Explained: What is an ‘Asset Information Ecosystem’?

Insight by COSOL /

At a glance

  • The Asset Information Ecosystem provides a holistic view of data captured by an organisation’s assets.
  • The Ecosystem eliminates data silos to generate powerful integrated information insights.
  • Foundational components of the Ecosystem (such as the IoT and GIS) can work together to unlock operational efficiencies.

It’s a truism that decisions are only as good as the information they’re based on. Receive misleading or incomplete information and you’re liable to make a decision that’s not in your best interests.

The rule applies in business as much as it does in our everyday decision-making.  

Just as individuals and consumers value quality information to make sound choices, so too must asset-intensive organisations treat data as an asset in its own right. More data is good data – but only if it can be understood and interpreted efficiently and dynamically to bring greater insight into asset performance.

Organisations typically have the data they need to maximise their asset operations already embedded in their systems and processes. These organisations may think they can best utilise their asset data by implementing a traditional Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS). But truly enhancing asset efficiency requires them to think of their data systems not just as one system, but as an Asset Information Ecosystem.

“More data is good data – but only if it can be understood and interpreted efficiently and dynamically to bring greater insight into asset performance.”

The ecosystem model denotes a collaborative integrated data environment where information is able to flow freely between systems. It brings together multiple formerly siloed data sources and systems to capture, organise and integrate information in a single point of truth. It allows for analysis of data over a reporting period, resulting in insights that can mapped over new points of information so that organisations can ‘lean forward’ with ever greater levels of insight into the future effect causal influences may have on asset performance deviation from normal.

Fundamentally, the ecosystem model enables the interpretation of data to yield holistic insights into asset performance, inform critical asset management decision making and, in turn, deliver greater asset value.

Why is the holistic view important? Because it allows organisations with extensive assets under management to unlock new levels of operational efficiency. The ultimate aim is for asset-rich businesses to realise the following benefits:

  • delivery of a single point of truth
  • improved asset efficiency
  • improved lifecycle performance
  • real-time, situational asset tracking
  • reduced maintenance and down-time costs
  • compliance with regulations and accreditations
  • improved workplace health and safety
  • better sustainability performance.

By helping deliver a ‘big-picture view’ of asset performance, an Asset Information Ecosystem enables organisations to make informed decisions that deliver on their Asset Management Strategy and Planning objectives.

What do we mean by an Asset Information Ecosystem?

Digital transformation has delivered a new wave of data as SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and the increase in affordability and rapid growth of IoT (Internet of Things) devices place real-time data in the hands of asset managers, driving change in how assets are managed.

No single information system can offer a comprehensive and actionable summary that can assist in effective decision-making. Each class of asset and phase of the asset lifecycle – design and construction, utilisation and maintenance, and disposal – requires specialist software solutions that, while powerful in isolation, don’t inform the wider picture.

Combine potentially overwhelming volumes of data generated by sensors and IoT devices delivering constant inputs with the complexity of segregated, siloed data systems and it’s easy to see how hard it can be for asset managers to see the whole picture.

This is where an Asset Information Ecosystem comes in. It’s an integrated environment of interdependent and interacting systems that collect critical data sets from multiple sources, facilitate free-flowing exchanges of information among these disparate systems, and enable the visualisation and analysis of data to enhance the performance of asset management activities and decision-making.

So, how does this work? In an asset-intensive organisation, it’s important that there is seamless coordination of availability and performance across all asset classes. Scheduling needs to know availability of staff of different skill sets via the organisation’s HR system; planners need detailed information on fleet and equipment usage, like distance travelled,  to trigger maintenance interventions; logistics teams need to align with maintenance schedules to pick and prepare parts for deliver to job sites or just-in-time collection.

The graphic above illustrates how viewing Asset Knowledge Enablers as an ecosystem supports and informs a broader approach to asset management to drive a business’s overall strategic objectives.

The Asset Information Ecosystem integrates technologies such as GIS (Geographic Information Systems), mobility, BIM (Building Information Modelling), technical drawing management and other systems to direct all the benefits of the Asset Information Ecosystem towards asset performance improvement.

COSOL partners with specific technology vendors to configure their products and integrate them into an Asset Information Ecosystem. One such product, IBM Maximo, can be offered as a fully managed EAMaaS (Enterprise Asset Management as a Service) cloud-based solution to deliver best-practice SaaS performance.

An example: Integration of geo-location and AI data sets

Consider how foundational components of the Asset Information Ecosystem such as the IoT and GIS can work together to unlock new levels of operational efficiency for businesses.

Asset-intensive organisations have increasing levels of location-based information sources available to them – these sources can include BIM (Building Information Modelling), CAD, Google Earth, or even spreadsheets of addresses or coordinates. 

GIS brings together data based on where particular assets are located and helps create dynamic and real-time awareness of an asset network. The ‘data points’ within this network can be a moving or transportable asset or human resources, but they can just as easily be a static asset or rotable equipment (that can be restored/repaired to a serviceable condition). These assets can be broadly categorised as belonging to the following groups:

  • Moving assets – such as aircraft or road-going vehicle fleets, earthmoving equipment, mobile work crews
  • Buried assets – water pipes, manholes, electrical conduits
  • Complex assets – telephone towers, electrical substations, rotable assets.
  • Crews – human resources available to undertake work within a service area geography

While GIS brings location intelligence to asset management, the IoT enables the capture and interpretation of actionable data. Sensors monitor, capture and process dynamic data from automated feeds such as traffic light infrastructure and water-flow conduits, thereby allowing for real-time configuration changes.  

There can be no holistic view if data produced by IoT and GIS sources isn’t shared within the asset ecosystem. Using segregated data can even increase the danger that distorted inferences are drawn from it. An integrated information ecosystem, on the other hand, brings together critical information at the right time to provide a complete and actionable view.

Why adopt 'ecosystem thinking'?

There are multiple benefits to be derived from an ecosystem approach to asset management rather than relying on siloed data sources:

  • The ecosystem approach delivers an integrated and comprehensive real-time picture of asset performance and lifecycles. It encompasses all asset types, tangible and intangible, simple and complex systems, and all activities associated with the acquisition, operation, maintenance and disposal (or renewal) of assets
  • Data resides inthe system where it’s best managed and is used freely by other applications when it’s needed
  • The ecosystem produces consistent and more measurable information on asset performance, and delivers positive outcomes (such as increased asset availability and lifespan, more timely and appropriate interventions)
  • Data is shared and systems are ‘owned and operated’ on an enterprise level, not by individual business units, which have can have short-sighted priorities and limited purviews
  • Integrating core enterprise systems enables data visualisation to provide situational awareness of real-time geographic patterns, relationships and alerts to deliver a safer working environment, improved asset performance and cost reductions.

COSOL brings together specialist knowledge and multiple systems solutions to help organisations architect and implement an Asset Information Ecosystem specific to their needs. By facilitating integration of multiple data sources and systems, drawing key insights from captured data and providing a big-picture view of asset performance, COSOL helps its partners to unlock their true asset management potential.

Want to know more about the Ecosystem?

Contact us to find out more.