PART 2: How Valuable is Your Sensor Data: 3 Key Questions to Consider

In Part 1 of this blog series, we discussed three key questions to ask yourself which will help to avoid the costly and common pitfalls that come with executing a sensor data and analytics strategy. Today we take a  deeper look into these questions and provide some tips to navigate these common challenges.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Am I collecting relevant data across my entire operation, or do gaps exist?

Most organizations are in a place where they’re only collecting a portion of the data generated from their assets and additional components of their processes that can be extremely valuable to understand. The jump from having a partial data set to collecting data across the entire scope of your processes is NOT something that will happen overnight nor should it. 

When putting together a strategy for data collection and value, it’s important to keep in mind the old “dog chasing a car” analogy. Lots of relevant data collected is a luxury but quickly diminishes in value if you don’t know what to do with it once you have it. This can create internal pressures and costly projects to invest heavily in new resources and deep analytics in hopes of “mining” this data for value that you may or may not be able to find.  There are better and more valuable methods available to realize incremental gains while learning a LOT in the process…so, back to the question at hand:

  1. Put serious thought into understanding how much data you’re currently collecting through connected sensors and inventory this against the areas of your operation where you’re NOT collecting data, and might be generating significant and costly gaps or “blind spots” as a result.                                                                                                                                                   
  2. Are there lessons learned from the data you’re already collecting – what’s working well and proving valuable?  (Ex: data you collect from other assets that you’ve been able to understand and leverage in meaningful ways to prevent downtime, make a process more efficient, start a foundation to predict value based on those measures, begin to notice correlations between certain measures and behaviors, etc.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What’s Not? (Ex: Discovery that certain measurements have proven to not be as valuable as expected, certain measurements might, in fact, be valuable but lack additional data points or measurements for correlations, challenges maintaining certain sensor types that can be improved or corrected, etc.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  3. Based on information collected in points 1 and 2, what might be a logical (and VALUABLE) part of your operation to extend a data collection strategy to next?  Per the information above, be methodical in where you extend data collection to maximize value. Not every area within the process that’s NOT collecting data is a blind spot (especially early in the execution of these strategies) as there will always be parts of the process that won’t require nearly as much data and insight to effectively manage and maintain.

Focus efforts on the parts of the process that can benefit and help to generate an ROI from data collection based on lessons learned – this will hone great learning, understanding of your assets, help to generate the right returns as you ramp up.  If this is a new process altogether a logical place to start might be the high cost, “bad actors” in your process that can certainly benefit from data collection to better understand and maintain those assets.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Is this data being collected and made accessible in real-time?

Data is valuable if you know what to do with it and have the appropriate resources to execute on those actions. Period. That being said, the older the data gets, the more actions are required to actually derive that value. This becomes costly and stifles the ability to derive maximum value from the data you’re collecting and generate meaningful short and long term efficiencies. 

Modern sensors are becoming increasingly more affordable and more sophisticated. It is important to know that many options exist that can provide detailed and reliable data streamed in real-time that can be worked into your systems in new and creative ways to help maximize its value. Our stance is simple: With so much focus being put on a shift to predictive maintenance and analytics, it’s critical the appropriate foundations are laid to eventually realize that goal. 

Organizations must first move from “reactive” to “proactive” before there is any real ability to get to “predictive” asset management and maintenance. Stale or old data is reactive – do not settle for reactive. There are a plethora of new technology tools now available that make it simple to move real-time data into real action and achieve a meaningful return on investment while opening up new possibilities to move closer and closer to becoming predictive in the future.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Is my view of this data insightful and immediately actionable?

Gathering data across many sensors and connected networks of devices all lead to the end goal of having the ability to seamlessly view and act on the data insights collected. Obtaining a holistic view of data across different assets and parts of your operation allows you to extend the value derived and lessons learned (see point 1 above) to begin to decipher trends, different behavior patterns, and anomalies across a growing scope of assets. Having this now, and having this data in real-time, allows you to create different processes and workflows that generate proactive warnings, alerts, and analytics capabilities to make data immediately actionable. 

You might have noticed that this is a bit of a theme throughout this blog, and core to the philosophy of the team here at Sentrics – the two things that HAVE TO happen to improve asset health and overall operations is the collection of relevant data and deriving value from that data that is immediately actionable.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

This is challenging, we know, but we aim to share techniques that better leverage data and these technologies to improve industrial operations. Our platform will continue to provide a solution to these challenges and many more as we continue to work with our partners in the space.

To learn more or find out if Sentrics is a viable solution for your business contact the team at [email protected] or give us a call at (844) 436-2569.

–  The Sentrics Team