Industrial Internet – Improving Operational Efficiencies

There are many sectors involved within the Industrial Internet of Things. These can include manufacturing, logistics, oil and gas, transportation, energy/utilities, mining and metals, and aviation industries. By the end of 2021, the industrial IoT market is expected to reach $123.89 billion. The term Industrial Internet has come to describe the inter-working of cyber-physical systems, machines, analytics, and people connected to a network within an industrial context. The Industrial Internet of Things is revolutionizing the industrial market with the primary goals of automation, optimization, and using analytics to strategically provide better products and services while reducing costs.

Asset Monitoring, Tracking and Control

Machinery is an essential part of the industrial sector. To make sure your work site is running smoothly, you need to know where, when, and how your assets are working and how they are being used. IoT devices and the underlying network allows you track, monitor, and control your equipment remotely through a web portal rather than taking the time to physically attend the machine.

A picture of forklift assets that can be monitored

Benefits of IoT device-use for assets:

  • Instant communication between the operator and the machine
  • Be proactive in technical support
  • Identify potential problems before they become an issue
  • Control your machinery from your office or smartphone
  • Set parameters for automated alerts or controls
  • Reduce costs by managing systems remotely

Industrial Analytics

In the modern industry, business is increasingly being driven by data. The sheer amount of data you can compile in today’s business environment can be overwhelming. The ability to collect, analyze and use this data can transform your productivity and help reduce costs while optimizing resources. Using IoT to utilize useful analytics can bring critical information to CEOs, managers, technicians and other personnel while helping to filter out the information that isn’t helpful.

Useful Industrial Internet of Things analytics:

  • Efficiency—analyze for points of poor or successful performance
  • Power requirements—find ways to reduce your energy use
  • Routines—receive alerts for anomalies
  • Equipment usage—identify unnecessary equipment
  • Workflow—analyze the productivity of your process
A picture of machinery being monitored in real time on a computer

Examples of useful analytics inaction:

  • Provide insights for efficiently automating processes
  • Develop an algorithm to sort useful complaints from frivolous complaints
  • Use predictive maintenance for better equipment performance
  • Prevent theft by monitoring internal operations
  • Predict bursts in pipes or other preventable accidents

Communication

An essential part of running a business is communication. The logistics of coordinating work in the industrial market requires fast and efficient communication. This is helped using affordable wireless devices connected to a reliable network that can be customized to fit your specific communication needs. You can also connect with customers in useful ways. With the integration of IoT devices, you can connect people and assets to a network that tells you what you need to know when you need to know it.

A picture of a person operating a machine that is being monitored

Industrial IoT problem:

Problem: Customers desire more feedback regarding the status of utility poles being refurbished. Customer service employees internally communicate with facility employees who must manually track down the utility poles in question. Facility employees must then relay the information to customer service. The refurbishing company needs a system for tracking and communicating with utility poles as they move through the refurbishing process.

Industrial IoT solution:

Solution: Viaanix designs a tracking and communication system for poles moving through the refurbishment facility, from arrival to shipment. Attaching a tracking and communicating device to the poles allows the customer to track the progress of refurbishment and receive a notification upon shipment or at each stage through the process. Internally, the refurbishing employees can easily find poles throughout the facility. The shipping department is notified when an order is ready to be shipped.

Occupational Safety and Hazard Monitoring

A picture of a hazardous work environment

One responsibility in the industrial market is providing a safe and secure work environment. Every fifteen seconds, 178 work related accidents happen. In an industry involving automation and physical machinery, safety is a concern for workers carrying out their daily tasks. Preventing hazardous conditions not only prevents harm to employees, but also leads to more efficient production. Collecting data in a work environment and monitoring employees can help prevent accidents or ailments. When it comes to safety, being better informed means reducing risk.

Causes of industrial workplace accidents:

  • Acting on incomplete information
  • Human error
  • Ignoring safety procedures
  • Improper use of equipment
  • Improperly prepared, equipped, or trained employees  

How IoT helps prevent safety hazards:

  • Track the physical location of employees
  • Monitor physical fitness indicators for signs of strain
  • Collect data from helmets, jackets and other safety wearables
  • Monitor the environment for radiation, carbon monoxide, pathogens, or other pollutants
  • Use analytics and real-time data to address issues before they become a hazard

Applying IoT in the Medical Industry

As the demand for quality healthcare rises, the Internet of Medical things will play a pivotal role. The Internet of Medical Things connects healthcare IT systems to an array of devices and applications through a computer network. At the foundation of this system are medical devices connected to a network that allow for machine-to-machine communication. It is essential in the medical field to work on accurate information, and IoT devices can help deliver real-time data to the fingertips of medical professionals from wherever they need to be. This can help medical professionals identify a problem before it becomes critical or identify patterns that can prevent issues altogether.

