assets and the features that your asset management solution should have.
Let’s see the different physical assets and their business objectives.
The human asset can be a human resource like an employee, sales executive, field force personnel, etc. If the company has to manage human assets, the main objective of asset management would be to monitor the work status, performance, and improve efficiency.
Plant and machinery, tools and equipment, office supplies can be considered as non-human assets, and managing these would mean monitoring the supply, wear and tear, data collection, etc.
Trucks, trains, wagons, cranes, and rental cars comprise moving assets. Real-time asset tracking is the main objective of asset management for moving actions. Getting status of the asset, where the asset is, if it’s in a safe condition, estimate time of asset delivery, etc. to improve the overall experience, use data to prevent future losses.
The non-moving assets can be the huge machines, the boilers, long pipelines, gas cylinders, coolers, network towers, etc. The purpose of having asset management for these assets is to automate the work process, streamline operations, and maintenance to reduce operational cost.
In short, the objective of having asset management varies based on assets, business owners, industries, and other factors.
Drawbacks of Traditional Asset Management
Asset Management is something that has been there for years. Only a few years back IoT brought the revolution to this sector. Here’s how it used to be before and the drawbacks of traditional system:
Excel sheets or using one of the different asset management solutions such as simple barcode, RFID, NFC tag readers, GPS, or BLE to track your assets are some of the transitional asset management systems. Though these solutions provide asset status and help in managing and maintenance they focus on standalone functions, different entities, and processes.
Most experienced drawbacks of having a traditional asset management system are:
Manual data entry
Be it an excel sheet or an asset management software that lets you store every asset-related data, you have to add it manually, or your staff. Hence, the chances of human errors are more. Re-working, wrong inputs take up the time that you should be investing in business expansion.
Unstructured management process
An asset is allocated and the manager adds it to the sheet. Suppose the same asset is required by another person, and if you don’t have a systematic way of asset management, the asset manager can end up allotting the same asset to another person as well, leading up to confusion.
Inability to track the asset in real-time
You have allotted an asset to a person and you know the records of the person from the details added in the system but you miss out on the crucial details such as: where it is at the current moment, is the asset being safely handled, what’s the condition of the asset, etc.
That’s the drawback of siloed systems, you get very limited information and updates. This can be a major issue for moving asset-based industries such as Oil and Gas where tracking every moment of the asset while on road is essential. Even other industries with heavy machinery are prone to it. They can’t track the automation process in real-time, whether the machine is working properly or was there some difference in the speed in order to identify the problem, and ultimately that leads to loss.
Assessing potential risk
Machines can’t speak when they are sick. And your asset management system can inform you about the details of the purchase, the validity of its working, etc. but it can’t tell you if the machine is malfunctioning or on the verge of breaking down, until you get to know that machine has stopped working, bringing loss behind it. The risk of improper asset management can never be tracked using excel sheets.
These are the drawbacks of siloed asset management systems, though it’s better to have them rather than nothing, evolving with the technology is the much-needed change.
Smart Asset Management using IoT
IoT asset management solution is a combination of all the traditional asset management solutions, their standalone features, workflow, processes. Previously, silo systems focused on specific features like asset tracking, asset allotment, workflow monitoring, etc. but now they are integrated into a single smart solution with web, wireless, and analytics.
Smart IoT asset management solution has all the features of traditional asset management solutions like asset tracking, asset health monitoring, asset lifecycle management, asset workflow management. The only difference that gives IoT an upper hand is an intelligence. All these features are automated and can track the asset in real-time, generate real-time alerts and warnings, predict asset maintenance, manage workflow without any supervision, get business insights and valuable data, and more. Overall, a smart asset monitoring solution increases the lifespan of the asset by providing:
Remote Asset Tracking
Asset movement should be tracked accurately to reduce downtime cost and prevent loss but the glitch is you can’t be present all the time. The IoT asset management solution helps you track assets in real-time from anywhere on your mobile phone. By embedding sensors, you can track the location, status, operational condition of the asset. Overall you can manage your inventory, operations, maintenance based on the real-time details of the asset.
