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Breaking Bad: A Tale of Predictive Asset Optimization

Program Director for Predictive and Business Intelligence Solutions Marketing, IBM

Several years ago, I lived through a car ride that no one should ever have to experience.

I found myself on Saturday morning headed to the grocery store (by the way, purchasing groceries at 9:00 a.m. on a weekend is very calming, but that’s for another time). I jumped onto the highway for a quick ten minute excursion to the store. In a few minutes, I noticed a car several hundred feet in front of me and on the right, pulling over to the shoulder. I instinctively slowed down, except I couldn’t! My brakes didn't work!

At this point, I panic! I hit the brakes a few more times. I look around me. A car accelerated past me on my left. I wished I had a sign or sheet of paper where I could scream, “My brakes don’t work!” 

My life semi-passed in front of me. After a few terror-stricken moments, I moved the car to the right and started driving on the shoulder. Fortunately, there were no vehicles there. The gravel slowed me down, but not as quickly as I wanted. An exit was coming up and I noticed that there was a flat, grassy ground right off of the ramp. I took the exit and slowly turned the steering wheel onto the grass. I engaged the emergency brakes (something I’ve only seen done in the movies) and eventually rolled to a stop.

All of this occurred in maybe 30 seconds, but it felt like an eternity.

I tend to relive this experience in midnight dreams several times a year. I still do not know what happened, but I always wonder why wasn’t I warned about the brakes? The red lights came on the dashboard, but while the problem was occurring, and while I was panicking. That obviously was much too late.

I experienced this horror once, but plant managers, production line managers, field asset managers, and maintenance employees deal with these types of issue on a daily basis, such as a city’s water pipes bursting, an electrical grid outage, an earth-mover locking up, an production line machine going down, an oil drill freezing up, or a vending machine sticking.

While most organizations respond to asset failure by sending out maintenance crews, the process is very reactive.

With the advent of relatively cheap information gathering and data analysis, organizations can now leverage big data, such as maintenance logs and asset usage, wear, and surrounding condition characteristics, to predict when, where and how a failure will occur and optimize their decision to ensure that right person will fix the right asset component at the right time.

To help with these situations, IBM has launched its Smarter Analytics Signature Solution – Predictive Asset Optimization.  It is a holistic solution that optimizes operational performance and associated processes to drive enterprise-wide efficiencies and profitability.

From highly complex and “connected” products to manufacturing equipment and field assets, predictive analytics solutions exist to help organizations reduce asset down time and failures.

Predictive Asset Optimization enables organizations to:

  • Monitor, maintain, and optimize assets for better availability, utilization, and performance
  • Predict asset failure to optimize quality and supply chain processes, ultimately accelerating an organization’s time-to-value (rather than my car, when I need to brake)

However, IBM’s solution goes beyond monitoring asset sensors – it has the capability to leverage input from other domains such as environmental, facilities monitoring systems, and even text information such as maintenance logs.

The solution also tightly integrates enterprise asset management (EAM) and analytic systems capabilities to offer distinctive benefits across an organization’s enterprise.

The Predictive Asset Optimization solution delivers earlier, more definitive detection of emerging quality and asset issues, helping to significantly reduce the impact of such issues on the business. It also integrates IBM's industry, services, software and research expertise to:

  • Extend the useful life of asset infrastructure while increasing "return on assets"
  • Increase the operational efficiency and agility by leveraging new operational technologies
  • Improve time to market and life cycle warranty costs for new products
  • Proactively address threats and regulations for critical infrastructure protection and health/safety
  • Align the most appropriate resources to the most important actions

For instance, IBM worked with a manufacturer to reduce its product defect rate by 50 percent in 16 weeks in the production of auto components by monitoring the production quality and predicting the conditions that led to poor quality by using real-time data, subsequently resolving issues quicker, increasing productivity, reducing costs and ultimately increasing customer satisfaction.

Additionally, the Cambridge Canada city government experienced a 50% increase in the number of roads rated "good," optimized field repair crew workflows and expected elimination of more than $71 million in repair backlog.

I only wish I had this type of technology working for me when my brakes failed.

While the technology would help reduce monetary costs for organizations, more importantly, it could reduce the cost of a life (especially, mine!)

For more information read more about IBM Signature Solutions