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A “single source of the truth” for asset data?

TowerXchange speaks with Ankur Lal on how Infozech are enabling improvements in site management and asset tracking

Read this article to learn:

  • The biggest challenges towercos face capturing and storing asset data
  • Why a “single source of the truth” is so important
  • How a centralised asset database streamlines acquisitions
  • Improvements to energy efficiency

Jack Haddon

In the past couple of years, the telecom industry has entered a period of unprecedented growth and evolution as demand for ubiquitous connectivity becomes essential. The emergence of 5G has led to site densifications increasing the number of assets, increased pricing pressure, due to intensified competition, and challenging telecom tower companies for their returns on invested capital. With towerco assets spread over huge geographical areas, keeping track of all assets and their condition is a complex and challenging task. But if ignored, the failure of even a single piece of equipment can shut down site operations, causing the loss of thousands or even a million dollars.

Asset Management is emerging as a priority area for telecom infrastructure industry leaders. Traditionally telecom industries are constrained by a lack of visibility on assets making tracking ROI on assets even more difficult.

TowerXchange: What are the biggest challenges towercos face when it comes to capturing and storing asset data from their sites?

Ankur Lal, CEO, Infozech:

Over the last few months, our business solutions and marketing team have been talking to several CXOs of the telecom industry across different geographies and have realized that their biggest challenge is “Asset Lifecycle Management” – Telecom infrastructure companies’ asset data have multiple images spread across different business functions (O&M, Finance, and other teams) and tracing them in real-time is far more challenging than ERP systems indicate. The absence of complete and accurate asset information leads to 20-30% of assets being untraced, and unaccounted for, which can impact an organization’s bottom line.
Assets follow a lifecycle – from acquisition to maintenance and operation, to decommissioning or replacement. Often for an organisation, maintaining a shared set of asset information at each stage of lifecycle – a single source of truth becomes challenging considering the volume and variety of asset information. This leads to duplication of data both within and across functions.

Other Business challenges that tower Infrastructure Enterprises face are:

  • Limited Visibility of Site Assets- the data versions that ERP (Finance), Network (Technical), and Operations have are rarely in sync.
  • Unavailability of consumable Asset Data- Insightful Dashboards on Asset’s Performance, Consumption, and Availability
  • Lack of Centralized Asset Data Repository Critical Site-Asset data resides in Silos in multiple systems with multiple functions.
  • Inefficient Asset Movement Tracking due to heavy dependency on Excel-based tracking
  • Ineffective Equipment Warranty/Insurance/AMC Management

TowerXchange: what is iAsset, can you briefly introduce its key features?

Ankur Lal, CEO, Infozech:

iAsset is Infozech’s cloud-based asset lifecycle management solution that integrates, informs, and instructs. IoT-enabled iAsset works as a ‘single strategic system’ enabling organizations to transform their operations, digitally. It provides complete knowledge of “what you own and its true potential” which is considered the first step in developing a robust asset optimization strategy.
iAsset adds intelligence to automated workflows, real-time alerts, insights from data, dynamic edge control of assets, predictive maintenance, cross-domain analytics, and real-time visibility. Infozech’s asset management system helps strengthen the link between Operational Excellence and Financial gain by presenting real-time information on asset lifecycle.
Some of the key features of iAsset are

  • Asset Data Collection, Verification & Tagging: The iAsset team gathers asset data from different sources and physical asset verification is done using asset tags like Bar & QR codes, GPS, IoT, and RFID which helps in logging accurate asset information into a system.
  • Centralized Asset Database: centralized repository for active, passive, and network assets is created which manages asset lifecycle and geographical information and becomes a single source of information to all departments about the asset environment which increase Asset Visibility by 15% – 20%
  • Asset Movement Digitization: an acknowledgment-driven process where the stakeholders approve, reject, send & receive the asset, and the real-time location is updated of each asset. This asset movement digitisation has helped towercos reduce Unplanned Downtime by 5% – 8%.
  • Asset Audit: iAsset offers planning, scheduling, audit activity definition, and user assignment for site audits. This also helps to identify the missing and newly found assets at the site which keeps the end users aware of the ground reality of assets. Reduce the Audit Expenses by 70% – 75%.
  • Asset Warranty Management- iAsset manages your asset’s warranty, insurance, and AMCs. iAsset actively tracks these associations and reminds you multiple times before they expire. It reduces the cost of repairs by 18% to 20%

TowerXchange: What opportunities does having a “single source of the truth” data set open up in terms of interactions between different departments at a towerco?

