The Internet of Things can conjure up images of futuristic connected homes and smart cities that seem remote and impractical.
Speaking at LiveWorx 15, PTC’s Rob Gremley made a strong case the IoT isn’t our future, but our present. As executive vice president overseeing PTC’s IoT business, Gremley has visibility into manufacturers who are already implementing IoT technology.
To make his case, he presented a portfolio of companies, each with diverse business models IoT initiatives.
All Traffic Solutions delivers connected traffic displays—those roadside signs telling you about traffic conditions. All Traffic Solutions creates the signs, and connects them, providing city managers the ability to monitor, control and update geographically dispersed displays, without the need for on-site proximity. Through a connected system, signs can update dynamically to reflect rapidly changing road and weather conditions. IoT enabled traffic signs don’t just help relay information to drivers, they actively serve to alleviate adverse traffic conditions through advisory information such as detour recommendations.
Airbus is one of the leading global manufacturers of aircraft. These precision vehicles are defined by complex systems of high-tech instruments and exotic materials. Mistakes made in assembly can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. To reduce these costs, Airbus is unveiling a line of smart tools. Used by highly trained assembly plant technicians, these tools can be tracked, including their location, and how they are being used—allowing errors to be detected earlier, and even prevented.
Smoove is a dominant European player in the highly competitive market of bicycle sharing. Smoove offers a connected solution, with fleets networked to a base station, and then to the cloud. Smoove creates competitive advantage through flexibility. Serving customers at the city level means adapting to local standards and requirements—such as rail passes and infrastructure conditions. Using the IoT enabled system, city managers can deploy bikes and base stations, and customize them to their commuter requirements.
StreetScooter was tasked by DHL with adapting their commercial smart vehicles to produce a highly efficient delivery fleet optimized for urban traffic. A true bridging of digital and physical products, each vehicle is densely packed with sensors, chips and connectivity. DHL is leveraging the capabilities of their SmartScooters to optimize fleet management, provide remote service and predictive maintenance, and measuring ongoing performance to compare against DHL’s requirements.
General Electric has been innovating with the IoT across many products. For their electrical generators, GE is using IoT technology to improve uptime, predict failures, and lower customers cost of usage. GE currently has over five thousand generators connected to the cloud, with 250 types of data being collected every 30 seconds.
OnFarm understands that with increasing world populations, and an annual six percent increase of the cost of water, farmers are forced to provide more with less. OnFarm’s response is a smart agriculture revolution. Sensors collect data about soil conditions, weather, fertilizer, GIS conditions. With IoT apps, OnFarm customers are advised about how and when to water crops. The result is that resources can be conserved, money can be saved, and crop yields can be maximized.
Welch Allyn is at the forefront of the medical device industry, one of the fastest growing markets in terms of IoT adoption. Welch Allyn has developed the Partners in Care program, which offers remote diagnostics of medical instruments. The IoT-enabled service allows Welch Allyn tech support teams to directly connect to instruments and serve customers.
Stryker is using connectivity to prevent prevent power outages in medical devices, including critical instruments used in surgeries. Connected products are monitored for power usage and performance, ensuring that cordless instruments don’t fail when they are needed most.
Elekta develops systems for administering cancer treatments, where uptime is key. Product failure can result in 40 cancer patients being sent home without their scheduled therapy. Elekta has transformed their product lines, providing performance monitoring and enabling “over-the shoulder” remote support to keep products online. Elekta is even retrofitting older devices with connectivity. These innovations are reducing service costs, but more importantly, minimizing disruptions to patient radiation therapies.
Yankee Candle is well known for their enormous range of scented candles, but has been growing a new business in the retail space: sensory branding is a powerful way for retailers to brand themselves and create an engaging customer experience. Scent systems—a division of Yankee Candle—uses a connected network of smart scent dispensers. These products are monitored for usage, and with consumables management, retailers can rely on providing an uninterrupted sensory experience.
Cornelius is behind the beverage dispensers in many of the most well recognized fast-food restaurants and convenience stores. Cornelius has changed the beverage game, replacing the old push-button system with a fully digital experience. Displays are fully customizable around available drinks. Via connectivity, Cornelius adds new value through collecting usage analytics, predictive consumables management, and the ability to drive new revenue through display ads at the point of service.
Gremley discussion only scratched the surface of these use cases, but it was an effective demonstration of how the IoT is already changing how work, play, travel and live—even if it’s in ways we don’t immediately observe or appreciate.
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