Simply put, IoT is the vast network of physical devices embedded with electronics, software, sensors or actuators that connect with each other via the Internet in order to collect and exchange information. Most people are already familiar with IoT devices through home appliances, vehicles, smart watches, personal health monitors and other commercial products. However, it won’t be long – some experts predict as soon as 2020 – before sufficient resources will exist to connect almost any device we can think of to the Internet. In fact, some statistics suggest that more than 30 billion devices will be connected by this time.
By now, we’re all used to being able to instantly share information that resides on the Internet with anyone at any time. But the ability to track, monitor, study and share information that resides on any physical object, anywhere, at any time, has staggering implications for the business world and the world at large.
In particular, IoT is grabbing the attention of businesses because several dynamics are coming together at the same time to foster the growth of IoT and the ability to use it to build more successful commercial enterprises. These dynamics include:
- Technology advances in smart phones and tablets. Increasingly, these devices have the capacity to act as remote computers, allowing users in the field to stay connected with each other and the home office.
- Deployment of cloud-based markets and services. By removing the need to store data on hard drives, devices such as computers, smart phones and other mobile tools can run more apps and collect more data without having to worry about where to put it. Cloud services also make it easier to share data throughout organizations by having it in one centralized location rather than storing in on separate and often isolated hard drives.
- Lower technology costs. Economies of scale due to high product demand are dramatically reducing the cost of sensors – such as micro-controllers and boards that connect to different networks – that make the connections and data transmission more affordable.
- Increase in IoT network providers. Both traditional and new network providers, such as Verizon, T-Mobile®, AT&T®, Vodafone, Sprint®, Rogers, Telus and more are developing new technologies to connect IoT devices, extend battery life and use less power.
Working together, these dynamics are driving the rapid growth of IoT by providing a powerful business intelligence tool that enables companies to build competitive advantages through more comprehensive and precise data tracking.
IoT and Asset Tracking
Considering that construction, oil and gas and other heavy industrial companies rely on their physical assets, it’s no surprise that IoT is already transforming the processes of industrial asset tracking. With IoT, preventative maintenance, temperature metering and other critical operational procedures are rapidly becoming faster, easier and less expensive. For industrial companies, the question isn’t, “Should we incorporate IoT into our business?” It’s, “How do we do it and how quickly can we get it done?”
As a leader in the asset tracking market, Tenna was one of the first to understand the unlimited potential of IoT and begin incorporating it into our asset tracking systems. We started by developing a series of IoT-capable sensors and trackers that transmit data to our cloud-based platform, enabling industrial enterprises to easily identify the locations and maintenance needs of their assets. Our most recent example is the TennaONE tracking device, which features the latest 4G LTE standards (LTE CAT M1 and NB1) currently being deployed by wireless carriers.
As an IoT business, Tenna provides more than just the ability to easily track assets anywhere and everywhere. Our IoT solutions offer new capabilities to bring efficiencies into many different areas of the business. For example, the data collected from IoT can assist management with process flows for pre-planning for projects, automating processes for logistics, and enabling employees to work more efficiently. It can also help with the process of planning and budgeting for large capital expenditures for needed tools and equipment.
One of the most immediate impacts of IoT is its ability to facilitate the mass collection of data to improve asset maintenance. In the past, gathering data on the status of heavy equipment and vehicles was a largely manual process. IoT-enabled assets can proactively transmit the data without needing to be prompted by human intervention. For example, suppose a component of an asset is starting to perform at inefficient or unsafe levels. With IoT solutions, the asset will automatically stream the information to the asset tracking system, where managers can evaluate and initiate the need for repairs or replacement.
By embedding assets with IoT monitoring tools, companies can track virtually all aspects of asset performance, from thermal properties and lubrication levels to vibrations, exhaust emissions and other indicators of asset health. With this unprecedented level of real-time data, managers can identify and rectify potential problems before equipment breaks down, thereby saving the time and cost of unexpected repairs.
Additional benefits of IoT solutions include:
- Reducing the need for human intervention by automating much of the inspection, diagnosis and work order process.
- Facilitating predictive (rather than reactive) maintenance. Real-time diagnostic data allows managers to maximize asset uptime by bringing vehicles in for maintenance during planned downtime.
- More precise costing. The difficulty with asset costing is tracking all the factors needed to get a complete picture of their costs. IoT solutions bring together data on everything from spare parts and work orders to asset conditions, predicted life cycles and other data needed to determine the true costs of company assets.
The possibilities for IoT to transform every aspect of your business are endless. Tenna is well-positioned for delivering successful solutions as the growing business of IoT expands into the construction industry. When it comes to asset management, you can count on Tenna to continue leading the way with IoT solutions that let you do more with your assets.