Although my Navy maintenance background has always been the foundation for our business, lately I’ve found myself referencing those experiences with greater frequency as I speak with customers about how their maintenance organizations are evolving.  Anyone with a military background can appreciate the maintenance lessons they learned, right or wrong, as well as how they apply in the commercial world. 

Recently, I was discussing a customer’s journey from reactive maintenance to preventative maintenance, then to a maintenance landscape with an Industrial IoT component. We were debating if a single IIoT platform was better than a bunch of problem specific IoT solutions, so called nano-applications or ‘nanoapps’. I surprised myself by reaching back to the principle of Ockham’s Razor, something one of my professors at Annapolis taught me a long time ago. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Ockham’s Razor states that with other things being equal, simplicity trumps complexity and that complexity doesn’t lend itself to transparency.

The argument for IoT nanoapps is that they are a cheap, point driven solution that quickly solve a specific problem. That’s absolutely true, and if you only have one asset problem, then the nanoapp approach is an ideal solution. But how many of us have the luxury of just one problem when it comes to asset management?

Ockham’s Razor states that with other things being equal, simplicity trumps complexity and that complexity doesn’t lend itself to transparency. When William of Ockham developed his theory around the 12th century or so, he was likely thinking more in terms of general theories versus practical application. But I think, in general, simplicity rules – it supports execution and transparency, and is vastly easier to manage.

At first glance you might suppose that Ockham’s razor would support the concept of a nanoapp to address IIoT issues because a nanoapp sounds simple and lacks complexity. Again, if you have one problem with one asset class then that might make sense.

If your organization is multi-site and/or multi asset class, however, then a single IIoT platform such as PTC’s Thingworx is the right answer. In the short run it is more expensive on a per asset basis, but that quickly becomes a non-issue as you scale across assets, sites and asset classes. The cost per unit and use case drops precipitously, far below anything that can be achieved via a nanoapp approach. In addition to long term cost savings, the single platform approach reduces complexity as it allows a single point of administration, a consolidation of data and a transparency across the asset ecosystem that is not easily obtainable with nanoapps. A single IIoT platform is the simpler solution.

In addition to long term cost savings, the single platform approach reduces complexity as it allows a single point of administration, a consolidation of data and a transparency across the asset ecosystem that is not easily obtainable with nanoapps. A single IIoT platform is the simpler solution.

If you’re lucky enough to have only one problem to solve, the nanoapp approach is probably ideal. Past that, the nanoapp approach will back you into a corner when it comes to flexibility and scale. Either way, Industrial IoT is here to stay. An effective IIoT strategy is a requirement to remaining competitive versus becoming industrial roadkill.

Think Big. Start Small. Act Fast. Get results.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wayne Brisson

Wayne Brisson – Founder & CEO, Aquitas Solutions

Wayne has been making his mark in maintenance management since graduating from the United States Naval Academy and serving as a Repair Officer aboard a U.S. Navy Destroyer where he was engaged in the intricacies of maintenance operations on a daily basis.

Before founding Aquitas Solutions in 2006, Wayne was instrumental in bootstrapping MRO Software’s Maximo Professional Services division into one of the most respected in the Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) industry. His domain expertise in a multitude of asset intensive industries coupled with his deep management and technical expertise built the groundwork for Aquitas becoming a highly respected software, services and training provider among the Maximo community and a Gold Level IBM Business Partner.

Wayne, who also holds an MBA from the University of Rhode Island, is a charter member of the Maximo Atlanta User Group, and supports an array of charitable foundations in the local area and on a national level.

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