Research indicates Internet of Things (IoT) deployments are set to skyrocket over the next four years, growing 140% to exceed 50 billion connected devices by 2020.
As the cost and complexity of deploying connected devices continues to fall, IoT projects are no longer a far-fetched dream but a deliverable reality, already transforming a huge range of industries from Field Service to Manufacturing. Here, Martin Clothier, technical director at Columbus UK, explains how businesses of all sizes can quickly seize advantage of IoT to deliver operational efficiency, provide actionable insights and improve business processes.
The Internet of Things has comfortably moved beyond the ‘hype’ stage of recent years, with IoT devices and projects now cheap enough to be viable for almost any business. Smaller IoT projects are capable of reaching full operational status in as little as a week. Deployments currently range in ambition from a dozen sensors to capture warehouse temperature, to monitoring the output and performance of remote oil fields across Africa.
There are more and more industries now taking advantage of IoT – and their success lies in identifying the right use case and ensuring they successfully harness device data to produce actionable insights.
Use Case One: Turning inefficiency into opportunity
The manufacturing industry is set to gain from IoT deployments that focus on using connected devices to provide a detailed, real-time picture of existing business operations and identify bottlenecks in efficiency. With repetitive processes running around the clock, any minor improvements to efficiency in the production cycle can generate major savings for a manufacturer.
IoT sensors connected to machinery generate continuous streams of performance data, which can be analysed on platforms such as the Azure IoT Suite to identify leaks and bottlenecks hindering production. Identifying anomalies at an early stage can allow employees to take immediate corrective action to avoid excessive wastage, unnecessary asset strain or increased production cycle times.
This potential is not limited to minor efficiency improvements but can provide key metrics that drive business success. If we take, for example, the food and beverage sector – product quality is a top priority. Installing connected cameras above a production line enables manufacturers to introduce machine vision – monitoring and analysing the packaging, labelling and quality of products to ensure compliance and consistency.
Use Case Two: Space optimisation and the race against time
IoT monitoring is not restricted to simply monitoring and reporting physical asset conditions but can provide valuable insights into the two basic resources manufacturers have to juggle – space and time. At Columbus, we’ve worked to develop SpaceMAX that helps optimise usage of both workspace and time. With physical space at a premium for businesses – particularly in urban areas – optimised space usage can be invaluable in securing a competitive advantage.
Deploying connected beacons throughout a location such as a warehouse will capture the locations of assets, employees and vehicles from a forklift to a tow tractor. Harnessing the Microsoft Azure platform, this location data can then be analysed to produce heat maps and identify hotspots, bottlenecks and other areas of inefficiency. By eliminating these we can optimise operations, product […]
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