Technology can do many wonderful things for companies that invest in it. There are hundreds of examples within industrial markets demonstrating the real benefits of a well-planned IoT implementation. Lowering the cost of asset maintenance, increasing machinery uptime, automating the collection of sensor data, enhanced decision-making driven by powerful AI-based tools… are a few of the benefits companies are seeing from having a well-constructed IoT environment.
What is IOT, and why it is a crucial component in a modern company?
As you may already know, IoT means ‘Internet of Things’. Most people are aware of IoT in relation to ‘smart homes’, where you connect gadgets and appliances to the internet, and to each other. While the IoT environment in industry differs from the home, it is still built on the same fundamentals. “Industrial IoT” is designed to reduce costs by optimizing business processes. Additionally, it is designed to make work easier, safer, and more productive for employees.
The smart factory
Just like the domestic version of IoT, the Smart Factory is facilitated by IoT sensors. They link machinery and systems together. This creates a complete system that is far more “intelligent” than the sum of its individual components. In other words, it allows your industrial machines and assets to communicate with each other and the cloud. And then provide you with specific information about the functionality and performance of the entire system. This can include what they are doing, where they are located, if there is a problem, or if it is time for maintenance.
We will now delve deeper into how this works. We will also talk more about the benefits and use cases of this technology.
You might ask “How can machines communicate with each other, and with us?”
Smart sensors attached or built into machines and industrial assets drive this process. These sensors gather data from both the machines as well as the surroundings. Data such as positional data, weather conditions, and internal temperature, humidity, light, movement, shock, vibration, tilt, etc. Then the sensor usually sends this data across a wireless network to the cloud. Of course, we can then interact with the cloud in many different ways, often through our mobile phones or computer.
Benefits of smart sensors
This is a shortlist of the main benefits of smart sensors:
- Automated data capture
Smart sensors enable the collection of higher quality than ever before, which enhances decision-making in the company.
- Productivity and efficiency increase
Smart sensors streamline operations and processes on industrial sites to boost productivity across the entire business. Smart sensors provide the basis for better space utilization, optimizing workflow, machinery sequencing, raw material and work-in-progress transport routes, floor planning, site security, worker safety, and much more.
- Cost reduction
While there obviously is an initial investment, over time, smart sensors will save money for most companies. A return on investment of a few months is quite common! You can use sensors to improve maintenance schedules for machinery, reducing costs spent on unnecessary repairs or new machinery due to missed maintenance when it was needed the most. Sensors also help your company save money on energy wastage.
- Construction site and warehouse safety
Needless to say, safety for your workers is of utmost importance. By using smart sensors, you can reduce the risk of workplace-related accidents and incidents. A well-constructed IoT environment will reduce the need for workers to complete manual tasks that can become automated. This further improves worker safety. Sensors also keep track of emissions, temperature, and other important metrics that make the factory or construction site a safer place to work.
Network connectivity – the key to reliability
While sensors provide the source of all this useful data, the type of connectivity on the site is a key factor. Without reliable connectivity to the cloud, the data has very limited value. Most industrial sites like factories and construction sites are large. They sometimes also have a mix of both indoors and outdoors. This raises the bar for the network technology that you need. Given the trend towards non-wired sensors, we then need to evaluate wireless connectivity options. In these types of environments, a simple WiFi router will no longer do the job.
To be sure, companies that invest in a well-constructed IoT environment need a robust network. You often use wireless “mesh” technology to create a high-reliability multi-hop network. Such a network automatically creates new paths for the wireless data in the event that an existing path fails. This is especially important on large, complex sites where the radio environment can change due to the presence of vehicles, moving machinery, changing building structures, and intermittent sources of radio interference.
What are the benefits of investing in an IOT environment?
In this blog post, we have talked about the benefits of smart sensors and why connectivity is a key factor for successful IoT project implementation. We will now list the main benefits of investing in an IoT environment. This is to make it clear why a modern company should start moving towards full IoT compatibility.
- Better insight into business processes
By getting more data and powerful cloud tools to analyse and use the data, your company can improve its processes.
- Time and money savings
Not to mention that a lot of time is spent on unnecessary things. A well-constructed IoT environment reduces wastage and creates a more streamlined factory or construction site.
- Enhanced productivity
- Your workers get better tools, enabling them to be more productive.
- Your machines get smarter, enabling them to function optimally.
- Better decision-making
Getting timely access to the reality of your factory or construction site leads to better decision-making.
- Business growth
Having a well-constructed IoT environment is a proven step towards unleashing the potential of your business, allowing it to grow in a sustainable way.
The future of IOT is already here
Lastly, as we have detailed in this post, the many benefits of a well-constructed IoT environment can vastly outweigh the initial investment cost. The cost of smart sensors has been dropping dramatically during the last couple of years, enabling businesses of all sizes to get on the IoT train. Wittra has created an easy-to-use IoT solution that anyone can get started with. If you have an interest in learning more about how your company can start benefiting from IoT, you can contact us here.