Asset management is one of the original IoT use cases and has proven to bring real value across myriad industries. IoT asset management refers to the tracking and management of individual connected assets via devices and sensors to capture and report information. IoT devices connect assets to a central platform, allowing you to utilize real-time data streams to monitor, track, and manage the lifecycle your assets.

This has been a game-changer for many companies, who previously relied on error-prone and laborious manual procedures. In fact, according to a study from Webisoft, companies utilizing IoT for asset tracking have enjoyed an impressive increase in efficiency, with a 20% decrease in maintenance costs and a 15% increase in overall equipment effectiveness. In other words, IoT has transformed asset management, revolutionizing traditional practices and driving productivity and success.

quotes icon

With IoT you can track and maintain anything from equipment on the factory floor, raw materials, or finished goods to mobile assets, such as vehicles, throughout their lifecycle.

Connecting your assets with IoT devices and sensors allows you to gather both real-time and historical data on the status, condition, and performance of each asset, as well as automating your processes, reducing operational costs, increasing productivity, enhancing safety and security, and extending the longevity of your assets.

Resource optimization

IoT technology plays a pivotal role in maximizing asset efficiency and minimizing waste. It does this through continuous monitoring and analysis of data, which provides deep insights into asset usage and performance. This gives you a clear understanding of how, when, and where your assets are being used, thus allowing you to have a more informed and strategic allocation of your resources.

In real terms, this means identifying where resources are over or-underutilized, leading to adjustments that can lead to a reduction in operational costs. This kind of fine-tuning of resource distribution ensures that each asset is used to its optimal capacity, avoiding unnecessary costs related to things like energy and maintenance.

quotes icon

Beyond cost reduction, utilizing IoT can enhance overall productivity by allocating assets in a way that maximizes output and efficiency.

In other words, making the right assets available and functioning at the right time means you can maintain high performance standards.

Real-time data

Real-time data transforms asset management. IoT sensors allow you to receive constant updates on the condition, location, and usage patterns of your assets. This information drives data-driven and informed decisions about everything from maintenance schedules and asset deployment to resource allocation. It also allows predictive maintenance, preventing issues before they escalate and therefore saving you money, time, and manpower.

If we look at Industrial IoT, integrating IoT technology allows manufacturers to analyze and monitor three crucial aspects of their equipment: availability, quality, and performance. This real-time information minimizes losses and downtime.

Predictive maintenance

This is a key application of IoT in asset management. Analyzing data from IoT sensors allows you to use predictive algorithms to estimate when an asset is likely to require maintenance or replacement. When compared to traditional reactive maintenance, your business will become far more efficient and cost-effective, and costly downtimes will be greatly reduced.

This is a significant shift is how a business approaches asset care, with IoT devices generating critical data on everything from temperature and vibration to overall wear and tear, which ultimately gives you a comprehensive view of each asset’s status. In real terms, this means you can detect patterns and irregularities that could indicate potential equipment breakdown or failure. Anticipation potential issues before they escalate into failures allows you to plan and target maintenance intervention, rather than working from a reactive maintenance schedule.

Scalability

IoT technology allows you to adapt seamlessly handle a growing number of assets and the accompanying surge in data without losing performance of efficiency. IoT technology allows you to swiftly adjust your asset management strategy and make considered decisions by utilizing both real-time and historical data. This could involve maintenance scheduling, resource allocation, or performance optimization. The ability to react quickly to market or other business changes means you have the competitive edge over those still mired down in old practices.

Security

IoT technology allows you to track your assets in real time, making it easier to locate and recover stolen or lost assets. Furthermore, IoT devices can provide alerts in the event of unauthorized access or tampering, allow you to take swift action.

Conclusion

Marrying IoT with asset tracking means many industries are being transformed, with new standards for operational efficiency being set. There are myriad benefits to be enjoyed by implementing IoT in asset management, ranging from automation and cost control to enhanced monitoring and improved accuracy.

As IoT technologies evolve, so too will the impact they have on your business, with new opportunities being unlocked. Business is an ever-evolving landscape – and IoT is not just a technology advancement, it’s an inescapable strategic imperative for any business who wants to keep one step ahead of the competition.

If you would like to learn more about how IoT enables asset management, please get in touch. 

Logistics is complex and involves the coordination of multiple elements. Today, with increasing demand for online deliveries, shorter delivery cycles, growing competition, and shrinking margins enterprises are under more pressure than ever to ensure that their logistics management is streamlined and efficient. Digitalization and the introduction of IoT technologies has allowed the industry to experience a huge increase in efficiency: optimizing processes, staying competitive with market rivals, increasing quality of service, and keeping costs under control.

With IoT, businesses are able to integrate assets within the supply chain into a single system. Data collection and tracking capabilities are providing visibility across the entire value chain to enhance and improve everything from warehouse efficiency to fleet management.

