Automation‌ ‌and‌ ‌IoT‌‌: ‌Transforming‌ ‌How‌ ‌Industries‌ ‌Function‌ ‌

Jennifer Stowe -
Illustration: © IoT For All

IoT is a system of smart enabled devices, from vacuum cleaners to cars. It’s important to understand that IoT devices use built-in sensors to generate data for further interpretations and decision making. Interconnected via a larger system, IoT provokes changes in various industries and spaces, giving new chances to any IoT software company. 

10 Benefits that IoT Brings for SMBs

Impact‌ ‌of‌ ‌IoT‌ ‌on‌ ‌automation‌ ‌

IoT scopes from consumer devices to connected equipment in the factory to industrial assets like machines, robots, and workers in smart factories. Bringing a lot of changes to automation companies, it helps intensify operations and increase productivity. 

The implementation of IoT concepts and technology is vital for automation. Its main goal is to create a constant connection between manufacturing inputs and outputs. At the same time, the whole thing involves connections between complex and sophisticated devices. This means attention should be paid to control and management of supply chains and dispersed teams. 

No‌ ‌Human‌ ‌Involvement‌ ‌

Until recently, the main purposes of automation were to increase productivity and reduce costs. Both goals have become reachable because less human involvement is needed–machines work 24 hours a day and do not require days off and benefits. Now automation changes focus. It is deployed to make manufacturing processes rational and safer for human personnel and to increase product quality and flexibility. 

IoT technology is here to reduce human-to-human or human-to-computer interactions. That approach helps not only reduce costs associated with personnel but also eliminate possible flaws and mistakes. Connected devices operate autonomously, using two types of hardware. First is a sensor, and the second is for converting an electrical impulse to a physical outcome. 

How the spread of IoT will change industries and human involvement at different stages of manufacturing is hard to predict. Will artificial intelligence substitute humans completely? Now we see that along with a bunch of benefits, IoT brings several issues that are still to be solved. 

Growth‌ ‌Opportunities ‌

IoT covers a great range of technologies and services, bringing them to one sufficiently interconnected ecosystem. Here we have blockchain, AR, VR, big data, cloud computing, machine learning, and more – all collected under one roof as a part of a bigger picture.

The Internet of Things from a futuristic phenomenon becomes a part of our everyday life, seeps to our cars and homes, becomes a part of our clothes. By the year 2017, the connected smart devices market reached 7 billion people, the whole population of the planet. By the year 2020, there are going to be about 20.4 billion connected devices worldwide. That makes more than $450 billion in 13 years. 

‌Vast‌ ‌Market‌ ‌for‌ ‌Smart‌ ‌Products‌ ‌

Devices and data services connect people like never before in history. The spread of technology around the world is not even, due to many reasonable obstacles. We regard Europe, Asia, and the US as flagman regions. But even within the societies highly equipped with basic technical facilities and the demand for smart services, threats like security issues are still present and many prospective customers still hesitate to implement IoT deeply.

Smart‌ ‌Cities‌ ‌Take‌ ‌Shape‌ ‌

The understanding of smart city conception is being reformulated lately. At first, city leaders regarded IoT solutions as tools to become more efficient behind the scenes. But nowadays, when smartphones are widely spread, technology can guide one through the city life instantly, providing information about any aspect from traffic and transit to healthcare and culture. Technology can provide millions of inhabitants with a better quality of life.

Quality of life includes multiple dimensions: reduction of crimes, safety on the streets, quality of air, preserving ecological resources, and many more. Various data is collected, processed, and put to work to ensure that better options are taken. In other words, urban services get real-time information about the events in the city, understand how demands are changed, respond to them faster, and with greater efficiency. This includes for instance traffic observation suggesting citizens faster routes, or consumption patterns encouraging people to use less water or energy, or use it at different times. 

The smart city consists of three layers: 

  • technology base (hardware); 
  • applications (software); 
  • usage (public, enterprises, city services). 

All layers are interdependable. So, some applications show efficiency only when used by a large number of people, so the general behavior can be changed – as in traffic regulation, energy consumption, and preventive self-care. 

The Future‌ ‌Home‌ ‌

Large businesses and governments seem to be the top users of IoT technologies, still, consumers got access to it too. Smartwatches, automated self-driven cars, and smart homes are a vivid example. 

A smart home is a network of connected devices that have some preset rules. Some of the devices are built-in, others can be added later. The most highly used sensor types are optical, humidity, water quality, gas, image, noise, temperature sensors, motion detectors. 