Asset Monitoring, Tracking and Control

In the medical field, a major concern is keeping track of expensive equipment and the condition of that equipment. Equipment that is moved from place to place can easily be lost in a large hospital or other medical setting. It is also important to keep this equipment maintained to avoid equipment failure. Installing IoT devices to equipment connected to an underlying network can not only help you track these expensive assets, but can also collect data regarding the physical location of your equipment, when and how it was used, when maintenance is necessary, and other necessary information along with allowing you to control these assets remotely.

A picture of a patient being monitored in an operating room

The flow of data through an asset tracking system:

  1. Sensors, medical equipment, BLE beacons, and other connected tools collect data.
  2. Data is sent to an internet gateway device.
  3. Information is fed and organized for display through a web portal.
  4. Medical personnel access this information in real-time.
  5. If necessary, medical personnel change controls for the asset.  

Benefits of IoT device-use for assets:

  • Track the physical location of expensive medical equipment
  • Change the settings of equipment remotely
  • Access information such as operating status, possible misuse, and identifying the user of the asset and the length of time the asset was in use.
  • Preventive maintenance to avoid any equipment downtime
  • Track supplies through an operating room or other area

Patient Monitoring

One vital role of a medical professional is monitoring a patient’s condition. This can be demanding on a medical staff when monitoring multiple patients and patients that require close attention. Rather than moving from patient to patient to evaluate medical devices and vital signs, a monitoring system can help a medical team monitor vital statistics remotely and help prevent medical issues before they become a problem. You can also track the movement of patients who should not be moving unassisted. This allows medical personnel to provide more efficient and attentive care.

A picture of a patient being monitored from their hospital bed

Benefits of IoT device-use for patients:

  • Monitor patient conditions such as heart rate and oxygen level
  • Receive alerts for concerning vital statistics
  • Prevent falls by tracking the movement of patients who are fall risks
  • Control medical devices such as insulin pumps or medication dispensers
  • Track the location of elder care patients to prevent them from wandering too far

Real life Viaanix patient monitoring solution:

A vulnerable child with a cognitive disability or an inability to convey stress signals requires constant monitoring, an issue that is compounded when attending school. Viaanix has designed a solution by developing an easy-to-use wearable device and accompanying application that sends alert signals when the child’s hands have stopped moving for a period of time. Device also sends the child’s location so that an adult can quickly find the child.

Tele-health

Telehealth utilizes telecommunication technologies to deliver health related services and information. This covers a wide range of applications, from something as simple as communicating and storing patient data to an issue as complicated as using networked robotics to remotely perform surgeries. Communication through a medical team of doctors, nurses, maintenance, administration, and other medical personnel can be a challenge, but better communication means more efficient and better-quality patient care. It is not only important that this information is accurate and accessible to medical personnel, but also safely stored in order to comply with health privacy guidelines.

Benefits of IoT integrated telehealth:

  • Streamline communication across a medical team.
  • Securely store information according to privacy guidelines.
  • Monitor patients remotely.
  • Gather round-the-clock patient information.
  • Avoid the stress of travel by reducing the need for in-person visits.
A picture of a doctor having a telehealth appointment

Viaanix IoT integrated tele-health:

  • Customizable wearables can monitor patient information and activity remotely.
  • Allow patient or caregiver can receive medicine alerts from an app.
  • Access a patient’s emergency contacts remotely.
  • Create a chronic disease management system.
  • Use analytical tools to provide insights to a caregiving team.

Assisted Living

One area in the medical field where IoT can play a pivotal role is assisted living. When it comes to the elderly or other patients who need help carrying out their daily lives, the integration of IoT devices can help both the employees to provide better care and assist the patients in giving them more control over their surroundings. Monitoring the vital signs and for variations in a patient’s habits can alert their care team or family to an issue before it becomes a larger problem and help their caretakers formulate an action plan for resolving that problem.

A picture of assisted living

Important assisted living statistics to monitor:

  • The physical location of a patient
  • Heart rate, oxygen levels, and other vital statistics
  • Signs of stroke or heart attack
  • The patient’s sleep patterns
  • How often a patient uses the bathroom

Viaanix assisted living solution:

  • Monitor the patient remotely through wearable devices.
  • Develop an easy-to-use app for controlling a patient's lighting or television.
  • Use analytics to send alerts for variations in a patient's activities or vital signs.
  • Alert the care team to the location of a patient potentially wandering too far.

