What is IoT?

Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept of connecting devices and their components to the Internet, empowering ordinary devices with intelligence that allows them to provide additional value.

Virtually any device, from vending machines and fitness trackers to wheelchairs and tractors, that performs a task can be upgraded with the insight, knowledge and analytics that IoT provides, offering businesses additional value in the form of revenue, efficiency and productivity.

An ordinary livestock collar can’t provide much additional value to a farmer, but an IoT-connected “smart” collar can track factors like the heart rate, movement speed and geographical location of livestock. These findings are sent to the cloud, where they’re analyzed.

There are numerous ways to connect devices, such as cellular, Bluetooth, wifi, extraterrestrial and satellite. However, IoT benefits most from a reliable connectivity type that complements the needs that the project must meet.

For example, a large farm may require an IoT solution that provides long range (to cover the land) and low power usage (to save time and money replenishing sensor batteries). On the other hand, “smart” vending machines could rely on low connectivity range and bandwidth limit, considering they’re centralized and rarely transfer data.

Optimizing IoT connectivity ensures projects are consistently operating at their best while cutting unnecessary costs.

Connectivity range, power usage and bandwidth limit can change drastically depending on the connectivity that is being employed.

The Importance of IoT Technology

IoT’s significance stems from its ability to connect devices. Once these devices are connected, they can accomplish incredible tasks like self-diagnosing mechanical problems, adjusting product pricing, predicting equipment failure, managing resource consumption and more.

Rather than physically estimating soil quality or moisture levels, farmers can employ IoT sensors that collect the information in real time. This data can be remotely accessed by farmers, enabling them to improve their yield production and limit their resource waste.

What makes connected devices, and IoT in general, so impactful is that they don’t require inherent knowledge or resources to accomplish the tasks they’re given.

Without IoT, smart home devices like Alexa are nothing more than a speaker. But with the power of IoT, Alexa receives the data (your command), uses the Internet to find an answer, and sends the information back to you in the form of a verbal response.

Smart home devices, like many other IoT-enabled devices, use their Internet connection, along with their ability to send and receive data, to solve any problem that they’re given.

Collecting Data with IoT Sensors

IoT sensors can measure temperature, light, moisture, humidity, air quality, and more. Since they’re connected to the Internet, sensors can help individuals parse the information and make informed decisions based on the findings.

Farmers use IoT sensors sensors in the soil to predict the crop yield and food quality without having to make estimations. This saves them from physically checking the land across a vast farm, and can help farmers optimize how they use resources like water and fertilizer.

Improving Business Efficiency with IoT Technology

IoT technology enables businesses and enterprises to collect mass amounts of data from their devices. However, this information won’t have a significant impact unless it can be used to create value.

This can be in the form of increased revenue, longer up-time, improved productivity or even greater waste management.

The information that is gathered from IoT-connected devices can provide a positive ROI to any business or enterprise as long as it’s being utilized.

One way that that businesses can use the information gathered from their IoT-connected devices to improve their operations is through predictive analytics.

Regardless of the industry, equipment is always an integral and expensive part of operations. When an assembly line stops or an engine fails, productivity is lost and costs skyrocket. Because of this, predictive analytics can help businesses and enterprises save significant time and money.

For example, IoT sensors placed in a refrigeration unit can collect over a month of data that indicates a consistent decline in temperature.

Understanding when a refrigerator or any other equipment is showing signs of regression ensures a cost-effective physical inspection at a time where the refrigerator is still operating, rather than replacing the entire unit when it’s completely broken.

IHI Corporation, a heavy industrial manufacturer, found IoT’s predictive analytics capabilities to be useful when it came to monitoring their power plants.

Their IoT-connected sensors performed real-time diagnostics to keep employees informed about the state of their equipment, and to predict and prevent potential performance issues or equipment failures.

When properly utilized, IoT technology and the information that it gathers through its devices can drastically improve productivity, reduce costs and optimize operations.