How a global instrument manufacturer achieved higher utilization and reduced capex cost with IoT

An organization uses a large variety and number of instruments to perform day to day operations. Tracking the availability, utilization, and health of these instruments is important for uninterrupted operations. When the number of instruments is low, the task can be performed by a person or a small team. But the challenges grow as organization size grows. With growing number of instruments, the complexity grows with different teams sharing the same instruments. Organizations need a foolproof system to track utilization levels and maintenance schedules of the instruments.

Consider this, an organization uses a large number of multimeters that are shared by many teams. In such cases, there could be some multimeters that are under-utilized while others would be adequately utilized. Also, the organization would be under pressure to track the maintenance schedules of each multimeter. There also are situations when a team raises a purchase request for new multimeters citing lack of availability for increased volume of work. Due to lack of a system to track utilization and consequently, less visibility, management may decide to purchase new multimeters which are not required.

An IoT-driven system to track utilization and health of instruments

Recently, ITC infotech was tasked with designing and deploying a business-friendly, cost-effective solution to track utilization levels, monitor health of instruments and schedule maintenance activities. Minimizing downtime was the ultimate goal of this project. The client wanted to remotely monitor, track and manage instruments across departments for improved utilization, and proactive service. ITC Infotech saw it as brilliant opportunity for an IoT-led solution.

The answer was in tracking the utilization levels of instruments using IoT devices which can highlight underutilized instruments and plan the sharing and usage of instruments within the organization. We also saw an opportunity in planning maintenance schedules so that not many or very few instruments would fall into a single maintenance window.

ITC Infotech understood that these challenges could be solved by –

  • Remote monitoring and analytics to identify instrument utilization and idle time
  • Consistent health check-ups with timely reports to keep the devices active
  • Enable sharing of instruments among teams to increase utilization

To achieve these goals, our IoT experts built a solution using ThingWorx capabilities and smart edge devices. This led to optimized instrument utilization and reduced downtime. Next, we implemented hierarchy-level tracking of assets, location updated by RFID and barcode systems, and automated and periodic inventory audit programs. We also developed multiple dashboards for different departments to gain insights on sharing and utilizing the available instruments rather than procuring new ones. We achieved this by complementing IoT capabilities with UI/UX capabilities to design intuitive interfaces which helped the teams understand the gaps in achieving the highest efficiency. A system for loan pooling was also implemented to time share instruments in order to increase utilization.

The dollar and cent impact of IoT, delivered

Tracking instruments easily using dashboards on the back of robust IoT solution proved significant. Results were visible from the very beginning. The project delivered the following benefits to the customer –

  • Improved tracking and real-time visibility
  • ~4% increase in instrument utilization
  • Enhanced efficiency with end-to-end ThingWorx and Edge Device capabilities

All of this led to tangible monetary benefits. With increased visibility, the client was able to ensure better utilization of available instruments. This meant less money spent on new purchases, leading to direct savings in capex. Timely maintenance of instruments was another significant area of saving. The project delivered high ROI in a short period of time. But more than that, this project demonstrates the sheer power of IoT to enable better run businesses.

 


Author:

Nishant Jain
Associate Consultant, Business Consulting Group,
ITC Infotech India Ltd.

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