IBM Predictive Analytics System Averts Supply-Chain Disruptions

IBM announced a new predictive analytics solution to help enterprises identify and root out problems that could lead to asset failure.

IBM has announced new business consulting services and software aimed at helping decision makers predict and prevent damaging supply-chain disruptions.

The Predictive Asset Optimization solution, which features IBM's predictive analytics software and business consulting services, harnesses big data from instrumented assets and identifies irregularities in the manufacturing process, spots product irregularities and forecasts a range of asset performance risks before a problem arises.

Essentially, the solution leverages big data to uncover manufacturing and distribution risks and intervene before any asset disruptions might occur.

Operating, maintaining and managing assets throughout their lifecycle are major expenses, made even more critical by the frequency of unpredicted machine failures. Asset downtime, especially, if unplanned, is a multimillion-dollar issue for organizations, and the related unscheduled maintenance costs can range from three to 10 times the cost of scheduled maintenance, IBM said.

"The world is entering a new era of smart—where decisions will be based on facts, data and increasingly on the ability to apply analytics to massive data sets and extract very precise business insights," Fred Balboni, senior partner, Big Data Analytics, IBM Global Business Services, said in a statement. "Companies realize they have a new opportunity to capitalize on big data to address some of the intractable issues of the past, drive new levels of business efficiency and create new levels of value for their customers. Our data shows us that businesses that are applying analytics to structured and unstructured data are outperforming their competitors in every industry."

Armed with facts on equipment performance, organizations across a range of industries will anticipate potential failures in their manufacturing systems, supply chains and distribution networks before something goes wrong—and improve operational efficiency as well as customer satisfaction with proactive responses that prevent or minimize potential issues, IBM said.

According to engineering estimates, the U.S. will need to spend $2.2 trillion over the next five years just to bring national infrastructures up-to-date. This includes improvements to roads, bridges, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, telecommunications and more. Understanding the data about those systems, and generated by those systems, has never been more urgent.

The new capabilities in the Predictive Asset Optimization solution broaden IBM's capabilities and portfolio of IBM Signature Solutions, that take the power of predictive analytics to new levels of impact, company officials said.

This new integrated solution analyzes big data from multiple static and streaming sources to make informed decisions by generating predictive statistical models to forecast equipment failure conditions and create alerts. The alerts are then displayed on an employee or manager's tablet, smart phone or browser with recommended corrective actions that should be taken through interactive tools that perform root-cause analytics and process improvements.

This new offering is intended to help clients in the automotive, electronics, aerospace, defense, manufacturing, mining, transportation, telecommunications, and energy and utilities industries.

IBM cited the example of Cambridge, Ontario, where the city's Transportation and Public Works Department found itself less able to complete inspections and preventive maintenance because its resources were increasingly being used to respond to emergency repair calls. The city established a division devoted to asset management, and with the help of IBM analytics, they are evolving from a break-fix mode of operation, moving toward more proactive, industry-based practices to boost the quality of city services and address infrastructure sustainability.