Not Just a Buzzword: Enterprise IoT Solutions

Today, we return to our ongoing analytics conversation. If you are new to the discussion and want to get caught up, consider revisiting our posts on the three fundamental levels of analytics as well as the analytics implementation learning curve that the tech industry is currently experiencing.

For those who are caught up, however, we will now turn our attention towards another category within analytics proper: enterprise IoT solutions and devices.

IoT Deployments in the Real World

What many people fail to realize is that the “Internet of Things” is a new term for a relatively traditional approach.

Even before the first global computer network was established (over 45 years ago), companies have been devising and implementing “smart” communicating devices to increase their overall security and efficiency. For instance, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags were first introduced in 1973 and were predominantly used for manufacturing and shipment tracking. It wasn’t until 1995 that machine-to-machine (M2M) technology was architected to allow for basic communication over wired or wireless networks. M2M was often used in industrial settings where sensors would report environmental data back to a connected, central hub for analysis.

Today, we see remnants of this early technology in the devices and business models we use to run our companies. One such real-world example of this enterprise IoT evolution can be found within the oil and gas industry.

Enterprise IoT Solutions for the Oil and Gas Industry

In order to gain better geological understanding of the intended work site, energy companies will roll out several trucks of engineers to take core samples and strategically place geothermic sensors throughout the landscape. Before the implementation of IoT technology, however, these companies were forced to wait for the sensors to accumulate the necessary data before re-deploying their trucks and engineers to collect all of the planted devices and bring them back to their off-site server rooms for data offloading. Analytics would then be run against that data on their main computer cluster. Once the data had been evaluated, the engineers would once more load up the sensors into trucks and drive back to the field—sometimes several hours from their main hub—to replace or reposition the sensors in more strategic locations (according to the collected data).

Now, rinse, wash, and repeat.

With this older methodology, remember that each truck deployment costs a significant amount of money, and often sensor placements require several iterations for optimal positioning. These repetitive trips became exponentially expensive, making even the smallest error a potentially million-dollar deficit.

But all of that changed with the introduction of network device communication and enterprise IoT.

IoT-driven oil and gas companies still deploy engineers to facilitate core sample collections and sensor placements, but the sensors are an entirely different breed. No longer do engineers make countless trips back and forth from the field to the hub; they simply “bring the hub with them.” Packed snugly in the field trucks are ruggedized servers that collect the data from the new IoT sensors in real-time as they arrive at the field. Not only that, the servers are able to run preliminary diagnostics on the new data in order to determine whether or not the sensors need to be moved again while the engineers are still onsite. Rather than a multi-step process as before, this sensor-placement deployment is accomplished in dramatically fewer iterations—it is mostly done “in-truck” now instead of in-house.

These IoT enabled devices have saved oil and gas companies millions of dollars in OPEX. And remember that this is just one instance, in one business model, within one industry. The application potential is unending.

Let’s take a brief look at a few more scenarios.

Additional IoT Deployment Successes

  • Other industrial organizations (like oil rig facilities with high-risk processes) have begun to implement “smart” BLE badges that are not just for facilities access or identification—these IoT device-enabled badges track the GPS locations of employees in real-time. This is not a “Big Brother” power play; instead, these trackable badges provide precise location details to rescuers during work-related or natural disasters—so precise, in fact, that they inform the rescuers of the worker’s position within feet of their actual location (on or within the rig). No longer do rescuers have to rely on line of site, effectively increasing the chances of survival of both the employee and the rescuer.
  • Trucking companies have also integrated IoT sensor devices into their transportation logistics. To mitigate delays and roadside breakdowns due to unexpected equipment malfunctions, trucking companies use IoT sensors to monitor critical components of the rig’s engine to better prepare for maintenance expenditures and time requirements. Now companies can predict when maintenance is needed, and they can automatically build strategic pit stops into their drivers’ routes for the necessary repairs. Moreover, when a component begins to fail, the IoT sensor will report back to the mainframe, and the correct part can be awaiting the driver at a future stop along the route.
  • Law enforcement has introduced IoT analytics into their community security protocols. BLE beacons placed in each police car report back to headquarters the exact location of each officer during patrols. These sensors are geographically architected to alert headquarters when a police officer is patrolling in neighborhoods or regions that have a higher reported crime rate. If one officer needs to engage with a member of the public in a “higher crime rate area,” the IoT sensor will alert the correlated number of officers (in relation to the data-determined risk level) to provide appropriate backup, for the safety of the general public and for the safety of the officers involved.

IoT is a Buzzword, but the Results are Real

Enterprise IoT, according to our partners at HPE, “creates opportunities to gain faster insights by connecting the unconnected … [and] unlock[ing] efficiencies” you never knew you had.

Consider again the possibilities. Once-fraught systems across the globe have been effectively streamlined as redundancies are removed and real-time analytics become commonplace. Time, money, and lives are saved as a result.

We only listed a few examples of the power of enterprise IoT solutions and analytics. How might you leverage that same power in your processes?

Want to deploy IoT analytics, but don’t know where to begin?

Contact TSA to implement the right IoT technology and procedures for your corporate goals.

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