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How to transform Asset Management with IoT?

iot in asset management
The Internet of Things is a trending-tech phenomenon moving from academia to industry. It is due to the availability of various sensors, affordable connectivity, scalable cloud platforms, ingestion, processing and storage capabilities of big data platforms, ubiquitous mobile applications and smart machine learning tools.

Different industries and service providers focus on building innovative solutions for connecting things to bring about a radical transformation in their industrial operations. Industries have reached beyond the acquaintance phase with IoT and are now penetrating the ‘let us try’ phase. From manufacturing, mining, construction to healthcare, businesses across all verticals function with ample machines, equipment and tools. Effective asset management has a significant impact on operational productivity and companies’ bottom line.

The advent and application of IoT for asset management open compelling opportunities to optimize equipment efficiency and asset lifecycle management. According to the Mobile Experts Report, asset management and tracking with IoT devices are likely to increase three times by 2022. IBM has ranked IoT in asset management and monitoring as one of the top industrial use-cases maturing in the coming time. It is expected that there will be 267 million active asset trackers worldwide across the supply chain, construction, mining, construction and other markets.

This article focuses on the significance, working, benefits and applications of IoT in asset management and monitoring. It will guide you in adopting IoT advancements in managing your assets to streamline business operations by answering the following questions.

What is Asset Management and Monitoring?

Asset Management and Monitoring refers to a systematic process of tracking and maintaining valuable things for any business entity or organization. It may include human assets like human resources or moving assets such as cranes, vehicle fleets or non-moving assets like industrial equipment, raw materials, finished goods. An asset could be a simple single device or a hugely complex structure comprising numerous sensors. These assets need maintenance in electrical, mechanical and hydraulic aspects to make them functional with a proper regulatory framework.

Asset management involves the tracking of every physical device, either big or small, in an organization. It gives every detail about the status, location, condition and performance of the device in real-time. It helps in balancing and improving productivity with low cost-effectiveness. In the simplest form, asset management and monitoring can be described as a systematic process where assets are detected, categorized, supervised, maintained, operated, upgraded, and replaced cost-effectively.

It considers the whole lifecycle of the asset from the time of purchase to its disposal. Keeping a close eye on the complete asset lifecycle reduces operational costs, increases productivity, prolongs their durability and improvises the business’s bottom line.

Understanding the significance of asset management and monitoring in every industrial sector, incorporating IoT technology will boost operational efficiency. Since IoT is a network of interconnected devices comprising sensors, software and network connectivity, the data collection and exchange becomes feasible between multiple systems. IoT technology gleans essential data about equipment performance, energy utilization, fault detection, and predictive maintenance when sensors are attached to equipment and systems.

How is IoT-based asset management and monitoring different from conventional systems?

Before IoT innovation, organizations adopted siloes systems such as handwritten lists or excel sheets to keep track of asset details. This system was more vulnerable to errors, less efficient, more time-consuming and required more human resources.

On the contrary, IoT integrates physical assets and IT systems by sending and exchanging data over the internet. The IoT-enabled asset management software allows connected devices to communicate automatically and send information to the required destination without any human intervention.

For example, any physical device gets transformed into an IoT device with sensor installation. The sensors can be connected to the central monitoring system. So, the sensors will automatically transmit the relevant information such as existing location, running status, condition, possible malfunctions to the central monitoring system. With this information, the asset manager can take instant action on that particular asset requiring urgent maintenance and generate a work order for that device. Further, the mail is sent to a field engineer to check the machine and repair it. Hence, the device downtime possibility gets reduced and impacts boosting productivity in an organization.

Which IoT components enhance the asset tracking and monitoring processes?

The three key elements involved in asset tracking include tracking devices, a connectivity method and software. IoT devices need to function effectively to capture useful analytics and maintain connectivity as per the different use-cases. Most equipment manufacturers provide bespoke IoT solutions and off-the-shelf devices. With the power consumption traits and cost-effectivity, there are numerous types to choose from. The typical devices which are required along with asset tracking software solutions include:

  • GPS tracking tags.
  • Smart locks.
  • CCTV systems.
  • Bluetooth Low Energy transmitters.
  • Energy sensor trackers.
  • Smoke and monoxide detectors.
  • Automatic lighting controls.

How does IoT- enabled asset management and monitoring solution work?

The general structure of an IoT network consists of devices to interact with the environment, a gateway for collecting data and communicating with the cloud and the cloud platform for storing, processing, and analyzing the data.

Workflow Architecture of IoT in Asset Management and Monitoring

Step 1: Data acquisition and transmission to the cloud

Sensors collect data from the ambiance and then send it to the cloud with the help of an intermediary device. The device prepares the data by cleaning, preprocessing and analyzing for transmitting it to the cloud.

