Most businesses have critical high-value assets they track and monitor, but many lack the information they need to manage and protect mobile and remote physical assets. The Internet of Things (IoT) addresses this challenge with technologies that enable tracking the flow of goods and assets through the supply chain. This article explores how IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity will make asset management and theft protection possible for industries.
Do driverless cars equal driverless fleets?
Recently, the media have been eagerly anticipating the dawn of the driverless car, using remote, real-time connectivity to automate a personal vehicle. The initial testing and proofs of concept look extremely promising, and it won’t be long before a commercial offering is available.
However, for moving land cargo, driverless automation is probably a lot further in the future than automation for personal and passenger transport. We believe that over the next three to five years we’ll see an increase in the complexity of data received from and sent to in-vehicle monitor devices (for example, real-time temperature updates for delicate climate-controlled cargo like flowers or shellfish, or expensive cargo like pharmaceuticals).
Potentially, this close monitoring could also lead to remote automation of in-vehicle temperature, adjusting dynamically to fluctuations throughout the journey. This logic can be applied to remote monitoring and control of vehicle and engine conditions too, with systems to monitor oil and tire pressure in real time, recalculating routes and rest stops automatically based on those conditions to ensure a safer, more efficient route.
Utilities: Knocking on everyone’s door
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and smart meters are hot topics in the utilities market and, given the resource and cost savings that automated metering can bring, it’s understandable. Connected business and home power and water use can be remotely monitored, eliminating errors from manual meter readings and the requirement to employ meter readers to carry out the readings on customers’ behalf.
This network of smart readers will, in the future, provide an excellent foundation for automatic utility customization, using the data gathered from the meters to adjust distribution based on the specific consumption habits of that home or business.
Even today, satellite networks are in use to backhaul the data from meter collection points back to headquarters. The simplicity of installation, coupled with the unequalled reliability and security of satellite technology, makes this a safe decision for such applications as well as other utility applications such as recloser and transformer monitoring, which provides revenue protection for the utility, power quality consistency as well as theft detection.
Exploring the digital oilfield
The oil and gas industry has long used M2M technology to monitor and control its production and distribution networks. Whether that’s regulating oil flow, artificial lift, anti-corrosion monitoring in gas pipelines, wellhead management or any other application in the field, the industry has long been aware and taken advantage of the operational efficiencies wireless remote monitoring can bring to its business.
I foresee that the oil and gas industry will continue to lead the way when it comes to IoT and M2M applications, moving more towards automation of select portions of its network and demanding richer, more insightful data from monitoring activities, especially given the current pricing conditions, which demand efficiencies and doing more with less resources.
As an example, a remote pipeline that was cost-prohibitive to service manually could be fitted with cameras, triggered by a pipeline integrity alarm to photograph a damaged section of pipeline, analyze the image based on predetermined criteria and automatically stop the flow, alerting a human maintenance crew to quickly repair the damage.
Tip of the iceberg in business transformation
These examples of driverless fleets, advanced metering infrastructure and oil and gas network monitoring have one thing in common – they depend on reliable communications technology to become a reality. Communications technology in use today is constantly evolving to meet new customer needs and requirements.
The satellite industry is already providing reliable easy-to-implement connectivity for remote monitoring and automation challenges and is already considering these future scenarios. In fact, several companies, including Inmarsat, are already at work designing the next generation of reliable, global communications networks built to meet this coming demand.
What I’ve described is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re just beginning to understand how much the IoT and the communications technologies that underpin it will transform the way we do business worldwide. Organizations will have to change on a massive scale to cope with the amount and complexity of data generated and be efficient and agile enough to take advantage of the insight that connectivity affords. Is your business ready to rise to the IoT challenge?
SandHill.com is proud to be a media sponsor at the upcoming IoT Evolution Expo, January 25-28, 2016 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Use the discount code “SANDHILL” when you register, and receive a 20 percent discount. Chuck Moseley will speak on a panel at the event, alongside telecommunications colleagues, discussing how companies rely on remote monitoring and management of fleet assets to deliver operational efficiencies through the supply chain. The conference draws an international audience of IoT software companies, large enterprises, SMBs, network service providers, platform providers and device manufacturers.
Chuck Moseley is director, Internet of Everything, at Inmarsat. He joined Inmarsat in 2003 with more than 18 years’ experience in communications. He is responsible for Inmarsat’s portfolio of M2M products and services worldwide. Prior to this role, he managed all North American SCADA communications customers and projects for Stratos (now part of Inmarsat). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.