Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of obsolete industrial parts supplier EU Automation, explains how the IoT is impacting consumer-facing businesses and what manufacturers can learn from that.
IHS Markit predicts that there will be around 75.4 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices in the world by 2025. In a few years it will be normal to see internet connected devices appear in most industrial and consumer sectors.
IoT devices are everywhere. Some are useful, such as fitness trackers that can show your heart rate, steps and food intake. Some are not so useful, such as the Quirky Egg Minder, that tracks the amount of eggs in your fridge and their expiration dates. If chosen carefully, IoT devices can help a wide range of industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare and city planning.
If you scroll through your social media feed, you can already see how advertisers use technology to get your attention. AI algorithms detect patterns in what you browse online and then show you relevant ads.
As we begin to use more IoT devices, advertisers will have more opportunities to engage with consumers. For example, a fitness tracker detects that you enter a supermarket for a post-run snack — an advertiser can immediately send you a voucher for that shop.
Manufacturers can use similar technology to monitor machine condition and optimise productivity in industrial facilities. AI can detect any changes in machine condition and alert engineers to any problems that may cause downtime.
Exceptional customer service is the key to success in hospitality. Hotel owners can personalise a customer’s stay and reduce energy consumption by installing smart sensors. Sensors can detect light and temperature and remember the guest’s preferences, making sure that the room maintains the changes they make. Sensors can also measure natural daylight and the temperature in the room and adjust artificial light and temperature accordingly.
Manufacturers should consider how sensors can improve the facility as well as production. They can use data collected from sensors to improve machine efficiency and adjust electric and water usage in the facility to improve energy efficiency and reduce utility bills.
As more people choose to shop online, retailers should consider how they can use technology to make in-store shopping simpler. According to the Zebra 2017 retail vision study, 70 per cent of retailers across the world are ready to adopt IoT technology to improve customer experience in their stores.
Smart sensors can make the shopping experience easier for consumers. With the technology, retailers can track customers’ footpaths through the store and reposition rails to optimise the experience. 87 per cent of retailers also plan to use mobile point of sale (MPOS) systems in the future to let customers pay for items anywhere in the shop with a staff member’s device.
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) can adopt similar IoT technology to optimise productivity and ensure that consumers are given the best product. They can use this technology to manage inventory, improve quality control and track important paperwork to improve product quality and delivery times.
Up and running
Using technology in these applications can keep customers happy. However, as the technology is so close to the consumer, it always needs to be running efficiently to avoid inconvenience.
Both consumer-facing and industrial businesses should take steps to prevent downtime, as breakdowns can be costly. They should implement a predictive maintenance programme that can monitor machine condition and anticipate machine breakdowns. Before the breakdown occurs, engineers can contact parts suppliers, such as EU Automation and order any obsolete, new or reconditioned parts to return their system to full health.
We rely on smart technology to give us the right information at the right time, whether it is a smartwatch that tracks our fitness or a smart egg tray that monitors expiration dates. Commercial businesses should invest in IoT technology to get the information they need to put their customers’ needs first and remain competitive in this digital age.