As more devices, assets and ‘things’ become connected, businesses are exploring the opportunity to harness the Internet of Things (IoT) to protect and track their assets – everything from livestock to plant equipment, shipping containers and vehicles. It’s a valuable new way to manage risk and improve efficiency. However, to be effective, it will require more than just a device.
At present, business IoT deployments focus on monitoring, measuring and control, but new-use cases are being developed all the time as companies begin to IoT-enable legacy devices and systems alongside new environments. Asset tracking has long been vital to organisations and IoT provides a welcome new way to enhance the efficiency of these systems.
IoT-enablement can mitigate and minimise tangible losses such as theft and vandalism, but can also help address the intangible losses companies experience when assets are not fully or properly utilised. This makes IoT a very compelling value proposition for a wide variety of applications.
Right now, IoT devices are being used in the agricultural sector to monitor the health of calving cows, alerting farmers just before they give birth. This has led to a large reduction in complications in calving and increased the number of successful births.
IoT devices are also being dropped into shipping packages or containers, alerting the package owner to its location and providing information on its status.
In vehicle tracking, IoT devices now monitor driver behaviour, alerting fleet managers via the cloud of speeding or other transgressions. This information influences driver behaviour, reducing risk.
For critical or high value assets, a properly designed IoT solution can provide a deterrent to theft, offer critical information about the actual event for investigative purposes, and offer options for recovery after the fact. The data will also enable companies to compile risk profiles for different types of assets in different scenarios, allowing them to change the way they operate, to minimise their exposure to the risk factors.
The technology can be easy to apply. Tracking devices come in a large range of configurations, ranging from small battery-operated devices that can be attached or integrated into an asset, or built directly into the asset. Each deployment can be customized to the operating requirements of the asset. This includes the granularity of the information gathered or transmitted, how often updates are sent and what actions to take when an alert is triggered. The IoT device communicates via one or more networks, ranging from low-power, low-range local networks to low-power Wide Area and Cellular networks. However, a successful deployment will depend on more than just the performance of the technology – to be useful and to provide immediate value, IoT data needs to be integrated into existing systems.
This means that companies should look for an IoT solution, not just a device. It is recommended that a partner IoT with experience assists to identify and provide the technology and integration skills needed, helping to you design, deploy, maintain and customise your solution.
The flexibility of the technology means companies can start small, deploying a few IoT devices on valuable assets, and then expand the rollout as the benefits are realised. In fact, organisations will find that IoT enablement keeps giving back in unexpected ways – the power that IoT unlocks is greatly increased when the data from a device is linked to other systems, such as an inventory management or route optimisation system.
As IoT grows, there is significant opportunity to perform better risk management and increase operating efficiencies. Now is the time to explore this technology. I believe that companies that start now, will position themselves well to gain advantage in their industry sectors.
Reinhardt van Rooyen is Innovation Strategist at Jasco