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Scott Smith09 Mar, 2020

Moving facilities into the future

We welcome Industry 4.0 as the next great industrial revolution where data will transform operations.  However, mission-critical facilities struggle with adoption of IoT technologies.  Most of us take for granted the very facilities that enable our businesses to succeed. The reason? Perception and failed communication. Traditionally, facility operations have had a play-it-safe mentality and thought that “if they don't know my name, then nothing has failed today.” It's time to abandon this “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” mentality.

This idea of facilities operations remaining in silence is very similar to the IT organization 25 years ago.  IT was the “computer guy” and the help desk, a relationship built upon a negative perspective of solely fixing a problem.  However, technology evolved and IT fought for a seat at the boardroom table as a critical part of the strategic success of the organization.  There was an evolution from a reactive “break-fix” mentality to real strategic value, and thus came investment and an opportunity to contribute.

Now, that very opportunity lies at the feet of facility operations managers as the challenges facing us include sustainability, security, reliability, health and safety, and resilience.

Just pick up a paper and look at the headlines:

  • 500,000 in California Are Without Electricity in Planned Shutdown
  • Heart of New York goes dark as Manhattan suffers power outage
  • The World's Busiest Airport Has Power Again, But the Outage Wreaked Havoc on Holiday Travelers
  • NIH shuts down facility used to produce drugs for clinical trials

While sensational, these headlines are reflective of a bigger issue - major perception issues in the mission-critical facilities space that leave the rest of the sector just hoping they don't end up in the same position.

The reality is that many facilities have an aging infrastructure, aging team members seeking retirement, and more complex systems and requirements than ever before.  It is time to take the lessons learned by other industries and adopt digital transformation technologies to optimize facility operations. 

It is time to recognize the value of data as a friend and not a foe.

Digital transformation and an abundance of usable data has allowed power companies to increase availability, reduce costs, and increase profits. Industrial IoT has enabled pharmaceutical companies to get to market faster with new products and helped oil and gas, manufacturing, chemical, and mining companies to improve product yield and enhance the reliability of their aging systems.

NASA is leveraging connected assets and predictive analytics to optimize invested capital by extending the life of critical assets while lowering budgets. The University of Maryland has leveraged the PI System to reduce power outage response time from 90 minutes to mere seconds, while also reducing energy usage in the classroom and saving an expected $1-4M annually. The National Institute of Health has seen 10-17% utility savings per year after using digital technologies to improve equipment reliability. 

These firms are prime examples of the transformative impact that data can have on the organization.  It's time for facilities to abandon the passive, reactive mentality of the past and march forward to a brighter future.

Learn more about how OSIsoft is enabling the facilities of the future.

Scott SmithIndustry Principal for Facilities and Data Centers Scott Smith is the Industry Principal for Facilities and Data Centers at OSIsoft, where he focuses on deriving digital value across Universities, Data Centers, and Manufacturing, Pharmaceutical and U.S. Federal Government facilities. In his current role he collaborates with facility teams to integrate the PI System, which enables a data infrastructure for operational intelligence that provides visibility into their assets, and empowers real-time, data-driven decision making.
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