Nipping it in the bud: how telematics can extend the life of your assets

/ / Telematics

Proactivity is a positive in many aspects of business. From the sophisticated – spotting a gap in the market for the development of a new product or service – to the simple – cleaning up a spillage before somebody slips and falls. Spotting opportunities and threats and dealing with them in proactively often has a direct impact on the bottom line.

For organisations that use expensive mechanical or electrical assets, from vehicles to manufacturing equipment, one area in which it is particularly valuable to be proactive is optimised asset maintenance.

The risks of reactivity

Today, many organisations still rely on a reactive approach to asset management. They wait until an issue becomes visible before taking an asset offline in order to conduct the necessary fix. This may mean taking a delivery truck off the road or shutting down a key machine in a production line. While this unplanned mainenance is essential in order to fulfil the asset’s life expectancy, it’s an expensive process in terms of downtime, lost revenue, cash flow, contract penalties, quality issues and customer satisfaction. Operations are slowed or even halted altogether. Equally, engineers and other maintenance staff are likely to move between projects in an inefficient manner, potentially incurring remedial labour costs, chasing the most urgent problem rather than taking a logical, timesaving route. In short, unplanned maintenance has a very direct impact on your business’ bottom line.

The road to proactivity

Most organisations understand that the first step to more proactive asset maintenance is typically a fixed-interval programme. Here, routine maintenance is carried out according to a pre-planned timetable. As such, engineers can follow more time and cost-efficient workflows, and, in theory, small faults are identified and fixed before they have a negative impact on the business – possibly even before they are visible to engineers. In these ways, fixed-internal maintenance programme provides the organisation with a more proactive approach that should immediately improve the bottom-line.

But it’s still not the most efficient approach. For example, simple processes like replacing fluids and brake lights in vehicles may be carried out even when they are not needed. Fixed-interval maintenance is very valuable when the maintenance is genuinely needed at the timetabled point – but if the asset was operating correctly and its components were within their useful life, then taking the time to check it over, and replacing parts or consumables that were in good condition, is wasteful it becomes even more wasteful with complex and costly components.

Small data, big impact

Yet the data needed to inform maintenance engineers as to when they are needed are actually very simple. Is an engine overheating? Has a moving part in a machine carried out more than X number of revolutions? Has an asset clocked more than Y number of hours of continuous operations? Is an engine producing too much of a particular pollutant? Is a vehicle being driven harshly?

These are all pieces of information that can be collected by very simple sensors and transmitted to a central analytics platform both easily and cost effectively – all as part of a telematics infrastructure.

The core goal of telematics is to enable businesses to make fast decisions based on actual performance date collected from individual assets – data that typically goes uncollected and unanalysed. In terms of maintenance, those decisions might be short-term and immediate, such as identifying that a particular vehicle needs immediate engineering attention, or they might be longer-term and more strategic, such as studying performance trends over time and from there developing the most efficient maintenance schedule possible. These analyses can also be extended to identify best-practice – where, if deployed on a wider basis, can return considerable value.

Telematics solutions are simple to implement but can have a huge impact on the overall efficiency of organisations’ asset maintenance, enabling them to make smarter, faster, better-informed decisions and ultimately take better care of some of their most valuable vehicles and machines. This not only impacts on the bottom line today, but also drives cost-efficiencies tomorrow, by extending the lifespan of physical assets.

Are you prepared to take the next step on your proactivity journey? Get in touch with Simoco today to find out how telematics could enhance your maintenance strategy and improve the performance of your business.