The Internet of Things (IoT) has so far meant designing and launching new connected products or redesigning connected versions of existing products. While there’s plenty of value to be gained from newly deployed IoT products, that value can take a while to kick in given the complexity and potentially long lead times for connected-product development.
While waiting to complete development of new or updated connected products, enterprises can now ask: Why not start getting some serious IoT value from equipment that’s already in place? With a new class of “instant” IoT asset management tools, equipment that has an existing diagnostic or serial port can be IoT-enabled in seconds. Then, this already deployed equipment can provide sensor-based data to help improve asset management on multiple levels, including operational intelligence, maintenance, service optimization, customer satisfaction, and supply-chain processes.
Putting Existing Assets to More Profitable Work
Across the world, millions of pieces of commercial and industrial equipment fail each year, often without warning or reason. The costs to diagnose and repair equipment can be substantial, especially if it means dispatching a service technician. Moreover, downtime can also be extremely costly, especially for mission-critical operations.
Even equipment that works as intended can be considered failing in another way: by not reporting its own operational data so that enterprises can analyze that data to perform preventive maintenance, optimize performance, or gain other efficiencies.
Now, however, a combination of simple plug-in hardware and cloud connectivity software is bringing remote monitoring and visibility aspects of the IoT to non-IoT equipment—instantly, without requiring any alteration to the existing equipment. Enterprises gaining more insight into their deployed assets, especially capital-intensive fixed assets, can extend the life of those assets by better tuning and optimizing their operation and performance.
This new instant approach to IoT asset management enables enterprises to:
- More accurately diagnose and remotely correct service events in commercial and industrial equipment.
- Improve service and equipment efficiency by shifting maintenance from time-based to condition-based cycles.
- Ultimately, increase competitive advantage by improving existing profit margin, reducing operational costs, and understanding usage to improve future products.
A Simple Solution Provides Real Results
In this new class of IoT asset management solution, hardware with a small form factor, plugged into any standard Modbus or serial interface, provides instant, secure connectivity to an IoT cloud. From there, the hardware can send data to configure the device remotely and pull data into a monitoring or diagnostics dashboard that can be configured to manage specific product performance goals—and to enable advanced features such as over-the-air (OTA) updates, edge analytics, and anomaly detection.
Once plugged in, the hardware/software solution can transmit data from any functions in the equipment that are measured by sensors, such as on/off, temperature, humidity, motion, bin level, flow volumes of liquids or gases, presence of smoke or fire, illumination levels, and other performance characteristics. As a result, enterprises can simply and closely monitor functionality and processes of even widely dispersed assets.
Importantly, this plug-in solution works without requiring any updates to the existing product hardware or firmware. Plus, the introduction of low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) means that it's now possible to get instant connectivity across an entire fleet of deployed products for a very affordable price.
The value of this approach increases with greater numbers of now-connected equipment. For example:
- A large chain of coffee shops, with hundreds of locations throughout a region, can use the plug-in IoT solution to download recipes for seasonal coffee drinks to all their commercial coffee machines, instantly—instead of requiring a service person to visit each shop and update the recipes manually.
- A company that owns vending machines can use data from its deployed machines to automate replenishment—thereby restocking the vending machines before stock runs out and boosting revenues by lowering replenishment costs.
- An owner of commercial buildings can remotely monitor installed heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment to ensure efficient operation rather than relying on scheduled maintenance—which reduces unnecessary maintenance calls to check on HVAC status and lowers overall OpEx for equipment maintenance.
IoT asset management solutions, therefore, are highly recommended for enterprises to gain greater visibility into existing equipment’s operations, instantly, and for a very low annual cost.
# # #