The Internet of Things (IoT) is now pretty much mainstream in manufacturing plants across the UK. The application, in many of these cases, is maintenance. The availability of much smaller, powerful sensors along with ever-lasting connectivity, means that data can be obtained from a range of factory equipment and then analysed to identify performance patterns and trends.
This capability is the foundation for the implementation of a truly predictive maintenance operation, reducing downtime and cost. This digital transformation isn’t just restricted to manufacturing environments. IoT is starting to play a big part in an array of other vertical sectors such as agriculture and utilities which often have more distributed assets. For example, in smart farming, IoT infrastructure is being used in several imaginative ways, the sensors act as a way of monitoring weather conditions, soil quality and crop growth and even grazing livestock.
It is also being used as a means of overseeing the condition of agricultural equipment such as tractors, which frequently operate in harsh weather conditions, and are often not maintained as well as they should be. These vehicles can now be fitted with intelligent, lubrication-free polymer bearings, which can detect wear in high load applications thus giving a warning in advance for potential failures. By doing this, maintenance can then be planned in good time, around key periods, such as harvest.
In the water sector, IoT is also being used to allow for better visibility of distribution assets out in the field. Sensors can be installed at various parts of the water network, providing an insight into the performance and infrastructure. This technology is now being applied at the consumer level, with IoT being a key enabler in the roll-out of smart meters.
These are just some examples of how IoT is finding its way into new markets, and this is only likely to increase over time. With the arrival of the next generation of communication technologies such as 5G, it will soon be possible to transmit higher levels of data thus resulting in a new wave of IoT-enabled business cases that haven’t yet been possible.
We are currently undergoing a rapid period of digital transformation with connectivity across multiple sectors. So, it is time to welcome the Internet of Everything.