10 Factors to Consider when Choosing an APM Solution

Sep 08, 2019
3d Signals

Your must-have checklist

When your factory is looking to digitalize and invest in a new Asset Performance Monitoring (APM) solution, a lot of vendors will try to distract you with bells and whistles. These are often simply added noise or flashy features that can take your attention away from what’s really important when you’re choosing a management tool. We’ve compiled a checklist of the top 10 essentials for an APM solution that truly improves performance.

1. Fast results

Quick time to value is increasingly important in today’s competitive business landscape. The last thing you need is to get through POC and choose the right solution, only to have to wait another 6 months to onboard and become comfortable with the technology. Plug and play APMs will allow your company to hit the ground running.

2. Simple installation

While we’re talking about speed, take a look at the amount of time your APM vendor needs to install the solution. The best vendors will require very little of a plant manager’s or machine operator’s time, and have a minimal impact on the machines, both for onboarding and calibration of the technology in the first place and for moving forward with operation and maintenance.

3. Machine-agnostic solution

To get value from an APM, all your data needs to be accessed in a single interface, and provide information in one ‘language.’ On any factory floor, however, there are going to be machines of varied types, models, makes and ages. The only valuable solution is a machine-agnostic one, that can connect to any machine and provide a single source of data without gaps.

4. Non-invasive solution

Many types of machines means many vendor guidelines, covering how you use the equipment, and what constitutes a liability of warranty. The best APM choices connect in a non-invasive way, so that technicians don’t need to open the machine, touch wires and internal electronics, or risk damaging the equipment or voiding your warranty.

5. Cyber-secured

This non-invasive approach has another benefit. Without a direct connection to the machines, hackers are unable to stop the equipment from working, or interfere maliciously. Any physical connection can become an attack vector, so the fewer connections – the better.

6. Endless scale

It’s hard to imagine what your needs are going to be a year from now, let alone a decade into the future. With one-time installation, your APM solution should continually leverage new algorithms and analysis tools to provide the latest BI insights, and provide limitless opportunities to integrate with new and innovative software, even if you don’t know what that is yet!

7. Integrated

The more software you have, the greater the complexity added to your environment. Management software such as ERP is a valuable integration to have with your APM, adding end-to-end visibility to the entire value chain, from purchase orders and raw materials to manufacturing, warehousing and shipping.

8. Accurate

The most important people to impress are the operators on the factory floor, who will quickly stop trusting any APM solution that is inaccurate, making the data meaningless. Your APM needs to show that it is trustworthy, with data that is better than any system that users have experienced in the past.

9. User-friendly and Customizable

While accuracy is essential, the ability to actually use the APM in a painless way might be just as important. Whether it’s the executives in the boardroom, or the employee on the shop floor, if the data can’t be accessed and read easily, it will not get used. An APM that is accessible from any device, and sends reports and alerts in a readable and actionable way, makes improvements a whole lot easier.

Taking this a step further, look for an APM solution that is customizable to each user’s specific roles in the enterprise. CEOs would see the data that is valuable for them, while operation managers would be receiving the same data, only designed and presented for their own needs.

10. Real-time performance monitoring and visualization

Reporting on past practices and performance will only get you so far, and leaves BI tools with serious gaps. It’s the insight into how your machines are performing right now that helps you improve your business today. Real-time data empowers you to make smart, data-driven decisions that are actionable immediately.

But that’s not enough
While all of these are equally important factors, we believe you should be able to feel confident that you’re going to see results before you even sign on the dotted line. With that in mind, here’s another bonus factor to consider: It has to be a proven solution!
What data can this vendor show you to prove how the APM works in practice? How has the company supported previous customers in improving availability and communicating their data enterprise-wide? A proven track record ensures that you aren’t wasting time or resources on a gamble instead of an enhancement to your operations.
3d Signals has built its sensor-led APM technology to meet these strict guidelines and more, and is proven to support customers in getting more value out of their machines through connectivity.