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Managing the Assets of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

We are moving into the Fourth Industrial Revolution – and with that comes a new era of assets and asset management. In the past, assets have either been stationary and tied to a specific location, or movable and tied to an operator/location. In the coming years, your assets are not going to look like they do today. They will be everywhere. They may be tiny or living. There will be no operator or set location. They may be dispersed around the globe. They will need to be tracked in 3 dimensions. Your assets are going to multiply and take on forms you never expected. The organizations that will prosper have already started building automation for their assets so that they are not dependent on a human to manage their lifecycle.

Let’s look at the assets of the future that you might find yourself deploying. If you think you aren’t going to use any of these, I’d think again. Each one of these asset types is maturing at faster rates than a pubescent middle schooler. I’d bet all the cash in my wallet that you will be using 3-4 of these in 2 years. If you’re not, then you should check to see who’s hiring at Blockbuster and Kodak.

Your multitude of future assets will likely include flying drones that inspect your production lines, wearables that guide technicians in repairs, solar energy cells that store power, Micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) the size of a grain of sand or less that can be released into very tiny or very large areas to collect data, biological assets that do things like “eat up” oil spills and self-driving cars and trucks. There is already a push for the next generation of cloud-based tools to automate the management these assets and processes – if you aren’t looking at these at the same time as you are looking for new ways to capture data, your assets will quickly become liabilities.

Capturing and managing these assets 24x7 is going to be one of your biggest challenges. Where to release these assets? How to keep tabs on them as they disperse? How to fix them when they break? Who owns them once they are out of commission? How to manage replacements? With growing assets, comes the need for automated, intelligent handling of the asset lifecycle. Automating processes such as deployment, maintenance, repair and end-of- life for these assets need to be considered in the adoption phase.

Here is a checklist for managing the lifecycle of your future assets so that they don’t become labor-intensive liabilities:
  • ✔   Automate deployment where possible
  • ✔  Track all assets in geospatial real-time
  • ✔  Establish asset performance criteria
  • ✔  Enable your assets to communicate
  • ✔  Embed sensors that indicate when the asset is not meeting performance criteria
  • ✔  Receive sensor data to automatically dispatch service without a human dispatcher
  • ✔  Tie your asset data to a platform that enables real-time reporting on asset performance
  • ✔  Track asset performance decay and deploy thresholds that automatically trigger replacement at end-of- life
  • ✔  Clearly outline the decommissioning protocol
  • ✔  Automate the ordering, install or deployment of new or replacement assets
  • ✔  Automate asset disposal or recycle

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