Optimize Hospital Workflows

One concern of hospital management is optimizing hospital workflows, especially in high volume areas like emergency rooms. Workflow optimization means orchestrating patterns of activity by organizing resources and processes for better efficiency and return on investment, leading to reduced costs and improved patron satisfaction. In hospitals, key components of this include secure and effective channels of communication along with collecting data to analyze for optimization. The more information you have, the easier it is to use analytics to optimize hospital workflows.

Hospital Workflow Optimization benefits:

  • Reduce operating costs
  • Improve patient satisfaction
  • Comply with privacy guidelines
  • Run a hospital more efficiently
  • Get test results faster

Viaanix Applications for optimized hospital workflow:

  • Track the flow of employees through high traffic areas to optimize how space is used.
  • Create secure and efficient messaging channels and patient monitoring.
  • Track a process’s speed or effectiveness to analyze for improvement.
  • Monitor bed availability.
  • Track the usage and location of items essential to a process.

Food delivery error prevention

In the medical field, one challenge includes preventing patients from encountering food that could cause adverse health effects. This could mean avoiding food they are allergic to or food that has an otherwise negative effect on their condition. One of the best ways to avoid improper food delivery is to design a system with multiple checks in place. IoT device integration makes it easier to perform these checks in a reliable manner.

Common dietary errors in healthcare:

  • The patient receives food meant for another patient.
  • The patient is given a tray with food they are allergic to.
  • Receiving the wrong diet, such as not receiving low-sodium meal when necessary.
  • A patient that should not be fed by mouth receiving a meal.  

Multiple Facets of IoT Application in Transportation

One study found that on top of their commute, Americans spend on average an extra 42 hours a year, either waiting for public transporter sitting ideally during massive traffic jams. The transportation industry is on with a huge potential for IoT devices to play an impactful role. The applications for a network of connected devices in this market are endless—from traffic management to monitoring road conditions, fleet telematics, proactive maintenance, and more. For both private and public transportation, there are many ways that connected devices can help improve the efficiency and experience of transportation.

In this article, we are going to explore, how IoT can be of significant value in various modes of transport. From Airports to Shipping and from Railways to private cars, the opportunities for IoT in transportation are endless.

Airports

Airports are increasingly adopting the use of IoT. With the help of their smartphone, savvy travelers can easily make their way from drop off to their airplane seat, ensuring that their luggage goes where it needs to be along the way. Nearly a third of all airports have installed sensors at key locations in their facility. These sensors provide insights involving traffic flow, congestion, and performance. Analyzing this information enables airport management to improve the experience of travelers.

A picture of an airport runway with an airplane getting ready for boarding

Benefits of airport IoT integration:

  • Cut down on congestion—measuring the flow of traffic can help identify areas that need improvement.
  • Fewer maintenance delays—use smart sensors and analytics for asset health monitoring, allowing for the remote inspection of airplanes.
  • Shorter lines—measuring and predicting crowding in busy areas can let management know when more staff is needed.  
  • Prevent lost luggage—sensors on luggage can transmit location information.

Viaanix IoT airport applications:

  • Develop a location-aware app that guides passengers through the airport to their gate.
  • Design wearable technology for employees for tracking and allowing access to restricted areas.
  • Enable passengers to check in using their smartphone.

Connect passengers with airport vendors via an app that lists available vendors and provides special offers based on location.

Private Cars

There are many applications for IoT based automotive products. Devices installed on vehicles can track location, miles travelled, maintenance diagnostics, and more. With the rise of smart cars, the flow of traffic becomes more efficient as cars use sensors to communicate with the cars around it. Companies that use cars to deliver products and services can utilize fleet telematics to manage their vehicles. Smart technology is helping to make both cars and roads safer and more efficient modes of transportation.

A picture of a SMART car

Benefits of IoT automotive integration:

  • Safer road conditions—gather weather information and other data to predict unsafe road conditions and alert drivers before any incident occurs.
  • Decreased traffic congestion—gather information from sensors, cameras, and other cars to analyze and decrease congestion patterns.
  • Smart route mapping—GPS devices and guidance apps gather data to provide the route with the least congestion.
  • Maintain vehicle health—access diagnostic information remotely and receive alerts for necessary maintenance actions.  

