Workplace Technology Assessment
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By Dave Clifton
Every investment a business makes in equipment or resources comes into inventory as an asset. Whether it’s a workstation computer, a multifunction photocopier, or a vehicle parked outside, it’s vital for businesses to track and maintain these assets for as long as they have them. It’s called life cycle maintenance, and it requires a robust system of accountability. It’s why many businesses have turned to digital twin for asset tracking.
Digital twins serve as a powerful tool in collecting and maintaining data relevant to assets. Integrations with support and maintenance systems, as well as historical upkeep information, paint a digital record of a physical asset. Not only does this aid in life cycle maintenance, it helps businesses better-understand their assets. Here’s a look at how digital twin technology supports better asset tracking.
A digital record of a physical asset
So long as it’s kept current, a digital twin can house the complete service record of an asset. This includes capital systems.
For example, consider the backup generator that powers your on-premise server room. It needs biannual maintenance to ensure functionality in the event of a power failure. Looking back through service records in the digital twin, you can see that it was last serviced five months ago—which means it’s due for service soon. Asset managers can schedule a service appointment with the appropriate vendor—or create an automation within the digital twin that does it for them.
Every successive maintenance item gets added to the log, alongside information about emergent problems, solutions, notes, recommendations, costs, and anything else noteworthy about the continued upkeep and reinvestment in an asset.
Digital twins are highly integrative, and one of the perfect pairings is with a CMMS platform. The asset tracking capabilities of the digital twin, paired with the solutions-driven capabilities of a CMMS, create a continuum of care that emphasizes proper life cycle maintenance.
Consider a fleet vehicle. It needs routine service every 30k miles, as well as an oil change every 5k miles. There are also factory-recommended services and discretionary repairs to consider. Now, consider all these services within a CMMS that’s smart enough to create a ticket when they’re due and assign it to the right staff member or vendor. The digital twin can actively track the mileage of the vehicle and interface with the CMMS. When the vehicle hits 90k miles, the digital twin relays the information to the CMMS, which generates the ticket: “schedule 90k mileage service.”
Integrations beget automation, which is vital in asset tracking and maintenance. Digital twins decrease the level of oversight or effort that goes into managing the multitude of business assets and instead, puts exceptional maintenance on autopilot.
Live asset data and streaming insights
Assets are constantly in-use—it’s what makes them assets. This can make it difficult for managers and stakeholders to keep track of them. This is where IoT sensors come into play as vital tools in asset tracking and management.
IoT sensors provide an abundance of simple, yet vital information about assets—and they relay that information to digital twins. Think about something as simple as a video projector on a cart. Equipped with a sensor, it’s easy for asset managers to look at the digital twin to see where on a corporate campus that asset currently is. This data, over time, delivers a clear picture of that asset in action. Wednesday it was in Building A. Last week it was in Building C. Before that, it sat idle in Building D for two weeks. As the life of an asset becomes more transparent, the management capabilities surrounding it become more robust.
Improved decision-making power
Should you sell the photocopier that’s eight years old and buy a new model? That depends on what the digital twin data says. At a glance, asset managers can see the cost breakdown of the asset—purchase price, upkeep costs, ROI, current value, and more. They can also see its maintenance history and usage history. At a glance, the digital twin provides precise information for a more informed decision. You might find that the cost of a new photocopier will pay for itself in three years, which makes it a smart investment over your current model that’s racking up the maintenance costs.
The concept is simple: the more you know about an asset, the more informed you are when it comes to utilizing it (or replacing it). The IoT and digital twins are a powerful combination for illuminating asset information.
Asset tracking with digital twins
Digital twins empower businesses and stakeholders to see their assets in a new way. Beyond the physical form and function of an asset, digital twins provide insightful data about its place in the greater operational picture. What’s the current value of the 2019 Sprinter Van parked outside? When was the copy machine last serviced by the OEM? Where is the fourth floor A/V cart right now? Digital twins bring visibility to assets in a much broader sense of the word.
Combined with the IoT and automation, businesses have even more opportunities to make assets go further. From proactive and preventive maintenance to better decision-making about how to use them, asset tracking through a twin means more mindful management.
Whether it’s tracking usage or optimizing efficiency, digital twins provide much-needed insight for critical assets big and small.
Keep reading: How to Use Digital Twin Software