Which kind of digital strategy is the right one for you?

When I talk about the value that digital insight can bring to asset and operational strategy, I often think of a quote by Thomas Edison: “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”

This gets to something crucial about asset management and maintenance. It’s not “the more data we have, the better.” It’s how operational managers leverage digital intelligence that creates value.

But as we all know, there are still some reservations around fully embracing digital, so it’s worth taking a look at how using digital intelligence compares to more traditional strategies.

The groundwork for success

Let’s take the example of an efficiency-focused strategy – key to unlocking time and cost savings for every kind of facility.

Using data to support the same strategy offers greater operational visibility and creates new opportunities for optimization, like identifying and addressing problems before they lead to unscheduled downtime, or extending asset lifecycles and ensuring smooth, stable operations.

Good digital strategy also feeds directly into more efficient maintenance management. It enables you to assign and trace service activities and ensure your personnel have real-time and historical asset information right at their fingertips. It’s smarter visibility for everyone.

Taking steps towards evolving your strategy digitally is also a clear statement of intent. It conveys a mindset of adaptation and improvement, and it sets the stage for futureproofing business growth, by creating opportunities for modular, pragmatic onboarding of future digital technologies.

Identify your maintenance strategy

Let’s explore the most common strategic styles and where there’s scope to drive improvements.

A purely reactive model, when maintenance teams fix problems with assets as and when they occur.

Although this method is extremely attractive for managers looking to keep their OPEX low, corrective maintenance is an expensive long-term approach due to frequent unplanned downtime and asset replacements.

A model based on regularly scheduled asset maintenance, whether at predefined times or after intense use.

Preventive maintenance is the usual answer to high direct and indirect costs, since usually the additional required OPEX (routine maintenance) is lower than equipment failure costs (repair or replace, loss production, safety, etc).

This approach is often applied in both industrial maintenance and facility management, however, the OPEX is higher in the longer term.

Moreover, it still leaves operations vulnerable to both random asset failure (a good portion of failure cases), and efficiency drag, where maintenance workers routinely work on assets that don’t need priority attention.

A data-based approach which allows operators to pre-empt problems by proactively monitoring sensor readings against predefined condition parameters.

This method, an enhancement of preventive maintenance, is an ideal entry point for managers who are just starting the digitalization journey. It demands a more modest upfront investment, and offers a scalable, sustainable strategy. By monitoring conditions, you can proactively prioritize maintenance, prevent unplanned shutdowns, and create long-term cost savings.

This method combines the capabilities of condition monitoring with powerful analytics that draws on vast libraries of historical data to produce fine-tuned predictive asset health analysis. With the proper asset management solution, operators can access this intelligence with ease and clarity.

Predictive strategies use sophisticated operational insights, that allow you to predict and prevent asset failure, ensure safer maintenance strategies (continuous health analysis), and consistently maximize operational savings (maintenance only when prescribed).

Find your data-driven strategy

Let’s return to the efficiency strategy. Data-driven asset management gives you the insights and you need not only to optimize efficiency and maintenance now, but also to make better decisions about building and adapting for the future. Although transitioning to a digital asset management solution might feel like a big step, the return on investment makes a compelling case: up to 40% reduction in maintenance costs and extending asset lifecycles by up to 15%.

We have developed our own ABB Ability™ Asset Manager to harness the full potential of data to monitor asset health by logging into a quick and easy dashboard, from anywhere in the world. We are also futureproofing for ourselves and our customers by building this vital tool on a platform that is tried and tested, Azure from Microsoft. But the true value of digital intelligence lies in using it. The sooner, the better.

More information:
Calculate how much you could save: https://campaign.abb.com/ROIcalculator

ABB Ability™ Asset Manager https://new.abb.com/about/our-businesses/electrification/abb-ability/energy-and-asset-manager/abb-ability-asset-manager

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About the author

Luca Cavalli

Luca joined ABB in 2012 as the Product Manager for medium-voltage digital services, overseeing monitoring, diagnostic solutions and IoT cloud application. He began his role as Product and Marketing Manager in 2017, working for the Electrification Distribution Solutions division digital portfolio. Since October 2019, he has led the digital Asset Management of Electrification, defining the global strategy and roadmap applied to electrical systems from medium- to low-voltage, from e-mobility to buildings. This includes smart sensors, edge/cloud solutions, data analytics and advanced services. Prior to joining ABB, Luca worked for over 8 years in the industrial automation market segment in Italy. He initially managed automation projects for OEM using PLCs, drives, HMI and SCADA. Latterly, Luca led the sales of connectivity products to enable remote services on industrial machines and plants. Luca studied at the Polytechnic of Milan, Italy, and achieved an MSc in Software and Automation Engineering.
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