Viaanix Automotive IoT applications

  • Smart cars use sensors to prevent stop-and-go traffic and cut down on congestion or to match the speed of the car ahead of them, which eases the stress of driving in traffic.  
  • Geo-fencing sends alerts when a delivery driver deviates from a prescribed route.
  • Plug an adapter into your onboard diagnostic port to access engine health and other diagnostic information from your smartphone.
  • Manage your company’s fleet remotely by tracking the route of your drivers and the condition of your vehicles

Heavy Vehicles

IoT technologies are transforming the trucking/heavy vehicles business. From monitoring the vehicle, driver, and inventory, analytics from a connected fleet can make the entire process of transporting goods more efficient. Machine-to-machine communication can automatically report information to a dispatcher, reducing the need for manual reports from the driver. Gathering this real-time information can help managers direct the operations of their fleet services.

A picture of semi trucks that can be tracked

Useful trucking analytics:

  • Fuel efficiency—evaluate speed and route information to determine the most fuel-efficient speed of travel for the truck.
  • Driver behavior—monitor information regarding driver quality, such as compliance with speed regulations, braking behavior, and route compliance.  
  • Time spent driving, loading and unloading—measure the time drivers spend completing tasks to identify any inefficiencies.
  • Areas of congestion—drivers can report high-traffic areas so that other drivers can take a different route.

Viaanix IoT trucking applications:

  • Use sensors to measure the capacity of each load and determine if there is spare capacity.
  • Send an alert when the temperature of refrigerated truck goes beyond certain parameters.
  • Remotely monitor the truck’s performance and utilize predictive/preventative maintenance.
  • Load and unload faster at locations installed with RFID, NFC or Bluetooth low energy devices.
  • Use smart tags on inventory to provide supply chain visibility from dock to dock.

Marines

From small pleasure crafts to passenger liners to cargo ships, IoT can help with the management and coordination of marine crafts. Interconnected devices have made driving and managing boats easier than ever with devices that communicate directly with the boat’s engine and systems. As more and more devices are developed to work within the ecosystem of a vessel, whether you are managing a fleet or a single craft, mariners will wonder how they ever got by without the help of connected devices.

A picture of a cargo ship that can be tracked

Challenge and the IoT solution:

Problem: passengers on a cruise ship do not have a cell phone signal while over the ocean. This makes it difficult for groups travelling together to find one another while on the ship.
Solution: BLE beacons can be installed throughout the ship. Passengers are given wristbands that use BLE/LoRa to transmit location information to an on-site cloud system. This allows them to find one another using an app connected to the ship’s Wi-Fi.

Viaanix Marine IoT applications:

  • Run ship diagnostics from your tablet or smartphone or send diagnostic reports directly to mechanics.
  • Track the physical location of a fleet of ships, jet skis, or other marine crafts.
  • Use devices that aid in trimming engines, controlling the trim in conjunction with boat speed and RPM.
  • Utilize a GPS enabled device to precision anchor your boat and hold your position.

Railways

Globally, passenger rail traffic is expected to double by 2022. Railways are much more than just the train itself—it is a complicated system of interconnected parts which must work in harmony with one another. This system includes switching yards, rails, terminals, cargo, crossings, and all the challenges that come with them. With the help of connected devices, managing this system becomes a lot easier. From optimized maintenance practices to advanced analytics, IoT is helping railway systems give passengers a superior commute.

A picture of a train on a railway

IoT railway integration benefits:

  • Optimized maintenance—track the health of trains and tracks to utilize predictive and preventative maintenance.
  • Safety—sensors monitoring performance on breaks, wheels, engines and other parts of the train make for a safer ride.
  • Reliability—optimized maintenance practices translate to fewer delays.  
  • Comfort—monitor air temperatures and other comforts for passengers.
  • Viaanix Applications for railway connected devices:
  • Monitor track stress levels.
  • Measure track temperature levels, which has predictive value for maintenance teams.
  • Use video analysis to spot issues on tracks and trains.
  • Monitor the flow of passengers waiting for trains or in each train car.
  • Use geolocation to track trains across networks and analyze this data for more efficient train operations.

Public Transportation

Public transportation includes city buses, trolleys, trams, passenger trains, airlines, trains, rapid transit, subway, and ferries. This can be a complicated system of vehicles, equipment, and waiting areas. Installing a system of connected devices can aid in public transportation fleet management. IoT can also help passengers connect with public transportation on their smart phone or tablet.

A picture of public transportation busses that can be tracked

Public transportation IoT problem & solution:

Problem: buses are scheduled to arrive at each stop at certain times, but conditions cause the time of arrivals to vary. This can make it difficult for passengers to know when to expect buses to arrive.

