The Complete Guide to Equipment Monitoring

August 09, 2021

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Key Takeaways

Remote equipment monitoring helps organizations get the most out of every piece of equipment. Benefits include time savings, maximizing equipment uptime, and streamlined operations. You can eliminate manual inspection walkarounds by setting up alerts and dashboards to stay informed of issues. Learn more about the advantages of equipment monitoring and how it’s being used.

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According to McKinsey, the pandemic spurred the adoption of digital technologies by several years in the span of a few months. Organizations report they have dramatically accelerated the digitization of customer and supply-chain interactions and internal operation by three to four years. 

More than ever, the construction industry, logistics companies, service providers, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are aware of the need to digitize their business. Operations leaders are looking at equipment monitoring to test out digitization on a small scale or leverage as a prime optimization target. In either scenario, they’ll find that equipment monitoring improves service times, maximizes uptime, and drives efficiency. 

What is equipment monitoring? 

Equipment monitoring is a system for observing and tracking commercial or industrial equipment. It’s sometimes called remote equipment monitoring or machine monitoring. Equipment monitoring is typically made up of several components:

  • Telematics devices / sensors. Equipment telematics provides real-time GPS equipment tracking, data and engine diagnostics, equipment usage data, and more.

  • Connectivity. The data collected from the devices need to get sent to the cloud or on-premise server for viewing. Common connectivity methods include cellular, satellite, WiFi, and Bluetooth.

  • Data processing. Analytics is what turns raw data collection into insight. It helps end-users understand usage trends, see patterns, and spot potential problems.

When all these components are combined, it creates a network of equipment that shares data points with other devices and systems via the Internet. This network is also known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Or, more precisely, when this technology has industrial applications, it’s called the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

When equipment sensor data can be tracked and monitored, it opens new avenues for efficiency, helping save time and money. For example, if you continuously monitor machinery and equipment, there's less chance of a sudden breakdown. You would know in advance if the equipment wasn’t performing optimally through diagnostics or the appearance of a fault code, allowing you to take corrective action faster.

Or, say you were a heavy equipment manager for a construction company and noticed a higher fuel bill than usual one month. You could look at all your equipment’s fuel usage and idling reports to determine which specific equipment and what’s causing the spike in fuel consumption (Was it excessive idling or travel between sites?). From there, you’ll be able to determine if it’s a one-time expense or if a higher fuel bill is a new normal.

What are the benefits of remote equipment monitoring? 

Remote monitoring allows your team to keep an eye on equipment no matter where they are. This is handy if you work across multiple job sites or even multiple regions. Similarly, they can respond to incidents much quicker from wherever they are, using industrial automation workflows to support operations.

Here are a few of the benefits of remote equipment monitoring:

  • Maximize uptime. Viewing downtime data helps you understand trends and why it happens. You can then prioritize correcting what’s causing the issue, maximizing uptime.

  • Improve service efficiency. Reduces response times by enabling teams to investigate and remotely solve issues. Features like equipment diagnostics or root cause analysis help reduce troubleshooting times. 

  • Increase utilization. Get the most out of every piece of equipment. When you understand what’s underutilized, you can reallocate equipment before buying or renting, saving you money.

  • Access to historical data. Track historic diagnostic data to identify trends in performance over time. You can also compare trends across other metrics for additional context.

  • Access to performance data. Use continuous performance data to plan maintenance and improve reliability. See how your equipment fleet is performing across key safety and efficiency metrics.

  • Real-time data. Real-time data gives you immediate visibility into your operations. You can make decisions confidently using the most up-to-date information.

  • Advanced alerting. SMS, email, and voice alarms with diagnostic analytics help your team respond quickly and avoid unnecessary trips due to false alarms.

  • Condition monitoring and tracking equipment health. Track a machine’s health and performance over time. Using condition monitoring to measure parameters like temperature, vibration, and power against predefined thresholds helps indicate when equipment is declining.

What is condition monitoring, and what are the benefits? 

Equipment eventually gets worn out. The purpose of condition monitoring is to measure specific equipment parameters to potentially discover problems early on, such as temperature or machine vibration. Simply put, condition monitoring looks at specific aspects (or conditions) of machinery as part of a broader equipment monitoring system.

