Understanding the ‘things’ in Internet of Things

By | 3 minute read | January 24, 2018

Last month I had the incredible pleasure of escaping the winter doldrums of the Northeast and heading to sunny Coconut Grove, Florida for the International Maintenance Conference (IMC).  This annual conference is a must-see event for asset managers, plant managers, and reliability engineers who keep the industrial infrastructure of the world going. One key theme of the event this year was the Internet of Things (IoT). When we talk about the Internet of Things, we can’t forget that ‘things’ are ‘assets’.  This become a common thread at the event, as I’ll explain in more depth later in this post.

IBM Watson IoT had an impressive presence at the show, including sessions, keynotes, and workshops. I spent my time in our solution center where we showcased existing and new technologies for attendees, including Maximo and our Maximo Asset Health Insights  analytics tool, our Predictive Maintenance and Optimization solution, plus our new IoT for Manufacturing plant performance solutions that allow plant managers to monitor the performance of whole facilities.

Showcasing a demo of Maximo Asset Health Insights at IMC

How does the IoT play into my asset management strategy?

We also had an area focused on our IoT platform. This platform simplifies the integration, connectivity, security and cloud storage (generally your whole IoT strategy)  beyond the core capabilities. Almost every attendee that came into our room to talk about their experience with Maximo had two questions:

1) How does the IoT play into my asset management strategy?

2) How does the IoT enable me to get more value from my assets?

And the simple answer I give them is that ‘things are assets.’ Whether it be production machinery, environmental controls, gateway devices, quality control apparatus or IT infrastructure that supports asset intensive industries, all the things that we use to produce products and run facilities, are assets.

How can IoT extend into artificial intelligence?

Clients are focused on how their assets are being connected, instrumented, and measured. Oftentimes, their IoT strategy is still being formulated. I helped them to understand why a “platform” makes a lot of sense in their heterogeneous environments. This led to conversations on security, data management, and the eventual extension of those assets through artificial intelligence.

For a Maximo client – helping them understand the value of an open and extensible platform for connecting their assets is key. By ensuring security, data storage and retrieval, as well as the promise of deeper analytics, left many intrigued.

Use the IoT platform to gain greater value from Maximo

There are a few key ways in which our clients are gaining value from the IoT platform.

1. Integration: Equipment types from various vendors have different ways of pulling and pushing data from them during operation. But they often lack any sort of unified data model, relying on point-to-point connections and simplistic operational metrics. Older equipment may be ideal to instrument with sensors, but defining how and where that data will flow is complex.

2. Information Management: With an IoT platform, we can bring all the data together in one location. This enables quality and reliability processing for that data to ensure high-quality insights. Using pre-configured data storage, and out-of-the-box data models, teams can focus on implementing their strategy. They do this by freeing data to be used across the enterprise and applying analytics at an asset, process or business outcome level.

3. Security: By providing user-based, project-based, role-based or enterprise-level security rules, the IoT allows people to do their jobs and monitor their areas of focus effectively. They do this while keeping assets safe from internal and external issues and threats.

4. AI and Cognitive: Last, but surely not least, is the ability to integrate analytics into your corporate strategy through the IoT. This could be in the form of access to analytics beyond the ability of your data scientists. It could also mean integrating data like weather, market trends, or product usage patterns into your database. An IoT platform provides access to the data and analytics you need to drive new ways of thinking.

 Learn more about innovations with EAM & IoT

Of course, the IoT is just one way to augment your enterprise asset management strategy. There also lies a plethora of use cases that extend EAM using technology to change how we see and act on our assets.

If you couldn’t visit us at IMC this year, I hope you will consider attending next year or learning more about the IoT platform and how the IoT helps to extend operations through capabilities like enterprise asset management.