Cisco predicts that by 2020, 50 billion devices (machines, equipment, computer, sensors) will be connected to the Internet and that the majority of that growth will be seen over the next six years.
This phenomenon, termed the Internet of Things (IoT), will impact businesses in different ways, with Gartner stating that when combined with other digital accelerators such as cloud, mobile and social, the IoT will force companies to be driven to adopt connected devices, just as they were forced to accept the consumerisation of IT.
Although we don’t know it as IoT, we can already see changes developing in our own lives; smart meters in homes, garden sensors and wearable devices are highlighting the available benefits and also paving the way for businesses to understand and benefit from the coming changes.
Business applications of IoT will by where the real action is; Gartner suggests that in the coming years, a basic level of built-in equipment intelligence and connectivity will be regarded as standard, this will rapidly filter down to mainstream products and services, creating new business models and value propositions.
IoT for reliable equipment
IoT will revolutionise many areas, including asset management. Most businesses own equipment and machinery, which drives their business models to generate revenue and profit. The predictable and cost-efficient operation of this is key to their success. Sudden breakdowns and expensive repairs bills to be avoided.
Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance, used within the aerospace and defence industries has until now purely been in the domain of ‘Big Businesses’, thanks to their substantial resources and capital expenditure on items such as aircraft, mining equipment and oil platforms. Despite some operators regularly making savings of over 20% in maintenance and operational costs, the systems that enable this have been prohibitively expensive.
However, smaller businesses and industries have the same issues! They also have ‘valuable’ equipment and need to tackle unpredictability in different ways: often the approach is to monitor and manage reactively (i.e. fix a machine when it breaks) or over-service in the form of pre-emptive scheduled maintenance. Gartner and others predict that by 2018, the total cost of ownership of equipment and machinery will be reduced by 30% due largely to the proliferation of the Internet of Things.
It is now possible to develop an affordable, cloud-based product to take real-time data from connected machines and equipment ("smart assets") to forecast failures, make optimisation suggestions and highlight other impending issues. Data may include sensor data such as temperature, vibration, pressure and sound. The product then applies advanced analytics and machine learning techniques to learn how a machine behaves and is then able to use this intelligence to understand likely future behaviour, all without time consuming expert input.
The potentials of this approach don’t have to be limited to machines. The same technology can be used in diverse areas such as arable farming. The IoT will affect every area of our lives and farming is no exception; Senseye is therefore commencing trials across eight farms in the UK to predict crop yields, optimise fertiliser, pesticide and irrigation needs, and warn of infestations. Sensors have been installed to measure a number of indicators including soil moisture and temperature, air temperature, wind and rainfall, as well as soil nutrients such as nitrates.
Simon Kampa is the CEO of Senseye and an avid proponent of the Internet of Things and using remote sensor data for the benefit of businesses. Simon’s background is in Computer Science and he has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence.
More on the Internet of Things
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