Asset efficiency is one of those concepts that escapes most people. For those who have studied business it may have been mentioned in passing – something that would be great to think about and might even make a good thesis topic for someone, but not something often considered as a serious management task. But now, just as the web has brought consumers an endless cornucopia of products and services, many available 24/7, the IIoT is unlocking the possibility of making asset efficiency, based on lots of real-time data, a workable management goal.
In essence, the concept aims to get a true holistic view of the spending on an asset, from cradle to grave, along with the asset’s utility and the benefit derived from maintenance, repairs, and so on. SKF, the Swedish supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and services offers an Asset Efficiency Optimization (AEO) methodology as a consulting service, for example.
One part of the SKF offering, Predictive Maintenance, aims to “detect machine conditions that will lead to failure and estimate the amount of time before that failure occurs.” In addition, SKF says its program can advise regarding which tasks will be best for extending machine service life.
Incorporating similar thinking, but aiming more broadly, thanks to the ubiquitous instrumentation emerging via the IIoT, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has announced an Asset Efficiency Testbed to explore the tremendous potential to not only deliver better predictive maintenance but to help raise operational efficiency and improve the deployment of capital.
Infosys, the lead consortium member on the project, conducted a study on Asset Efficiency with the Institute for Industrial Management (FIR) at Rhine-Westphalia Institute of Technology (RWTH) Aachen, Germany, Industry 4.0: The State of the Nations.
Two of the specific observations contained in the report are:
- “Good asset information management significantly improves decision-making ability, especially in determine optimal asset performance and maintenance.”
- “There is a direct relation between asset efficiency and energy efficiency. An efficient asset is also energy-efficient.”
Infosys also recently ran a Webinar, Is the automotive industry a champion in Industry 4.0 or only an early adopter?, which dealt with asset efficiency topics.
Along with supporting members, Bosch, Intel, and PTC, the Asset Efficiency testbed team led by Infosys is pursuing the goal of efficiently and accurately collecting asset information in real-time and on running the analytics needed to yield optimal decisions.
According to the IIC, the Asset Efficiency Testbed has multiple benefits for industries that use fixed and moving assets (for example manufacturing, automotive, and aerospace) including the improvement of an asset’s life, reduced downtime, and maximized production. The members involved with the project will first test Asset Efficiency with an aircraft landing gear use case.
That particular use case stems from the ongoing need to maximize safety while avoiding unnecessary costs. The current “take no chances” approach emphasizes regularly scheduled maintenance, with no reference to the actual condition of the landing gear.
The aim of the testbed is to devise a system of ongoing, accurate surveillance that can permit a shift to Condition-based Maintenance (CBM). Assuming the system doesn’t “miss” anything – that it successfully “enables automatic detection, diagnosis, prognosis, and mitigation of adverse events arising from component failures,” and ensures flight safety, it could lead to a significant reduction in the overall operational and maintenance costs.
And, of course, if Asset Efficiency can be proven in airline operations, it will be even easier to justify in other areas.
Alan R. Earls is a Boston-based writer focused on technology, business, and manufacturing — a field where he spent the earliest part of his career. He has written for publications and websites as diverse as The Boston Globe, Computerworld and Modern Infrastructure as well as Industry, The Manufacturer, and Today's Machining World.