So, why invest in an IoT logistics solution and why integrate connected technology into your operations. Here’s why:

Warehouse & storage

With IoT, you can be aware of every moving part in your warehouse. Connected sensors can keep tight control over your inventory by tracking and analyzing inventory positions and stock levels across your operation. Smart shelves provide inventory information, alerting you when stocks are low, products are displaced, temperatures are unsuitable, when there is theft, etc. Additionally, wearables allow you to track employee health, location, and performance, as well as report collisions and falls, improving safety across your operation. IoT sensors can also track operating conditions of machines and other equipment, allowing for maximum productivity, as well as predictive maintenance – which reduces costs of repairs and keeps downtime to a minimum.

End-to-end product tracking

Transparency is the name of the game when you integrate IoT-technology into logistics. An IoT tracking system allows logistics managers to track any product’s movement from the warehouse to your customer’s doorstep. This establishes transparency, reduces human error (and the resulting pressure on staff), and increases customer satisfaction. Real-time delivery tracking becomes seamless and reduces headaches for everyone because you will be able to tell any customer calling to find out where their delivery is exactly where it is and when it will arrive. This also saves on time for your customer service reps, who can easily pinpoint exactly where a delivery is.

Fleet management

An IoT-based vehicle tracking and management system allows you to easily monitor your fleet. IoT devices provide accurate data so you can save time and money, as well as reduce downtime – and in the end that means better, and more-data driven business decisions.

  • Engine performance
  • Fuel consumption
  • Location-based information
  • Driver behavior
  • Predictive maintenance

Forecasting accuracy

With all that data being generated and analyzed, you will be able to get a very clear picture on everything from how much time it takes to sell a given amount of product and how to optimize deliveries of that product to which vendors have better track records and which distribution centers have higher conversion rates. The result? Much better accuracy when planning operations and predicting outcomes. By moving you to data-based decision making, human error is significantly reduced. And all that automatic data collection means you not only save on manhours that would previously been spent manually collecting data, you can also collect data that would have been difficult or impossible to collect without IoT.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of IoT in your logistics operation, please get in touch..

Moving from products to services – servitization – is something we in the IoT world have been talking about for a long time. Now, with digitalization in manufacturing well underway, more and more companies are understanding the benefits of making this move. Of course, it’s no secret that the subscription economy has impacted how we consume everything from music and movies to cars and printers. The subscription business model/servitization moves away from one-time transactions and instead allows companies to build loyal, long-term relationships with customers, delivering customer-centric services while also creating predictability. According to the Subscription Economy Index, companies that moved towards a subscription-based business model grew six times faster than traditional businesses in 2020.

The benefits of servitization are myriad. The first and perhaps most important benefit is that it allows you to meet customer demands, which ultimately leads to greater customer retention, something we all need to focus on as customer requirements increase. Another benefit is that customers only pay for the value received from a supplier, while the manufacturer no longer has to focus solely on units sold, and instead builds a profitable business from regular streams of additional, incremental revenue. Additionally, useful insights into future R&D processes can be gained by analyzing the performance of a product and using this information for continuous improvement.

quotes icon

Servitization is not about new pricing models or financial constructs, it’s about creating a new relationship with customers, one built on loyalty and one that requires companies to no longer focus solely on consumption, not on units sold.

When it comes to manufacturing, the question is if this customer-driven model works for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), where customers can ‘rent’ or gain access to machinery and industrial equipment for a recurring fee or subscribe to various add-ons? Through the use of IoT-enabled sensors and devices, the answer is a resounding yes.

A good example of this is Rolls Royce’s TotalCare program for aircraft engines. The company no longer simply sells engines to airlines. Instead, it invoices them on a Power-by-the-Hour basis, while continually monitoring the engines. This means airlines no longer need to buy, operate, or maintain engines, nor do they have to train personnel on repairs, or purchase and store spare parts. Instead, if an engine needs servicing, Rolls Royce takes care of it. And if the engine breaks down? The responsibility again falls on Rolls Royce. This allows both the airline and Rolls Royce to focus on what they do best: the airline moving passengers from point A to point B and Rolls Royce delivering a reliable service for its engines.

Rolls Royce is able to do this through embedded machine sensors and devices, which provide a steady stream of data on aircraft engine health metrics. In other words, the data that is fed back to the manufacturer provides information on the condition of parts and the overall product, allowing Rolls Royce to engage in predictive maintenance – i.e., address any challenges such as wear and tear or even potential failures long before they ever become a real problem, or, should anything break unexpectedly, Rolls Royce is automatically notified, allowing them to respond quickly.  This keeps equipment in service and also leads to an extended lifecycle, so it’s win-win for both Rolls Royce and its customers.

There are a number of compelling reasons why manufacturers should consider servitization:

Revenue growth & profitability

By adding services to your offering, you increase your number of revenue streams and those become recurring. Complimenting your existing product portfolio with ongoing services to your customers allows your income to become more predictable and secure, which in turn helps insulate you from fluctuating market conditions or a slow sales month.

Equipment complexity

We all know that machines and other equipment have become increasingly complex and technical, and it isn’t really possible for all customers to have the required level of expertise to effectively maintain their equipment. You, as the manufacturer, have the requisite knowledge and experience needed to not just understand how to operate and perform maintenance on machines, but to also advise on how to best maximize performance.