Solution: BLE beacons at each bus stop can communicate location IDs with gateways installed onto each bus, which can then transmit location information to a cloud service provider. Passengers can access this accurate arrival time information using their smartphones or by looking at a bus stop terminal.

Viaanix IoT public transportation applications:

  • Track unoccupied seats to optimize route efficiency.
  • Scan electronic tickets on smart phones.
  • Use sensors to monitor the health of vehicles, utilizing predictive and preventative maintenance.
  • Measure fuel efficiency by measuring fuel levels and distance travelled.

Leveraging IoT for Outdoor/Indoor Asset Tracking

A picture of a warehouse with boxes and pallets that can be tracked

Assets, both physical as well as personnel, are critical for any business operations and are necessary to be tracked to ensure uninterrupted service delivery. With the growth of businesses and increasing count of assets, it is becoming challenging to keep a track of the location and health of the assets. As a result; the demand for asset tracking a plummeted in the last decade and has accelerated rapidly.

Going back to the history of asset management and asset tracking methodologies, manual approach of counting assets and recording them on hand, maintaining various excel spread-sheets for asset audits and tracking prevailed. This approach was not only tedious, prone to errors, but was also labor-intensive. As businesses grew and count of assets multiplied, it became imperative to invent a scalable solution that could be scaled up or down as per the business environment.

Early 1970s saw the advent of more sophisticated solution to this challenge and barcodes started dominating the asset management and asset tracking systems. Coupled with seamless scanning technologies, these barcodes eliminated human-error and with the help of scanning devices, asset records were maintained in databases, making it more secure and reliable. As information technology grew and provided more options, software engineers and designers helped business managers with data visualization tools that could help them in auditing, monitoring and taking control of their assets.

Digital technology has been advancing rapidly and with the advent of ‘Internet’ of things it is now becoming increasingly easy to connect millions and billions of small as well as large assets, devices and objects, in ways which were previously unimaginable. These ever improving, cost and resource efficient, location tracking technologies have continuously eradicated the need to rely on manual data input. On the contrary, cloud based IoT solutions are now device-location dependent which has changed the ways and means of locating and tracking indoor and outdoor assets.

A picture of tractors that can be tracked

So real time location tracking solutions, such as VX-BLS and Beacons, work in tandem with the environment your assets are moving in. Be it Indoor, within premises or it is Outdoor, across geographies, Viaanix’s asset tracking system offers a solution. Indoors, this system utilizes BLE/LoRa anchors that can track BLE beacons attached to your equipment, sending that data to a LoRa/cellular, Wi-Fi, or Ethernet Gateway. Outdoors, LoRa/GPS beacons send information to LoRa cellular Gateways.

These beacons are low energy, long range, and inexpensive devices that can be “set and forget,” with batteries that can last up to two or more years. They can be installed on small equipment, like tools, and larger machinery as well.

These beacons gather information from the assets and send it to the cloud, via the interim gateway, for review by the end user. This review can be done through any industry renowned IoT Portal or more sophisticated VX Locate, our own web portal. The complete ecosystem deployed by Viaanix for asset tracking is flexible, scalable, and cost-effective. The bi-directional communication capability offered by our solution allows the end user to control how often they wish the device to update, and gives a better control of all the associated assets and devices.

The 3-point strategy to choose the right Asset Tracking Solution

There is absolutely no one-size-fits-all strategy for choosing the right indoor/outdoor asset tracking system. Every business is unique and has its own ‘specific’ requirements. The right fit for your business requirement needs to be evaluated based on the below three considerations.

Your goals for deploying an asset tracking solution: This primarily deals with specific, achievable, time-based goals you plan to achieve. These goals will have to be stitched to your key business processes driving your need to have an asset tracking solution in place.

Methodology for measuring ROI: It is by-far understood that all technology enabled solutions are cost-effective, efficient, improve operational efficiencies and provide you peace-of-mind. A metrics is always required to help you gauge your investment and yield business-oriented results on your investments.

Alignment with future needs and changes: All businesses operate in a dynamic environment. Often it is impossible to predict the market forces and your needs may changeover-time. Mapping of your requirements with the changing environment is critical for consideration.

