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Moving from the Embryonic to the Implementation Stage

How companies can make a business case for facility tracking.
By Steve Crowe
Mar 08, 2020

According to Statista, the number of Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices in use is projected to total 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025, a fivefold increase in ten years. Within a rapidly growing subset of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), asset intelligence, the simultaneous reduction in cost and increased performance of tracking devices—either Bluetooth- or GPS-based—is expected to see more and more businesses take advantage of the operational intelligence provided, to help them keep track of their key assets.

For blue-chip organizations with multi-site, global manufacturing operations, the reduced costs and increased capability of devices will be an enabler for transition from a pilot study or siloed implementation to full-scale adoption across their operations.

High-Value Asset Tracking to Mitigate Risk of Loss
In its simplest form, asset intelligence is a process by which sensors are placed on items to help companies pinpoint their locations. Supporting fast-moving industries in which the rapid, flexible redeployment of assets is demanded, this minute-by-minute data allows businesses to track high-value assets. As replacing an asset is an expensive decision, businesses can minimize the financial risk by using accurate location data, while also reducing the amount of downtime employees spend looking for missing equipment.

Using technology to track assets is an approach that existed before the advent of the IIoT. But while passive systems such as RFID and barcodes have historically been used to track individual assets, increasingly more manufacturing businesses are moving toward the adoption of advanced, active technologies within the IIoT domain, allowing them to have greater visibility over their entire suite of assets, both within their facilities and across the global supply chain.

Specific technological advancement of facility-tracking sensors includes the move toward LoRa and other lower-power consumption components—for example, helping businesses to eliminate the need for power infrastructures and increase the potential area in which they can track assets. While this intelligence is helping to reduce asset wait time, businesses can quantify this impact by trying to produce a "total-cost-of-waiting" metric. To do this, they should ask themselves such important questions as: Do I know where my assets are? How long have they been there? When was the last time they were used? What condition are they in?

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