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Your IoT Roadmap: Steps for Implementation

By - Shivangi Tripathi and Mehul Hirpara | 30 Aug 2022

IoT Implementation Guide

In the 1980s, a student group at Carnegie Mellon University wanted to save themselves the trouble of trekking through their campus, only to find that the Coca-Cola vending machine was empty. But as the proverb goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention,’ they came up with a unique solution – installing micro-switches in the machine to know how many cans were available at any moment and if they were chilled.

Voila! IoT was born.

As you are aware, the Internet of Things refers to embedded sensors, actuators, and other devices that can transmit and collect data from an object, which is then referred to as a ‘smart’ object. Though you may have heard the term ‘smart’ in reference to B2C applications of technology, such as smartwatches, smart lights, and so on, 70% of the actual economic value will come from its application in the B2B sphere. (McKinsey)

However, any monumental change requires monumental preparation as well. While we are accelerating within the age of IoT and edge computing, much groundwork remains to be done. When we at ValueLabs connected with our clientele to understand their requirements, we had an interesting realization. While they wanted their entire warehouse to be laced with sensors for harnessing operational efficiencies, many were unaware of the infrastructure on which this system would be built. To save you the trouble, we have prepared a step-by-step list so you can do this right the first time.

Things to look at when setting up your IoT project

 

1. Connectivity and Infrastructure (Infrastructure connectivity and access to the internet)

2. Data Collection, Processing, and Analysis

3. Insight, Actions, and Automation

4. Go to market (Scaling)

5. Staff culture shift

 

Things to look at when setting up your IoT project

1. Connectivity and Infrastructure (Infrastructure connectivity and access to the internet)

While it may seem like a no-brainer when we say that the internet should be available for these devices to function, imagine your phone dying during office hours and not being able to find the charger. Frustrating, isn’t it? You probably forgot that you had multiple meetings today, and while multi-tasking over devices, your phone, which was not sufficiently charged, deserted you somewhere in between. To make matters worse, the critical presentation you were working on was on your phone. Suddenly a loss of connectivity to the internet would become supremely troublesome.

Now, imagine the same thing happening at a manufacturing plant. It could potentially cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. To enable sensors to work glitch-free, we must look carefully at various factors such as data roaming, gateway requirements, bandwidth, live-data transmission capabilities, battery life, etc.

While multiple options are available to ensure connectivity with ground sensors or devices, we always consider the right connectivity options through a matrix of tools.

At ValueLabs, we have used cellular technologies such as 2G/3G with roaming capabilities in the past. We have been using EnOcean/LoRa based sensors and devices to optimize the energy usage of building infrastructure. And to read data from plant equipment, we have used Smart Mesh IP technology to enable a high frequency of data gathering.

ValueLabs Domain Engagements for IoT

ValueLabs Domain Engagements for IoT

 2. Data Collection, Processing, and Analysis 

While IoT devices may produce several megabytes of data per second, it’s important to put that data to the best use, in ways that aren’t just reactive but also proactive. Therefore, predictive maintenance is one of the most significant projects that manufacturing plants are taking up in the IoT space. Sensors may alert the right person to fix an issue, but sensors powered by edge analytics can detect problems before they occur.

One such example we can look at is the real-time condition monitoring system we put in place for plant equipment, i.e., motor pumps. Motor pumps are a ubiquitous component of any industrial plant and are used extensively. Our condition monitoring system employs edge computing, which runs analytical models on vibration and sound data to detect motor-related anomalies (impeller, misalignment, bearing damage, etc.). It then raises alerts if maintenance is required and can do so before these conditions even begin to affect field operations.

ValueLabs approach towards IoT software development

ValueLabs approach towards IoT software development

3. Insight, Actions, and Automation 

While IoT essentially describes physical objects embedded with sensors, processing ability, and software, the advantage of this technology comes from having a robust analytics framework as its base. Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI and ML), IoT can deliver the competitive advantage you’re looking for.

IDC predicts that connected device numbers could reach almost 75 billion globally by 2025, resulting in more data being generated over the next three years than in the past three decades. Devices connected to IoT platforms are generating most of the data now and will continue to do so in the future. Yet, at the same time, merely a fraction of this data is currently being analyzed, and an even smaller fraction of it can ultimately be deemed essential or mission-critical.

Furthermore, as additional devices are connected, sending and processing the generated data over the Cloud could make decision-making slower. Therefore enabling the data to be processed at the location itself becomes imperative. Edge computing goes hand-in-hand with other prominent technologies, especially hybrid clouds and 5G. Edge and IoT make more than just good partners; their marriage is likely to be one of interdependence that grows with time.

For an industrial plant, vibration data patterns can pinpoint which particular part of the equipment is causing issues. Such insights always help in making the right decisions and actions on time. These actions could be manual, such as initiating maintenance activities to address plant equipment issues, or automated, such as sending commands to the building HVAC system to decrease or increase air conditioning temperature.

In our experience, it’s essential to analyze real-time data streams, which is what we did to provide better insights to one of our partner companies. Be it condition or location of the shipment, or even previously unthought of facts such as the manhandling of goods during transit and, if so, where.

4. Go to market (Scaling) 

Currently, there are more than nine billion connected devices worldwide, including your smartphones and computers. This number is expected to triple over the next decade (McKinsey). Managing the ever-increasing quantum of data operations by reviewing and redesigning the current tech stack is essential. Because networked devices are always on, companies must develop the muscle to react to customer and system requests in real-time. Device management is therefore becoming an increasingly critical competency. Managing, registering, and securing your devices – including hardware maintenance, software upgradation, and process management – is imperative. This can ensure that all your devices are connected and relaying data, and can send alerts if any device fails.

Therefore while planning your IoT projects, prepare yourselves for the future, not just the present. Mark our words, in the game of IoT, you do not want to play catch-up.

For one of our clients in the shipping industry, we helped roll out an entire end-user solution after we had completed an initial proof-of-concept/ prototype. To achieve this, our team not only built a Cloud-based solution that was capable of registering thousands of tracking devices but also enabled end-to-end secure communication between these devices and the Cloud platform – implementing device management at scale. This cloud-based solution has been built to allow the daily reception and processing of millions of data points.

5. Staff culture shift

Any form of change weeds through the old to bring forth the new, be it old processes, mindsets, or even tech stacks. All this naturally raises some eyebrows, pushes people out of their comfort zone, and often comes with many backlashes. Therefore, it is essential to train and educate your workforce, so they don’t challenge the change but rather adapt and prosper. As Spencer Johnson said in his book, “Who moved my cheese?” – “The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese.”

Some processes are important to automate with the help of IoT, as they lead to time and effort saved. We have implemented equipment condition monitoring systems for clients. Their maintenance teams can now directly focus on what needs to be repaired instead of wasting countless hours finding the non-working parts of the machinery. But this would not have been possible if we hadn’t helped the maintenance teams understand these new systems.

A wholehearted overhaul of the Learning and Development function and the technical upgradation of the current tech stack can help you sustain momentum and build acceptance across the organization.
If all of this seems a little confusing, you can connect with our IoT consultants, who can ease your journey toward IoT adoption. To know more about exactly how we leveraged our IoT expertise to implement ground breaking changes for our partner organizations, write to us.

IoT Implementation

ValueLabs solutions and service offerings for IoT

Sources:

https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/technology-media-and-telecommunications/our-insights/preparing-it-systems-and-organizations-for-the-internet-of-things
IoT News – Connected Devices Will Generate 79 Zettabytes of data by 2025 – IoT Business News