August 1, 2017 | Written by: Chris Wiegand
Categorized: Asset Management
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Today there are literally billions of indoor assets that need to be tracked in real-time, to optimize processes and reduce costs. The landscape for asset tracking is rapidly changing from an industry that was largely reserved for technical administrators, to being part of the data set that drives key decisions in a wide array of industries and verticals. When taking a more in-depth look at this evolution, we can see that five key trends are shaping the future of enterprise asset tracking.
1. Demand for real-time data and analytics
The first of these trends revolves around availability of real-time data. The speed with which information is produced and digested within an organization is vital. Relative to asset tracking, people need to know where things are, what their status is, what their availability is, and how they are being used.
When all these different data sets come together, they reveal the journey of an asset with spatial context. The resulting intelligence paints a valuable picture for organizations. It equips key stakeholders with business insights that result in significant cost savings by uncovering previously unseen trends and patterns.
The learnings made available from real-time data capture can have a significant impact on the way organizations function. From an operational standpoint, this intelligence can be the motivating factor to change behavior, add physical signage or even offer training. Visually tracking the movement of assets in real-time can also translate to huge cost savings by maximizing asset scheduling and reducing equipment theft, loss, and hoarding.
Let’s use the medical profession as an example. Real-time information not only reduces equipment downtime; it can save people’s lives. With real-time visibility of medical supplies and equipment, for instance, hospital personnel can effectively track the location of vital assets. Instead of having to search manually, they are able to quickly locate required resources and tend to patients in a timely manner.
2. Advancements in indoor positioning and location sensing technologies
Substandard and unscalable Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS) have historically been the biggest blocker to successfully implementing Internet of Things technologies. That is, until now. The demand for asset tracking with spatial context has long been prevalent, but without a means to offer consistent and accurate location-awareness, it was just not possible.
High costs, complex deployments and labor-intensive maintenance have all played a significant role in restricting enterprise adoption. Indoor positioning provider indoo.rs conducted a survey on the biggest obstacles involved in implementing an IPS, identifying the top three as:
- The time it takes to set up
- Maintenance obligations
- Failure of indoor positioning to work like GPS.
We are now seeing technological advances that have addressed each of these problems, in addition to improving the accuracy and reliability of indoor positioning. With wireless networking technology being built into LED bulbs and access points being powered over ethernet, there has been a profound decrease in the burden previously associated with installation and maintenance. The ability to leverage crowdsourcing to blueprint buildings and smart algorithms to detect map changes which enable self-learning and self-healing, have also played a pivotal role in revolutionizing and commercializing indoor positioning.
Indoor positioning has opened a new dimension for asset tracking and is now more readily available and accessible. If an airport is tracking wheelchairs, inventory can be monitored, but it is not possible to have a visual representation of where each wheelchair is in space without an indoor positioning system. Add indoor positioning, and airports gain location-awareness for visualizing assets,(in this case wheelchairs) within the context of an indoor map.
3. Addressable indoor map layers and objects
The world has historically looked at maps as flat static images. Technology has facilitated a transition from this to multi-dimensional layered maps where every element can be addressed and controlled.
By overlaying multiple data layers on indoor maps, enterprises can support numerous use cases from a single centralized map database. Take airports as an example; facility managers can be granted access to view and monitor the status of electrical equipment and hvac units. From the same map, security authorities can be granted access to view and monitor security personnel. Depending on what you want to see, map layers, which can represent any number of objects, can be turned on and off for a detailed view of visual elements contained in each element.
The benefits of such granular asset tracking, for both fixed and moving assets, bestow enterprises with unprecedented control and visibility. Entire networks can be monitored through a centralized hub offering 360-degree tracking of assets.
4. REST architecture design & interoperability
Interoperability, while long talked of, has only recently become a reality. Historically, systems where data is captured have operated in silos. However, with the rise of the Internet of Things and REST architectures, we are finally seeing real interoperability between systems.
REST architectures allow for universal integrations with other systems and applications. Every map element is given an external ID so it can be addressed with data through third party Application Program Interface (API) integrations. As a result, enterprises are able to gain unprecedented real-time visibility into the location and status of assets.
This shift towards data sharing unlocks myriad asset use cases, creating opportunities that may not have previously been considered or even possible. With REST architecture, an asset’s usage and status can be viewed from a centralized indoor map database. You can trigger alerts for when an asset enters or exits a geofence. You can send maintenance notifications to responsible parties and send turn-by-turn directions to an asset or a series of assets requiring attention. All this information provides visibility into operations through location data, resulting in smarter, more actionable decisions, and workflow efficiencies through connected technologies.
5. Artificial Intelligence
In many cases, for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots to work, a location context is required. AI can tell us when to predict a piece of technology is going to need maintenance. Whether it is a light bulb that needs to be replaced in a boardroom projector, or an infusion pump at a hospital that needs to be charged, AI can tell us when these things will need attention. And maps can tell us where these items are in real-time, allowing the most efficient maintenance path to be identified, and the workflow to begin. As a result, enterprise organizations are optimizing all facets of operations.
The impact these trends are having on asset tracking is vast and will continue to transform the way enterprises consume, interpret, and benefit from data. The combining of data visualization and asset tracking is transformative in its ability to optimize the way enterprises engage with data.
Learn more about asset tracking and management
Learn more about the world’s leading enterprise asset management solution, IBM Maximo, and Maximo Asset Health Insights to help you understand what your assets are saying and improve your maintenance practices.
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