The network can be accessed remotely with a smartphone app. The remote dashboard would bridge devices and sensors so that all crucial processes in the house can be managed and controlled. For instance, the color and intensity of lighting can be adjusted to the time of the day and your specific preferences, a refrigerator can analyze its contents and send shopping lists directly to a mobile device app, a coffee machine learns your schedule and latte is ready when you wake up. 

Smart homes are already today’s reality but are not spread that widely due to sufficient reasons. To name some – high costs and security concerns. It seems that the cost is not justified by customers, while the benefits of smart homes are attractive. Another part of potential customers’ concerns is safety: hacker attacks are still here as well as the possibility of stealing private information.

IoT‌ ‌Implementations‌ ‌for‌ ‌Industrial‌ ‌Automation‌ ‌

Industrial automation absorbs smart technologies as well. We mentioned earlier that IoT helps reduce costs, increase productivity, and safety for human workers as well as for the industry as a whole. But the cost of the IoT technology itself should not be ignored. Adding “smartness” to a product inevitably increases its price and adds some specific layers to maintaining. 

We are used to the traditional linear product life cycle. It includes stages of product ideation,  design, manufacturing, commercialization, and aftermarket services. The problem is when a consumer gets a product, a manufacturer receives almost no data about its usage if the buyer is happy or unhappy with it and to which extent. Not much information can be retrieved from customer feedback, as commonly they are written from extremely polar positions. Also, the great review of one feature does not give any idea on the customer’s further behavior, e.g. purchases. 

How‌ is ‌IIoT‌ ‌Transforming‌ ‌Manufacturing?‌ 

IIoT makes the lifespan of a product circular by incorporating various data about product usage, like the technical condition of certain parts, patterns of customers’ behavior and many more, in real-time. The information goes directly to the team members of the company to be processed, analyzed, and used to eliminate problems even before the customer notices. 

At the same time, IIoT gives a chance to explore and investigate customer happiness and patterns of product usage. If scalable and well-considered data is collected, product owners might predict user needs, as well as rich direct feedback, and take actions to solve problems immediately. Many surveys show that 90% of customers are the most loyal to companies responsive to their needs and wishes.

With lIoT implementation, manufacturers get a closer look at how customers use products in real-time. That means that product flaws, issues with maintenance, and insights in feature usage can be collected much faster. The manufacturer gets a privilege to understand and predict issues, make changes, and design out problems. According to the McKinsey report, the aftermarket services margin is 25% compared to 10% for new equipment sales. So, IoT can provide businesses insights on how to offer the best and fastest aftermarket solutions, based on collected product data.

Five‌ ‌Areas‌ ‌Driving‌ ‌IoT‌ ‌

The Internet of Things spreads widely around the globe and into our homes. Let’s highlight the five areas driving smart technology.

Security‌ ‌

The number of connected devices worldwide is already higher than the population of the planet. That makes the question of security crucial, as the potential for violations is enormous and might lead to devastating consequences. Important is the attention of IoT software companies to implement solutions with great cognition to security issues as a must in the early stages of product design. It is known that the chain is as strong as its weakest part, end-points of IoT solutions should be profoundly secured to minimize risks of being attacked and hacked. 

Data‌ ‌Intelligence‌ ‌

Billions of interconnected devices generate a vast amount of data. That is why types and amounts of data, collected along with the way of handling and processing it, should be defined in the early stages of product design. Data intelligence is focused on analyzing data itself, which distinguishes it from business intelligence, where data is mainly get categorized and presented. Proper analytical tools are an important part of any IoT solution. Those are used to find patterns, detect corrupted data, enable machine learning implementation, and more.

Smart‌ ‌Cities‌ ‌

Smart technologies become facilitators of city life changes, rising quality of life to new standards. Smart technologies are widely implemented in a lot of cities nowadays, but the full effect of benefits is yet to come. The same applications can show different results in different places, depending on the existing technical base, legal issues, and public response.  

Business‌ ‌Collaborations‌ ‌

Implementation of IoT technologies gives a great impulse to new business collaborations. IoT software companies meet traditional manufacture at the point of cooperation and great prospects for both sides. 

Advanced‌ ‌Applications‌

The spread and wide range of implementation of smart technology encourage both hardware and software to become more complex and sophisticated ‌rapidly. Application developers should take into consideration the crucial factor of security, data safety is a must. 

IoT technology and services spread all over the globe rapidly and with a great effect, changing the quality of human life, manufacturing, business processes, and attitudes to common things. Along with the benefits there come challenges for the professionals, authorities, and general public.

Author
Jennifer Stowe - Jennifer Stowe

Contributors
IoT For All
IoT For All
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All. If you're interested in contributing to IoT For All, cli...
Guest writers are IoT experts and enthusiasts interested in sharing their insights with the IoT industry through IoT For All. If you're interested in contributing to IoT For All, cli...