Assets are the backbone of an organization and even more so if the business is asset-intensive. The ability to track asset-specific metrics across the asset lifecycle is crucial in achieving productivity, efficiency, and cost control in such organizations.
The telecom tower industry is one such sector whose operations involve multi-million-dollar infrastructure spread across multiple geo-locations. Whether you are managing a large number of tower sites in your portfolio across multiple markets or tracking active and passive equipment installed on your sites, having the correct asset information connected to your business processes and available through a centralized repository is crucial for your success. Modern telecom site management involves integrated enterprise asset management systems that help you track operational data about tower operations and site assets in real-time, thereby providing greater visibility into asset utilization, asset maintenance, and upkeep costs. In this blog, we highlight some of the features that make telecom asset management a key aspect of site portfolio management for tower owners and operators.
What is Telecom Asset Management for Towercos and Network Operators?
Asset managers need to maintain and track the lifecycle of the tower asset, along with a hierarchical view of the site inventory and project assets categorized according to asset type and statuses. Telecom site management systems serve as a single source of centralized information related to tower assets for this purpose. Data in a single centralized system eliminates the need to access multiple systems and spreadsheets thereby reducing asset data discrepancies and improves usability. Businesses deploying telecom asset management stand to achieve greater asset visibility, including the current location of the asset, its usage history along with the interlinked business process, all on a single cloud-based dashboard.
In addition to the tower, the other assets owned or operated by towercos and network operators are centered around real estate and telecom equipment. The real estate, which may be shared, can range from the land on which the towers are installed on to the buildings including data centers, satellite stations, warehouses etc. The site equipment includes both passive assets such as the tower mast or pole, fixed-line ducts, generator sets, HVAC systems, and security systems and active assets such as antennas, microwave backhaul, BTS, and RRUs.This all comes under the purview of Site Asset Managers who need to perform an accurate site asset inventory to enable capacity assessments.
Telecom management systems assist in the visibility of these passive and active assets in real-time through ERP systems while maintaining data integrity and help to monetize the tower space.
Key Features of Robust Telecom Asset Management
The primary and most critical asset for tower owners and network operators is the telecom site. Tracking the lifecycle of this revenue-generating asset is an essential element of telecom site and asset management software systems. You need to start tracking this asset from the moment you receive the first customer order, through subsequent upgrades, monetization of the asset with increasing tenancy, to eventual decommissioning of the asset, all the while maintaining the asset health through operational tasks such as proactive maintenance, inspections and trouble ticket resolution. Telecom site management systems can help you do all this and more.
Site Inventory Mapping
Telecom site management software empowers your site operations teams and asset managers with the required control and visibility over sites and their corresponding inventory. These tools help you to maintain the mapping of all assets on a site - including passive infrastructures such as gensets, HVAC systems, site security, etc. as well as active equipment such as antennas, microwave backhaul, BTS, and RRUs - to ongoing telecom infra projects such as tower rollout, construction, or maintenance activities.
When your operation teams create material requests (Bill of Quantities or BOQ), which are typically fulfilled through supply chain management systems, the resulting assets delivered to the sites are tagged with the originating request or project. Similarly, when your tower tenants request assets to be installed on your sites, these assets are tagged with the customer order. As a result, every asset on a site has a corresponding project reference, enabling you to view the source of the asset creation.
Moreover, site management tools also facilitate cross-linking of equipment lease agreements with site asset inventory, thus preventing revenue leakage from unlicensed equipment. This is a critical factor to ensure the profitability of a site and can be easily leveraged through the centralized nature of a site management platform. A truly integrated system such as Red Cube not only connects assets to contract, it also captures contract abstraction with a complete history of expiry dates/renewal dates and document repository of these contracts.
Telecom Current site management applications facilitate a logical registry of assets with Unique Identification Numbers (UIN). Moreover, these application site managers can also map the asset UIN with the geotags, barcodes, QR codes, RFID, model number, serial number, asset photo, equipment number, and other attributes, helping them keep inventory records in check and sync. Spare part traceability through a dedicated site management tool ensures quick availability to the telecom sites that are in need of equipment. Operations and asset management teams and site managers can also easily assimilate data on spare part inventory through intuitive reports and dashboards that are a standard feature of most site management systems available in the market.
Most site management platforms offer the first step towards a digital twin of a tower, either with graphical visualization of the tower site through a 3D tower model view represented with assets installed on it, or through engineering drawings connected to the site. Graphical visualization includes features such as display of asset information filtered according to status or owner company as well as simulation of planned or reserved assets on the tower.
Representations of floor and rack plans can help your operation teams to maintain the site, shelter, racks, equipment etc. without having to search for complex engineering drawings, while asset linkage wiring diagrams enable engineering teams to keep track of the linkage between assets via communication feeders and ports.
The next step towards creating a fully representative digital twin is integrating site management software tools with drone applications that provide high-resolution images of the tower and assets, which can be converted into a digital image of the tower rendered through advanced AI and machine learning. Tight integration between site management solutions and drone platforms will make this digital twin extremely accurate and reliable.
With any mature telecom site management solution, you need to be able to see audit trails that chronologically capture and log events, thus providing historical evidence of actions taken on an asset, right from its installation to its removal. Asset audit trails provide accountability for actions taken by users and compliance to meet internal workflow standards. Audit trails through automated electronic logs make asset transaction information more accurate, readily accessible, and usable.
Asset management teams within tower companies and network operators regularly run reports to assess and track asset data. It helps you plan the future demand and isolate blockages in your workflows. The primary objective of such reports is to meet your business goals and keep all the assets running at optimal levels. Some of the meaningful reports that can be generated using telecom site management tools include asset maintenance and service reports, asset utilization reports, asset location reports, asset audit reports etc.
Telecom asset management through enterprise software not only ensures data centralization, asset tracking, and an overview of the past data but also lets you effectively manage, plan, and track macro and small-cell rollout projects within budget. It also helps in maintaining regulatory compliance and data quality.
You can handle your network and site portfolio planning and operations efficiently with Tarantula's Red Cube telecom site management software. Red Cube helps you maintain a single source of truth for your tower site and asset data and realize the full value of your assets. It also gives you data-rich, visual reports on the asset site data and milestones through graphical dashboards.