Improvements in sensor technology now happen exponentially: sensors are getting smaller, more accurate, sensitive, and flexible. These days, it’s less about which assets to monitor (manufacturers are able to sensor just about anything) and more about how to judiciously do so, with a look toward how data will be collected and put to use. Machines are talking, we have the capacity to listen, but how do manufacturers work with these valuable insights at scale across the enterprise?
Too much of a good thing applies to data also. There are several considerations that manufacturers must account for before deciding which assets to sensor. What are some dos and don’ts of a data collection plan?
DO prioritize which data you want to collect
Not all data is created equal, because not all asset performance issues are equally mission critical. Before going through the expense of sensoring all of your equipment, you’ll want to conduct an analysis of the known problem history of your install base. This will allow you to determine which assets are most essential to system uptime, revenue generation, or customer satisfaction. The first assets to sensor will be the ones that are the most problematic and therefore most need monitoring. Typically, these will also be the assets that are the cause of the costliest problems to resolve.
DON’T assume connecting is sufficient
Connecting your equipment is the first step, but you’ll need to build and support an infrastructure that supports the output of these sensors. Would data from an additional sensor help resolve equipment issues? How would an early notice of a malfunction change how you service this particular piece of equipment?
DO think about your customers’ customers
When deciding which assets to sensor and what data to collect, consider how your staff engage customers and end-users. If your equipment is in a hospital setting, how does the hospital communicate asset performance to doctors and nurses? How are problems reported? What concerns or safeguards must be in place regarding performance data? Elekta, a medical device manufacturer, took these factors into account when establishing a remote service solution for its machines.
DON’T take data security for granted
Any data collection and analysis strategy must go hand-in-hand with a plan to secure data at the collection site and throughout its use and archiving process. Depending on your industry, your assets and the data you collect or share may be subject to government or industry regulations. These regulations cover a host of security concerns, from how the data is hosted to whom can access it. In these cases, your monitoring solution must be compliant with these standards.
DO consider how much data you’ll collect
Before you decide to connect your equipment, you should decide how much data you want to collect, how frequently, and how long you’ll keep it. Do you need minute-by-minute asset feedback? Do you want to collect data as often as possible? Depending on the type of equipment, the amount of information you’ll collect is astronomical. Is that much data even valuable to your organization? Is it usable?
DON’T forget the hidden costs of big data projects
When you start collecting data, you’ll need to process it, store it, secure it, as well as ensure you have enough bandwidth and capacity to do this, and what the associated costs are. If processing and storing massive amounts of information costs you more than the problem being solved is worth, you haven’t gained much ground. There are always costs associated with maintaining data and data integrity. Work those into your plan when you’re rolling out your connected asset strategy.
DO start with a small pilot
An experienced solution and implementation partner can help you look at your asset ecosystem and make an informed decision on where to start, based on your current and future capabilities, and on your industry’s specific needs and priorities. Here, you can also decide whether your organization can support a homegrown solution for the long term, or whether your service organization should partner with an external solution provider that can design and support a solution for your business.
To learn more about how the IoT is affecting field service, read our research report here: