Asset performance management (APM) 4.0 is a strategy and an approach to maintain and operate manufacturing assets, it’s not an APM 4.0 package that companies can buy “to do APM 4.0.” The APM market is still quite fragmented with few suppliers offering enterprise asset management (EAM) only, others providing just predictive maintenance analytics, while some suppliers offer multiple elements of the APM landscape as integrated and stand-alone solutions. As asset care evolves to allow manufacturers and asset-intensive industries to take advantage of Smart Manufacturing or Industrie 4.0 based digital technologies, businesses need to think about how they are going to maintain these Smart Connected Assets. Big Data analytics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), augmented reality / virtual reality (AR/VR), and the Digital Twin are critical to future maintenance systems. Trying to categorize all the vendors that provide these technologies can be a daunting task. Pick the wrong set of partners, and you may never realize the benefits of Digital Transformation. Pick the right partners, and you could well outperform the competition. Understanding how to make the right choice of partners is the first step towards APM 4.0.
APM 4.0: Platform of Ecosystem?
Suppliers often position their solutions as a platform - an IIoT platform, an APM platform, and so on. They are trying to convey they offer connectivity, data infrastructure, security, analytics - the foundation to build out an entire solution that forms the basis of your company’s Digital Transformation program. The challenge is that suppliers offering a relatively robust IIoT platform may lack several critical APM 4.0 capabilities. In that respect, it is fair to say an IIoT platform is generally a requirement for an APM 4.0 platform but is not enough to be an APM 4.0 platform all by itself. This means suppliers cannot serve as a full APM 4.0 platform but can have APM 4.0 functionality that can be a part of an APM 4.0 ecosystem. These ecosystem players can range from very narrow functional footprint application providers such as predictive analytics to a nearly complete platform provider, but one that could lack a critical capability such as IIoT connectivity.
Automation-Centric or Enterprise Software-Centric?
Platform providers, by the very breadth of what they offer, tend to be larger vendors that are either from the operational technology (OT) community or from the enterprise software community. The OT or automation suppliers have typically moved up the functional stack with existing connectivity and alarming capabilities with real-time analytics, and now adding the AR/VR support and Big Data analytics functionality to round out their platform approach. Enterprise software providers have typically come from the EAM work and materials management side with Big Data analytics capabilities and are now adding the real-time analytics and data connectivity to move down the stack. Either approach is valid, but end users need to understand that the approaches, while aiming towards the same endpoint, usually take different paths to get there. Understanding your company’s strengths and needs can help you find the right APM 4.0 platform supplier that will get you the results you are looking for in the shortest period, plus grow to meet your future needs.
Role of Specialists
Today, no platform provider delivers every single element of the APM 4.0 footprint. Specialist solutions are necessary to fill APM 4.0 functional gaps. LNS Research believes this situation will remain the same in the near future. This means end users need to understand the specialist solutions they may need, whether to source those specialist solutions from a singularly focused technology provider or to leverage the capabilities of a platform provider who is not your platform provider of choice but can provide best-of-breed solutions. In its 2018 APM 4.0 Solution Selection Guide, LNS focused on providers that can serve as a platform but also offer specialist solutions.
Three Steps to Start Your APM 4.0 Journey
Users pursuing APM 4.0 to maintain their Smart Manufacturing facilities need to make three critical decisions to get started:
- Decide whether to base APM 4.0 on a key vendor, leveraging their solutions for the core of your initiative, or craft your platform using bits and pieces from an entire ecosystem of suppliers.
- If you are going to base your company’s APM 4.0 program on a key supplier, which approach should you pursue – OT-centric or IT-centric?
- Understand the APM 4.0 functional footprint that will move your company towards APM 4.0 most effectively and which subset of suppliers can provide those capabilities.
Once you have these three decisions made, you can use the LNS APM 4.0 Solution Selection Guide to help you evaluate and shortlist combinations of the 13 platform providers covered.