HyperCat Smart Facilities IoT InteroperabilityHaving already discussed the IoT and some fundamental elements including its origin and having examined how laborious tasks such as stock takes can be assisted, we thought it was about time we let you know how our product, RedStore, is turning objects into Smart Objects in order to improve the efficiency of asset management and maintenance.

As mentioned in our previous post, ‘Interoperability and the Internet of Things’, RedBite Solutions is a member of the HyperCat Consortium. We are leading the HyperCat Smart Facilities use case to enable facilities management (FM) teams to manage their assets and the maintenance of such assets more efficiently. We have deployed RedStore at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing (IfM).

The User

IfM logo

The IfM brings together management, technology and policy expertise to address issues in order to help industry and governments to create sustainable economic growth. The IfM carries out research, education and practice in each of these areas. As a result, within the IfM there are multiple teams and departments as well as numerous assets that require management and periodic maintenance.

The Mission

The IfM approached us with these immortal words (or thereabouts!) RedBite Solutions, your mission should you choose to accept it is to grant us the power to uniquely identify on a global scale each of our assets, to store all asset data in one location and allow users to contribute new information easily.

The Predicaments

IfM Alan Reece Building

IfM – Alan Reece Building. Source: https://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/aboutifm/

When the new Alan Reece Building was handed over to the IfM’s FM team, the following asset data was also transferred:

  • Building Team: schematics and a unique system for describing asset locations involving multiple references
  • Manufacturers: instruction manuals, warranty information and spare/replacement parts data
  • University of Cambridge Estate Management and Building Services (EMBS) Department: periodic servicing and maintenance of assets data and another asset management system

All this data caused quite a headache for staff at the IfM as they were left with a wealth of information and multiple IDs for each asset with no way of merging this information.

As assets could not be uniquely identified it was challenging for the FM team to identify exactly which asset required maintenance and often involved sifting through a wad of paperwork.

Below are the details of the IfM’s problems and how RedBite’s Solution has come to the rescue…

  1. Unable to identify which specific asset requires maintenance

We provided globally unique identities, by attaching a discrete QR code label, to each asset that requires regular maintenance and servicing. Each QR code contains a unique URL which, when scanned with a mobile device, brings up the asset’s profile page. We have tagged various assets from air conditioning units to boilers and pressure sensors.

At the IfM there are, for example, multiple air conditioning units in one room. As some assets were referenced by room only, when the maintenance teams needed to fix a fault with the air-conditioning unit in a particular room, they could not be sure which of the 2 units had the fault. RedStore removes any ambiguity as maintenance requirements are assigned to an individual asset, thus reducing the time wasted by maintenance teams in sourcing assets.

  1. Unable to access existing asset information, or contribute new information, while onsite

With the technology at our disposal today, FM teams were frustrated by the inefficiency of their processes. While they were on-site tending to an asset, they wanted to be able to add new pieces of information, such as service sheets, pictures and comments that could all be associated to a particular asset and accessed subsequently.

As RedStore comes in the form of a web application as well as a mobile application, it can be used on the go. This allows the FM team to be able to immediately update an asset’s records while they are still on-site. All data is added to the asset’s profile page and is stored in the cloud, allowing it to be widely accessible. As RedStore also works offline, there is nothing holding the team back.

  1. Require additional systems and procedures for maintenance reminders and schedules

In an ideal world, we would all like to use one system for all of our tasks. Multiple systems tend to get messy and require us to remember additional logins and are, in most cases, less efficient than using only one. The team at the IfM faced the same problem and used an additional system to remind themselves of asset maintenance requirements.

Thanks to RedStore incorporating reminder and notification features, only one system is now required in order for the FM team to meet all of their requirements.

  1. Asset fault reporting must be made via another separate process

Previously, any reports against faulty assets were made via yet another system. For example, a user hoping to use a 3D printer that is right in front of them had no way of reporting any faults incurred in a convenient way, linking the fault to that specific printer and being able to do so while still standing at the machine.

The QR codes that we have attached to each asset can be made publicly accessible or alternatively made accessible with use of a unique passcode. This allows a member of the public or other users of the IfM to scan an asset’s QR code, leave a comment reporting a fault and for the facilities management team to be automatically notified, all using one system.

  1. Having asset data stored separately and in multiple locations

Recently, one of the IfM managers was attending an engagement party when he received a phone call from some concerned neighbours as one of the IfM’s units was churning out a very loud noise during the night. Having left the party, the manager arrived at the IfM, had to locate the asset causing the problem and establish its ID number. Then, after finding his office keys and making his way to his office he searched for the appropriate instruction manual before returning to the asset in order to fix the fault.

With RedStore, scanning the asset’s QR code would have brought up the unique profile page storing all relevant information, including instruction manuals, allowing the fault to be fixed and the manager to get back to the party!

Referring back to the various pieces of information transferred with a new build, RedStore merges this data and gives each asset one identity and one place to store all relevant information.

IfM Smart Facilities Asset ManagementWhat’s Next?

There are plenty more assets to tag and as RedStore works with many Auto-ID technologies, there is the option to use RFID tags to tag locations so that asset movement is automatically detected. In addition, we have begun tagging more public assets within the IfM where members of the public can engage with the assets. The use of crowdsourcing will aid in the efficiency of asset management – check out our recent article on Crowdsourcing and the power of the crowd.

Tune in shortly to catch the next episode of the adventures of RedBite Solutions and see how we’re creating a Smart World, one asset at a time.

RedBite Solutions | Every object tells a story