In­ter­net of Things

THIS WAS WRIT­TEN FOR THE AUS­TRALIAN MAR­KET BUT IS ALSO REL­E­VANT TO THIS MAR­KET. BY: PETE RD ARLEY.

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - CONTENTS -

Peter Dar­ley is the newly ap­pointed Aus­tralian Gen­eral Man­ager of global job man­age­ment soft­ware com­pany simPRO. He was pre­vi­ously Na­tional Sales Man­ager, Re­pair and Dig­i­tal Ser­vices with Schindler Lifts where he over­saw a num­ber of com­plex dig­i­tal im­ple­men­ta­tion projects as well as de­vel­op­ing new prod­uct de­vel­op­ment sales and mar­ket­ing for Schindler’s In­ter­net of Things (IoT) strat­egy.

TEN YEARS AGO most peo­ple op­er­at­ing in Aus­tralia’s trade ser­vices in­dus­try were still scrib­bling quotes, in­voices and their daily sched­ule on the back of any scrap of pa­per they could find. It was chaotic, in­ef­fi­cient and costly.

Move for­ward a decade and many, if not the ma­jor­ity, of these busi­nesses are now util­is­ing com­plex cloud-based tech­nolo­gies to man­age their busi­nesses, al­low­ing them to get on with the job they are paid to do. From ac­count­ing to job man­age­ment, MR and quot­ing, most ad­min­is­tra­tive jobs can now be done eas­ily and sim­ply.

While many are still bed­ding down this first wave of change, a new wave is about to hit. The sec­ond phase of the trade ser­vices dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion, the In­ter­net of Things (IoT) age, could have an even more pro­found im­pact on the way the en­tire in­dus­try op­er­ates. For those busi­nesses that em­brace the op­por­tu­nity it will be a pathway to growth and pros­per­ity.

Those that re­sist will be very quickly left be­hind. In its sim­plest form, IoT refers to the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween ma­chines which are con­nected to the in­ter­net. When the dig­i­tal age first took off, tech­nol­ogy was still de­pen­dent on phys­i­cal in­put; ma­chines still needed a hu­man be­ing at the helm. To­day, IoT rep­re­sents the next stage of dig­i­tal evo­lu­tion. Hu­manto-ma­chine in­ter­ac­tion has been stream­lined with an on­line net­work that pro­cesses data and al­lows sen­sors or de­vices with an in­ter­net con­nec­tion to speak to each other and per­form au­to­mated func­tions.

One of the big­gest bar­ri­ers pre­vent­ing some trade ser­vice com­pa­nies from get­ting on board is a lin­ger­ing con­fu­sion about what IoT means for their busi­ness.

In the trade ser­vice in­dus­try, IoT can be seen when a tech­ni­cian syn­chro­nises their job cal­en­dars to track ap­point­ments, pri­ori­tise projects and plan best routes. An ex­am­ple of this is where simPRO as­sisted Swis­s­port and Ther­ma­cell in im­prov­ing its fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment ca­pa­bil­ity at Eng­land’s Lu­ton Air­port through in­stal­la­tion of simPRO’s IoT hard­ware and soft­ware so­lu­tions. With simPRO IoT, the air­port es­tab­lished sen­sors that mon­i­tored the per­for­mance of its lounge air con­di­tion­ers re­motely in near real time, and au­to­mat­i­cally re­ceived alerts in re­sponse to anom­alies. The ap­pli­ca­tions are var­i­ous and can be ap­plied to many dif­fer­ent sec­tors. For ex­am­ple, IoT can as­sist fire safety tech­ni­cians through sen­sors in a fire de­tec­tion or sprinkler sys­tem, which then mon­i­tors and re­ports back the cur­rent state of the equip­ment they are tasked to keep an eye on. In the se­cu­rity sec­tor, IoT al­lows real-time view­ing of se­cu­rity cam­eras from de­vices con­nected to the in­ter­net, al­low­ing clients to view live footage of their home or busi­ness any­where, at any time and on dif­fer­ent de­vices.

Of course, there will al­ways be those who think IoT is noth­ing more than a gim­mick, and an un­nec­es­sary dis­rup­tion in tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment that will only make life and busi­ness more dif­fi­cult. There may be busi­ness own­ers out there who be­lieve that IoT is an ex­trav­a­gant and un­jus­ti­fi­able ex­pense, and that IoT sys­tems will likely die down to serve a niche mar­ket.

Those that ac­cept the dis­rup­tion will be those who pros­per from the adop­tion.

