While the internet of things (IoT) is powerful and versatile technology, it doesn’t solve problems all by itself. IoT technology just gives you more ways to feed data to computers, which enables you to use computing power to solve more problems.
And, to solve problems with IoT, you need IoT solutions.
What is an IoT Solution?
IoT solutions use IoT technology to solve specific problems. IoT devices collect data and transmit that data to a data processing unit where the data gets utilized. IoT solutions mold these data collection, transmission, and processing capabilities into products and services that solve business and consumer problems.
Essentially, an IoT solution is a subset of the overarching idea of IoT. The term “internet of things” simply refers to the billions of sensors and internet connected devices that collect and transmit data for processing. An IoT solution is a very specific way of using these internet connected devices to solve problems and achieve outcomes.
Most IoT solutions are tailored to meet the demands of a certain industry or type of consumer.
Where IoT is Used
Most of the areas where IoT is used are applications where it’s useful to have devices monitor and control mechanical or electrical systems (industrial machinery, home lighting and heating, traffic management, and others), based on real-world data. IoT data collection and device control is a major cornerstone in most automation. It’s true that IoT solutions can be developed to fit nearly any purpose. But there are sectors where IoT is particularly well suited to solving problems. IoT solutions are already being used in these sectors:
- Building and Home AutomationLighting, cooling, security systems, and other building functions can be automated with IoT.
- Industrial Production Automation and OptimizationIoT systems reduce manual labor requirements and increase efficiency in industrial production processes.
- Public Utilities ManagementEntire cities can be connected through IoT systems to reduce waste and improve access to public utilities.
- Information SystemsDigital communication hardware and software can be managed and optimized with network data gathered by embedded IoT devices. Transportation and traffic control
IoT networks can create broader, more coordinated traffic management systems and optimize safety equipment such as street lights. IoT solutions aren’t limited to these sectors. IoT solutions can deliver valuable improvements in almost any field. And IoT is completely changing some industries.
How IoT is Transforming Industries
In some contexts, IoT solutions can help maximize efficiency or remove inconveniences. However, IoT solutions can completely transform certain industries by solving problems and removing bottlenecks that have hampered those industries for decades.
Then, IoT has enabled other industries to rise from being niche industries that serve only a tiny sliver of a certain population or business sector to being completely developed industries that support other industries and serve client bases at all economic levels.
IoT Industrial Solutions
Industrial production was one of the first sectors to embrace IoT solutions. The most common IoT industrial solutions are deployed in manufacturing.
IoT industrial solutions enable production machinery to be more autonomous by detecting information that once had to be manually fed to the machine by a human operator. IoT industrial solutions also enable machines to perform tasks that once required human attention, like quality control and maintenance scheduling.
Additionally, industrial IoT devices also enable humans to more safely interact with machinery by adding things like mechanical pressure sensors to stop machines from causing injuries. This reduces labor and injury costs without prompting a labor force reduction.
However, IoT industrial solutions also improve efficiency and safety in other production facilities like power plants. IoT industrial solutions can detect changes in operating parameters like temperature, turbine speed, and output, then make automatic adjustments. This maximizes efficiency and reduces manual labor costs, since the IoT sensors enable technicians to monitor equipment remotely.
Of course, IoT industrial solutions can be deployed in other industrial environments to solve even more problems. But the bottom line is that IoT industrial solutions enable businesses to produce more, at a lower cost, and with less risk to employees.
IoT Business Solutions
Broadly, IoT business solutions fall into one of two categories:
- Physical object tracking
On the physical side, businesses are using IoT business solutions to manage logistics and inventory. RFID tags track exactly how many of an item is in each warehouse and logistics software can automatically pull inventory from the nearest warehouse when orders are placed.
Then items can be automatically assigned to invoices and tracked as they ship. And each stage of the process can be communicated to the relevant stakeholders. IoT business solutions are also used to track key events for contract fulfillment.
On the administrative side, IoT business solutions can be used to automatically track employee hours with RFID keycards or keyfobs. Businesses can also use smart wearables to incentivize their workforce to be active and healthy, and customize employee health plans.
IoT business solutions are also used to automate and streamline data collection and entry. This helps eliminate data entry errors and gives businesses a more complete view of their operations, since easier data collection means more data gets collected.
So IoT business solutions are not only helping businesses operate on a physical level, IoT solutions also reduce administrative workload and enhance business analytics.
IoT Automation Solutions
IoT automation solutions help businesses (and individuals) automate common tasks and resource management.
The most well-known IoT automation solutions handle things like facility management—temperature, security systems, lighting, and other facility functions. However, IoT solutions can also be used to automate things like reordering printer ink and paper.
Additionally, IoT automation solutions have been deployed to improve compliance practices. IoT sensors detect refrigeration temperatures for FDA food storage compliance, alert maintenance teams when parts have worn beyond required operating specifications, and manage HVAC systems for keeping carcinogen levels within regulatory limits.
IoT automations solutions even improve customer facing systems. IoT systems enable automated product delivery and service fulfillment. And certain customer service activities can be automated with the help of IoT systems. All of this reduces workload on customer service teams and makes 24-hour operation possible.
Ultimately, IoT automation solutions are doing more than just using machines to produce things. IoT automation also enables businesses to automate even mundane tasks that cause invisible inefficiencies.
With the right IoT solutions, businesses can apply computing power to improve almost every aspect of running a business in any industry.
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