Huge. Complex. Ever growing. Ever changing. The scale and scope of the Internet of Things (IoT) can be overwhelming. Building a corporate IoT infrastructure can, as a result, feel like an enormous project of business transformation, one that will take months or even years to deploy properly.
Yet great agility and elastic scalability are some of the IoT’s most powerful qualities, and it is perfectly possible to generate rapid and rewarding business wins with IoT technology. It just might require a shift in your thinking. Here are some ideas.
Recognise that you can start small
The IoT is not an all or nothing game. You don’t need to have embedded internet connectivity in every piece of hardware within your business to harness the IoT’s benefits. Indeed, adding a simple sensor to a single piece of equipment within your organisation is technically the first step on an IoT journey. In short, don’t become overwhelmed by a false perception that the IoT need to touch every facet of your business from day one.
Cut down on manual checks
Eliminating the need for simple manual checks or data collections is one of the quickest wins the IoT can engender. Identify where in your organisation engineers or other maintenance staff spend time visiting pieces of hardware and taking simple measurements such as temperature, oil levels or measures of wear and tear. Such manual checks are time-consuming and costly, taking resource away from more strategic tasks and introducing unnecessary travel time between sites. Yet provided that the checks being made are relatively simple, it is also relatively simple to embed a connected sensor that can achieve the same result automatically.
Sweat your assets
Organisations that deploy complex or costly machinery, such as those in manufacturing industries, can use the IoT to help maximise the useful lifespan of that machinery, thereby saving both equipment downtime and money spent on repairs and replacements. It is simply a case of adding appropriate sensors to the machinery in question, so as to measure qualities and characteristics that will, after a certain point, indicate a need for maintenance. At this point, an automated alert can dispatch the required engineer, who ensures that maintenance work is carried out at the optimal time and small problems are fixed before they escalate.
Manage your maintenance cycle
The same process – adding IoT sensors to industrial hardware to identify the points at which equipment needs testing, repairing or upgrading – can also be used to immediately alter the maintenance cycle. Because it generates new intelligence into how different pieces of equipment are performing, it can be used to establish the best time for servicing each item – not just in terms of its own performance, but also in terms of the wider organisation’s operations. This could mean, for example, scheduling a particular machine’s downtime at a time when it is least costly for the business, rather than having to take it offline reactively because its performance has dipped below satisfactory levels.
Don’t sacrifice long-term sustainability
All of this advice does, however, come with a caveat. As with so much in business, it is important to retain one eye on the long-term vision and goals of your organisation, to ensure that short-term decisions to not act in opposition to them. The data and insights that the IoT provides can ultimately be harnessed to drive new product innovation and business growth, but this requires a sensible approach to network data analytics and storage from the outset of your IoT journey.