Selecting a Remote Equipment Monitoring Solution

As information technology continues to evolve, it provides you with bold new opportunities to revolutionize how your equipment is serviced and supported after it leaves the factory. These service and support opportunities can improve your competitive position by simultaneously increasing revenue and decreasing costs. A remote asset management solution is a vital tool that reduces troubleshooting & support costs, increases uptime, helps track warranties and manages equipment contracts. Equipment information has become the new competitive advantage and when choosing the right solution for your equipment, it’s important to consider the factors that lead to long term success. Here are seven key success factors that will bring your selection process into focus.

1. A proven solution.

2. A flexible supplier.

3. Integration into your business system.

4. Reliable, scalable infrastructure.

5. Strong support & a migration roadmap.

6. Wireless coverage & in-country certifications.

7. Machine2Business™ = ROI.

1. Find a proven supplier and solution
There are many suppliers of remote monitoring systems and they come in different shapes & sizes. Some are relatively small regional providers, while others are larger international conglomerates. Some are relatively new, with less than 10 years of experience selling and supporting these kinds of systems. Chances are that, unless they’ve been in the telematics system business for more than 10 years, they haven’t been through several cycles of system development and maintenance. Look for suppliers that have solid examples of previous customers that have successfully implemented the system you’re evaluating. Be sure it isn’t the previous generation system, with a brand new system promised soon. You don’t want to be the guinea pig for an investment of this size. Ask about the solution fit to your application. Has the solution been successfully implemented by anyone else in this type of application? If not, keep looking.

2. Evaluate the ability to tailor the solution to your application
Your equipment is unique, refined by years of industry experience and changes to make it work to the level that it does today. Why would you want to apply a one-size-fits-all remote monitoring solution and do anything less with this investment? The real-world situations that your equipment is used in require that the end-to-end remote monitoring solution be tailored to really work well and give the value that you’re expecting. This may mean interfacing with special sensors on the equipment, figuring out a difficult interface with the existing equipment controller, or creating reports that make sense for you and your customers. It may also mean putting your private-label on the solution, so you can build more brand loyalty. What will happen when you discover something new to interface with in the future? It’s critical that you find a supplier that is willing and able to motion design portfolio tailor the solution for your application, and actually make the final system work the way you expect. Is the supplier just trying to sell you the technology, or are they working hard to understand your business application and how to get the most value from this investment? Ask the prospective suppliers for specific examples of how they tailored their solution for a successful customer. Ask for references so you can find out how well the changes were implemented and whether they met expectations.

3. Look for flexibility and business system integration capability
Often times, investing in an information system creates yet another silo that requires manual labor to bridge. Manual steps are slow and inefficient, with people logging into multiple systems and making mistakes when they transfer information from one software tool into another. Making an investment in a remote equipment monitoring solution isn’t any different. Bringing the equipment information back into your existing business system may be the final piece that you need in order to streamline the process and maximize the return on investment. Another consideration is future flexibility. Does the supplier have a history of integrating with a variety of hardware devices, or are they just focused on their own technology? Are they willing to create a gateway to bring data in from another source? Remember, the on-board hardware is just an enabler to get the machine information you need. How about your long-term needs? Does the supplier allow for future enhancements as your needs grow?

4. Evaluate the infrastructure behind the system
If system reliability & scalability is important to you, a thorough peek into the infrastructure behind the solution is well worth your time. Imagine finding out later that the system you’ve invested in doesn’t handle large numbers of equipment without slowing down or crashing. Imagine finding out that the equipment data was accessed by a competitor or internet hacker. There are several areas that you’ll want to investigate in order to assure that you’re happy with the solution long into the future:

  • Is the entire system reliable? Ask about the expected system up-time.
  • Is the data stored in a Tier 1 data center? Is there full redundancy for electrical power, internet connections, servers, etc?
  • Is the information secure? Ask for a security audit in order to uncover the truth.
  • Is the solution scalable? Can it handle larger volumes of equipment or heavy usage? Can the solution easily handle new types of equipment or multiple monitoring systems? Ask for specific examples.
  • Has the telematics system hardware been through rigorous environmental and real-world application testing? Again, ask for examples and proof of testing.
  • Is there performance monitoring capability in place? Will you be able to get information later about how many people are logging in to use the system?

5. Ask about support services and migration roadmaps
We’ve all been put on hold or ended up in voice mail…and sometimes it’s when you needed urgent help. Well, the level of product/system support from your supplier is vital to the long term success of your new equipment monitoring solution. The initial investment is the beginning of a relationship with your supplier that will span a number of years and, if successful, quite possibly a decade.

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