Improved customer outcomes

Focusing on solutions instead of products allows you to think in terms of your customers’ needs and goals, which means you can adapt products and services to help them achieve those outcomes, as well as helps you to respond faster to issues and challenges that may arise. The resulting increase in customer satisfaction builds a stronger relationship and increased loyalty.

Higher entry barriers

The more established your relationship with you customers, the more difficult it is for someone to come in and steal market share. Servitization means your customers benefit from your support and knowledge in real terms, every day.

If you would like to learn more about how IoT can help your business, please get in touch.

Industrial IoT (IIoT) leverages connectivity to optimize manufacturing and industrial processes through the use of smart sensors and devices. IIoT enables end-to-end visibility of the production process, and the network of connected devices, smart machines, and real-time analytics produces a slew of data – both real-time and historical – that brings new levels of productivity, efficiency, and cost savings.

Here are just some of the benefits Industrial IoT brings:

Remote Monitoring

Remote monitoring allows you to visualize, track, and control both your facility and your assets without having to be onsite. Through the use of IoT technology, you gain greater visibility into things like asset performance, resource consumption, and equipment lifecycles and functionality.

Predictive Maintenance

More than 75% of equipment and system failures occur without notice. Through the use of sensors, IIoT does away with scheduled – often unnecessary – maintenance; instead, you are able to identify anomalies or problems with your equipment in real-time, allowing you to address challenges swiftly and minimizing downtime. This improves productivity and helps you to avoid costly repairs, while making better use of your maintenance staff.

Improved Workflows & Processes

Monitoring the entire production line helps identify bottlenecks, process gaps, and other challenges that can delay production, while also enabling more efficient planning and optimization of any line’s accuracy, speed, and production volume.

quotes icon

With IoT sensors monitoring your entire line, planning becomes more accurate, and workflows and processes improve.

Reduce Human Error

Real people will continue to be essential for many tasks, but IIoT will bring digitalization to every step of your operation, leading to a reduction in manual processes and interventions. Smart sensors deployed across your factory floor will provide constant feedback. So, for example, if there is an accident, the entire facility can be alerted to potential hazards, while machines will automatically halt, and maintenance staff dispatched. Wearables can also be employed, such as smart wristbands that feature sound pressure level sensors that warn staff of loud areas where hearing can be damaged. Smart hardhats can track not just the wearer’s location, they can also monitor heartrate, temperature, and humidity – and even warn wearers of dangers such as heatstroke long before any symptoms arise.

Sustainability & Energy Savings

Industrial accounts for 54% of global delivered electricity, which means it’s not great for sustainability and it’s not great for your bottom line. Continuous monitoring of your setup via sensors and devices can expose wastefulness due to inefficiencies.  IIoT also allows you to predict energy demands and optimize future energy consumption – and this includes not just managing your equipment, but your overall operation, such as managing building temperature, water usage, humidity, and lighting. Additionally, as IoT technology evolves, sensors are using less energy, another bonus for your bottom line.

While drones have long been associated with costly military applications or, on the other end of the spectrum, hobbyist tech gadgets, these days they are increasingly being shaped by practical commercial applications. In recent years, drone usage has broadened across a wide range of industries, being used for everything from delivery, infrastructure and crop monitoring, and mapping to industrial site inspection, emergency response, and security surveillance. And as more and more industries discover the benefits drones bring to their businesses the use cases will continue to grow, with IoT technology bringing cost and operational efficiency.

Drones have been around for a long time, with the concept of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) stretching back to 1849, when Austria attacked Venice using unmanned balloons filled with explosives. But while militaries around the world have largely driven drone technology since then, drones have also moved powerfully into both consumer and commercial spaces.

quotes icon

When it comes to drones being deployed in the business space, IoT is increasingly a part of the picture. IoT-enabled drones have the ability to perform any number of important tasks, particularly when those tasks are expensive, dangerous, or impossible for humans to carry out.

Logistics

In the US alone, the Delivery Drones Market grew from $40 million to $1 billion between 2012 and 2017, with that number doubling by 2020. By 2026, it is expected to reach $5.6 billion.

Last mile delivery is the most expensive and difficult leg of a package’s journey, making up around 50% of total distribution costs. Drone technology optimizes last mile delivery by transporting packages from nearby warehouses or distribution centers to a specific address.

And unlike traditional delivery vehicles, drones can ‘fly as the crow flies’, allowing them to avoid traffic and or circuitous delivery paths. Drones are also fast, making same day delivery the norm in many areas – and in some cases even making ‘same hour’ delivery a possibility.

This also means there are environmental benefits when drones are used for delivery: the average delivery of a package by truck creates around 1kg of greenhouse gas emissions. Drones, on the other hand, reduce both energy consumption and the release of greenhouse gasses, because they generally run on battery power. If those batteries are charged with green energy, the substantial amount of carbon emitted from commercial and industrial transportation will be significantly reduced.

Beyond deliveries, drones will increase warehouse efficiencies, circling the perimeter of warehouses to conduct safety inspections, while also supporting inspections, preventative maintenance, and the repair of complex machinery within a manufacturing plant. Drones can also be used to speed up pick and put away processes, with lightweight drones being as an alternative to conveyer belts or forklifts for retrieving and putting away orders.

