Internet of Things Overview

What is IoT and what is it not?

Internet of Things (IoT) is the migration of unconnected sensors and control devices to a standards based network. There have historically been proprietary networks for monitoring and controlling in the enterprise, moving to standards based networks and protocols eases the deployment, reduces the cost to implement and increases potential for integration. That last part, the potential for integration is where the biggest opportunity lies as disconnected or extremely latent information flow (running reports) can be monitored near real-time.

The Internet of Things is not “connect all the things”. You should not merely plan to collect all kinds of data without any regard to how the data will be used. You should pre-determine what business outcomes you desire and then put a plan in place to collect the relevant data to inform that outcome. You may find you don’t initially have the correct data and you may add additional sensors to move closer to your goals. You cannot simply turn on the data fire hose and magic will happen.

Standards Based Networks is simplified to The “Internet” in IoT but in reality it can be your local network, open cell networks, private cell networks, or any network you can imagine which is openly available for manufactures to add to their devices. Sensors measure things such as temperature, rate of flow, distance to a Bluetooth transmitter. Control Devices perform actions such turning on a fan, slowing the feed rate of a cutting tool. NOTE: It is possible and the norm for both measurement and control to be integrated into single devices. So think of these as required capabilities not separate physical devices.

What did Business do before IoT?

Historically, business acted on gut-feelings and lessons-learned which were shared in meetings and put down as standard-operating-procedures (SOPs) in three-ring binders. Information gathered slowly, improved over the years but was siloed within the business process or the department. For example, a machine report displayed at the console would then be reported on to the floor supervisor and so on up the ladder.

With this information, the operator and management could change configuration and achieve improved results. This refinement of procedures was performed on calendar-based schedules (weekly, monthly, quarterly) or as part of a post-run analysis when an entire batch was completed.

How IoT Impacts Business

IoT optimizes the operate, analyze, and react cycle to achieve real-time improvements in results. IoT achieves this through the connected sensors and control devices which generate data, services which centralize the data, services which analyze the data, and system integrations which drive actions based on the data.

To fully expand the cycle we use Measure, Control, Inform, Outcomes.

Internet of Things Overview Measure Control Inform Outcomes

It is this cycle, and the rapidity at which the cycle repeats is the main driver of innovation. Real-time measurement for per-piece quality and environmental measures enables you to adjust to changing conditions, compensate for machine wear, improve yields and reducing waste.

Thus far we have covered what IoT is and how IoT can be used to improve business outcomes. Most of the examples have been manufacturing oriented as “making widgets” is something most of us can conceptualize. However, IoT is not just improving the quantity and quality of information for existing business cases.

IoT enables new use cases through new data not previously available. Location is a rapidly growing data point useful in many use cases. By monitoring the location of customers, employees, a physical asset you can provide real-time safety assistance, decrease inventory loss, improve delivery of services, etc. These things could be measured, analyzed and automated prior to the Internet of Things.

Idealized IoT Dreams for New Business vs. Real-World Deployments for Existing Businesses

It is quite unusual for a company to be able to setup a brand-new manufacturing line, or to throw away existing infrastructure to achieve a greenfield for deployment. In the real-world IoT projects are being retrofitted to an existing business function, so called brownfield deployments. This may involve adding off-the-shelf or bespoke sensors to existing non-connected infrastructure, moving existing data logging infrastructure to Cloud Based IoT solutions or integrating new analytics and AI\ML to data analysis streams.

Greenfield A solution designed and built without any existing systems in place. Also known as every business owner’s dream.

Brownfield A solution designed and built with legacy systems in place which need to be supported. Also known as reality.

What Pitfalls Should You Avoid?

  1. Don’t just collect a bunch of stuff
  2. You may not know what to measure, but you should know the kind of outcome you’re trying to achieve
  3. Lack of C-Suite Buy-In
  4. Technology Fragmentation
  5. Pick a technology vendor with proven track record, don’t cobble together your own solution architecture

Let's get together and discuss how PHIXED can help you.

Originally shared at EXIT83.