Tag: data

How the Internet of Things Can Make Your Manufacturing Business More Sustainable

The Internet of Things, often abbreviated as IoT, refers to the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enable these objects to connect and exchange data.

The Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, is a specific application of the Internet of Things that pertains to the manufacturing sector. In recent years, sustainability has become an important issue for manufacturers as consumers increasingly seek out products that have been made sustainably and with minimal impact on the environment.

Fortunately, the IIoT can help manufacturers reduce their environmental impact and become more sustainable. Here’s how:

  1. Collecting Data to Increase Visibility and Transparency Across the Value Chain
    The first step to becoming more sustainable is to have visibility and transparency across the entire value chain. This means understanding where your raw materials come from, how they are sourced, how they are used in your manufacturing process, what happens to your finished products after they are sold, etc. In order to gain this visibility and transparency, manufacturers must collect data at every stage of the value chain. This data can be collected manually or automatically through sensors and other digital technologies. Once this data is collected, it can be analyzed to identify areas where your company can become more efficient and reduce waste.
  1. Connecting Machines to Improve Efficiency
    One way that manufacturers can use the IIoT to become more sustainable is by connecting their machines together in order to improve efficiency. For example, if one machine is idling while another machine is overloaded, this presents an opportunity to optimize production by redistributing work among the machines. By connecting machines together and using data analytics to optimize production in this way, manufacturers can avoid wasting energy and resources.
  2. Using Renewable Energy Sources
    Another way that manufacturers can use the IIoT to become more sustainable is by using renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power instead of traditional sources such as coal or natural gas. While renewable energy sources may have been more expensive in the past, advances in technology have led to a decrease in cost while simultaneously increasing efficiency. As a result, many manufacturers are making the switch to renewable energy sources in order to reduce their environmental impact.
  3. Implementing Predictive Maintenance Schedules
    Predictive maintenance is a type of maintenance that is performed before problems occur. This is in contrast to traditional preventive maintenance which is performed on a regular schedule whether or not problems exist. By using predictive maintenance schedules based on data collected by sensors, manufacturers can avoid unexpected downtime due to equipment failures. In addition, predictive maintenance can help extend the lifespan of equipment which leads to fewer replacement cycles and less waste over time.

The IIoT offers many opportunities for manufacturers to become more sustainable businesses. By collecting data across the value chain, connecting machines together for improved efficiency, using renewable energy sources wherever possible, and implementing predictive maintenance schedules; manufacturers can reduce their environmental impact while simultaneously improving their bottom line. As consumers increasingly seek out sustainable products, there has never been a better time for manufacturers to take advantage of these opportunities presented by the IIoT .

There’s gold in them thar bills!

Graph of power consumption
Photo credit Urban Jacksonville

The output from smart meters is incredibly granular. Far more so than is obvious from the smart meter output graph above.

In conversations with Dr Monica Sturm (Director of Siemen’s Center of Competence, Metering Services) last November (2008) she confirmed to me that it is possible to identify individual devices in someone’s home down to make, model and year of manufacture by looking at their energy profile – the output of their smart meter.

This kind of information is absolute gold and don’t think the utility companies aren’t starting to wake up to the fact. They are, and they are not alone. Why else do you think Google have jumped into this space with their PowerMeter offering. Not to be outdone, Microsoft have also stepped in with their Hohm product.

It won’t be long before Apple joins the fray with a sleekier, sexier iHome application!

For the utilities themselves, there are data protection issues to be worked through but once they are (and they will be), the utilities will use this data to help make up for the earnings lost as customers become more energy efficient (consuming less expensive energy).

One revenue model you will start to see emerge is utility companies selling appliances (and possibly even cars!). How will it work?

Because the utility company will have full visibility of our energy consumption, they will see when your devices are inefficient/faulty. I can very easily envisage receiving a communication from my utility company in the not-too-distant future along the lines of:

Dear Mr Raftery (actually, as I am based in Spain it would be more likely to be Estimado Sr. Raftery but let’s stick with the English version),

We notice from your energy profile that you own a 2004 Indesit BAN12NFS fridge freezer. Our records show that in the last 3 months the compressor in that freezer has become much less efficient and it is now costing you €25 a month just to run that one appliance.

We have partnerships with service companies who could try to repair the compressor in that fridge freezer for you, or alternatively, we have a special offer this month on new energy efficient fridge freezers.

We can have a brand new fridge freezer installed in your home before the end of the week. We can take away your old one for responsible disposition. And all this will won’t cost you a penny, in fact it will save you €10* per month off your current bill!

So, to summerize, if you call our hotline now on 555-123 4567 you can save €10 off your monthly bill, have a brand new fridge-freezer installed free and reduce your CO2 emissions by 12kg a year.

What are you waiting for?

*We charge you €15 per month for the new fridge thus saving you €10 per month off your current bill. Terms and conditions apply.

That’s just one possible scenario of how the utility companies will make use of smart meter data to generate alternative revenue streams for themselves – can you think of others?

by-nc-sa

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