Asset Health/Condition Monitoring
By using IoT for asset management, you can monitor your assets’ condition without any human intervention. IoT based asset management can reduce your operational costs and prevent loss by triggering alarms and warnings whenever system malfunctions, temperature or humidity level rises up, the asset is about to wear out, etc. System engineers or plant managers can be automatically updated about the mishap in the asset functioning along with triggered notifications that update them which part or function needs a check/replacement.
Asset Lifecycle Management
From identifying the requirement and continuing to its execution steps, IoT asset management can process it all. It starts with dashboard management where every detail related to the asset is viewed. Automated notifications are sent to support centers to assist in case of an emergency. If there’s some problem with the asset’s condition, it automatically triggers an alarm that informs the plant manager about the issue in the functioning along with the root cause, thereby saving the plant manager’s time in finding the problem.
IoT based asset lifecycle management is a digital version of a human asset manager. It manages the dashboard, notifies the engineer about the system malfunction, reaches out to the support center for help, checks inventory and orders the spares that are out of stock, sets a reminder for maintenance, and all the other operations required to manage the asset; without any break or error.
Asset Workflow Automation
All the processes are programmed using sensors. That means assets can be set to work automatically based on their functionalities. For example, while managing asset inventory, if the system detects that a spare part is out of stock and will require the maintenance, it would then send a purchase request to the dealer/vendor without waiting for the admin/inventory manager to make a purchase.
Predictive Asset Maintenance
With this solution, you can maintain your asset in it’s best possible way. Checking on the asset all the time in order to know about its condition, maintenance due date, wear and tear, etc. is daunting. Many times you might forget about it or in some cases neglect it. That’s fine! You can use IoT to predict the maintenance of the asset in order to extend its usability.
For example, machinery in a manufacturing industry needs a maintenance check, or checking its operational condition, it seems like it’s about to break down. IoT asset management can collect all the data related to the machinery, send a request to the maintenance engineer for maintenance based on the predictive analysis. In case, a spare is missing or would need replacement, it would automatically send a purchase request to the dealer so that when the maintenance engineer arrives, they don’t have to wait for the spare.
All the arrival dates, till when the machine can be used without maintenance is predicted and steps are taken beforehand to prevent a huge loss later. After all, prevention is better than cure.
These are amazing and can be used to build a customized industry-specific solution. For example, the Oil and Gas industry can leverage IoT asset tracking solutions to track the real-time status of fuel tanks during transportation.
Use cases of IoT enabled asset management
IIot has proven its versatility and owing to that it can cater to different industries in asset management.
Using IoT for asset management, companies can track real-time data, generate real-time alerts, reports, and analytics, data insights, etc. and thus the use cases of IoT asset management will continue to expand in the coming future.
Here are some uses cases of IoT asset management solution
By using sensors, cameras, and data analytics, IoT asset management systems can sense warnings, create maintenance timelines, and notify the managers about the same before a problem occurs. Alerts can be generated based on the current conditions and anomalies in the process. Overall, IoT enabled solutions turn maintenance into automated tasks.
This approach saves a lot of costs over routine and a huge cost that would have incurred if necessary steps were not taken at the right time. Moreover, it would update the managers about the equipment that needs maintenance and it can be planned in a better one. The potential advantage of this use-case is the increased lifespan of assets, cost-saving, fewer accidents, better planning.
Many companies such as Infosys, IBM, Bosch have launched an asset management testbed to collect information efficiently and accurately in real-time.
The goal of asset tracking is to allow companies to track their assets in real-time. Gather all the information of the asset anytime, anywhere to optimize logistics, maintain inventory, prevent quality issues, and detect theft.
Industries having moving assets such as maritime shipping can rely on asset tracking to track the location of a ship at sea. Moreover, the cargo container information can also be received such as its status, temperature, condition of the containers, etc.
