Our first obvious impression was that though the sustainability scope is wide and limitless, so far the main focus for industries and organizations is on energy savings in buildings. Much has been done in this area - from installing smart meters and sensors for monitoring and controlling energy used by devices, to improving HVAC systems in order to make them more energy efficient, to using more natural light in buildings thereby removing the need to use electricity for lighting. In fact, Infosys itself has done significant work in this area and has adopted many innovative technologies in its own buildings (Going green: A little disruption can go a long way). Similar processes and technologies are being put into place to reduce water usage in buildings. This is certainly an exciting area, and one that is starting to mature, but from our Asset Management centric perspective we realize that the majority of the work around making buildings "smarter" is being done by manufacturers of sensors and devices and by software application developers of building management software systems, such as IWMS (Intelligent Workplace Management Systems) and RESP (Real Estate and Space Planning). We do think, however that the EAM packages may serve as the glue that holds it all together. In fact, EAM packages would work as one of the pillars or foundation of the whole sustainability theme, as the whole story revolves around assets, meters and sensors.
As our main focus was towards asset intensive organizations, we looked more into Oil & Gas, Utilities and Manufacturing and Transportation industries. Advancement in technology is bringing an ability to directly monitor assets' performance through sensors, cameras, meters, and SCADA systems. These measurements can then be compared to OEM guidelines or an established baseline or benchmark. From our experience in these industries it's clear that this kind of actual and benchmark data is available but it is spread through numerous points and systems. An integrated or consolidated view of that data is rarely ready and available. It therefore seems that there is a tremendous scope for weaving this data together and converting it into one piece of intelligent information, based on which informed and smart decisions can be taken. Such a resulting "big picture", created out of multiple small data points, would allow for more highly informed decision making. A further benefit of integration of these many systems is to allow organizations to effectively report on their sustainability metrics. This requires accurate, measured reporting of a wide array of information. As more and more organizations realize the benefits of participating in initiatives such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) there becomes a greater need to develop systems that allow for this.
Though we are still at an early stage of our research on asset heavy industries, we have identified some ideas for how these industries can use Asset Management systems for improving sustainability goals:
• Power Generation organizations need systematic and regular energy audits to benchmark, and thus improve efficiency and minimize losses.
• Telecommunications companies have a strong focus on monitoring and controlling the radiation emitted from cellular towers, especially in residential areas. With a reliable means of measuring this radiation, communities can be kept as safe as possible.
• Oil & Gas and Utility industries are subject to stringent safety regulations, compliance and procedures; however in most cases these are still being done manually. Developing reliable automated processes for handling safety matters would bring benefit to all stakeholders.
• Transportation industry can have a close eye on resource consumption, including the fuel burned by the vehicle or the electricity and water used by passengers in aircrafts, trains, ships and coaches.
Our research also indicates that there are many other practices, common across industries, which will have a significant impact on sustainability:
• In almost all industries preventive maintenance is a key to keeping assets productive, efficient, and most importantly safe, for both people and the environment. Using an asset management software application allows for more reliable and thorough preventive maintenance scheduling. Such maintenance results in more efficient asset operations and prolonged life - both positive effects on sustainability.
• Asset disposal can often be more hazardous than operating the asset, thus using a system to track the decommissioning and disposal of a large asset can ensure that correct safety measures are taken to minimize risk and that the effects of the disposal are tracked and reported. Though there has been lots of discussion around this area, asset management software applications still do not provide a feasible and working solution to tackle this issue.
These are just a few of our preliminary ideas. Our research will continue over the next month and we expect to see many more opportunities for bringing sustainability ideas into asset intensive industries.