And finally, intelligent drones are crucial where other modes of transport are not viable, such as delivering vital relief and medical supplies to disaster zones or in other emergency situations.

Agriculture

With the global population expected to hit 9.6 billion by 2050, innovative agricultural practices will be vital in order to feed everyone. Smart drone tech will enable the application of precision agriculture techniques, which ensure efficiency of inputs such as water and fertilizer, while maximizing productivity, quality, and yield. Precision agriculture also helps minimize pests, unwanted flooding, and disease. In other words, drones are revolutionizing agriculture and offering major costs savings, enhanced efficiency, and increased profitability.

Drones can carry out comprehensive monitoring of crops and livestock conditions, with the ability to quickly spot problems that might not be apparent from the ground. By quickly surveying wide swaths of farmland, drones can map the property, predict and monitor crop growth, report on crop health, monitor irrigation, and improve spraying accuracy. Just one example would be time-lapse drone photography revealing that a crop is not being properly irrigated.

The ability to collect and analyze data in real time has very tangible outcomes: better crop yield, better use of resources, and data-driven decision making. Additionally, with the ability to identify pests, weeds, diseases and nutritional efficiencies in the early stages, there is a reduced need for harmful pesticides and other chemicals.

You can read more about IoT and Agriculture here.

Industrial applications

Inspection and maintenance of industrial facilities can be both challenging and dangerous. Things like boilers, furnaces, mines, power grids, seaports, oil and gas – these all have areas that can be hard to access and can pose health hazards to workers. Smart drones, though, expedite maintenance and inspections in a much safer way: through the use of sensors and cameras, drones gather data which is then relayed in real time to an inspector, who can then act on that information in a safe and secure way.

quotes icon

By deploying drones during various phases of a facility’s lifecycle, the data gathered can be used to improve and optimize industrial processes, as well as enhance operational efficiencies. And because of their nearly limitless visibility, drones are uniquely qualified to capture aerial data in real time, enabling rapid and seamless data collection, which in turn fuels informed business processes.

Drones can be used in operations such as oil and gas facilities for security, surveillance, emergency response, and infrastructure inspection. At seaports, operational oversight, port monitoring, traffic control, mapping, and surveying can all be performed by drones. When it comes to mining, drones have a number of applications, such as mine surveying, inventory management, stockpile estimation, and hot spot detection. Additionally, drones can provide detailed information about potential sites before a mining project is begun. Drones can also access high-toxic and/or hard to reach areas and can be a vital tool in emergency response.

Construction

The construction industry is already investing heavily in drones and is one of the main adopters of the technology – and with good reason. Drones provide a birds-eye view of construction sites, machinery, and people, providing crucial information before, during, and after a project, as well as monitor its progress. Drones have access to places that are normally inaccessible or dangerous to inspect, such as roofs, recording and relaying real-time data and reducing accidents while increasing site safety.

Traditional land surveillance methods require a lot of labor, time, and money. Drones, on the other hand, provide valuable information on terrain and land distribution at a fraction of the cost. They do this by having a bird’s eye view of the entire site, inspecting the land with a much higher accuracy than previously possible, with the data collected being used by engineers to measure things like land dimensions and elevation changes.

When it comes to existing structures, 3D models can be created from scans made by drones, which can be helpful when it comes to renovations and retrofitting, as well as for inspections, potentially avoiding disasters such as the recent Surfside condo collapse in Florida. Data can also be converted into building models, allowing clients to have a better understanding of spaces and a view of final outcomes before the construction work even begins.

One of the more common drone applications on construction sites is supervision and progress checkups throughout the lifespan of the building project. Drones monitor progress by overlaying captured images onto building designs and drawings, allowing confirmation – or not – that the project is moving forward according to plan. The images can also be used to identify flaws and help eliminate human error when it comes to quality inspection and supervision.

Post-construction, drones can assess damage following natural disasters such as hurricanes or tornados, identifying the extent of damage and pinpointing which areas need immediate attention. They can also be used to identify victims and guide emergency workers in a safer manner.

Speaking of safety, construction sites can of course be dangerous places. Inspections carried out manually can expose workers to accidents and injury, particularly when heights are involved. Drones remove or reduce risks while also providing a higher level of inspection accuracy.

There are myriad other commercial applications for drones, such as sewer maintenance, insurance, filmmaking, and public safety. The use cases will continue to grow as the technology evolves. When IoT is added into the mix, the possibilities will become nearly endless.

If you would like to learn more about how IoT can enable your business, please get in touch..

IoT can’t stop disasters from happening, but it can help identify life-threatening hazards, alert authorities at an early stage, and assist in rescuing those affected, saving lives, resources, and money. Through the use of IoT technologies emergency management and response can be enhanced, and as a result have far better outcomes.

Australian bush fires, Indian monsoons, earthquakes in Japan, Northeasters along the US east coast – most natural disasters are inevitable, but the worrying news is that they are on the rise.  According to a United Nations (UN) report from October 2020, extreme weather events have dominated the disaster landscape in the 21st century, and it can be linked to a rise in climate-related disasters, including extreme weather events.

