With IoT you can link machines, cloud computing, data & analytics and people together to improve the quality and performance of processes in a wide range of applications. Within the last decade we have seen an explosion on the types of solutions available to help industries including; Healthcare, Mining & Energy, Business & Finance, Farming & Agriculture and Manufacturing. With IoT businesses have been able to transform their existing business models, improve performance and productivity, whilst decreasing waste.
In any single industry you can find thousands of sensors generating data. With IoT, manufacturers, for example, can combine machine data from a single line, factory, or a network of sites, such as manufacturing plants, assembly facilities, and refineries, to proactively improve performance by identifying potential bottlenecks, failures, gaps in production processes, and quality issues before they happen. Combining data from a network of sites can also result in a more efficient control of material flow, early detection and identification and elimination of production or supply bottlenecks, and the optimized operation of machinery and equipment in all facilities.
IoT isn’t simply about gathering data. Data also needs to be analyzed and enriched to deliver insights businesses can act upon. This is where artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and analytics come in. Intelligently designed software uses these tools to uncover hidden trends, optimize business processes, and support workers.
It has been predicted that in the next seven years there will be 25 billion+ IOT devices (Finance Online). The number of current IoT devices (7 billion) may seem staggering. But thanks 5G and other technologies, this figure is expected to grow by over 3x to 25.44 billion total IoT devices by 2030.
IoT devices offer a variety of benefits, making them useful for a wide range of applications in a wider range of industries including;
- Managing equipment—the data collected by IoT sensors on the state of equipment can be placed as virtual elements, and further help visualize breakdowns and crashes in real-time.
- Managing spaces—AR can help optimize factory inventory locations and create optimal routes for workers to navigate through facilities safely.
- Educating & Supporting employees—With the usage of IoT data, one can create a virtual prototype of equipment, machinery, or product and help with simulations where employees can learn how to use them correctly.
- Asset Tracking: IoT devices can be used to track the location of assets, such as vehicles, equipment, and inventory; to improve asset management and prevent loss.
- Predictive Maintenance: IoT devices can be used to monitor the condition of assets and predict when they will need maintenance. This information can be used to improve efficiency and reduce downtime.
- OH&S and industry compliance: IoT devices can help provide safer working conditions, track OH&S compliance and track staff output. This information can be used to scale up staffing when required, maintain regulatory compliance and keep staff safe and comfortable.
- Quality Control: IoT devices can be used to monitor the quality of products and services being produced. This information can be used to improve quality control and ensure compliance with standards.
Trends in 2023 for IoT
5G will continue to drive the growth of IoT
With 3 billion 5G subscriptions by 2025 (Source: 5G Americas and Omdia, 2021).With exciting innovations like smart factories and a wider range of business-focused IoT devices, 5G promises to bring the physical and the digital worlds closer than ever before and provide an incredible array of benefits to business and industry. While Australia's rollout of 5G is ongoing particularly across regional areas, which has provided some limitations to the speed of which 5G and IoT usage in agriculture has been able to grow; Low Earth Orbit satellites (LEOs) are beginning to form part of Australia's 5G coverage technology.
Australia is a global leader in 5G rollout. By the end of 2021, Australia’s Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) had installed around 4,000 operational 5G base stations across the country. The population coverage puts Australia in the top tier of nations rolling out the new technology.
Today, Australia is ranked third in 5G-connected devices per capita (Source: The GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index, accessed 28 September 2022). By 2025, it is expected that 95% of Australians will have 5G coverage (Source: Telstra, T25 Strategy to cover 95% of the Australian population by 2025).
Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Automation
M2M technology was initially adopted in manufacturing and industrial settings, where other technologies, such as SCADA and remote monitoring, helped remotely manage and control data from equipment. The primary purpose of M2M technology is to tap into sensor data and transmit it to a network.
One of the best facets to look out for is communication between devices, and smart sensors can be embedded in devices enabling communication. IoT systems can use sensors to communicate and automate decisions, including materials procurement, demand and sales forecasting, and distribution without human interaction.
Manufacturers, who wish to capitalize on M2M automation, should integrate the data with enterprise software. With ERP communicating with products and machines, technicians can closely monitor manufacturing performance and capture insights in one solution. Here are some ways M2M can help in:
- Remote monitoring.
- Product restocking.
- Asset tracking and monitoring.
For many people the first understanding of the benefits of M2M is in the form of smart meters, that measure the use of energy or water. In domestic and commercial premises, they can offer an almost real-time observation of how much of a utility is being used, as well as the cost associated with it. Using a mobile network or even a WiFi network, smart meters can obtain data on energy use, provide an accessible format for that data to be displayed and even allow the automation of decisions such as network throttling, shutting down of unnecessary equipment, scaling up use when cheaper energy is available and more.
Security and Privacy
Privacy and security have become the main focus increasingly for IT specialists. Increased visible value in manufacturing exposes the system to cyber threats, which is a concern for IoT owners.
There is an increasing need to deal with data leaks or malware (or ransomware) infections to turn traditional factories into smart and secure factories. Authentication is critical across all areas of the IoT, be it cloud, network, or software applications. Here are some ways to protect the IoT ecosystem include:
- Keeping track of physical IoT devices and avoiding them from getting lost or stolen.
- Identifying risks and running risk assessments.
- Using encryption.
The fact is that awareness and the security process are paramount, and this trend needs to be ingrained into the corporate culture.
According to SafeWork Australia and Deloitte, between 2008 and 2018 there were 623,663 reported work-related injuries or illnesses on average each year. If these incidents hadn't occurred - then Australia would have avoided a productivity loss of 2.2 million FTEs, health expenditure costs of $37.6 billion and other employer overheads of $49.5 billion. Industries which possess the greatest number of work-related injuries and illnesses, such as Construction and Heavy manufacturing and farming. IoT in these industries and others has enormous potential to transform employee safety and help prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.
With the use of sensors and connected devices, data accuracy and accessibility can be greatly improved allowing business owners and management the ability to detect potential risks and hazards but also help manage them in realtime. Some examples of how IoT can be used to improve safety measures include:
- Wearables that track technicians’ heart rate and blood pressure. An individual or management team can receive notifications in realtime when it is dangerous for them to keep working.
- Security cameras allow facility to detect intruders or potential issues with vandalism
- Smart sensors that can detect the exceeded level of heat, air pollution, radiation, or noise and send alerts.
- Fire sensors that are sensitive to temperature changes and detect fire.
- Run predictive maintenance to decommission or fix faulty equipment before it may cause any damage or accident
If you are a manufacturer who is developing mind-blowing IoT-enabled solutions, talk to Graeme Kelly at Partner Wholesale Networks about connectivity solutions for your products.