If you capture data but don’t use it for anything, does it really have value? The obvious answer is no and yet that’s exactly what I’ve seen happen again and again on projects big and small, the whole world over.
Huge sums of money are spent on systems that don’t, won’t, or can’t talk to each other and sensors and devices that take readings that are never seen or used.
It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that the only way data is useful is when it ends up in the right hands, with the right context, and presented in a way that is easy to understand, so why is this happening? And how can we ensure we avoid it in future?
If you know me, you know I love analogies, so let’s start there: Projects of all sizes need to be wired for data for the same reason that houses need to be wired for electricity. Without that wiring you’ve got a lot of potential, but you’re still left sitting in the dark.
And while all houses these days are wired to deliver electrical power to where it’s needed, many projects give little consideration to how to handle or distribute data from the large variety of solutions and devices they employ.
That lack of built-in data ‘wiring’ is why digital strategies so often fail to deliver the desired results. Instead of a “smarter” workplace we end up with a more siloed one: Collections of data that are unconnected and/or unseen. So much potential intelligence and insight gone to waste.
Of course, we know that bringing disparate sources of data together is more than just connecting two wires. The reality is you have one of three options. Firstly, you could tie all your solutions into a single vendor, however this has a high degree of risk, a low degree of flexibility and may be totally impractical and highly disruptive if you’re talking about a mature asset.
Option two is to try and establish individual connections between applications, but this is time consuming to implement and maintain, and as your “ecosystem” (meaning the collection of software and hardware that you’re using on your asset) grows, that only becomes an even greater challenge.
That leaves us with the last and in my opinion best choice which is to have dedicated data orchestration software that acts as a central hub to receive, aggregate, cleanse and distribute data.
When implemented properly this gives you a solution that is flexible enough to incorporate (or remove) elements in the ecosystem, scalable enough to work efficiently on projects and assets of all size, able to be “dropped in” without disruption, and user friendly enough to be easily manageable by your own personnel, without the need to involve the vendor when changes are required.
Simply put, this is a solution that brings dynamic, real-time intelligence to your asset by seamlessly and silently providing the “wiring” to bring insight to light.
If you have a system like this in place (and here comes the plug – our own AssetHive solution is just such a system!) then you go from inefficiency to intelligence in very short order.
Suddenly you unlock the ability to use data in all sorts of ways, from the complex to the straight-forward. You could combine all the readings into a project simulation which could then be replayed, with the ability to change key factors, to see how outcomes would differ. Or you could just be routing IoT (“Internet of Things” – basically anything which is internet connected but which isn’t a computer, tablet or mobile. If you have a “smart fridge” or “smart thermostat” those are IoT devices. In industrial applications we’re normally talking about sensors) warnings and alarms, so they’re shown on your 3D Model (bringing it one step closer to being a digital twin!)
Where we are today
The reality of the situation is that these improvements can be made now, and those who adapt to change the most readily are going to see costs decrease and efficiency, and most importantly safety, increase.
Now more than ever the world needs to become a more efficient place and eventually survival of the fittest does come into play.
Solutions exist to the siloed data problem that can be deployed easily and effectively to projects of all sizes and at all phases (yes, even Brownfield life extension projects – we have the case studies to prove it), so why not use them and unlock a world of value, efficiency and safety.
With the right solution (such as, yes you guessed it, our very own AssetHive) the risk is low, and the rewards are astronomical.
Digital wiring underpins next generation asset management. It delivers the data insights that enable new and better ways of working. This produces the savings that are going to be needed to finance the energy transition, which is set to be the big story of the next decade. The time to act is now, the solutions are out there, and the rewards are tangible and real. So why not?