By leveraging different smart IoT technologies in the warehouse, you can manage the tasks by outsourcing them to a connected sensor or RFID tags. The data is then analyzed and stored on the cloud. Users can view the inventory details on the dashboard without any manual inputs.
Sensors can be used to track the merchandise inside the warehouse and out. By integrating them into the supply chain, managers can track the information in real-time.
Using workflow automation in IoT asset management can help businesses to complete the work and trigger events to proceed to the next step. For example, whenever equipment is out of stock, a human worker, say, the manager would be involved to view the details of the inventory and then send a purchase request. Or you can automate the procurement and dispatch process so that managers don’t need to intervene and the workflow can be completed automatically with fewer errors and delays. The application of workflow automation can be tailored for each industry. Heavy machinery can use workflow automation to carry out their functioning, HR workflow automation to accept the applicant, send emails, etc.
These are just a few of the examples of use cases for IoT asset management solutions. Due to size and price, the applications of IoT for asset management are limited to tracking and automation for heavy machinery. However, the industries have a huge demand and with automation and digital revolutions in the coming years, the asset management for IoT will have a wide spectrum of applications used by large and small scale industries.
Advantages of Smart Asset Monitoring over the Traditional Solution
Managing assets is not an easy way as traditional asset management solutions speak of. Companies having a large number of assets have to deal with maintenance costs, repair time, theft, pilferage, asset utilization, asset health monitoring, asset performance, and more. IoT asset management brings in a holistic approach to monitor assets without human intervention along with managing the above-mentioned problems. The key advantage of IoT is the integration of data with intelligence that helps management make the right decisions.
Let’s have a look at other advantages IoT for Asset Management has:
Traditional asset management solutions provided data such as tracking details, field data, audit logs, etc. but with a lot of human involvement and no accuracy. Asset management using IoT embeds sensors to track and monitor the asset in real-time. You can get complete information such as asset status, location, operating performance from time to time on your mobile devices. This will help you in reducing costs, optimizing inventory, improving process efficiency, and eliminating non-compliance.
Additionally, all the mundane tasks, data collections, operations management, regulatory compliances can easily be handled by the IoT asset management solution, allowing managers to improve agility.
Monitoring the assets manually that too 24*7 is impossible. What if the machine has a low fuel level or the temperature level has risen up? You can’t stand near the machine and monitor its working. You need alarms and warnings that would alert you if any such critical situation occurs. IoT for asset management can help you monitor your assets without human intervention. It makes it easy to achieve low operational costs by monitoring equipment and triggering early warning alerts/alarms in case any anomalies are detected. Quick restorations can then be achieved through automation or manual intervention.
The real-time monitoring is not only limited to certain situations in the company but also to prevent theft using sensors equipped thermal cameras that can detect the movement, human body temperature to generate an alarm.
IoT helps make strategic improvements to increase the effectiveness of the asset management solution. It streamlines maintenance routines by keeping a check and sending timely notifications, reduces the overall cost by automating processes and preventing failures, increases efficiency by predictive maintenance, health monitoring, lifecycle management, etc.
Asset Inventory Management
By automating the entire workflow through sensors and tracking devices, IoT asset management solutions can track the assets, their performance, maintenance, and analyze the critical parameters based on the valuable reports, taking further actions.
For example, a system analyzes the data and automatically manages the inventory purchase and dispatch so that when the maintenance engineer comes over, they don’t have to waste time on the inventory.
As we see through the advantages, it is sure that IoT for asset management is the only future-oriented beneficial option that can help enterprises to reduce their operational costs, increase customer satisfaction, and enhance business performance.
IoT is the future of businesses. And it is no surprise that asset-intensive industries would benefit the most from smart asset management solutions, provided asset owners, plant managers can easily monitor the data in real-time from their mobile devices. Industries that stick with the traditional asset management solutions will have to move towards digital solutions in a few upcoming years or might have to face the challenges of the traditional methods, competitors, eventually adopting the IoT asset management solution forcibly. If you’re one of the asset-intensive industries and are looking for an IoT asset management solution, then go and get your solution developed today. It will be rewarding in the long run.