…In a word: Reliability. It’s not exactly the most exciting concept in our everyday lives. Though no one doubts its foundational importance in getting things done consistently, it’s one of those things people tend to notice more in its absence rather than consistent presence.
However, within the realm of Asset Performance Management (APM), “reliability” is the star of the show in verbiage and concept, forming a central goal of Operational Excellence programs and initiatives. Reliability is something that could put your company head and shoulders beyond competitors that might be chasing more “exciting” goals.
But how are top companies actually achieving new levels of reliability today? One of the most important ways is through prescient and intelligent technology investments around the emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The connectivity, integration, and analytics capabilities being afforded by the IIoT are architecting what we call Smart Connected Assets.
In this post, we’ll look at the top objectives and challenges in APM, as well as define Smart Connected Assets and the revolutionary opportunities in reliability they have the potential to provide.
Top Objectives in APM
It’s probably not surprising that manufacturers are trying to outdo competitors and better serve customers through better operational performance, but the data below shows just how focused companies are in trying to maximize efficiencies and achieve optimum output today. And all of the top objectives have a strong tie to asset reliability.
The data shows just how focused companies are in trying to maximize efficiencies and achieve optimum output today. And all of the top objectives have a strong tie to asset reliability.
Indeed, improving operational performance, production capacity, or managing risk are all near impossible for any organization experiencing significant unplanned downtime among its assets. And a move from away from an operational mindset and default of reactive maintenance is paramount in achieving the level of reliability among assets to perform and compete moving forward. Luckily, across today’s technology landscape exist new connection and data capabilities that have the power to provide real-time, enterprise-wide intelligence across APM KPIs, and are trending toward automation of key APM processes with Smart Connected Assets.
What Exactly Are Smart Connected Assets?
Smart Connected Assets are defined as the assets used by a business to produce and deliver its goods and services that can sense and respond to internal and external environments as an intelligent agent. This means they are aware and able to react to stimuli such as:
- Design & configuration
- Past performance
- Predicted future failure
- Raw material
- Environmental impact
- Customer requirements
- Supplier performance
Smart Connected Assets are being developed today through the convergence of IIoT, Cloud, Big Data Analytics, and Mobile technologies that are fusing traditionally separate Information and Operational Technology (IT/OT). They facilitate precisely this key shift from a mindset of reactive to predictive maintenance capabilities by making full use of available APM data.
The State of Smart Connected Asset Attitude and Investment
While many companies today are beginning to focus on APM as a tool to improve operational performance and are beginning to recognize that Smart Connected Assets are a large step toward better APM practices, research shows that the market has been slow to make investments so far. Almost half of LNS Research APM survey respondents have not yet made investments in IIoT technologies.
Almost half of LNS Research APM survey respondents have not yet made investments in IIoT technologies.
Just over 20% of respondents have invested but are not leveraging their data to the full effect, and just over 10% are really using the data to its full potential currently. Even companies that have invested in IIoT-enabled devices and equipment show reluctance to share that information that’s being generated. What is a positive is that nearly a quarter of companies have used IIoT for diagnostic support or for more advanced APM initiatives.
Early Adopters Demonstrating Increased Reliability
For the small percentage of forward-thinking companies that have taken advantage of the full Smart Connected Assets opportunity that exists today, they’re reaping benefits on multiple fronts, and this can be seen by looking at the impact of reliability on operational performance. One of the closest relationships to measure this is through the metric, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). As essentially the cross product of availability, productivity, and quality, asset reliability can impact all three of those factors, meaning organizations with higher reliability will show higher OEE.
Looking below at organizations that have real-time visibility into APM data vs. those that don’t, we see that those that have the capability exhibit a substantially higher OEE performance than those that don’t, with a median OEE of 75 vs. 67.
Beyond Reliability toward Prescriptive Analytics
The level of improvement seen above is an example of how Smart Connected Assets will greatly enhance the top objectives of APM professionals today, in large part by providing greater reliability and less unplanned downtime. But with a greater sense and ability to forecast what is likely to happen across enterprise assets in terms of uptime and maintenance necessities, there is still the question of what, if anything, should be done next?
We envision this as Prescriptive Analytics, which will optimally define the prescribed maintenance activities based on the “best” outcome. With ever more sophisticated analytics capabilities being developed from larger sets of real-time data, manufacturers are achieving not only new levels of reliability, but insight into what the next steps should be in further optimizing asset utilization and production.