To put this in perspective, between 2000 and 2019, there were 7 348 major recorded disaster events, which claimed 1.23 million lives and affected an additional 4.2 billion, resulting in nearly $3 trillion in global economic losses. What makes these figures stand out is that they show a sharp increase over the previous twenty years, which saw just over 4 000 disasters which led to roughly $1.6 billion in economic losses and claimed 1.19 million lives.

Floods and storms have seen the most prevalent increase, with floods more than doubling, but there have also been major increases when it comes to drought, wildfires, and extreme temperature events, along with a rise in geo-physical events, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, which have killed more people than any other natural hazard. Add man-made disasters, such as hazardous material spills, infrastructure failures, and explosions, to that pile and it’s obvious that emergency preparedness has to not just improve but become more efficient.

quotes icon

While we can’t do away with disasters, we can improve both our preparedness and our response through IoT-enabled prediction and early warning systems, along with IoT-enabled response systems.

According to the Global Disaster Preparedness Center, there are four phases of emergency management: Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.

Mitigation
Minimizing the effects of disaster, such as implementing building codes and zoning, vulnerability analyses, public education.

Preparedness
Planning response, including preparedness plans, emergency exercises and training, warning systems.

Response
Minimize hazards created by disaster, such as search and rescue, emergency relief

Recovery
Return the community to normal, through things like temporary housing, grants, medical care, and IoT can be a game changer in a number of ways.

Through the use of, among other things, sensors, robots, and unmanned vehicles, IoT helps minimize risks and improve response by transforming disaster management from reactive to proactive. And the data generated by these devices minimizes the risk of being taken off guard while helping everyone to make more informed decisions. Additionally, enhanced communications systems assist in rescue work. Here’s how:

Mitigation
IoT devices and sensors can collect near-real-time data on things like water levels, volcanic activity, and barometric readings. Sensors can detect wildfires, tornadoes, cloudbursts, volcanic activities, earthquakes, etc. and send early warnings. Additionally, critical infrastructure (or any infrastructure, really) can be protected through predictive maintenance. Hazard mitigation is enabled by using sensors to monitor pollutants and contaminants, including radioactive situations.

Preparation
Emergency preparedness can be enhanced through IoT-enabled response mechanisms, procedures and rehearsals. Real-time data from sensors, cameras, and other connected devices can be embedded into infrastructure, making it possible to monitor conditions in real time, as well as receive vital data both historical and in real time. This data allows city managers to prioritize repairs and employ preventive maintenance. And the connected devices deployed in buildings, bridges, roads, and other infrastructure can also be used to provide alerts and enhance communications. Additionally, through the use of IoT devices, strategic reserves of food, water, clothing, medical equipment, and other vital supplies can be monitored to ensure acceptable levels.

Response
In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, situational awareness is critical to ensuring resources are prioritized in order to have the most impact and help those most in need, but as operations go on, recovery efforts must be repeatedly updated based on changing conditions. Widely deployed IoT technology within a city’s infrastructure, in forest areas, or anywhere else, for that matter, can be re-tasked to identify emergency conditions, people who are trapped, or the status of things like the power grid. First responders need actionable information and IoT can facilitate response planning and actions through the use of sensors to monitor the movement of key personnel, as well as sensors and IoT-enabled cameras on the scene of the incident. Situational awareness and incident management can be achieved through things like smart clothing, which can monitor and report things like a firefighter’s vital signs and on-scene conditions, allowing them to be pulled from the scene if things become too dangerous. First responders can also be equipped with audio and video sensors, or supported by autonomous drones and vehicles, allowing dangerous situations to be monitored and assessed from a safe distance.

Automated IoT systems can send out alerts, news, and other digital resources to keep the public informed in real time. Mobile updates can provide vital information, such as where a tornado has touched down, or provide information of how to keep safe, where to find a safe location, and resources for seeking shelter or life-saving supplies. Connected digital signs, such as at bus stops, on roadways, and in city squares, can also be used to spread critical information quickly. Battery powered IoT devices can enable limited communication services, such as emergency micro-messaging.

Recovery
Disaster recovery efforts and operations can be extremely challenging, placing significant demands on multiple resources, including both local and international emergency response personnel, NGOs, and the military, all of whom must collaborate and share resources and information in order to execute recovery quickly and effectively. IoT devices can help in search and rescues operations, as well as monitor post-disaster conditions and levels of vital resource stockpiles. IoT can continue to be used to disseminate information to the public while normal communications are still being repaired.

If you would like to learn more about how IoT can enable emergency management, please get in touch

As LPWA (low-power, wide area) networks come into their own as an IoT technology, it’s important to look at what the different options are and how they can impact your deployment, both now and in the future. There are two main categories of LPWA technologies: those deployed on licensed radio spectrum and those deployed on unlicensed radio spectrum.   

LPWA on the licensed spectrum

MNO’s (Mobile Network Operators) procure licenses to operate within dedicated parts of the radio spectrum. This mean that no one else is allowed to use that part of the spectrum unless the operator allows them to. Since the operator have full control, they can provide high transmission quality, data security, stability, scalability and speed. In addition, they ensure that the quality remains over time, by tweaking the network as the subscriber’s usage patterns evolve. 

