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An Oracle blog about Internet Of Things

  • February 16, 2017

5 design principles behind IOT Asset Monitoring

Supreet Oberoi
Vice President, IoT and Big Data Applications

Introduction

In my previous blog, I talked about how your supply chain could be improved by monitoring your assets better in real time. Let me tell you how we (Oracle) rose to that challenge by developing the IoT Asset Monitoring application, which blends key modern platform components including Big Data. 

After identifying the challenges that you face by surveying business people who rely on supply chain data, examining the products of our leading competitors, we understood that the product had to be built differently. What was currently available wasn’t as easy to integrate, or as adaptable, scalable, and efficient as needed.

It became clear that to meet your needs – no, to exceed your needs – we had to create a solution based on five principles:

1. Provide visibility at any view, with any business metric.

2. Scale to a large number and variety of assets.

3. Make integrations easy.

4. Locate your assets.

5. Supply best-of-breed KPIs while offering you the flexibility to custom design your own.


Principle 1: Provide visibility at any view, with any business metric.

In the market, asset-monitoring products can be divided into providing just a device-level view (common among IoT monitoring applications) or just an enterprise-level view. This separation of view-related IT and operational monitoring prevents your VP of Supply Chain or VP of Manufacturing from easily getting answers to questions such as “What are my bottom-performing assets? What’s their performance in contrast to my top-performing assets? What anomalies in performance are there at a machine level?” Clearly, simply monitoring at a machine level isn’t very useful, so your supply chain experience isn’t improved at all. 

Figure 1: Use Summarized Views to get the operational picture…


Figure 2: … and then click through to get detailed device-level insights

Enterprises often track their business through customer orders. To manage at the scale of an enterprise, your business processes and assets typically align with company-specific metrics related to those orders. These realizations led us to design and implement requirements for business-specific, customized views. While the IoT Asset Monitoring application comes with a rich set of readily available metrics, we know that your data-driven business is unique, so the metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) required to advance your business must also be unique. Who better to know exactly what your business needs for efficient asset management and business insights than you? Using the IoT Asset Monitoring application, you can define your business-tailored, results-inspired views as needed.

Principle 2: Scale to a large number and variety of assets. 

Your business is constrained because of the inability of the current asset-monitoring solutions to scale. Asset manufacturers have provided many monitoring solutions, but they didn’t plan for assets from other manufacturers being used in your enterprise, as part of your supply chain process. 

The few solutions that managed to get along didn’t account for the logistical challenges to administering a large number of assets with different formats. For example, suppose your enterprise has over two dozen sensors, each publishing in a format with over 40 different attributes. To manually register, maintain, and understand over 500 attributes just isn’t feasible. That is, it isn’t feasible for these solutions.

Using the best platform and infrastructure components with the capacity to scale regardless of how many assets are added to the system, we developed your solution: the IoT Asset Monitoring application, incorporating the superior features of the scalable architecture from Oracle IoT Cloud Service. 


Figure 4: Group assets for better management.


Figure 5: Support assets with different formats.


Figure 6: Manage devices and gateways for scale.

Principle 3: Make integrations easy. 

 To provide true situational awareness for your supply chain asset monitoring, our application fuses sensor data with data sitting in any ERP, CRM, or supply chain environment. Our architecture allows a low-code or no-code experience, which means there’s easy integration not only with Oracle apps, but also with third-party apps. 

Why is this important? Typically, for first-generation technology projects, integration costs can account for 60%-80% of the total implementation price.  Now you can significantly reduce if not eliminate these costs, because your project deployment is not only cheaper, but easier and faster. 


Principle 4: Locate your Assets

One of your most important responsibilities for monitoring an asset is tracking its location. This goes beyond showing lat-long on a map, though it starts from there. 

In Principle 2, I said that the application had to scale to an enterprise level. This meant designing a system that could scale to render perhaps thousands of assets on a map – in a human comprehensible manner. To provide such capabilities, we created a system that took user context into account to automatically display your assets on a map. NOT easy!

For example, at the highest fidelity view, you can see operational details at the asset level (for instance, What’s the temperature of a given sensor?). As you go to a different level and visualize a larger number of sensors, you automatically view aggregated summaries (for instance, What’s the average temperature of all of my assets in the view?).

It makes good business sense to know where your assets are. I mean really know, down to the particular floor in the specific building, not just a general geographical location, right? 

One of the application capabilities that we designed was the concept of places and geofences.  With the tracking feature of IoT Asset Monitoring, you can upload floor plans and label these locations as places. Within these places, you can identify boundaries  – geofences – and even create events associated with them. For example, with the IoT Asset Monitoring application, create events such as send an alert when an asset of the type blood transfusion pump leaves the radiology department. Now, finally, you can derive business-level insights because you always know the location and movement of your assets.


Figure 7: Track assets by spaces


Figure 8:  Create Incidents by tracking change of locations

Principle 5: Supply best-of-breed KPIs while offering you the flexibility to custom design your own.

Your enterprise might not have extensive IT resources so maybe your business has to settle on applications that contain oversimplified, generic KPIs. Maybe you don’t have enough personnel with sufficient expertise in the latest, most innovative technologies. Even if they try to define new KPIs (to get business insights) using the new and innovative technologies such as Big Data, Machine Learning, Machine Vision, Augmented Reality, and so on, perhaps they soon find themselves over their heads.

To prevent this, we distilled the best practices in asset monitoring to provide outstanding, prepackaged KPIs. Your business has access to a diverse set of KPIs to track the performance and health of your assets at various organizational levels.

But, because your business is unique, your application KPIs should be customizable, that is, unique to your business. As an asset owner, you, regardless of your programming experience, can use our UI to design your own KPIs because the IoT Asset Monitoring application tracks those KPIs that are unique to your business.

For your IT resources with greater experience, we exposed Spark’s programmatic APIs in Java. We believe that APIs exist for a reason, so we didn’t want to deny it to your advanced practitioners of KPIs.

Because we used the Hadoop-based platform to provide batch and streaming KPI computations, large volumes of data or the complexity of any algorithms won’t hinder your supply chain process.

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