Having just come back from ‘IBM Think’, a thought leadership event held in Auckland, it got me really thinking (excuse the pun).
Think’s keynote speaker, Chris Hadfield (Astronaut | First Canadian Commander of the International Space Station), had a simple and inspiring message. He spoke about believing in the power of technology and change. For him, that meant dreaming of becoming an astronaut in a time when his country had no space programme. Despite space exploration still being in its infancy, he saw its future potential and embraced it.
By the way, I highly recommend watching Chris Hadfield’s version of David Bowie’s, Major Tom as he hurtles around the earth in the International Space Station. His live version at the event, was just fantastic.
Yes, astronauts are cool. But how does that apply to enterprise asset management?
As asset managers, we are not necessarily taking command of an international space station. But there are a range of advanced technologies we should take command of, right now. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, drones and a myriad of other technologies are no longer science fiction. These directly impact businesses now. They are things we should leverage, as we build operational models and maximise the investments made in revenue-producing assets.
For example, drone usage is no longer niche. A lot of us are already testing or using drones, or looking for ways to integrate them into our businesses.
In fact a recent research paper by Research and Markets shows that “The drone analytics market is projected to grow from USD 1.57 billion in 2017, to USD 5.41 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 28.11% from 2017 to 2022.” The reports goes on to highlight utilities, telco, transportation, mining and agriculture as key consumers.
What is driving this growth, is the promise of lowering costs to collect data and safely maintain revenue-generating assets.
The use-cases are numerous. Anywhere there are high-value, revenue-producing assets, there will be the need to inspect and maintain them. For example in the utilities sector, pylons, dams or wind farms are in remote and sometimes dangerous locations.
The process of inspecting assets for structural or preventative maintenance using drones is quickly becoming commonplace. A good example is in the maintenance of wind turbines. Often precariously perched on remote, windswept cliffs, the cost and safety implication of getting a ‘technical and ropes expert’ to scale towers is significant.
Imagine a drone capable of simply taking shots or video of the structures, and the time saving this provides. Looking a step further, what if an artificial intelligence system could then automatically compare the images to reference images, identifying potential problems and points of failure. What if this intelligence was linked to your inventory management, so parts for preventative maintenance could be sourced and even automatically scheduled and dispatched to your remote location via drone?
And it’s not just drones either. IoT sensors can perform similar functions building a database of valuable insights on every component within an asset. Regardless of the source data, the ability to analyse the data and deliver actionable insights is where the real power lies.
Most organisation have long applied analytics to asset data, to derive a measure of asset health and to even schedule preventative maintenance. However, advancements in artificial intelligence and data analytics mean that we can now take things even further. By leveraging machine learning, we can now augment human ability by consuming previously unconsumable amounts of data - both structured and unstructured.
The Think event was themed around the ‘junction between humanity and technology’. An excellent example of this in practice is leveraging technology to keep our people safe. I mention safety as this is a benefit that has long been delivered by unmanned drones. Think army bomb disposal or deep-sea cable inspection. Whilst thankfully, most of us don’t work in fields as hazardous as these, Health and Safety is still a primary concern for the industry. For many years, field engineers and service personnel have operated within high-risk environments. They are tasked with monitoring and maintaining assets all over the world, crossing unfriendly and dangerous terrain - often in remote areas with little other infrastructure. Drones are able to safely and quickly deliver the same results, removing the risk of personal harm.
The cost of maintenance and asset monitoring is significant, but are an essential part of maximising the health of revenue-generating assets. Access to up-to-date and accurate system / component information, can help build more accurate routines for condition-based and predictive asset maintenance.
In addition, advances in field mobility and application design, mean that you can now put this data in the hands of the people who need it the most.
If you are ready to take one small step, or even a giant leap towards learning about this technology revolution, then have a look at our asset insights platform. Who knows, it could re-launch your asset strategy (sorry for the pun, did it again).
To learn more about the Asset Insights Platform, download the Building Asset Intelligence ebook here.