How IoT is influencing the engineering sector

Draven McConville, CEO of Klipboard, believes engineering is taking the lead with IoT.

Everything has become ‘smart’.  Seemingly mundane items, like kettles and ovens, are being equipped with sensors and microchips, connecting them to the Internet.  We, the consumer, can then instruct these appliances to turn on and off via our phones.

Gartner predicts that the number of wirelessly connected products will increase from approximately five billion today to 21 billion by 2020, and unsurprisingly, the Internet of Things (IoT) is likely drive most of this change, making employees and companies more productive and ultimately businesses more profitable.

There are many examples of industries that are benefiting from the Internet of Things (IoT), but a particularly interesting example is the engineering sector.

Aircraft innovation

The IoT is making a real impact in the airline industry, through ‘engine health monitoring’.

Companies like Rolls-Royce are able to monitor key aspects of their jet engines such as temperature, pressures and speeds, and they do this by using dozens of sensors.

This data is collated and sent in real-time to a team of technicians, who are able to analyse the information, ensuring defective parts can be replaced before they become an issue.  The costs savings are potentially huge for Rolls-Royce, not to mention the lives that could be saved as a result of well-maintained engines.

Similarly, Virgin Atlantic Airways has been at the forefront of new technology adoption and implementation.  Last year, Virgin installed beacons at London’s Heathrow airport.  These beacons were used to transmit important messages to electronic boarding passes loaded on iPhone’s Passbook app (based on the user’s location in Heathrow).

In addition, Virgin is due to launch a new 787 aircraft, with every single component able to provide important data.  Each flight will deliver approximately one terabyte of data per journey, which will include sharing crucial data mid-flight for example, as to whether anything needs servicing.

Changing the oil industry

The oil industry is also facing significant change.  The global supply of oil is far surpassing demand, causing prices to drop dramatically, along with revenues.  To address this, oil companies are leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) and enterprise mobility, reducing their production costs by becoming more operationally efficient.

This means connecting oil wells, rigs and exploration devices to the Internet, enabling them to gain valuable insights into how their assets are performing.

As such, 62 percent of oil and gas executives worldwide say they will invest more than they currently do in technology (according to a recent Microsoft and Accenture survey).

In addition to analysis, oil and gas companies will use the IoT, combined with mobility for analysis of data and surveying of land for potential extraction.  By integrating IoT focused technologies, it is predicted that a $50 billion a year oil and gas company could increase its profits by nearly $1 billion (according to a Cisco study).

Technology in agriculture

Not usually recognised as a particularly innovative industry, agricultural companies are looking to new technology to improve their business.  Measurement tools are now available, which capture key information on crop health, stored safely in the cloud, meaning the data is accessible anywhere, anytime from a mobile device.  Farmers are then able to monitor and analyse the development of their crops via charts and reports via a web browser, enabling changes to be made where necessary.

In the US, AT&T, through its dedicated IoT unit, has collaborated with the agriculture machinery manufacturer John Deere to install a wireless modem in every piece of machinery produced.  In addition, AT&T is working to help reduce grain spoilage and improve yields through sensor systems.

Whilst the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the face of many industries already, the potential across all enterprise is indisputable.  Importantly, the IoT isn’t about making people redundant and technology impotent, it’s about empowering your mobile workforce to work more efficiently, effectively and importantly, with increased motivation and satisfaction.  Using technology to work more intelligently will ultimately make you more money.