Your small to mid-sized company’s assets could be jeopardized if they aren’t monitored properly. They might be at risk from theft, damage while in transit, or harm when they are in storage.
With sensor-based IoT apps, you can keep an eye on your property and assets from virtually anywhere, and at any time. If there’s something going wrong, you can find out immediately, rather than having to deal with it after all the damage is done. You become proactive rather than reactive when it comes to your equipment, your goods, and your entire supply chain.
Wireless sensors placed in equipment, assets, goods, or shipping containers transmit their monitoring data through a wireless router or gateway, and that information is analyzed and made available through an online portal accessible from nearly any web-enabled device.
IoT provides a level of control that keeps you and your people fully in charge of your business. Here are seven examples of the ways IoT apps can be applied to operations spanning a number of industries, and provide benefits for you.
1. Connected cameras. Tying security and video together through a smart video analytics system makes a business safer and better managed. An artificial intelligence-based smart system can monitor video feeds constantly – far better than humans can – and deliver faster alerts and more thorough information about internal and external operations.
For monitoring purposes, this type of system proactively detects perimeter intrusions, secures critical infrastructure equipment, and identifies and enables fast responses to threats. It can also improve traffic flow and parking efficiency, count people, spot queueing problems in retail environments, and more.
2. Inventory control and asset management. High-value assets represent a heavy investment for a small to mid-sized business, and they are worth protecting from theft, loss, damage, and maintenance issues.
An IoT app can increase visibility, improve utilization, boost efficiency, and reduce operational expenses for assets such as vehicles, trailers, and heavy equipment. For example, an app can proactively address theft and unauthorized use by providing alerts when a particular asset crosses a predefined geo-boundary, such as the equipment yard. A company can know the current location of equipment, and if something does get lost or stolen, it can be quickly tracked and recovered.
The results? Greater productivity and efficiency, reduced delays in projects, greater equipment utilization, and higher profitability. Those benefits are magnified when the IoT app is used to enhance equipment maintenance. By monitoring the performance of equipment, it is easier to spot deteriorating performance and address it immediately, rather than wait for a scheduled maintenance date.
3. Manage shipping containers. This IoT app enables end-to-end visibility of deliveries, which is helpful in any transport scenario, but especially in long-distance shipping. Connected tracking devices feed data into management platforms to provide critical information at the container, pallet, and even package level.
Sensors provide location data, so a business can know at any time where an inbound or outbound shipment is and better assess its arrival date. If the goods in the shipment warrant it, a business can also deploy sensors to provide environmental information, such as temperatures within the container and movement.
By taking advantage of increased visibility into each stage of the journey, a company can work with its supply chain partners to improve and refine the process to gain a competitive advantage.
4. Storage temperatures and climate. IoT apps can also monitor storage facilities to help businesses with temperature control and ensure that perishables are monitored, providing alerts when needed and helping maintain compliance with local regulations.
In restaurant and food service operations, for instance, food quality and freshness is critical. Food must be kept at proper, constant temperatures to maintain quality. These businesses invest a lot of employee time checking and recording temperatures throughout the workday, but can be left vulnerable at night. A failed refrigeration unit overnight can wreak a lot of havoc at the start of a new business day.
IoT app solutions for refrigeration units can convey information to any smartphone, PC, tablet, or laptop, and provide temperature data at regular intervals, around the clock. That frees employees from routine temperature checking and ensures safe operation at night.
5. Supply-chain data monitoring. An IoT app can provide insight into an organization’s supply chain through the analysis of data about the condition of goods moving through the chain. This is particularly important when it comes to perishable goods. Businesses can verify the quantity and quality of deliveries.
The data offers details regarding specific shipments, enables risk assessments, and provides vision into specific aspects of the supply chain process. Sensor-equipped connected devices within a shipment provide data about location, temperature, movement, environmental factors, and other relevant factors that enhance proactive management of cargo and help keep a company in line with regulations.
6. Smart energy use. Connected lighting systems and heating and air conditioning systems offer the opportunity to lower costs, increase employee comfort, and enhance security.
IoT-managed lighting on the building interior becomes “aware” of the presence of people, and can adjust lighting based on need, as well as automatically adapt when there is ample external light. Outside, an IoT app can help businesses monitor their premises and surrounding area and even enable location-based services such as smart parking. These systems can be controlled from mobile phones or other devices to help achieve sustainability goals and give significant return on investment.
When it comes to building comfort, IoT expands businesses’ ability to remotely manage their environments across premises large and small. Heating and cooling systems can be centrally monitored for greater efficiency, and like lighting can adjust automatically when there is no one in the building or only occupants in certain areas.
7. Smart locks. Using an IoT app smart lock provides a greater level of convenience, management, and security for small to mid-sized businesses. Essentially, they can manage building access from any device.
Employees sometimes lose keys, which is more than just an inconvenience. It can be a sizable potential security risk. With smart locks, managers and employees can control access more readily. Through the use of unique access codes, for instance, a company can closely track and manage who enters and leaves a building. This can be especially effective when paired with smart cameras and alarms.
This is just a sampling of the types of IoT apps available to improve your business operation. Bottom line: if it is worth keeping track of, monitoring, or managing, doing it with an IoT app will likely pay off for your small to mid-sized business.