8 real-world examples of IoT in business
(Image: Airbus)

The Internet of Things (IoT) can seem like it’s something for the far future, but many organisations are already implementing the technology today and seeing early benefits. We look at some of the most inspiring and innovative IoT case studies to date.

GMT

GMT is piloting its mobile order management app (which is built on Progress’ OpenEdge application development platform) with customers at the moment. Instead of driving fixed routes and picking up bins that were only half full, routes are now dynamically designed by the software based on historical data and actual data streams such as weather conditions, traffic congestion and truck locations. By predicting the filling grades of the bins, they can now be scheduled for collection when they are at least 80 percent full.   The app draws real-time data streams from GPS, smart devices and RFID tags.

One of its customers, who collects household waste in 20 Dutch municipalities, has saved 23 percent in costs using the app.

SABIC

SABIC, the leader in the petrochemical industry, is putting Ovinto’s satellite monitoring and tracking technology into all its rail tank cars in Europe.

Ovinto Sat communicates details about cargo being transported and its condition, including pressure and temperature, whether it is in the correct location, or has been impacted due to a crash or derailment.

At the heart of Ovinto Sat is Globalstar’s low power, tiny STX3 chipset. Since it is battery powered, Ovinto Sat enables customers to monitor hazardous materials in unpowered environments such as rail cars and tank containers.

Ovinto Sat collates data from various sensors and GPS in each of SABIC’s rail tank cars and sends it securely by satellite to the customer headquarters at regular user-defined intervals.

New York Air Brake

By listening to the remote sensors (on average 10-12) installed on each freight train, New York Air Brake, a manufacturer of air brake and train control systems, can analyse train performance and fuel efficiency, while ensuring that trains are running to time.

Insights from this data allow New York Air Brake to make informed and critically, safe decisions. This might range from warning a driver to back off the throttle five percent to increase fuel efficiency or alerting an engineer that gravitational forces threaten to create a dangerous situation a few miles down the track.

Using Splunk to analyse sensor data from thousands of trains has allowed New York Air Brake to save the US rail industry $1bn of fuel costs, equating to 250 million acres of forestry in CO2 emissions.

Airbus

A pioneering ‘Factory of the Future’ project is taking shape at Airbus in Europe and provides a stunning example of how the Internet of Things could transform the industrial world. Aircraft assembly technicians are being equipped with smart tools and wearable technology in the form of virtual-reality (VR) glasses, all of which are web connected. The aim is to improve simplicity, quality, productivity and traceability across tasks including drilling, measuring, tightening, clamping and data logging.

National Instruments (NI) has been collaborating closely with Airbus on the development of a common software and hardware platform that allows all of these disparate machines and devices to be controlled and coordinated in a way that was previously too complicated to make possible.

For example, with image acquisition and processing through intelligent glasses, data is transferred to a smart clamping tool that can understand which task the operator wants to perform and can use this information to adjust its environment and automatically determine the required torque. The device can store the results of its task in a central database to verify that the joint was assembled correctly.

Harbrick

Harbrick, a maker of a universal operating system for Internet-Connected driverless car software systems, has implemented a solution from Flexera Software to automate software licensing and entitlement management capabilities.

This allows Harbrick to monetise its software, Polysync – generate revenue, protect its intellectual property and manage the software licensing lifecycle to prevent revenue leak. The company is also able to ensure security to customers.

General Alert

General Alert (GA), a pioneer in the use of sensors and monitoring technology on farms, is working with Internet of Things (IoT) specialist 1248 to improve the welfare of pigs, poultry and other livestock and provide early warning of transmitted diseases.

GA is using 1248’s new Geras IoT database and publishing solution to collect data from multiple sensors including temperature, drinking water flow and animal feed rate, humidity, CO2 concentration, ammonia and pH. GA even uses in-vivo RFID and temperature tags planted in pigs, effectively turning a pig into a ‘thing’ on the Internet of Things.

TTP

With demand for cellular data continuing to rise and outdoor small cells seen as an essential element in the long-term delivery of high-capacity urban networks, TTP has come up with a new small cell designed specifically for deployment on lamp The use of lamp posts enables the acquisition of many thousands of suitable sites through negotiation with a single city authority. TTP’s new eNodeB is simply fitted into a lamp post’s standard photocell socket, providing the quickest possible installation without any modification to the lighting column or its power supply. And because the compact design meets de minimis planning requirements, it also simplifies planning consents.

Kukua

Climate change is increasing the unpredictability of weather patterns. This issue is magnified within Sub-Saharan Africa where many smallholders rely upon the rainfall to provide the water for crops millions of people are dependent on in order to survive. An issue compounded when you consider Sub-Saharan Africa’s rural areas have a lack of weather monitoring infrastructure due to the associated costs.

Kukua has created connected weather stations to create constantly updating weather maps of Sub-Saharan Africa, to ensure the frustrations of uncovered areas are a thing of the past, and feed this information back to the farmers themselves. Kukua’s innovation collects information on the local weather, including wind speed, wind direction, solar radiation, rainfall, temperature and humidity. Comparing the farming techniques with the weather conditions allows the farmers to find the best techniques for the conditions. This in time can enable accurate and useful yield.

The World Meteorological Organisation-standardised sensors inside a Kukua weather station are attached to a small solar panel, which is then attached to a battery, two microcontrollers, modem, and an Eseye AnyNet SIM card. Using Eseye’s connectivity, the collected data is sent off at regular intervals to be analysed and interpreted after which it is presented and used to inform and advise farmers using precise weather predictions.