Role of Sensors: Sensors are input devices. They help measure environmental parameters like temperature, light, moisture, etc. and transmit this information to the device, which acts as a control unit for the sensor.

Role of Devices: They act as controlling units of sensors. For example, running a self-cleaning cycle or reducing the temperature are the preprocessing activities controlled by devices before transmitting the data to the cloud. They collect the information from the sensors, preprocess it and then send it to the cloud. Hence, they are regarded as smart devices or things in IoT. These devices communicate two kinds of data like state and telemetry.

State Information: It refers to the device’s current status, structured /unstructured and read /write form. States and events send commands, verify if the command is acknowledged or if any error is encountered in the checksum.

Telemetry: It refers to read-only data—for example, environmental parameters such as pressure value, temperature value, etc.

Step 2: Data Processing

Once the data is transmitted, the cloud pub/sub (messaging service) receives messages from the devices which are securely connected to the cloud. Then, the messages are published for the subscribers to read and data pipelines are generated using beam pipelines from the device to their destination. Some of these platforms include BigQuery, BigTable, Cloud Storage. The data processing stage involves the following tools.

Device Manager: For connecting the device, it has to be initially registered in the device manager. The device manager contains a device registry, where each authenticated device is registered and configurations are set.

Communication Protocols: These protocols help the devices to communicate with the cloud. The protocols like the MQTT bridge or HTTP bridge are used depending upon the requirement.

Serverless functions: These are single-purpose, programmable functions, which are hosted on infrastructure. As these functions are event-driven, they perform the actions only after the event gets triggered.

Beam pipeline: They assist in building data pipelines to process the entire data workflow in batch and streaming modes. Apache Beam is a widely used programming model to set up parallel processing and optimize data pipelines for simplifying large-scale data processing.

Step 3: Data Analytics and Machine Learning

After processing the data, it is analyzed to develop actionable insights. Data analysis and ML are performed on the cloud. The accumulated data in storage systems of the cloud becomes accessible to BigQuery and Cloud Bigtable. The comprehensive data, including historical data, real-time streaming data, and metadata, are combined to generate accurate data insights. Following tools are used to develop actionable insights.

ML Models: They are used to detect and identify anomalies from the devices.

Data Warehousing Tool: It stores and runs a query on the data to obtain insights. A serverless, highly scalable, low-cost enterprise data warehouse makes the data analysis more effective. AWS Redshift, open-source Hadoop or GCP Bigquery are some of the effective data warehousing services. While selecting an appropriate data warehousing tool, it is essential to consider:

  • Data processing type (batch or real-time)
  • On-demand scalability
  • Efficiency in querying and storage of structured data

Step 4: Generation of dashboards and reports based on meaningful and actionable Insights.

After the thorough stages of data collection, data processing and data analysis, data reporting and dashboarding solutions are the eventual steps to gaining insight into events. The data gets turned into customized reports that are easy to read, share, and appropriate for managing assets. Google Datastudio, Kibana, Tableau are some of the widely used tools to convert the data into informative and customizable dashboards and reports.

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How is IoT beneficial in asset management and monitoring? 

IoT-powered solutions provide the following multiple benefits to streamline business operations effectively.

Benefits of IoT in Asset Management and Monitoring

  • Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OOE) Optimization
    OEE serves to be an essential parameter to measure the productivity and efficiency of any manufacturing unit. This parameter indirectly helps in decision support to reduce losses. Incorporating IoT in asset management helps the manufacturers analyze and monitor three key aspects: quality, availability, and performance of the machines in real-time. IoT-enabled asset management assists forward-thinking enterprises to benefit from a widely connected world with reduced operational costs, increased customer satisfaction, and enhanced business performance.

  • Predictive Maintenence
    Numerous industries engross in extensive efforts to maintain their assets for the long run. With IoT, the sensors attached to various assets provide data related to performance. This data proves beneficial in predicting the functional ability of the assets just before equipment downtime or end-of-life. Despite waiting for assets to break before fixing them, IoT helps predict the required maintenance time. Apart from maintaining the assets in good condition, IoT-powered solution prevents expensive repairs, downtime, tenant inconvenience, etc.
  •  Reduced Human Intervention
    IoT-enabled asset management uses sensors to empowers organizations to know their assets’ information, thereby minimizing the need for human effort. It actively keeps supervising all assets through IoT sensors attached to each asset. Different kinds of sensors estimate various parameters like pressure, temperature, proximity, humidity, acceleration, etc.
  • Enhanced workflow support and security
    With the reduction of human intervention, new business workflow strategies have become executable using IoT-based monitoring solutions. For example, in case of any breakage of a particular piece of equipment, the system can quickly notify technicians of its servicing. Also, the system notifies the user to deposit the asset in its assigned locker to take it out of circulation. Besides supporting workflow strategy, IoT asset tracking exists with better security. The adoption of bank-level AES-256 data authentication and encryption techniques ensures security to data collected through sensors.