There are two key types of LPWA technologies deployed on licensed spectrumLTE-M and NB-IoT Both are acknowledged as the technologies that will be part of the 5G mMTC (Massive Machine Type Communications) standard which will enable massive IoT, with LTE-M in particular emerging as the strongest option for migrating legacy 2G and 3G devices, and also supporting new applications that require higher bandwidth along with lower power consumption and extended battery life. 

LTE-M and NB-IoT are both based on standards set by 3GPP, the organization that defines standard for technologies used within the telecom industry. More than 900 mobile operators around the world support 3GPP standards, covering the majority of the globe where businesses operate. These standards make it easy for devices to seamlessly roam from one network to another, making it possible to create one device that can work on network across the globe. The standard also ensures the longevity of a technology, a very important aspects when deploying an IoT solution that is meant to last for many years. 

LPWA on the unlicensed spectrum

Unlicensed spectrum isn’t owned by anyone and can be used free of charge, without any rules on how to get access at any given time. This allows for a lot of flexibility, but since it doesn’t require a license or fee it can become crowded. Everything from WiFi routers to cordless telephones and other communication devices also use unlicensed spectrum, meaning that IoT solution deployed in the unlicensed spectrum run the very real risk of interference. Technologies such as LoRa and Sigfox are based on unlicensed spectrum.  

While you might see upsides to these technologies, such as deceptively cheap devices, it’s important to consider the whole picture. Basing an IoT solution on these technologies often mean that you need spend money to procure and operate your own radio network, since most countries in the world does not have nationwide LPWA networks on the unlicensed spectrum.  

With the unlicensed part of the radio spectrum open for anyone, it makes it easy for anyone to establish their own private network. However, there is the risk that anyone else can do the same, resulting in interferencebetween networks. This is the same phenomenon that you might have experienced with your home Wi-Fi. When you first set it up it works great and provide high speeds, but 6 months later the neighbor buys a new Wi-Fi router, and all of a sudden you have a hard time getting a reliable connection since you are now (unwillingly) sharing the same part of the unsilenced spectrum.   

Let’s look at it another way

Think of licensed and unlicensed spectrum as the difference between an elegant dinner party at an exclusive restaurant and a party you might have attended back at university. Both start pretty much the same way: people arrive, there is plenty of room to move around, you can hear each other talk, and when the music comes on there’s room to dance. Fast forward a few hours, though, and things have changed: those who are at the dinner party are still able to converse and there’s plenty of elbow room at the table. At the university party, however, loads of people have crashed, everyone is shouting over the music, and if you try to dance there’s a good chance you’ll knock people over the second you break out your moves. Licensed spectrum is the elegant dinner party, where only the people invited are there and things are under control. Unlicensed spectrum is the frat party, where the lines to the bathroom are long and no one can hear what anyone is saying.  

What happens as the parties evolve? If new guests show up to the dinner party at the restaurant it’s not a problem because the restaurant staff are experienced and prepared – they’ll just bring an extra table and some chairs, and things will carry on as before. At the frat party, on the other hand, you don’t even know how many people will show and there’s a good chance endless strangers will crash the party and chaos will ensue.  

So, how does this relate to radio spectrum?  If you use unlicensed spectrum you have no idea who is joining the party – you might be one of the early arrivals but in a year or two there could be all sorts of devices crowding into your space, which would greatly reduce your ability to have efficient and IoT connectivity.  Using licensed spectrum, on the other hand, means you always have a professional taking care of the space your devices are communicating within, so you never have to worry that the service is being degraded.  

If you would like to learn more about how IoT can enable your business, please get in touch.

In the midst of the ongoing global pandemic, holiday shopping continues to be impacted, with in-store shopping being categorized as a high-risk activity in many areas and many stores limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside the store at one time. This has led to a huge boom in online shopping, which means retailers not only need to ensure safe and satisfactory in-person customer experience, they also need to offer top-of-the-line online and
delivery experiences. IoT is proving critical in both areas.  

Even in “normal” times, the frenzied holiday shopping season has retailers scrambling to keep warehouses and shelves well-stocked, particularly when it comes the must-have buys of the season, such as the latest smart phone or that inexplicable toy that every child is clamoring for.  But with a global pandemic impacting everything from shopping behavior to global supply chains, it is more important than ever for retailers to find new ways to deliver a high quality shopping experience, whether in person or online. Here’s how IoT can increase efficiencies and make a difference:

Managing store capacity

With ever-changing capacity guidelines and safety rules, enforcing social distancing can be a challenge.  But by placing IoT sensors at entrance and exit points and/or on shopping carts, retailers can monitor foot traffic in real time, getting accurate and up-to-the-minute numbers on how many shoppers are in the store. This enables the efficient management of capacity, ensuring both shopper and employee safety. Additionally, retailers can hand out IoT-enabled wearables such as wristbands, key fobs, or badges that are paired with the shopper’s smartphone through the store app or a third-party contact tracing app – the wearable will detect when shoppers are too close and both notify them and record the incident, allowing retailers to understand traffic patterns and capacity better.

