Intelligent Assets – Modernizing our Infrastructure by Aaron Allsbrook
April 13, 2021
Citizens and businesses have been calling for modernizing our core infrastructure for many years. While many countries boast strong economies, they are built on top of efficient rails, open highways, reliable power, clean water, fast internet, and many other core services all around us. This infrastructure makes it possible for us to efficiently run our factories, ship our products, and innovate in our startups. We all depend on infrastructure, and our future opportunities depend on having a modern highly capable infrastructure.
Defining Modern Infrastructure?
As we recognize the importance of the highways that allow trucks to refill our grocery stores and tankers that refill our gas stations, we begin to ask “What does it mean to modernize these base services?” While many bridges are in need of repair, leaky pipes might need replacement, or fiber optic cable might need to be run further out into the countryside, these activities generally represent the maintenance of the status quo. The investments from previous generations can continue to be leveraged but nothing is modernized.
To modernize infrastructure means we are bringing recent techniques, processes, and ideas to our legacy of assets. Modern ideas in infrastructure can include new meshed micro-grid concepts for energy generation like wind and solar or storage with batteries and gravity. In transportation, we have opportunities to make autonomous vehicles or elevated highways for drones. In water treatment, we have the ability to use smart pipes that alert to pressure changes, for leaks and theft. Modern techniques and processes have the opportunity to make all of this infrastructure run more efficiently, hardened against disasters, and safer for citizens.
Applying Intelligent Assets Technology
Implementing these modern ideas will require new technologies and processes. Modern technologies today include big complex categories like the Internet of Things (IoT) for connecting our physical world to the internet, Artificial Intelligence (AI) for better and cheaper decision-making in our operations, and Edge for distributing computers closer to the source to provide resiliency and autonomy. Today, to use these technologies business people are forced to rely on experts in software development, electrical engineering, and data science – an impossible task. The need for a business solution that leverages all of these technologies across infrastructure and makes them understandable and usable to business is clearly needed.
Intelligent Assets is the easy-to-use platform that delivers IoT, AI, and Edge into the domain of infrastructure. All infrastructure represents physical assets. An asset may be a concrete mixer at a job site, a transformer in a substation, or a water main beneath the street. With Intelligent Assets, each of these can be defined according to their unique attributes and business language. The concrete mixer will have attributes like fill level, temperature, and viscosity, the transformer will have attributes like voltage, power, and current, while the water main will have pressure, flow, and humidity. Each of these attributes is stored for history to find trends like leaks or utilization. Each of these attributes can be configured for rules to alert when any combination of states are monitored for a period of time. Intelligent Assets makes using new technologies easy and it is the key to an evolving modern infrastructure.
Intelligent Assets Infrastructure Capabilities
Intelligent Assets has a very bright future within our infrastructure. The Department of Transportation (DOT) leverages the application for monitoring and maintaining roadways, bridges, and construction zones. Railways use it to ensure crossings are safe and functioning. Chemical companies use it to track the location, health, and predict the demand of shipments. Energy companies use it to optimize equipment that balances the power grid with implementations of demand response. Water and Utility companies use it to ensure services are running without loss from leakage or theft, guaranteeing the systems are functional and safe to consume.
These adopters of Intelligent Assets are discovering out-of-the-box capabilities that are easy to use. The ability to easily connect to critical assets that are meaningful to the business is powerful. The ability to monitor their condition and what is going on in real-time is what drives digital transformation. The ability to apply AI algorithms to the raw data to make predictions and increase confidence as additional data points improve outcomes. The ability to create rules and generate alerts based on conditions or anomalies is informative. Finally, the ability to command these assets in an automated fashion provides greater control. Businesses can automatically close the water main on a valve on leak detection, automatically send a drone to a repair shop, automatically put batteries into charge states when electricity prices fall, and automatically set wind turbines to a winterized state when upcoming snowstorms are predicted.
Intelligent Assets represents a single interface for workers, mechanics, dispatchers, project managers, executives, and many others to see just the right amount of business data to determine what is happening in their operational environments. The platform is built to provide a single interface for the ingestion and aggregation of asset data into a single system that shares this data with all the other systems that run the business today. Intelligent Assets is the next wave of IoT and it represents the most expedient and cost-effective method for the continuous modernization of our existing infrastructure.