What are the applications of IoT in asset management and monitoring?

A good asset management strategy optimizes industrial performance, minimizes costs and supports business goals. IoT-enabled asset management and monitoring solutions are not restricted to manufacturing industries but across every business arena. Some of the widely adopted applications of IoT in asset management and monitoring are stated below.

  • Manufacturing
    In Manufacturing industries, automated IoT-enabled asset management help in tracking, organizing and locating every single piece of equipment. When all these tasks are performed manually, they consume a lot of time and effort. Most industries use handheld scanners for inventory management, which is very expensive. With IoT enabled asset tracking solution, it becomes possible to track these handheld scanners automatically. This automated tracking assists in making the charged scanners available at the beginning of the shifts.

  • Logistics
    Goods like medicine, food products need to be transported carefully under specific conditions to keep them viable. IoT-based asset tracking systems provide valuable data like shock, tilt and temperature to gain proper insights into traceability, quality control and responsibility boundaries. It ensures the safe delivery of sensitive commodities on time and in perfect condition. Also, collecting the location data from fleets of returnable containers, pellets, parcels and trolleys, IoT tracking systems offer better insights into the value chain journey.

  • Construction
    In IoT-based asset management, real-time tracking and datasets allow construction industries to reduce theft, enhance productivity and limit operational cost. It is highly essential to protect the expensive machinery and equipment like electrical panels from buildings. If a robbery occurs, the tracked information will assist police in recovering the stolen asset and gathering evidence for prosecution. IoT-oriented tracking of heavy equipment provides valuable insights for on-site construction activities and the usage level of assets.

  • Education
    IoT-based asset tracking systems can help educational institutions and research labs track the usage of expensive laboratory equipment, library books and electronic appliances like laptops, tablets. Secure storage lockers in asset tracking systems also facilitate the charging of idle electronics devices when they are not in use.

  •  Healthcare
    Tracking of medical equipment in hospitals can reduce wait times and improve patient care. Supervising staff will always have the information about who has signed out the equipment, where it is in usage and when it is supposed to be returned. In case of emergency, it becomes easier to find a critical piece of equipment as a quick checking of the asset tracking system notifies staff about the exact equipment location.

  • Agriculture
    In farming, livestock management is a tedious and around-the-clock job. IoT-based asset trackers make it easier by supervising and gathering real-time information of their location, speed, body temperature and stress level. It helps in reducing inefficiencies, decrease operating costs and improve the health and safety of livestock resources. Apart from livestock management, farmers can also use it to track harvested crops, their location in different storage facilities and manage areas of harvesting equipment.

  • Law Enforcement
    Police and emergency medical services always have an ample amount of equipment to track. Police equipment that is purchased under federal grants requires monitoring and reporting. Narcotics and other regulated medications carried by EMS staff also require close monitoring. IoT tracking systems manage the inventory and keep a record of all the sensitive assets.

IoT-enabled asset management and monitoring is a paradigm shift from the conventional approach, which is time-consuming, expensive and tedious. IoT enables the power to be proactive and provides asset managers with visibility into their assets at a holistic level. The data obtained provide meaningful insights and information for proper planning, monitoring, and tracking, leading to more productivity, higher profits, and reduced operational costs.

The opportunities spun off by IoT are enormous and it promises to be the new technology edge that industries can utilize. Harnessing IoT in asset management is the gateway for organizations ready to embrace change for a better future. However, this technology is swiftly evolving with each passing day and all the time, which can facilitate monitoring and further tracking smaller and less costly assets in the coming time.

We, at LeewayHertz, offer IoT solutions in asset management to various clientele. Our experts assist enterprises in acquiring real-time asset tracking, building robust maintenance strategy and enable asset monitoring services for achieving higher asset uptime and enhanced ROI.

If you want to discuss how you can leverage the IoT technology in asset management, contact our experts for a detailed consultation session.

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Author’s Bio

Akash Takyar
Akash Takyar
CEO LeewayHertz
Akash Takyar is the founder and CEO of LeewayHertz. With a proven track record of conceptualizing and architecting 100+ user-centric and scalable solutions for startups and enterprises, he brings a deep understanding of both technical and user experience aspects.
Akash's ability to build enterprise-grade technology solutions has garnered the trust of over 30 Fortune 500 companies, including Siemens, 3M, P&G, and Hershey's. Akash is an early adopter of new technology, a passionate technology enthusiast, and an investor in AI and IoT startups.

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