A condition monitoring system enables you to schedule proactive, preventative maintenance, eliminating sudden equipment failures and costly repairs. Condition monitoring is beneficial because it:

Saves time

Without equipment monitoring technology, site or floor managers have to do manual walkarounds to inspect equipment. Condition monitoring replaces these time-consuming tasks with real-time monitoring of vibration, temperature, and power across mission-critical equipment.

Reduces downtime 

Monitoring software allows you to build customizable dashboards and alerts that keep you updated on live performance at a glance in case things go wrong. But a big benefit of conditional monitoring is the ability to build predictive maintenance. This is a process where companies use real-time sensor data and analytics to predict when equipment failure will happen. They can then prevent failure by scheduling regular and corrective maintenance.

Flexible deployment 

Today’s sensors are powerful yet small enough to fit just about anywhere. Companies can deploy wireless sensors to monitor the health of critical equipment such as motors, compressors, pumps, and fans. Sensors can be deployed fast, enabling you to monitor machine vibration and surface temperature conditions in minutes. 

Types of assets to monitor with equipment monitoring 

Admittedly, “equipment” can be a catch-all term encompassing many different things, from cherry-picker cranes to a handheld power drill to massive reservoir tanks. Regardless of what its form or function is, equipment can all be tracked and monitored with telematics. We break down the types of equipment to monitor by category: 

  • Unpowered equipment. Prevent theft and streamline inventory management. These types of equipment use with ruggedized battery-powered trackers for equipment across your job sites

  • Powered equipment. Track usage and ensure equipment is being leveraged effectively before renting or purchasing new equipment.

  • Heavy equipment. Most construction equipment falls under this category. Keep heavy equipment out of the shop and address issues fast via remote access.

Unpowered equipment

Powered equipment

Heavy equipment

Shipping containers Dumpsters Portable toilets Water tanks Dollys Trailers Light towers Arrow boards Generators

Pumps Compressors Boilers and Chillers Instrumented trailers Oil equipment Agricultural equipment Custom machinery

Forklifts Excavators Backhoe loaders Scrapers Rollers Skid Steers Cranes Boom Lifts Dozers

How Gryphon Environmental uses Samsara’s remote equipment monitoring 

Gryphon Environmental is an environmental consulting and management services firm. They provide large industrial dryers to commercial and residential customers. Previously, with their former remote monitoring solution, they had to VPN into the dryer controller to take a reading when there was a customer issue. However, if they couldn’t solve the problem, Gryphon’s Director of Controls & Automation, Ryan Hobson, would have to send a technician (sometimes out of state) to retrieve the SD card on the dryer’s computer to retrieve data for analysis.

Hobson wanted a solution that was easy to implement and would work out-of-the-box with the instrumentation on the dryers. He ultimately decided to partner with Samsara to embed remote equipment monitoring technology into their dryers, which provides customers efficient troubleshooting and proactive maintenance. Because Samsara showed Hobson’s team trend data instead of a fixed single point time, they could better understand the problem they were troubleshooting. "I can easily say that one Samsara Industrial Gateway has saved us at least three trips to Pennsylvania and several thousand dollars in labor and service costs,” Hobson said.

Remote monitoring and alert notifications provided Gryphon a pair of “expert eyes,” which allows them to provide preventive maintenance before issues crop up. This benefits both themselves and their customers. They reduce their repair costs while preventing unnecessary and costly downtime for customers. "The first one or two customer troubleshooting trips the Samsara platform saves us; it’s paying for itself. It quickly adds up,” says Hobson.

Learn more about Samsara’s remote equipment monitoring solution

Samsara’s remote equipment monitoring solution gives you visibility across your entire operations from anywhere. Your team can respond to issues faster, reduce equipment downtime, and improve service efficiency. Condition monitoring features enable you to create preventative maintenance programs, eliminating manual walkarounds and even on-site visits. 

Samsara’s industrial IoT empowers you with an integrated platform, complete with a full suite of pre-built and customizable reports. Track and monitor equipment fleet operations to ensure efficiency, prevent costly repairs, and extend the life of your investment.

Learn more about how Samsara can make data collection and analysis seamless. Reach out for a free trial today.

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