When it comes to asset performance management, monitoring and diagnostics, companies often make one of two mistakes when they encounter problems: They jump into a solution quickly due to lack of time to properly assess and vet changes, or they wait until it’s too late. Today’s infrastructures are big, complex systems that present big, complex decisions for stakeholders. As such, it can be difficult to know when your monitoring and diagnostics approach needs to be fine-tuned, or if it does at all.
Here are four signs that may indicate it’s the perfect time to rethink your approach:
1. You start feeling the asset overload.
Some companies just have too much stuff. However, in and of itself, the sheer number of devices, systems and sensors in your network isn’t a problem—it’s the amount of data those assets are producing and the inability to process it all that presents a challenge. This predicament often forces teams into the corner of feeling like they have to either reduce the amount of data/assets being monitored or increase the staff responsible for monitoring them.
Oft-overlooked signs of asset overload:
- Staff is unable to keep up with the alerts.
- Operators don’t feel like they’re getting actionable and important information.
2. Your data is all over the place.
Asset overload is often the catalyst for other monitoring and diagnostic obstacles—think “more data, more problems.” Inefficient processing, analytics blind spots and orphaned data are three common signs your data management might be a problem.
We recommend creating a roadmap that charts your data flow from its source through the rest of your infrastructure. This will help identify both potential blind spots and opportunities to gather more intelligence across your network.
Symptoms of disorganized data:
- Data isn’t sufficiently mapped to asset failure modes.
- Teams are forced to search repeatedly for an analysis.
- Context data is inaccessible to users.
3. Your technology clashes with your team.
Ill-fitting technology is another common sign that your monitoring and diagnostics approach is ready for a tune up. Ask yourself a few questions: Does your technology complement or augment existing processes? Is it adding extra steps to your process? Does it provide new insights to your team? Does it require a lot of hands-on support? Answering these questions can help shed light on where your existing monitoring and diagnostic approach is clashing with your team. Be sure to invite honest feedback from your various operators as well—not only may they give you a no-bull assessment of your technology, they may also have recommendations on how to improve it.
Symptoms of ill-fitting technology:
- An excess of false alerts.
- Additional and/or unnecessary for operators.
- Alerts with limited ability to drive resolutions.
4. Your diagnostics take too long or are too late.
Is your team doing 100% of your diagnostic analysis manually? If so, that’s a red flag. Not because your team isn’t knowledgeable, but because they’re human. Humans make mistakes and process at a slower rate than computers. Humans can also have different interpretations of information. Both of these variables can impact the speed and effectiveness at which issues are resolved. Even when done to a T, data analysis takes time and energy, which inherently push response times and can enable issues to magnify.
Review your issue management logs: What’s the average amount of time your team spends remediating issues? What’s the most prevalent issue cropping up in your network? Do certain issues take longer to resolve than others? Scrutinizing existing processes and identifying inefficiency patterns can reveal opportunities to accelerate response times, reduce overhead costs and reassign your team to higher-value jobs.
Common issues with manual diagnostic processes:
- Inaccurate analysis.
- Higher burden on the field/facility team to diagnose issues.
- Delayed information transfer.
- Diagnosis of lower-priority issues before higher-priority ones.
We hope this checklist acts as a conversation starter about how to improve your existing monitoring and diagnostics processes but keep a few things in mind. It’s not uncommon for utilities companies to have more than one of these issues rear its ugly head within their networks. Also, noticing a challenge isn’t necessarily a sign that you need to invest in a new technology or solution—you may just need to fine-tune what’s already in place. Above all else, remember there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to monitoring and diagnostics. What works for one company may not be right for you.