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In a new series of articles, our CEO Frank Jones talks about how IoT can be used to reduce the cost of asset maintenance

When talking about improving the financial efficiency of food retailers, topics such as food waste and energy consumption often dominate the agenda. However, one area that is often overlooked is the amount that is spent unnecessarily on asset maintenance.

Consider a pre-IoT retailer. 

Faulty machines – assets like fridges and freezers - are handled by overloaded central teams with thousands of alerts to manage and no way to prioritise them. This can lead to unresolved failures such as melted ice and damaged stock that can be spotted by customers and staff in store. Following notification of a failure, an engineer needs to be called out to assess the problem and fix the asset. Without the right skillset, tools and parts, this often involves multiple call-outs and long delays before the machine is back to optimal working order. This dual problem of inefficient work order management and inefficient contractor site visits inevitably leads to escalating costs due to recalls, stock loss and excess energy consumption from overworked, faulty assets.

IMS has a simple answer to the problem of maintenance inefficiency; linking two vital data sources – specific assets with specific work orders. With our IoT enriched Work Order Management, customers have achieved reductions of over 40% in reactive maintenance calls and reductions of over 20% in overall maintenance costs.

Using real-time performance and efficiency data from assets, the IMS Evolve system generates alerts when asset behaviour demonstrates warnings of performance failure, such as prolonged high temperatures or inconsistent defrost cycles. Using this real-time insight, the IMS solution dynamically monitors regular and incremental changes, only generating work orders when alerts breach a critical point. These work orders are assigned to the individual asset and prioritised based on consequential outcomes such as stock loss, impact on customers and excessive energy use, ensuring the most impactful issues are resolved as quickly as possible. 

With integration to contractor and engineer dispatch systems, the IMS Evolve software assigns work orders to relevant field engineers based on skillset, available parts and geographic location, with the goal of achieving a first-time-fix. Following the visit, the software automatically performs a health check on the asset to determine if the fix has been successful. If the issue remains, the work order stays open until the asset is fixed and returns to optimum performance. Linking individual assets with work orders enables contractors to view work order history and provides visibility of any past issues – all useful information for future visits. This enriched asset-centric and cost-effective approach further enables both predictive and condition-based maintenance regimes. 

It’s a solution that has already seen significant results. In a recent client case study, the immediacy of the work order generation and the smart selection of an appropriate engineer led to a 49% reduction in refrigerated stock loss.

But what really makes the IMS Evolve solution special is that all of this is possible without the need for additional investment in sensors or infrastructure. IMS Evolve is able to leverage existing legacy devices due to thousands of pre-existing drivers and deep domain expertise. The lack of a need for the installation of new infrastructure means that IMS is able to deploy the software at scale and at speed, releasing immediate value and additional return on investment. 

The IMS Work Order Management is just one of the multiple applications within our IoT solution stack that offers a unique and cost-effective way to streamline operations and release tangible value using intelligent software. With huge efficiency savings, reductions in the number of maintenance call outs and no need for expensive new infrastructure, IMS Evolve is revolutionising retail IoT.