Ankur Lal, CEO, Infozech:

The Asset Repository is a single, centralised database that stores and tracks organisational assets physically and financially. It maintains the asset’s unique identifying information which can be shared across the organisation thus eliminating redundancy and inaccuracies in asset reporting. The repository houses a complete history of acquisition details, maintenance logs and cost history over an asset’s operational life.

iAsset adds value to the entire value chain of a telecom company by:

  • Helping the Procurement and Decommissioning team by displaying all assets in the network and streamlining the entire asset ecosystem from planning.
  • Increasing asset visibility by making all asset lifecycle information available on a centralized platform.
  • Finance team uses accurate asset information to drive CAPEX planning and reduce external audit efforts for cost savings and effective audits. With the minutest details of Tower, Antennas, RRUs, etc. being maintained in the repository, it becomes very easy to identify an Operator’s Allocated and Consumed space to avoid over-billing and under-billing
  • Helps the Operations and Maintenance team by reducing the manual tasks of reconciliation and asset tracking.
  • Reduced Time to Market to onboard customers faster as time spent for structural analysis, feasibility Testing, EPA Analysis, etc. as these analysis can be done quickly from data available in a single source of truth, accessible via your desktop or mobile.

TowerXchange: How does a centralised asset database streamline the acquisition of towers from an MNO in a SLB transaction?

Ankur Lal, CEO, Infozech:

In a traditional HOTO( handover takeover) SLB transaction, a sample of a few sites is audited and reconciled against FAR, a new approach taken by Infozech via its solution iAsset presents our highly customisable iAsset mobile application for due diligence activity. Its dynamic checklist captures more than 1000+ attributes of a site enabling the field personnel to scan, capture asset data, and store geo-tagged assets along with photos. Physical verification is scheduled for each and every site without an exception. Through this application, the back-office team successfully verifies the collected asset data during each site audit. Even the Finance team benefits from this data verification as they could reconcile the same against the fixed asset register (FAR) making the entire process transparent and reliable. All this leads to the creation of a “centralised asset data repository”

We empowered one of our customers in the MENA region to lead the way for the tower industry by deploying due diligence processes and helping them with digital handover. It covered structural, technical, operational, and asset audits with infra tagging for all assets available at sites taken over by our customer. The mutual goal was to analyse site conditions and create and maintain a central repository of sites as their Digital Twin.

Now they are reaping the benefits of the process and have gained real time control over site inventory. They can plan better for the scope of additional tenancies and revenue streams. The data available to them for advanced modeling and prototyping is highly reliable and they are now conducting improved predictive maintenance of sites and assets.
The goal of asset tracking is to provide full visibility into Asset Lifecycle and to allow an enterprise to locate and monitor key assets easily, prevent quality issues and detect theft.

TowerXchange: How can towercos ensure that the data stored is always timely and accurate? What processes are being implemented to ensure this is possible?

Ankur Lal, CEO, Infozech:

The goal of asset tracking is to provide full visibility into Asset Lifecycle and to allow an enterprise to locate and monitor key assets easily, prevent quality issues and detect theft.
From the time asset is procured and sent to the warehouse, to it is deployed, maintained, repaired, discarded, etc all are tracked. One of the common challenges arises when an asset has been moved to an incorrect location.
The Asset Tracking Module of iAsset automatically timestamps the movement in the master database for any movement of assets at the site. This enables tracking life of the asset as it moves from one location to another and helps in the timely movement of assets driving business value creation, and end-to-end visibility into operations. Asset tracking enables Asset managers to assign assets to specific sites/locations. When another Asset Manager pulls up the database it’s immediately clear that the current asset has already been allocated elsewhere.

TowerXchange: How does iAsset help ensure energy efficiency at a tower site?

Ankur Lal, CEO, Infozech:

iAsset captures multiple attributes and aspects of an Assets from cradle to grave! Over an asset’s productive life, iAsset captures its make, configurations, performance, and maintenance logs including breakdowns, repairs etc. If interested functions look closely they get better visibility into critical asset attributes such as run hours, energy, and residual value, which enables accurate forecasting, outage management as well as insights for efficient energy management.
Business analytics produced on accurate asset data enables Towercos to drive excellence toward operational cost and energy efficiency, towercos can

  • Allocate resources more efficiently, improve asset utilisation, minimise downtime, and increase returns on assets.
  • Look at the consumption patterns and plan to procure energy efficient assets.

This interview is published here.

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