What's the association between IoT and predictive maintenance?

We're in an interesting new industrial era with the Internet of Things (IoT). Of course, this interconnectedness has some interesting implications for maintenance, opening wide a lot of possibilities for new monitoring and data tracking strategies.

If you're unfamiliar with the Internet of Things, essentially it is the phenomenon of connecting typically non-online applications and equipment to the internet, where users can track their equipment, understand its current status, and use it at maximum efficiency.

Specifically, IoT defines the increasingly interconnected network of "smart" items - for example, users might have a smart light that talks to their smart speaker to coordinate their lighting and music choices, or a smart washer that connects to Amazon to instantly reorder detergent pods.

Specifically, we're interested in looking at predictive maintenance (PdM). It might not seem obvious at first, but at an essential level the IoT and PdM are very similar concepts: they monitor a connected network of parameters and assets.

In this case, we can use IoT-connected technologies to improve how predictive maintenance works. Typically, predictive maintenance relies on expensive sensor equipment and infrared cameras. In a previous time, we might need to be actively monitoring these cameras, but even now it's not perfect.

Using interconnected technology would allow us to network these cameras and sensors easily with existing computer systems, creating automatic maintenance events and performing fixes sometimes without maintenance intervention at all.

Even more so than simplifying the process of event triggers, IoT technology can help facilities track data through their PdM program by monitoring the constant influx of data from every piece of equipment in the facility. We can now gather all of that data in raw form and translate it simply into understandable information - from here, we can make maintenance optimizations, figure out root causes to issues, and improve a facility's overall maintenance efforts.

The bottom line: IoT technology is more than something fun like a wifi dishwasher. Instead, it's a way of constantly monitoring and gathering data from every single asset or application possible, constructing an accurate diagnosis of a facility's asset health and providing multiple opportunities for optimization in a PdM program.

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