As a business, that concerns itself with IoT technology, we receive questions and concerns from clients about how this technology can benefit them.
Some concerns are common. These are often related to what value the gathering of data can bring to their businesses. We, as Railmonitor, pride ourselves in selling state-of-the-art sensors that gather millimetre-precise (actually, even more precise) data about the health condition of any specified structure or infrastructure. But what is the point of gathering all this data – and how can one benefit from this?
We know that for some, current and actual state of condition is enough. There is no pressuring need for analyzing correlations and thereby getting to know how to optimize maintenance and such. These users typically include contractors, that only need monitoring on a specific site for a limited timeframe, and their interest is in a real-time monitoring system, that tells if the monitored object is affected by some construction work.
This article focuses on those with an interest in exploiting data for business-optimizing reasons.
1. You need to start the data gathering, sooner rather than later.
If you have no data, you won’t be able to improve and streamline work processes. You will need a good amount of data before you can start the process of analyzing and thereby getting to know the structural behaviour and how movements relate to different parameters. This leads us to the second point:
2. Be patient.
This might be a discouraging point, but it is an important one. The fact is that you will need a solid foundation of data before truly being able to benefit from it – the good news is, that the benefits are quite significant and will save you on OPEX while simultaneously raising the safety standard. Both in long terms – whereas you’ll be able to secure i.a. a safe track – and in short terms, as sensors can replace manual monitoring methods and thereby reducing the need for having people to walk on and nearby a rail, climbing a bridge and so on.
3. Collect data with a goal in mind.
Data gathering in itself is not very valuable in the perspective of operators – the value lies within the understanding of the gathered data. There are several aspects to this – one is data-visualization. Large amounts of complex data can be hard to comprehend. This can be simplified and be made understandable by visualizing it in charts and graphs. Data visualization can thus enable you to:
- Identify which areas need attention or improvement
- Clarify which factors affect structural or geographical movement.
- Predict future behaviour
- Connect variables and understand how they relate to one another
This ultimately makes it possible for you to adapt your maintenance strategy to actual needs instead of following norms, that force you to execute maintenance work, even if it isn’t needed.