Inventory management

Even during a pandemic, people want or need to shop, particularly during the holiday season, and retailers need to keep warehouses well-stocked in order to avoid running out of high-demand gifts, food items, and other goods. Manually counting inventory is time consuming and labor-intensive and in the case of in-store inventory control, increases the risk of virus exposure. IoT-enabled sensors can detect product weight on shelves, meaning a rapid decrease in weight would indicate the product needs to be replaced, and in the case of stagnant weights, retailers will know not to place new orders, reducing unnecessary costs. Additionally, understanding what is moving off in-house shelves and what is moving through e-commerce channels allows retailers to understand the flow of goods and where they need to be placed.

Delivery guarantees

Without a doubt the advent of Covid-19 has pushed more and more shoppers online and this means ensuring a positive online shopping and delivery experience is critical to customer satisfaction.  Attaching IoT-enabled devices to shipments and containers gives retailers into a shipment’s whereabouts, while also providing customers with real-time location updates. This allows retailers to keep customers abreast of approximate delivery times. Data collected by IoT devices can also drive supply chain efficiencies through the optimization of shipping routes for faster delivery. IoT can also identify warehouse delays and optimize operations for quicker and better service and deliveries.

While IoT can help retailers cope with the holiday shopping rush, its benefits can be enjoyed year-round. If you would like to understand more about how IoT can help your business, please get in touch.

Even prior to the advent of Covid-19, IoT was already poised to impact air travel in any number of ways, with the potential for new IoT-enabled technology to improve the overall efficiency of existing solutions. While the post-Covid world of travel remains something of a question mark, there is no doubt that when we do once again take to the skies, IoT will impact our experiences, both on the ground and in the air.

The airline industry faces unprecedented challenges in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with close to 90% of the world’s population living in countries with some sort of travel restriction. The recovery time of airport operations is expected to differ significantly based on region and country, due to governmental response and support levels, with most industry experts predicting a 12-18-month recovery period.

Airports are under tremendous pressure to reduce operating costs, which make up around 65% percent of total airport costs. There aren’t a lot of silver linings in this situation and the industry rightfully concerned, but if there is one thing the airline industry can do is use this massive slowdown as an opportunity to improve cost efficiencies and productivity while streamlining operations – in other words, increase implementation of automation and digitization.

quotes icon

Renewed digital investment will bolster recovery and boost long term resilience while also ensuring that as borders re-open, travelers feel safe and that their health is protected.

The shift to touchless travel and new health safety regimes will be heavily reliant on IoT-enabled technologies. At the same time, data must be protected, with privacy, consent, and transparent data governance at the heart of any solution. IoT presents a unique and substantial opportunity to improve almost all aspects of the airline industry in the wake of Covid, from ground maintenance and operations to crew and passenger safety. Here’s how:

Contactless travel

If one thing is clear it is that the future of airports is contactless travel. Even prior to the pandemic, expanded security measures and other factors meant time spent in airports had increased exponentially and airports had already begun introducing new technology and processes to mitigate waiting times.

In the post-Covid world of air travel the implementation of contactless travel measures will accelerate. In practice this will mean reducing the number of human interaction touchpoints in conjunction with the implementation of social distancing norms.  Proximity sensing, contactless, agent-free and automated check-in and boarding will be critical, with things like off-site check-in at, for example,  hotels and shopping malls decentralizing processes for passengers.  Autonomous, handsfree cargo processing and other airport operations will also reduce human contact.

Additionally, mobile applications already in use can be further enhanced to provide wait-time tracking, boarding calls, and zones to optimize queues and ensure social distancing around areas such as boarding gates, restrooms, and security. And the increased use of biometric corridors at airports will allow passengers to seamlessly pass-through security for verification without ever having to touch anything.

Health requirements

Health screening at airports is now being encouraged or even mandated by governments in order to prevent unwell passengers from traveling or staff from working. Health screening, immunity passports, health certificates – these measures are all on track to become the new norm. Manual thermal and temperature screenings are already being used, while trials are underway for self-service, touch-free technology that can detect a person’s temperature and heart rate, while asking a series of questions from a 1.5-meter distance at airport touchpoints such as bag drop, immigration, security counters, etc. Additionally, wearables will enable travelers to practice safe social distancing, while maintaining other health and safety compliance parameters.

Managed sanitation

Maintaining high standards of sanitation is of paramount importance in the post-Covid world, and this is never truer than when it comes to the closed environment of an airport, where people from all over the world come together for a brief moment in time. Myriad smart cleaning schemes are already being implemented, such as real-time monitoring of supplies like soap and sanitizer dispensers and paper supplies, which not only reduces waste, but also improves labor efficiency.

Some airports are even trialing UV-C lighting, which has been used to disinfect medical equipment for decades, to sanitize notoriously grubby security trays, while others are keeping passengers informed about rigorous cleaning checks, such as when surfaces in any particular zone were last sanitized.

Crowd reduction

Even before Covid, IoT-enabled devices and cameras were being used to determine traffic patterns and crowd movements throughout airports. In the post-Covid world it will be even more important to not just monitor over-crowding but to react quickly to it.

