Electronic Products & Technology

How IoT tech is increasing efficiency

Internet of things works its magic across a wide range of industries

November 2, 2020  By Kent Rawlings, president, Sigfox Canada

The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming industries across all sectors. Industries ranging from aviation to healthcare to retail and more are embracing IoT technologies because of their ability to increase efficiencies and reduce costs. Adoption of IoT shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, Gartner forecasts that the enterprise and automotive IoT market will grow to USD$5.8-billion endpoints in 2020, a 21% increase from 2019, and a Business Insider report noted that the ‘IoT industry is going to be a transformative force across all organizations,’ projecting that there will be more than 41-billion IoT devices by 2027.

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According to IoT analytics some of the verticals showing the most IoT projects include transportation and mobility, retail, healthcare, and buildings. Some of the ways these industries are using IoT technology to drive efficiency and reduce costs include:

Aviation

The aviation industry is leveraging IoT solutions to help manage a highly complex business operating environment which involves the logistics of moving billions of people and goods across the globe. A survey on airport IoT adoption trends cited in a July 2019 Deloitte Insights post found that 76 % of airport respondents using IoT indicated they used it for efficiency/optimization.

One of the ways airports are using IoT to drive efficiencies is to reduce the incidence of mishandled baggage. Cost and energy-efficient, globally connected trackers allow access to provide real-time information on the location of luggage anywhere in the airport. Reusable tags placed on luggage coupled with proximity sensors installed across airports allow airlines to monitor luggage, accurately tracking its location.

IoT technology used in PinPoint, a partnership between Sigfox and Amadeus (a tourism IT solutions provider), helps airlines reduce incorrect routing and incidence of lost bags, ensuring that luggage gets to the right place at the right time. Proximity sensors installed across airports and Sigfox global coverage provide real-time visibility into the location of luggage at all times, allowing airlines to monitor luggage, accurately track its location and detect anomalies.

IoT solutions

Airports are also using IoT solutions to increase efficiencies and reduce costs in asset tracking. Asset tracking is a critical operational function in airports and an area where IoT technology can provide gains in efficiency and reduce the financial impact of lost assets. Airports and airlines use IoT technology for real-time visibility and control of all key terminal assets including items such as spare parts, landing gear, and Unit Load Devices (ULD). For high-value assets such as ULDs, airlines use this technology to collect data on ULD location and movement to optimize ULD management and significantly reduce the risk of loss. Asset tracking IoT technology can even help reduce departure delays by making sure equipment like ground service vehicles, portable water trucks, de-icing vehicles, and catering vehicles are at the right gate at the right time.

Retail

Retailers are using IoT technology to reduce costs, drive growth and improve overall performance. Currently, sensors are being used to provide supply chain insights and monitor food safety.

  • Supply chain and logistics

IoT sensors are being used by retailers to monitor goods throughout the entire supply chain. Tracking systems report valuable data such as location, temperature, humidity, shock and tilt, providing insights into quality control and traceability. Tracking solutions also help determine if materials are safe, delivered on time, and transported in ideal conditions, providing actionable data that can help retailers make their transport logistics more efficient, reduce product damage and avoid loss.

  • Food safety monitoring

Perishable food spoilage and deterioration in the retail grocery industry results in a significant loss of profitability, with grocers on average losing $70 million annually to spoilage alone.

Food and beverage industry retailers are using IoT technology to reduce this loss and prevent food spoilage with sensors monitoring temperature of food storage facilities. This is achieved with a simple device installed in the storage unit and linked to an online dashboard which is configured to send alerts in the event of abnormal temperature levels. Real-time data from IoT sensors helps retailers protect perishable goods, ensure optimal freshness and reduce waste.

Healthcare

According to a Business Insider report, the global internet of medical things (IoMT) market is expected to swell to a $158 billion valuation in 2022, up from $41 billion in 2017.

IoT in healthcare is being used for the remote monitoring of patients, measuring and monitoring data such as glucose level, blood pressure, cardiac status, and more. Hospitals are using smart beds with IoT sensors that sense the presence of a patient to provide proper support by automatically adjusting the bed to the correct angle and pressure without the need for hospital staff intervention.

In the current COVID-19 lockdown, IoT is also being used to remotely monitor seniors living alone or even inside a care facility. IoT connected thermometers, heart-rate monitors and ventilators allow patients who require more intensive care to be monitored remotely, minimizing the risk of spreading infection further. 

Building management

IoT is also transforming how buildings are managed and operated. The technology provides actionable data and analytics that can help manage buildings more efficiently and reduce operational costs. IoT technology in smart buildings can help businesses increase their energy efficiency and combat climate change by monitoring and optimizing temperature, lighting, energy consumption and more.

  • Temperature

IoT sensors can control HVAC systems and adjust heating and cooling to save energy. This technology monitors occupancy levels, maintaining optimal temperatures when rooms are occupied and switching off the system when the building is empty. Smart thermostats detect when each room hits the ideal temperature and learn occupant preferences over time, adjusting automatically to meet their needs.

  • Lighting

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “adding lighting controls can reduce lighting energy use 10% to 90% or more depending on the use of the space in which the sensors are installed.”

IoT occupancy sensors can turn lights on or off based on whether or not a room is occupied. IoT sensors can also raise or lower lighting depending on the amount of daylight in a room as well as raise and lower blinds for optimum lighting conditions.

  • Energy consumption

IoT technology can also help businesses monitor energy usage patterns, providing data to help businesses alter usage patterns and make adjustments to avoid peak demand charges. This helps businesses use energy more efficiently and helps reduce costs by avoiding peak energy rates.

  • Building maintenance

A network of IoT sensors connected to infrastructure, systems and machinery can provide data and alerts that allow facilities managers to get ahead of maintenance needs, proactively identifying problems before they occur. This optimizes building performance and prevents costly breakdowns.

An example of this is Sigfox IoT technology that detects damage to building structure by measuring cracks, extensions or strain gauges on key structural elements. Constant monitoring provides insights into the integrity of building infrastructure and can prevent extensive building damage by helping engineers better predict and plan building improvements.

These are just some of the ways IoT technology is being used in a wide range of industries to drive efficiency, streamline operations and cut costs.

Kent Rawlings, president of Sigfox Canada.

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Kent Rawlings is the president of Sigfox Canada, a senior executive with more than 25-years of progressive experience in sales and business development, operations management, business strategy and partnership development in both large and start-up organizations.

 


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