Remote Operations - Getting the Most from Your People and Assets

Adding remote operations and asset management to your IoT deployment can increase staff productivity and boost asset performance.

Maciej Kranz
Remote Operations - Getting the Most from Your People and Assets

In Part One of this series, How to Get Started with IoT, we took a look at how to generate quick returns on IoT investments. There are four fast paths to IoT payback: Connected Operations, Remote Operations, Predictive Analytics, and Predictive Maintenance.

In Part Two of this series, we looked at Connected Operation. Now we’ll examine the next second step to IoT payback: Remote Operations.

Remote Operations

Your packaging line suddenly stops, and you get a safety alert that one of many doors on one of many machines is open. You don’t know which door is at fault, so you send an engineer to the plant floor to physically check all the doors and restart the line.

Remote operations immediately deliver payback when you avoid having to send a person to see what’s going on. With IoT, once you’ve connected your devices on one IP network, adding remote monitoring or asset management capabilities is the next logical step.

remote operations truck management

Remote Operations Example: Keeping Track of Your Fleet

First, let’s look at remote truck management, which allows operators to minimize risks, improve efficiency, productivity, and regulatory compliance, and reduce overall transportation and staff costs.

We would begin by deploying sensors throughout the fleet’s vehicles to report on the status of each truck, including vehicle maintenance, vehicle telematics, driver management, speed management, fuel management, and health and safety. This will allow customers to monitor multiple data sources from within a vehicle (telemetry, location, sensor, video, network, and so on). The customers can also log into a centralized management console to view all elements of a vehicle’s health and status.

By using the fog computing capabilities onboard the vehicle, customers can respond to the data in real time without requiring the vehicle to return to base. The system enables over-the-air software updates, route changes, driver alerts, and even communication with related infrastructure—all done remotely and automatically.

On average, by implementing such capabilities, customers report 15 percent savings in cost of fuel in addition to significant savings in operational and maintenance costs.

remote operations ice cream freezer

Remote Operations Example: Prevent Your Assets from Melting Away

Here’s a very different case: a dairy company in India that operates 150 ice cream stores. I’m particularly fond of this example, because it shows that you don’t have to be a big enterprise to implement and get rapid payback from IoT.

Power outages occasionally happen in Central India, so the company equipped each of its ice cream shops with a backup diesel generator to ensure ice cream remains safely frozen during an outage. However, if the outage occurred after hours when no one was there to notice, the company risked all its inventory—and profits—melting away.

The dairy company turned to Nimble Wireless, a local startup, for help. The company deployed small-factor, multi-sensor devices in the freezers where the ice cream is stored. These sensors automatically connect to the network and can be monitored remotely via software running in the cloud. If the temperature goes up, the system notifies the manager on duty—and continues to escalate alerts if the problem isn’t fixed—all the way to the CEO of the company, if necessary.

The company saw a payback within a month of deploying the solution across all of its stores. Within 13 months, it calculated a return of five times its original investment.

Pipeline traverses tundra

Remote Operations Example: Safe and Secure Oil Pipelines

Here’s the last example: people stealing oil through illegal pipeline taps. It’s a multi-billion-dollar problem for the industry, and it happens surprisingly often.

The solution: a smart foam “pig” or a device that you place inside the pipeline during its normal operation. Smart foam pigs contain various sensors that can detect and report illegal taps, as well as problems with the pipeline itself, such as corrosion or potential leaks.

Combine such a device with cloud-based analytics and reporting software, and the customer benefits are simply tremendous. “With smart foam pigs the customers can reduce the cost of detecting the problems in the pipeline by 95 percent versus traditional inspection methods,” said Steve Banks, managing director of i2i Pipelines, the manufacturer of smart foam pigs.

Save Money, Improve Service

These are just a few examples, but almost any organization with dispersed facilities in any industry segment can experience similar benefits. Specific paybacks from these types of IoT-based remote operations include:

  • Reduced operations costs, because companies can identify problems sooner and fix them earlier. Variable operating costs, such as gas consumption, are also reduced.
  • Reduced delivery and production disruptions, because organizations are better able to meet service-level commitments and avoid any contractual penalties that may apply.
  • Increased on-time delivery, which translates to better customer service.
  • Reduced delay-based system costs, which helps the company avoid the variety of costs associated with delays.
  • Optimized logistics systems, which enable the organization to better optimize its driver, logistics, vehicle, and facility resources for maximum efficiency.

In Maciej’s next post, see how IoT payback can multiply when you add predictive analytics to the mix. In the meantime, please share your thoughts in the comments below or on Maciej’s Building the Internet of Things community.

Maciej Kranz
Maciej Kranz
Maciej Kranz brings 30 years of networking industry experience to his position as Vice President of Cisco’s Strategic Innovation Group. In this role, he leads efforts to incubate new businesses and accelerate co-innovation internally and externall...
Maciej Kranz brings 30 years of networking industry experience to his position as Vice President of Cisco’s Strategic Innovation Group. In this role, he leads efforts to incubate new businesses and accelerate co-innovation internally and externall...