Keep an eye on your assets with IoT

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Investing in technology for asset management has an almost immediate return. With remote monitoring of factories, offices and machinery, it is possible to optimize production, reduce localized stocks and even improve the environmental conditions in which employees work. In the healthcare industry, monitoring equipment and also patients reduces hospital costs, as much as in the use of instruments and also in hospitalizations.

A factory depends on its machines and people on the production line. If at any point something fails, the entire line can be compromised. But with the implementation of control processes, with the use of IoT sensors and network technology, many of the problems can be anticipated and mitigation actions can be planned. In addition to manufacturing processes, harvesting activities, mineral extraction, logistics, livestock cultivation, among others, all can benefit from the use of special sensors and long-range wireless networks to optimize results.

Today,you can find sensors on the market for different types of activity: to measure temperature, soil and environmental humidity, geographic location, light, proximity, vibrations, sounds and even the presence of chemicals. And all of them coupled with some type of integrated circuit that connects wired or wirelessly to a computer network.

A typical Industry 4.0 case is the implantation of sensors in motors, connected to a system that meets the normal standards of these machines and issues alerts if the motors go off the desired frequency (vibration), go into overload (voltage), or have their temperature risen beyond a limit, indications that there is an impending failure. The system can stop the engine on time for maintenance, decrease its speed, turn on a ventilation system or call a technician to check what the problem is.

Humidity, temperature, light and occupancy sensors are also frequently used to monitor closed environments where many people work, to ensure a healthy and pleasant space for employees who spend most of their day there. Other operations may also benefit from leakage sensors, such as refrigeration systems, water tanks, fuel or chemicals, warehouses, boats and ships.

As processes’ sensitivity and the need for quick decision making grow, it’s not only important to collect information at the endpoint, but also process the collected data and configure preemptive actions on the spot. The greater the need for rapid mitigation action, the greater the reason for using edge computing to monitor data, process it, draw conclusions and trigger new processes.

Centralized management

And if everything is connected to a central cloud system, which can be accessed from anywhere, so much the better. The implementation of remote action monitoring and configuration dashboards can be done with several market tools. Cisco, for example, has a system they call Industrial Asset Vision, a managed cloud solution focused on remote asset monitoring. Their solution uses sensors, LoRaWAN gateways and a cloud system to identify problems and trends that could impact the company’s business.

Aveva offers a cloud-based system called Aveva Insight, which implements artificial intelligence algorithms to improve operational efficiency and asset reliability. Lloyd’s Register AllAssets system includes a risk-based inspection and maintenance optimization system.

Fleet and equipment monitoring

Other companies, such as Iridium, offer more specific solutions, such as Edge Solar, suitable for geographic monitoring of cargo ship fleet, which require robustness, large battery capacity – or solar energy capture – and two-way communication . A similar option for asset monitoring is NCD’s long-range sensor, which includes a 3-axis accelerometer, various types of sensors and the ability to communicate in Mesh networks, with ranges of up to 28 miles, according to the company. Or even Asset Trackers from Samsara, Omnitracks, or Particle, which run on batteries or connected to devices that already have power, to control the location of rented vehicles, containers, or agricultural equipment, for example.

Whether to protect remote assets, to guarantee product quality, to increase employee safety, or to optimize the production line, there are hundreds of technological solutions that can address the most complex problems. In the construction industry, Hilti’s On! Track solution monitors tools, equipment and materials, with sensors and a cloud-based platform, to reduce operating costs.

Health monitoring

In healthcare alone, there are several applications of IoT. Studies indicate that medium-sized hospitals need to control more than 35,000 different SKUs and that their usage rate is only around 32 to 38 percent. To optimize the use of these devices, from acquisition, stock, application and maintenance, a complex system is needed, which can only be built with connected sensors and centralized management. Such a system could also prevent medical instruments theft, the loss of which could reach millions of dollars a year in just one hospital.

A third application of IoT in healthcare is for remote monitoring of patients. Hospitals, clinics and healthcare operators already use remote and wearable sensors, which measure various physiological data, such as heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure and medication dosages, allowing doctors to be remotely triggered at the slightest sign of uncertainty in their patients’ health condition. Focused mainly on patients with chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, the devices can also be connected to cell phone applications, to take advantage of their mobile network, and also give some sort of user feedback.

Advances

Most IoT and remote asset monitoring projects are taking place in the industry, closely followed by implementations for smart cities, such as pollution control, lighting and public safety, and traffic control. Next come energy efficiency grid projects and connected cars. All of them benefit from advances in sensory technology, new wireless network protocols, such as 5G, and integrated cloud management systems, which can be accessed remotely securely.

Whatever the implementation, always keep in mind the objectives of your management: employee and equipment safety, compliance, uptime, cost reduction, and quick decision making for better strategic positioning of your business.

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