4 hidden ways IoT improves business

  • Popular examples of M2M applications are just the tip of the iceberg.

  • Smart sensors and ubiquitous networks make all manner of real-time telemetry possible.

  • New applications for M2M-derived big data accelerate usage and performance data collection.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is much more than you can see, feel, or experience. Most of the business benefits come incrementally and invisibly through machine-to-machine (M2M) communication that brings transformative potential.

Here’s a look at some of the underground, unsung ways M2M is already reshaping business.

1. Real-time resource consumption and conservation

Monitoring finished goods in real time is nothing new—it’s a smart supply chain practice already. The growth in smart M2M sensors is taking the level of insights much deeper, giving cutting-edge factories insights into raw materials levels as they are consumed. This lets managers know if quality or yield is suffering at a moment’s notice.

Smart sensors are also helping create more detailed tracking of consumables and waste products. This opens up new avenues to repurpose or recycle wastewater and other byproducts in plants, rather than passing them off for costly and potentially environmentally negative processing.

2. Predictive maintenance

Machines of all shapes and sizes are now empowered to call in a mechanic when they are reaching scheduled maintenance points. This in turn makes repair teams more productive, because they can spend time where it makes the biggest impact, rather than working inefficient, pre-planned bolt-tightening rounds.

Smarter machines create a snowball effect. Smart forklift sensors were initially deployed to help fleet managers understand how impacts and torque beyond the rated threshold would affect maintenance schedules and asset values. They quickly learned that the impact sensors could also point out damaged areas in the warehouse floor, leading to better and safer workplaces.

3. Smarter manufacturing lines

M2M communication can do more than monitor imminent failures. It can also help manufacturers make better decisions that lead to higher yields and less rework. For example, high humidity keeps paint from curing properly, so an auto manufacturer now uses smart sensors to check conditions in real time. If the paint zones are too moist, the line automatically reroutes bodies under assembly to other stages in the process.

4. Fuel for big data

Mass production brought with it the sophistication of running business by the numbers. But those numbers were broad brushstrokes of averages, assumptions, estimates, and expectations. Working with those averages is built into business culture. Now, M2M makes it possible to understand the performance of every asset, every worker, and every finished product almost immediately.

Engineers and researchers no longer need to rely on lab studies, surveys, and focus groups to understand how their designs work for a handful of cases in the real world. Live telemetry from everything from mouse traps to turbines can report back the kind of usage and performance data that would have been impractical to collect just a few years ago.

Learn more about how IoT is subtly yet radically improving business.

Jason Compton is an internationally published writer and reporter with extensive experience in enterprise technologies, including marketing, sales, service, and collaboration. All opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.


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