Integrating smart and digital technology to enhance traditional asset maintenance

digital technology

Australian companies need to maintain the health of their assets, whether this means inspecting their water systems or fixing power lines. However, organisations can’t just rely on manual processes to conduct their maintenance responsibilities. While some level of human intervention is necessary in asset management, it takes too much time and money to dispatch service technicians for routine inspections and maintenance. Fixing faulty equipment can also be complex and unsafe if asset maintenance workers don’t have the right information to make the best decisions. 

Fortunately, advances in digital technology is helping many industrial companies transform traditional asset maintenance. Here are five technologies asset maintenance workers are implementing today: 

Internet of Things (IoT) 

Digital technology such as IoT devices are increasingly being utilised in asset management to improve a maintenance team’s monitoring capabilities. These devices are embedded with sensors and can share data over a network, making them ideal for gathering data in otherwise inaccessible and dangerous areas. For example, Melbourne Water incorporated IoT tools for monitoring underground steel pipes and drainage systems to detect early infrastructure failures

What’s great about IoT devices is that they can transmit important asset information into a company’s cloud database. That means data gathered by a fleet of IoT sensors installed in different areas can be consolidated into a single location. This gives facility managers real-time visibility over their asset’s conditions without needing to dispatch technicians for inspections. Additionally, advanced IoT sensors have built-in diagnostics that automatically detect issues and warn field technicians, expediting maintenance tasks even further.  

Big data analysis

The ubiquity of network-connected sensors and technologies means companies are collecting massive amounts of data at an unprecedented rate. Unless organisations can store and process all this data, they won’t be able to improve asset maintenance and operations. 

AI-augmented cloud databases can enable predictive analytics of historical data, allowing companies to anticipate faults in systems before they occur. For instance, AI systems can analyse patterns indicative of failure events to predict when they will happen and recommend a maintenance schedule to prevent a full-blown incident. 

Cloud databases also aggregate asset data collected from various sources into one place. This eliminates data silos across an organisation and ensures the right information reaches appropriate technicians such as instrument engineers. With a comprehensive overview of facility and equipment health, technicians can make smarter decisions on the field regarding maintenance tasks. 

Remote support modules (RSMs) 

RSMs are essentially portable private networks that provide remote access to facility control systems. If there’s faulty industrial equipment, field technicians can connect an RSM box to their systems and network to bring faraway experts closer to the issue. The RSM boxes themselves are thoroughly protected with military-grade encryption and authentication, ensuring only authorised personnel can access facility equipment.

Meanwhile, experts can be anyone from in-house facilities managers to third-party service technicians to original equipment manufacturers. Whoever the expert is, they can remotely diagnose and rectify the problem once the RSM is plugged into the malfunctioning equipment. They can also give on-site asset maintenance workers step-by-step instructions on correcting the situation rather than dispatching another person. This helps organisations fill any skill gaps in the field and avoid downtime as a result of waiting for qualified technicians to come over. 

Virtual reality (VR) and 3D visualisation

The combination of VR and 3D visualisation has vast implications in asset maintenance. Using data collected by smart sensors and laser scanners, companies can develop dynamically linked 3D models of a facility. These models can better highlight potential issues within an asset, providing visual context on leaks or faulty equipment. Meanwhile, VR allows field technicians to interact with 3D models in a controlled simulation and effectively plan their maintenance tasks. 

Mobile devices and apps

Smartphones and wearable devices have many practical applications in industrial settings to create a more connected team. When paired with automated workflows and field force apps, mobile devices equip asset technicians with all the tools and data they need on the field. 

Field apps like WorkBuddy can monitor assets and send push notifications to technicians’ devices when there’s a problem. For example, technicians can receive alerts of scheduled equipment shutdowns, routine quality inspections, and other critical maintenance tasks directly from their smartphone. Mobile access to asset information also empowers technicians to diagnose and resolve problems on the field rather than walking back to the control room. 

What’s more, field force software lets technicians accept work orders, log expenses, and complete inspection/maintenance reports from anywhere. They can even forward relevant guidelines that adhere to Australian safety protocols to keep on-site maintenance workers safe. These features allow organisations to take a more proactive and efficient approach to asset maintenance, driving down operational costs. 

Adopting the latest smart or digital technology to improve asset maintenance can greatly reduce equipment downtime, safety risks, and costs. WorkBuddy enables businesses and asset maintenance workers to enjoy many of these benefits with its powerful field force features. It provides analytical reports, so companies can better schedule maintenance jobs, track field staff, and keep everyone on task to improve overall efficiency levels. Speak to one of our specialists today to learn more about WorkBuddy’s game-changing benefits.

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