The internet of things is helping businesses connect their assets, cutting down on waste, providing data analytics and boosting business performance by connecting all their physical assets.
For example, construction companies use the IoT to track vehicles and machinery such as diggers, earth movers and mixers. Aviation companies use it to monitor the location of crucial maintenance equipment, while taxi companies can use it to spot the location of fleet cars at any one time.
The main reason they do this is to reduce one of the biggest areas of waste for many companies – lost or delayed equipment. Lost and stolen assets cost US businesses billions every year. Exactly how much is difficult to estimate because, by nature, these losses are not measured.
The problem lies in how these assets are managed. Even in our high tech modern world, most businesses still track assets using slow, cumbersome manual processes such as paper documentation, white board or spread sheets. Asset tracking is slow and inefficient which creates all sorts of problems.
Assets frequently get lost, managers can’t find them when they need them and companies are wide open to asset loss, much of which they might not even detect.
Real time asset tracking
Internet of things technology offers a real transformation in asset management. By placing RIFD tags, QR code labels, GPS trackers or other technologies they can track each and every physical asset in their inventory.
GPS trackers transmit their location with a signal while each label or tag can be scanned in the field using a tablet, scanning device or smartphone. This data can be transmitted directly to an office, remote location or even the home of managers. Here the data can be sorted and organized to show managers the location of assets in real time.
If a manager needs to deploy an asset to a certain location, they can quickly see where it is and order it to be moved. If someone steals or loses an asset, the problem will be flagged up immediately. Tracking down the location of assets goes from an extensive investigation to a matter of a few clicks.
Information transmitted from these trackers can also provide more information about the condition of assets. For example, in the livestock sector, wearable technology can constantly track the wellbeing as well as location of the herd. They can identify changes in behaviour, blood pressure or pulse rate to provide an early warning system of health problems.
Companies can streamline supply chains, by constantly monitoring stocking levels. It reduces waste by removing the problem of over or understocking. Data on stocking levels can provide a foundation for future predictions enabling businesses to make educated guesses about how much stock they will use and when. For example, if demand for certain items peaks at a certain time of year, you can arrange stocking levels accordingly.
Maintenance and downtime
Real time information can also reduce costs of maintenance and down time. In the industrial world, keeping assets up and running and reducing hours lost through repair and downtime is a constant headache.
In an increasingly competitive world, each minute and even second is becoming ever more valuable. Businesses would love to improve the efficiency of their maintenance schedules but poor data quality has frustrated their efforts. Real time IoT technology can help managers see the location of their assets and spot when they need preventative maintenance. If one unit breaks down, a manager can quickly track the location of a replacement asset and get operations back up and running.
Historic performance data can also provide an indication about when equipment may need maintenance. This allows managers to schedule preventative maintenance and ensure a replacement is in place without any interruption to production at all.
Data, then, is king. As technology improves, businesses of all kinds are finding new ways to put data to use. Thanks to the internet of things. Managers are finding exciting new ways to track their assets and make that data work for them.