Sunoco’s logistics team manages their pipelines from Sugar Land, Texas, miles away from the lines themselves.
According to Glassdoor, Sunoco’s logistics operators wear jeans and polos to work. No need for hard hats, steel-toed boots, or gas masks. They sit at comfortable desks in offices that overlook a scenic lake. This is slowly becoming the norm, thanks to the internet of things (IoT).
You’ve probably overheard people in your workplace joking about when robots are going to steal all of our jobs. Don’t panic, there’s lots of numbers that suggest a robot takeover isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
However, robot-like devices with access to the internet are everywhere. They’re the “things” in the internet of things. They’re so ubiquitous, in fact, that IoT-enabled devices may overtake mobile phones next year:
Production facilities such as Sunoco’s will benefit from IoT-enabled devices. I’m not talking about the Fitbit you bought yourself to help keep your New Year’s resolution or the wireless headphones that came with your iPhone X—I`m talking about the tools and tech you use to produce goods, maintain your assets, and ship product out in your workplace.
What does all of this new tech mean for maintenance managers and the computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) solutions they use to measure needs and progress? We can’t be 100% sure of what the future holds for CMMS technology, but we’ve got three pretty solid predictions for you below, as well as some tips on how to stay up to date on this trend.
1. Increased automation and the industrial internet of things
The internet of things refers to all the gadgets and “things” we’ve got connected over Wi-Fi. For example, if you have a Bluetooth speaker at home, that’s IoT. Or, if your handheld scanners are connected to your CMMS via Wi-Fi, that’s IoT.
The more stuff we’ve got connected to the internet, the more automation we can accomplish. The handheld scanner is a perfect example of this—you scan an object, and you no longer need to manually type data into fields for shipping. The handheld scanner sends a message through the internet, and all of that data is automatically uploaded to your shipment portal.
A Zebra handheld scanner
Automation is getting seriously advanced. We’ve got robots that assemble car parts and computer bots that make improvements to digital marketing.
When it comes to your CMMS solution, you’re going to see some extra automation in the future as well. An increasing amount of equipment is made Wi-Fi capable. That means those assets can send signals via Wi-Fi, and you can bet they’ll be sending messages to your CMMS. This Wi-Fi automation is already happening, but in the future, facilities will likely be 100% online.
2. Bigger and better data
When facilities run online, we’re going to be overwhelmed with data. This is a good thing as we’ll have instant access to vast amounts of information that we can explore with the touch of a finger for insights that will improve our operations.
You will need people who can interpret all that big data. The near future might bring an increase in maintenance manager positions requiring an analytics background or degree. Or, we may see new jobs in production facilities for people who specialize in data.
CMMS analytic capabilities will increase alongside these bigger and better data sets. But again, with big data, you may need a data expert to decode insights. If you’re used to seeing a dashboard with data from hundreds of assets, imagine how much more difficult it might be to present solutions or new ideas from the data of thousands of assets.
A sample CMMS dashboard from Limble
Data from each asset will also be more intricate, as you’ll have more stats on a machine’s performance and health.
For example, let’s say you’ve got several generators, and you currently know when they’re in need of maintenance because you’ve implemented a preventive maintenance plan with your current CMMS. While this method is great for the time being, it isn’t as efficient as it can be. With assets hooked up to the internet of things, you’ll automatically know fluid levels, hours ran, etc. of the generators and have maintenance scheduled only when certain thresholds get hit. Instead of regularly walking the floor, you’ll get alerts as needed from IoT sensors.
3. This will all lead to more predictive maintenance
More insights about future maintenance requirements will lead to more efficient planning. Maintenance managers are already using predictive maintenance to beef up their profit margins, i.e. how Catapillar saved millions with predictive maintenance.
In the future, maintenance managers might have more data than they know what to do with, but there will also be the benefits of all the automation mentioned above. You’ll know exactly when it’s time to change the tires on forklift #23 because there’s a notification from the forklift to your CMMS solution letting the operator know. The CMMS solution will also notify the maintenance manager that it has placed an inventory order for the correct tires for forklift #23 and that they’ll be delivered at noon.
Predictive maintenance can let you know when the tires on your forklifts need replacing
How can you get ahead of the IoT trend?
- Educate yourself: We recommend that you start educating yourself on data and analytics. Read some of the tutorials on this site—they speak in plain English, rather than jargon.
- Know your current CMMS: Get familiar with your current CMMS. Stay up to date on the changes made to your CMMS solution, as knowing the ins and outs of your CMMS will ensure you can add valuable input when it comes to making decisions about new features and new assets for your company.
- Get your timing right: If you’re familiar with your CMMS, you’re going to be necessary to the function of your workplace. Your boss is going to rely on you to help implement new changes, new software, and new assets. You might even be able to convince your higher-ups to flip the bill for your analytics course.
- Consider your team: You’re not the only person who’s going to need to stay in the know. You’ll be relying on your team as well, as they’ll be part of any new software or asset implementation, and will need to learn how to use new CMMS features. Stay on top of training—the faster tech changes, the more training your team will need.
In the future, we’re going to see big increases in CMMS’s return on investment.
Automation will free up maintenance managers’ and technicians’ time. Future CMMS solutions will order your parts when you need them and notify your team of repairs needed. The data they contain will make it necessary to become more data-driven—but the more you depend on data, the better your decisions will be.
Looking for CMMS software? Check out Capterra's list of the best CMMS software solutions.