Why You Need An Intelligence Network For Your Manufacturing And Industrial Assets

Dean Fitt

Imagine you’re a global OEM or an operator of industrial equipment. Management of your physical assets works as follows.:

You maintain data on each of potentially thousands of pieces of equipment. That data includes specifications, operating tolerances, parts lists, repair guides, maintenance records, and so on. Each set of data is managed separately for each piece of equipment, and it remains within the four walls of your enterprise.

In most cases, no one else in your value chain can benefit from it. Nor can you benefit from a single point of access to similar data from all the other stakeholders in your industry: OEMs, operators, partners, service providers, technology providers, insurers, regulators, and more.

If that sounds problematic to you, it should. It’s costly, inefficient, error-prone, and rife with opportunities for measurable improvements.

But it no longer has to be this way. Powerful new technologies and strategies are enabling forward-thinking OEMs, operators, and other manufacturing stakeholders to share and benefit from asset data across the extended supply chain.

To IoT and beyond

Those new technologies start with the Internet of Things (IoT). We’re finally beginning to see companies leverage IoT in a big way. IoT device use will leap 30 percent next year, with 5.5 million new sensors connected every day in 2016, Gartner predicts.

The question is, what will companies do with the data these sensors generate? They can certainly collect data from their own operations. But how will they capture the vaster — and more valuable — trove of information produced up and down their value chains?

Most of the time, equipment OEMs sell their products to operators, and that’s the last time they get a clear view of how their devices are performing in the field. Similarly, equipment operators churn out parts, components, or products, yet they seldom benefit from real-time visibility into how that output performs farther down the value chain.

What’s needed is a single, cloud-based repository for end-to-end asset intelligence. An asset intelligence network would bring together all the vital information, from OEM specs to IoT sensor output, needed to monitor, manage, and maintain mission-critical equipment — not just in your own facilities but also up and down your extended supply chain.

Pump up the asset data

Let’s say you manufacture industrial pumps. With an asset intelligence network, the data relevant to each specific model of pump you make would reside in a single cloud-based location. This model information is the basis to create unique equipment — essentially a “digital twin” of the physical equipment. And it would be integrated into your existing investments in ERP, product lifecycle management (PLM) software, and so on. This global data registry would be available to all OEMs, operators, service providers, technology providers, insurers, regulators, and other registered participants.

Each piece of pump data would be classified following industry standards by category and subcategory. The same kind of data would also be available for all the hundreds of thousands of interrelated components, including customized and one-off devices.

Also included would be which companies purchased the pump, the geographical and plant locations where it’s installed, performance data, service bulletins, and so on. All accurate, all updated in real-time, and with always-on access.

Such an asset intelligence network would revolutionize the management, maintenance, and performance of your entire extended supply chain. Sound too good to be true?

It isn’t. Over the past two years, SAP has been co-innovating with customers and partners around the world to develop just such a capability. The resulting asset intelligence network will launch in April 2016. The initial rollout is based on extensive piloting with global market leaders throughout discrete and process industries.

Interest in the network has been phenomenal. “Brownfield” participants have been scrubbing their proprietary data to map it to the standard. “Greenfield” participants are actively getting onboard.

The potential advantages for all participants are abundantly clear. These include standardization of equipment data for all participants. Benchmarking and continuous improvement of equipment performance. Enhanced performance and reliability. Improved efficiency and sustainability. Less manual effort and error. Greater automation, speed, and responsiveness. Improvements not just for your company’s operators but also for your partners throughout your value chain. Even a potential impact on insurance premiums. And ultimately, better customer service and satisfaction.

The days of each OEM and operator managing manufacturing assets in information silos are over. With an intelligent asset network, all players in the extended supply chain can share standardized equipment data to benefit themselves and their customers.

For more insight on digital transformation and the supply chain, see Leveraging The Extended Supply Chain To Counter Digital Disruption.

Dean Fitt

About Dean Fitt

Dean Fitt is a member SAP’s global team for Enterprise Asset Management. He is responsible for defining industry-relevant solutions for managing assets based on SAP’s complete portfolio of products and technologies, bringing them to market, and driving business in the regional units.