By Paul McRoberts, President
You read it here first—there’s a new trend on the market, and it’s poised to revolutionize the way industries manage critical infrastructure. It’s called asset performance management (APM), and it isn’t really “new” at all.
Why APM Isn’t Really New
We’ve written a lot about the changing industrial landscape, how trends like the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Artificial Intelligence are confronting organizations with massive opportunities and unprecedented challenges. Most of these opportunities and challenges revolve around the same question: How do we make the best use of the data at our fingertips?
Answering this question has led to a flurry of innovation. Components like condition-based monitoring, scenario modelling and investment planning and predictive analytics—solutions built to help teams leverage their data to make more proactive decisions—are frequently seen in today’s power, water and industrial plants, especially at larger, resource-rich organizations. Now we’re seeing solution providers bundle, sell and deploy these established components together in a model called APM, a model that encompasses everything from collecting data about how assets are currently performing to the tools and applications enabling how to predict the best use for those assets to achieve operational goals in the most cost-effective manner.
In short, the components that make up APM aren’t all that new. The way they’re being deployed is.
Has APM Outpriced the SME?
According to research from Market Research Future®, the APM market is exploding to keep up with rising trends in IoT adoption, machine efficiency demands and productivity requirements. This market growth could have a ceiling, however, if APM can’t find ways to support small- and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Unfortunately, a perception has been built among smaller organizations that APM isn’t worth its price tag. Many may write off APM as a trendy, overpriced solution before even speaking with a potential provider. This perception isn’t completely unfounded. Previously, providers have often taken a consultative approach to APM deployments, investing the time and resources to develop a custom APM solution for a customer and then pricing it accordingly. While this approach has proved successful for larger organizations, many SMEs lack the budget, time and resources to invest in an implementation process that could eat up months of their operation.
The good news for SMEs is that the perception of APM as being high cost is misrepresented and slightly exaggerated. APM solutions do exist that can scale based on budget and resource requirements—it’s just a matter of finding the right one.
Three Steps to Finding the Right APM Solution
Speak with a handful of providers
There’s something to be said for cold-calling providers, soliciting quotes and asking probing questions about pricing and levels of service. The amount of time and energy that goes into this process can be off-putting for some SMEs, but the benefits are profound. Does pricing align with your business? How do pricing models differ between providers? What about implementation timelines? Are their implementation processes proven and repeatable? Does the provider require a ton of upfront consultation to customize their offering, or is their solution ready “off the shelf?” When vetting the legitimacy and value of a potential APM solution, being able to compare and contrast a variety of different providers is always in the best interest of your organization.
- Pay attention to what questions the provider asks you
How much power CAN you generate versus what is your average output? What type of assets do you have Vs. what is critical to your operations? How many sensors do you have Vs, recommending the right amount of math models? These are specific, functional questions that can be a huge indicator that an APM solution provider “gets” your operation. From here, you have the opportunity to learn more about how an APM solution can be deployed to meet the specific requirements of your operation, staff and stakeholders.
On the flip side, if a provider doesn’t probe into the details of your infrastructure, including why and how it operates the way it does, that may be an indicator that their solution isn’t the right fit for you.
- Poke holes in pricing models
Many APM providers tend to price solutions based on “tags,” intel that’s important to the provider. Examples of this might be the quantity of assets measured or the number of sensors deployed across an infrastructure. Unfortunately, these tags often don’t translate to the value of the solution to the customer. If you run a water plant, an impactful metric might be gallons of water pumped. In a power plant, it might be the number and types of generators, capacity and actual output. Whatever metrics are critical to your operation, your APM solution should be priced accordingly, because those metrics are what translate to value for your organization.
If there are two takeaways an SME should capture from this blog post, it’s that you’re likely already using some of the components of APM in your operation, and the “sticker shock” of an end-to-end APM solution is only real when you work with the wrong provider.
Stay tuned for more insight into asset performance management trends.