Most people don’t associate the IoT (Internet of Things) with earth movers, dump trucks and other heavy industrial equipment. But for construction, oil and gas, waste management and other industrial businesses, IoT has become an increasingly important tool for reducing inefficiencies that have plagued these industries for decades. Specifically, IoT is transforming the way these companies manage their assets by making it possible to track their location, performance and other operational metrics in real or near-real time.
Most large industrial companies manage their assets using cumbersome manual processes. Equipment inventories are typically maintained by hand, on paper, whiteboard, and/or spreadsheets. Asset movement is difficult to track, with the information often becoming outdated before it reaches the home office, especially in companies that move their assets to different job sites on a frequent basis.
As a result, tools and equipment frequently get lost or misplaced. Managers can’t find vehicles when they need them. Asset theft and misuse is a common occurrence. And the lack of timely, accurate data leads to inefficient use of tools, equipment and assets, resulting in higher operating costs.
Real-Time Data Makes the Difference
These days, smart companies use digital asset tracking to monitor the location, movement and performance of machinery and other physical assets in a timely and efficient manner. This involves placing QR code scanning labels, GPS trackers, or RFID (radio frequency identification) tags on them. These labels and tags are scanned in the field often using smart phones or mobile tablets or scanners, while the GPS trackers automatically transmit the data using cellular signals. The captured data is sent their cloud-based system so they have access from any field office as well as the home office. In the office, managers use sophisticated software programs to organize and analyze the data and make better decisions regarding asset utilization.
IoT asset management allows companies to reap a wide range of operational benefits that lower costs, remove inefficiencies from their business models, and improve customer satisfaction.
For example, because of the high costs involved in most projects, large construction companies are under enormous pressure to avoid cost overruns and finish their projects on time. Knowing the exact location of their entire asset inventory helps companies maximize equipment utilization by making sure they have the right equipment on site at the right time. When a piece of equipment breaks down, managers can stay on schedule by routing the nearest available replacement piece. Or, they can instantly see they don’t have other equipment to spare, and can rent a replacement as quickly as possible.
Keeping Assets Up and Running
The struggle to schedule and perform preventive asset maintenance in a timely manner has long been a thorn in the side of industrial enterprises – mainly due to poor data visibility regarding asset location and inefficient record keeping of maintenance histories and due dates. Thanks to IoT tracking of vehicles and equipment, companies can now instantly know the location of all their assets, how they’re being utilized, and whether they need preventive maintenance.
With a click of the mouse, managers can also access entire maintenance histories of every asset in their fleet, including scheduled maintenance dates. GPS trackers that plug directly into onboard diagnostic systems can also send automatic alerts of upcoming dates and notifications when scheduled dates are missed. Armed with this information, managers can reduce equipment downtime by scheduling maintenance in between projects.
Properly maintained equipment keeps everyone in the field working more efficiently. It generates significant cost savings through reduced repair expenses. It also lowers capital investment by extending the service life of vehicles and equipment.
The Future Looks Bright for Asset Management
By using IoT asset tracking to manage their assets more efficiently, companies generate improvements in virtually every area of the business.
- Stop wasting time hunting for tools, vehicles and equipment
- Maximize employee and equipment efficiency
- Reduce equipment downtime through better planning
- Optimize underutilized assets
- Track and deter asset theft
- Organize their warehouses and inventories more efficiently
- Comply with government or industry compliance requirements
- Improve planning and budgeting for large capital investments
Perhaps the best part is that IoT asset tracking is still in its formative years. As the industry continues to mature, more companies will be able to take advantage of these transformative tools and technologies to take even bigger steps in eliminating inefficient ways of working.
This article was written by Austin Conti, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Tenna. He is leveraging his international experience in construction operations for civil, building, and energy projects with The Conti Group, a 111-year-old private developer of infrastructure assets. His passion for entrepreneurship has led him to create IoT technology for industrial businesses.