IoT- enabled sensors and cameras ensure real-time communication of crowd status, queue status, and wait times, along with occupancy, passenger density, and capacity volumes in various areas. Not only can passengers be advised when it comes to navigating the airport, facility management can quickly implement measures to reduce crowded areas.

Asset management

Delayed departures cost airports millions each year and leave untold numbers of passengers stuck in the closed environment of the airport. By tracking the huge amount of physical assets in the airport, IoT can significantly improve efficiency while also reducing costs, which in turn will help everyone keep on schedule. Tracking can include anything from ground service vehicles and baggage tugs to water trucks and de-icing vehicles, ensuring everything arrives at the right gate at the right time – and if they don’t, quick action can be taken.

Smart boarding

Optimizing boarding processes reduces queues and avoids the traditional rush towards the gate when boarding begins.  A digital sign displays the boarding sequence and passengers are only allowed to board when their seat number/s come up on the display.  The result is no queue build-up at the gate, jet bridge, or in the aircraft aisle, with social distancing ensured.

These are just some of the ways IoT will take airports into the post-Covid future – and as airports adjust to the new normal many more innovations will surely come to the fore. The end result will be a smart airport that keeps travelers safe by responding to their needs quickly and effectively, while also streamline processes and operations.

If you would like to learn more about how IoT can help your business, please get in touch.

There is no doubt that IoT can help improve customer experience. With the rapid growth of connected devices into nearly every area of life IoT has the capability to give you a whole new set of tools with which to reach your customer, helping ensure that you are not just meeting your customer’s needs but are also responsive to their challenges.  

Real-time information 

In a world that is increasingly dominated by online ordering, customers want to receive their shipments quickly and they want to know where their order is in the delivery process. Providing real-time and accurate information can enhance the customer experience in a number of ways.  

Placing sensors on equipment or the vehicles carrying them enables you to give real-time updates on the status of orders, making the entire transportation process transparent and hassle-free for both you and your customer. Everything can be tracked online and there will be few if any calls to ask where an order is.  

IoT also allows you to manage your inventory levels automatically by placing sensors on products and shelving, which then tells you which items are flying out of the warehouse and which ones are collecting dust. This reduces the cost of maintaining excess inventory while also automating the ordering process. And because these products are IoT-enabled, you can monitor customer usage, while also employing predictive maintenance, as well as alerting them when maintenance is required or if a new order is necessary. This maintains a direct and beneficial relationship with your customers.  

Optimize usage 

All that data your IoT device collects can be invaluable when it comes to optimizing products. You can use your IoT data to monitor a product’s performance, which will allow you to spot potential issues as well as refine and build better products. You can also use data to alert customers about the performance of the product and identify when maintenance is required. Optimizing products through data usage improves performance, which helps your customers and thus strengthens your relationship with them.  

Customer support 

By monitoring connected equipment for problems, you can improve your customer support proactively.  IoT sensors can often predict problems before they surface or before they become unwieldy.  For example, just say a piece of equipment exhibits certain small malfunctions before it completely breaks down. The human eye might not notice these small deviations but if the equipment is connected, these outside the norm behaviors will be picked up by sensors, which in turn will alert the relevant parties, allowing the equipment to be serviced long before the problem leads to any downtime.  

But what if the problem hasn’t been caught and this has led to downtime? In a non-IoT environment, the customer would need to contact support, explain the issue, and then wait for a technician to arrive on site. On the other hand, if the equipment is connected, a technician will automatically be alerted to the breakdown and should be on site before the customer even has a chance to speak with the support desk. Time, money, and effort are all saved because you now have a customer who understands that you respond quickly to their needs.  

Personalization 

The data your IoT solutions collects allows you to personalize many of your interactions with your customers. You can limit the marketing messages a particular customer receives to products or services your data tells you they will be interested in. When multiple IoT devices are connected, such as digital signs or self-service kiosks, personalized data can push real-time campaigns. Essentially, IoT makes digital advertising possible in any retail environment.  

This level of personalization will undoubtedly enhance and enrich customer communications, bridging the gap between expectations and what can be delivered. Data also allows your marketing team to develop relevant, personalized messaging. For example, if a customer isn’t utilizing all aspects of your product, you can highlight the features they aren’t using or maybe even aren’t aware of. And knowing which features are most used and which are underused can help you when developing new features and/or upgrading the product, as well as when developing new products.  

Develop new offerings 

Speaking of developing new products, all that data means you not only can improve existing products, you can pass the data onto your R&D team so that they can fine tune future offerings. Take a company that makes engines with built-in sensors that feed data performance. This data is used not only to improve engine design, but also to detect any flaws in existing models. This allows for optimized performance and reliability and it also means better products can be developed in the future. You can also update configurations virtually, which means your customers always have the latest possible iteration of the product. This lets them know you are working hard to serve them and that their needs are being met.  

At the end of the day, customer experience is at the heart of every business.  If customers are happy, they’re more likely to be repeat customers. If they’re not happy, well, we all know that can spell disaster for our bottom lines. Ensuring a positive, strong customer experience is essential to the longevity of your business. 

If you would like to learn more about how IoT can enable your business, please get in touch.

Get in touch