A re­cent re­port com­mis­sioned by the Aus­tralian Com­puter So­ci­ety (ACS) re­vealed that there is much to gain from IoT, as it cur­rently presents a $30 bil­lion op­por­tu­nity for Aus­tralia’s tech sec­tor by 2023, with IoT hard­ware, soft­ware, so­lu­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems pre­sent­ing un­prece­dented growth rate prospects.

At this point, be­ing left be­hind by not em­brac­ing IoT is not a risk; it’s a cer­tainty. But why risk it?

IoT has the po­ten­tial to stream­line busi­ness pro­cesses, in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity and pro­duce log­i­cal and data-driven so­lu­tions that con­sis­tently help to achieve goals. Trade busi­nesses that adopt IoT are ef­fec­tively fu­ture proof­ing their op­er­a­tions with strong com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage like real-time pro­duc­tiv­ity and en­ergy mon­i­tor­ing of ma­chin­ery, as well as track­ing of key main­te­nance in­di­ca­tors to pre­dict and pre­vent fail­ure pro­vide real-time in­ven­tory of in­puts. It also al­lows busi­nesses to com­mu­ni­cate with sup­ply chain and fac­tory op­er­a­tions and mon­i­tor real-time track­ing of out­puts, al­low­ing for qual­ity as­sur­ance to be per­formed in real time as well as sta­tus and lo­ca­tion track­ing of goods.

At simPRO we have seen how IoT sys­tems can help trade busi­nesses across the spec­trum, from am­bi­tious niche star­tups to glob­alised in­dus­trial com­pa­nies. It fa­cil­i­tates ma­chine learn­ing and au­to­ma­tion that can help those small busi­nesses ex­plore new growth op­por­tu­ni­ties, and larger busi­nesses to stay com­pet­i­tive in the mar­ket for longer.

No mat­ter their size, trade ser­vice busi­nesses are able to use IoT sys­tems to re­spond more quickly to com­pe­ti­tion and cus­tomer’s de­mands and volatile mar­ket con­di­tions. It can pro­vide real-time in­sights into trends, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to al­ter pro­duc­tion ac­tiv­ity, fine-tune strate­gies or find al­ter­na­tives that saves a busi­ness cost and time. Es­sen­tially, ma­chines that are con­nected and able to share data al­low busi­ness own­ers the lux­ury of spend­ing less time won­der­ing and more time tak­ing ac­tion.

The truth is that IoT is al­ready mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pres­sion on Aus­tralia’s econ­omy.

Man­u­fac­tur­ing, for ex­am­ple, is ex­pected to achieve po­ten­tial ben­e­fits of $50 to $88 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to an IoT re­port pro­duced by ACS.

The time is now for busi­nesses to con­sider the fol­low­ing prepa­ra­tions for a world where IoT makes sig­nif­i­cant in­dus­try con­tri­bu­tions.

IoT sys­tems are cer­tain to change the way ser­vice schedul­ing is com­pleted and there­fore we all must be pre­pared for new styles of ser­vice agree­ments, schedul­ing and task re­lated ac­tiv­ity:

PLAN

IoT sys­tems are rapidly chang­ing how we do things, but a busi­ness still needs to have a clear direc­tion. Iden­tify where your busi­ness uses the most re­sources or re­quires the most time and ef­fort. Pin­point op­por­tu­ni­ties where a process can be stream­lined and con­sider whether these ar­eas could be im­proved by au­to­mated sys­tems and an IoT net­work.

SE­CU­RITY

Cy­ber se­cu­rity is one bar­rier keep­ing many busi­nesses away from con­nect­ing to IoT.

While there is cer­tainly an ever-present risk to on­line data, a grow­ing IoT pres­ence means a greater ac­knowl­edge­ment of on­line safety. Tech­ni­cians are con­stantly de­vel­op­ing new ways of pro­tect­ing data and the in­tegrity of IoT sys­tem, so be sure to keep up to date with the lat­est se­cu­rity de­vel­op­ments.

IN­VEST IN THE IN­FRA­STRUC­TURE

It’s no use com­mit­ting to a new age of in­dus­try when the of­fice is filled with lock-and-key fil­ing cabinets. IoT sys­tems re­quire an ef­fi­cient flow of data and there­fore re­quire suit­able hard­ware, in­clud­ing in­ter­net ports, hard drives, strong con­nec­tion speeds and mod­ern in­ter­faces. The good news is that simPRO IoT can be retro­fit­ted to ex­ist­ing sys­tems with lit­tle ef­fort and no ex­tra cost.

PETER DAR­LEY

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