Santa’s Little Helper: The Internet of Things

The seasonal operation of getting presents to all good little boys and girls is quite a monumental task for Santa Claus, especially with the world as it is today. In the past, there were plenty of elves, a lot fewer children, and most believers were in the same geographical areas.

But now things are different. There are over seven billion people on the planet, and children of all backgrounds across the globe expect a visit from jolly old St. Nick. The workshop must be as efficient as possible to get a wide range of presents to these children within a short period of time and without any glitches.

At first, it seems like magic is the only explanation for how Santa has been excelling at his job all these years. But if you look really closely, it’s clear that a lot of his success can be attributed to his avid adoption of technology.

This year, Santa implemented a smart, connected product strategy to make it possible for him to collect and exchange real-time data with his employees, customers, and resources and be more efficient than ever before.

Smart, connected products improve workshop operations for Santa

Predictive maintenance on workshop machines: If certain equipment fails, Santa’s workshop can come to a complete stand-still. In the old days, the elves would have to carry out preventative maintenance on production equipment themselves or fixed present-wrapping and assembly machines as they broke, leading to down-time and delayed production schedules.

By connecting production equipment to the Internet, Santa and the elves are able to collect information being transmitted from each machine, which allows them to know ahead of time if  parts need replacing and if any servicing is needed.

Inventory control for toy parts: Maintaining toy supplies is crucial for Santa’s workshop to run smoothly, especially as trends change year-over-year. What if he underestimates the number of Frozen-themed toys children would want this year? Or what if there’s a shortage of electrical components to create the gifts requested by today’s tech-savvy generation?

To address these issues, Santa’s workshop has begun using a closed loop process to automatically order toy parts. Sensors placed in storage bins alert an order management system when inventory levels fall below a certain level and electronic orders for new parts are sent directly to suppliers. Elves no longer worry about monitoring supplies, which free them up to do other important tasks, and the ordering process reduces buffer stocks of toy parts as they are ordered on demand, as required.

T2T (Toy2Toy) communication: Creating toys that can communicate with each other and transmit data back to the North Pole creates huge benefits for Santa and his team. Sensors and embedded intelligence make for a very fun experience for kids as they watch their toys interact with each other—much like these Toy Story Interactive Buddies figures—and could revolutionize play for a new generation.

Father Christmas also uses sensors to remotely support toys and provide preemptive fixes in case something breaks during delivery. Data on which gifts are opened first, how difficult they are to open (to improve wrapping procedures), and how quickly/often toys are played with is collected to give insight into whether the North Pole is meeting kid’s demands, and what steps can be taken in 2015 to improve production.