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The digital revolution has affected every industry, changing how managers operate, the way strategies are designed, and how individuals interact with their work environment. I think we will see growing demand for [...] all things industry 4.0, which are already penetrating the market, stated Katie King (author and CEO of AI in Marketing) for the Facilities Show blog when asked about industry trends. Visionaries have highlighted the signs for years but it has only come to pass recently that the Internet of Things (IoT) brought fundamental improvements to asset management as a whole. Today, we’ve compiled for you the top 5 most significant benefits of digitalisation in this area:
01. Increasing overall workflow efficiency
Regardless of the industry, you’re operating in and what type of stock you need to manage, the truth of the matter is that manual records are obsolete. Many facilities managers and business owners made the transition from pen & paper to spreadsheets in the past few years but have hit a glass ceiling on their way to full digitalisation. While spreadsheets are a solution for very small businesses - think one or two employees - they still require daily manual inputs and are subject to a high risk of simple human error.
IoT has brought forth the next generation of systems that will record, update, and automate your stock keeping for you. As an example, imagine that a facilities manager had a system that recorded IoT information and could predict asset breakdown. If it predicted that the ventilation on floor 10 will breakdown soon based on its age and usages level, it could contact the HVAC company the facilities manager works with. The HVAC company using a job management software with a stock control feature will know exactly which asset is damaged and have access to information like when it has been installed, its location, and what other work has been done. Then, their parts management feature would inform them if they have the right tool or part in stock so they can have an accurate estimate of how long the job will take and how much it will cost.
It’s easy to observe how difficult and prone to mistakes a spreadsheet system would be in a situation like this. An automated stock management system bypasses offers companies an efficient solution for implementing a productive workflow. A powerful software should give you the possibility of seeing at a glance all your assets, notify you when it’s time to order more, and, if enabled, automate the order process as well.
02. Tracking your assets
IoT is about the seamless integration of digital devices in your day-to-day activities. While it might seem like they’re only saving you a minute or two per task, when you add it up at the end of the day or the week, you’ll see the results.
Even in the aforementioned field service industry example, it’s easy to see how assets move and tracking them in the absence of a digital system can be difficult. No matter how well-intentioned your employees are, some situations simply require them to move parts without leaving time for notifications and handwritten records.
Thanks to IoT, if you work with on-field employees, their mobile devices should have the option of synching with the system so that they can easily record when a part leaves the storehouse. Additionally, since every asset is recorded and has a location attached to it, it’s easy for all users to find what they need without wasting time going through their contacts and trying to find a missing item.
03. Saving you money
Stock management is one of those areas where it’s easy to have what’s called money leaks. The term refers to the small amounts that are often lost due to overstocking, misplacement of assets or general lack of organisation in your manual system.
We might only be talking about a pound or two at a time but it all adds up at the end of the month, especially when you deduct it from your profits. Worse, you might not be sure why you’re deducting that amount since in the absence of proper records, the only thing you know is that assets are missing, without having any insight into why or what exactly has been lost.
If there is one thing that IoT can do better than anything, is provide you with comprehensive data. With a centralised system, you are able to know exactly what you have and where it’s located. Having only the stock you need, when you need it, frees up your capital to invest in other parts of your business thus improving cash flow and allowing you to have an overview of the type of usage your business goes through. Which takes us to our next point:
04. Stock analytics
There is an old adage in the online world about how if you can’t measure it, then it’s not worth doing. While it doesn’t apply specifically to stock management, it’s important to keep this principle in mind when you build an asset report. For example, as a field service company, you might dive into a few years' worth of sales data and notice that you install an average of 15 boilers in the summer, and 40 during the busy heating season. That's a big clue as to how many you need to have in your stockroom.
Same with facilities managers. Having access to a comprehensive overview of your purchases over the year allows you to predict and optimize future orders. Then you can take advantage of potential bulk order discounts or you can simply be more prepared for certain situations. Digital solutions are aimed at perfecting processes like these and helping businesses become more efficient in their expenditures.
05. Employee wellbeing
Last but not least, we must mention the intangible benefits, with employee wellbeing as a perfect example of how the Internet of Things has changed the workplace environment for the better. Teams that feel supported by their workplace infrastructure will be under less stress to keep track of every minute detail. Most repetitive tasks will become obsolete as well since they can rely on software automation. When it comes to asset management in particular, the constant struggle to keep on top of every aspect of the stock weighs on even the most motivated of employees.
This is exactly what automation was created for with digital solutions there to mitigate the risk factor of your employees losing motivation or finding themselves stuck with unproductive, tedious tasks. By freeing up time and resources, they are free to focus on other challenges and be at ease knowing that a trustworthy system is keeping track of stock for them.
The Internet of Things has changed the way businesses operate bringing forth increased productivity and decreasing employees’ stress levels, as well as contributing to a higher profit margin. When it comes to asset management, powerful software is a must these days if you want to keep your advantage against the competition and run your company as efficiently as possible.
Commusoft has long provided a highly appreciated parts management software for field service companies and is getting ready to release its automated stock control system in the coming months. The latter will bring forth completely automated orders and invoices as well as integrate warehouse lists and associated locations. If you’re looking to start taking advantage of the Internet of Things, powerful and flexible software is the way to go.