The IIoT & Asset Performance Management Are Becoming More Complex

machine_data_asset_management-2It's become pretty clear that the Internet of Things (IoT) and the industrial elements of the IoT--the IIoT--have become the number one topic for hardware and software vendors over the last several months. From IBM’s recent announcement of a $3 Billion investment in IoT, to the proliferation of conferences and events around IoT, to all of the merger and acquisition activity occurring as suppliers try to strengthen their IoT position, the IoT is where its at today.

Of course, at LNS Research we have been talking about how the IIoT/IoT has enabled Smart Connected Operations and Smart Connected Assets for the quite some time. As I have regularly pointed out in the blog, in magazine articles I have contributed to, and in various social forums: Asset Performance Management (APM) has long been one of the earliest proof points of the value of the IoT.

Why APM and the IIoT Work So Well Together

One of the key elements of an APM program is increasing the reliability of your production assets. It's the motivation to move from break-fix, reactive maintenance, to some form of proactive approach that could be anything from basic preventive maintenance (PM) to some form of predictive maintenance (PdM). Even simple run or cycle-time based PM generally uses real-time data aggregated from the assets themselves, in other words the most form of leveraging IIoT data. In its more sophisticated forms IIoT data is used to feed into extensive condition-based maintenance (CBM) programs or reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) programs. Without IIoT connectivity, attempting to gather the needed information for a CBM or RCM initiative would prove to be not only costly, but likely prohibitively time consuming as well. The value the IIoT brings is the sense of immediacy. It facilitates the ability to provide adequate notice that some maintenance activity needs to be done before a failure occurs and downtime accrues. This is the reason so many businesses have made significant investments in getting asset condition and operating information into their APM applications. The ROI is simply just too good to pass up.

Now the IIoT and APM Become a Whole Lot More Interesting

Once plants become dependent on their smart connected assets to maintain Operational Excellence the equation changes, especially if the point of APM is to ensure that the physical hardware and software based production assets used to produce the business' primary goods and services are operating optimally. Once the smart connected assets become essential to that activity, they themselves need to become part of the scope of what the APM solutions are monitoring and supporting.  

This means that APM needs to expand to cover the infrastructure of the smart connected assets themselves. Your APM solution needs to be able to monitor the performance of those smart connected assets, the wired and wireless networks they use to communicate, and the software that they utilize to deliver their functionality. This means you're going to have to think about what defines your APM solution set a lot more carefully. Industrial network management and diagnostic tools, software version management and device integrity validation tools now become part of your APM portfolio along with the skills and talent to use those tools. This is not to imply that every business needs to develop a whole new set of skills and acquire a whole new set of technology to support their expanded APM efforts; rather, they need to consider the best way to accomplish these things. The options could include:

  • Building the capability in-house
  • Contracting with one or more specialist firms to provide the expanded services
  • Utilize the services of the solution providers themselves
  • Consider buying capacity instead of capital from your OEMs; they assume the responsibility
  • A combination of two or more of the above

Regardless of what path you take, as you become more dependent on smart connected assets to achieve your Operational Excellence goals, the richness of your APM portfolio will have to grow to support the smarter environment.

Understand the capabilities of twenty of the leading vendors in the APM space by downloading our APM Solutions Section Guide. The guide contains comparison charts for the factors listed above and the detailed profiles of the twenty vendors ranging from automation companies, to enterprise software providers and includes many specialized APM solutions as well.Asset Performance Management

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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