This year, we have had an opportunity to meet with many industry clients and vendors to discuss the use of mobility in Asset Performance Management (APM). Mobile devices and applications have evolved throughout the years as the core APM applications have moved from desktop to web based. This first wave of Mobility and applications were still a bit cumbersome as the devices required were typically purpose built and for a single process, like work or inventory.
Now, as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms become part of the technology ecosystem, the next wave of mobility applications and device use is at hand. More core applications are available on the Cloud; data is increasingly easier to digest, and this information is widely distributed to those who need it most. Although the wave is still building, we thought it important to give the state of Mobility in APM today, so we can monitor the progress to see where it is headed over the next few years as the combination of APM and IIoT is unlocked.
APM and Mobility: An Opportunity at the Data’s Source
Much of the focus over the past 5-10 years has been done to provide Mobility for the transactional systems for the work performed on assets. Mobility for Inventory, Work Orders, and Scheduling. But as data’s importance and use become more prevalent through IIoT Platforms, organizations should be working on their plans to understand what the right Mobility applications and devices are to enable data collection at the source. Unlocking this wide depth and breadth of data is the next wave of value to be unlocked at the asset.
Our survey results show an opportunity to incorporate mobile applications that provide data collection and accessibility at the asset. Right now, most APM applications that determine asset criticality enable insight and understanding of asset strategies have the least amount of Mobility applied to it. This is a big missed opportunity for organizations pursuing Operational Excellence. This is where IIoT Platforms can potentially make a big impact. Opportunity for more Mobility solutions at the point of performance, the mobility for work being performed has been done; now we need to focus on data collection and criticality analysis Mobility solutions in the age of IIoT.
There is More Whitespace for Mobility APM Use at the Plant
As expected, when survey respondents were asked about the devices used at the plant, the most prolific are Apple and Android. A surprise finding was the percentage of respondents that do not use any mobile devices at all, 31%.
Organizations not participating in mobile devices with applications at the point of performance are certainly hurting themselves at this point. For one, they are losing valuable wrench time, as one of the easiest paybacks for Mobility is increased worker efficiency. Secondly, they may have difficultly filling roles in the future, use of mobile applications is expected, and not have access to information when needed, leads to frustration and an unpleasant work environment.
Is the Future State of Mobility Augmented Reality?
If the Pokémon craze over the summer and the holiday time Samsung VR commercials are any indication, we should expect industry versions of AR/VR to gain momentum in the coming two years. At various industry events, we have seen such examples, but they have been examples, without any indication that operations and maintenance teams are clamoring for this view and insight.
The aging workforce paradigm could be a factor in enabling this change. For example, we see some use cases with “Smart Glasses” as a companion to connect to an expert in an operations center whether a company expert or technical support from the OEM itself. They are the phone a friend on
steroids. This scenario coupled with Smart Glasses or a smart
device seems likely to take shape in the future.
As IIoT Platforms become an integral component of Operational Architecture, we expect to see improved Mobility applications. These platforms enable applications at different levels of the enterprise to be “mashed up” and provide accurate information to the right person at the right time. Organizations should be investigating how to unlock the volume, variety, and velocity of asset data to unlock more value and attain Operational Excellence initiatives.
Applications for mobile devices in industry will approach the consumer level methods in the next two years – industry app stores should become the norm. It won’t be one-app store per operating systems, so the vendor community will need to do some heavy work to make the user feel it is seamless, regardless of downloading from vendor A or B. Organizations should prepare for the onslaught of industry app stores by looking for open technology that can work with multiple vendor solutions.
Organizations that have not jumped on the mobility wagon, 31% per our survey, should begin to explore capabilities immediately, you are throwing money out the window at this point. Most work management and inventory management solutions today have been field tested for years and will provide immediate efficiencies. We look forward to updating this blog in 2017 to validate the trends and show new insights as Mobility accelerates.