Unleashing the World of IoT: A comprehensive explanation of what lies within IoT

‘Internet’ of Things, better calling it ‘Social Network’ of Things, is gradually becoming a part of everyone’s life, both for individuals as well as businesses. Connecting things anywhere, anytime and for anyone is the core of IoT. You go to a hotel, and the doors open automatically. You use the restroom and you get an astounding experience of touch-free water running from the taps. Theorem you booked for your accommodation, welcomes you with a customized experience, lights switch on automatically, room temperature is maintained asper your preference. All these and everything you experience is nothing but the value adds an IoT deployment can offer.

All this is fine, but have you ever thought as to what all goes behind in making this happen! The objective of this article is to take you through thematic behind this invisible layer that is making things work for you. Let’s give it a sneak peek and understand layer-by-layer the vast infrastructure involving multiple components, interactions, commands, and connections.

The unseen blocks and architecture

IoT is being been explored since decades. Several theories have emerged concerning its architecture. Let me mention here that there is no one-size-fits-all architecture of the entire deployment. The strategy behind implementing IoT lies within the business need and the industry it is being deployed for.  

Business needs may vary, strategies might be different, but the key building blocks behind every IoT implementation include the following layers:

  • physical smart things also referred to as the perception layer;
  • communication layer comprising networks and gateways empowering low-power devices to enter the world the internet
  • the platform layer or the middleware, also referenced as the ‘heart’ of IoT by some players
  • the application layer for the ultimate end-user to harness the data, analyze it, and put-it-for-use.
A diagram of physical smart things connecting to networks connecting to applications

Let’s deep-dive into each layer and understand what it entails.

The Perception Layer

The perception layer or the physical layer is the first layer of the IoT ecosystem and comprises a range of ‘things’, big or small, starting from as small entities as sensors and chipsets to even bigger counterparts like buildings, cars, manufacturing plants, hotels, and whatnot. These are the endpoint devices that form the physical components and can be further divided into three categories based on their functionalities. These categories are:

Sensors such as beacons, utility meters, gauges, thermostats, amongst others. The prime function of these sensors is to ‘sense’ a parameter which could be temperature, motion, air quality, humidity, and convert them into electrical signals. These signals are then sent to the IoT system over the communication layer and saved as meaningful data for making informed decisions.

Actuators are nothing but components of a machine that are responsible for moving and controlling a mechanism or system. These actuators are used to translate electrical signals into IoT-driven physical actions. These are predominantly used in heavy machines, robotic arms, moto controllers, and lasers.

Machines and devices are the components that perform the final action based on the received command and deliver the required work.

The Communication Layer: Transmitting the data

The next layer which is responsible for transmitting this captured data to the cloud, as well as other components of the IoT ecosystem, is the communication layer. For devices to be able to send data, the devices in the physical layer are connected to the preferred cloud platform via:

        a. the most common internet protocol called TCP/IP

        b. through gateways – responsible for securing the data by encrypting and decrypting it throughout the communication channel

There are numerous networking technologies available that can be used to establish communication. The selection of technology primarily depends on:

        a. The specific use-case

        b. Distance between the communicating devices

        c. Signal strength required between the two communicating devices

Some of the commonly used networking technologies for IoT deployments include:

        a. Ethernet: which primarily connects physical non-moving or fixed devices like CCTV cameras, industrial equipment which is permanently fixed, video gaming consoles;

        b. Wi-Fi: the most prominent and widely used wireless networking technology predominantly installed for data-intensive IoT deployments. A wireless router is used to establish a wi-fi network and devices are connected to this wi-fi network for transmitting data;

        c. Bluetooth: used for short-range communication and widely seen in wearables and smartphones. As IoT leverages low-power devices to collect data, a new standard called Bluetooth Low-energy (BLE) was designed which is extensively used nowadays;

        d. LoRaWAN: acronym for Long Range Wide Area Network is a Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networking protocol designed to wirelessly connect battery operated 'things' to the internet in regional, national, or global networks

        e. Cellular Network: offering nearly global coverage and consistent data transfer.

A chart showing network, connectivity, and use cases

These networking technologies are used to enable communication and data transmission between the IoT components however, the complexity of communication is such that one device should be able to talk to another device in a language that is comprehensive and understandable to each other. That is where several 'protocols' come into picture and are required to be enabled for authenticating, signaling, and communication purposes. Host of communication protocols have been designed for this purpose but the ones which are primarily used in key IoT deployments are:

  • the data distribution services (DDS); addressing the requirement of real-time systems, a machine-to-machine standard aiming tenable dependable, high-performance, interoperable, real-time scalable data exchange
  • the Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP); a binary, application layer protocol, supporting a wide variety of messaging applications and communication patterns.
  • the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP); asynchronous message exchange providing machine-to-machine communication in a constrained environment-end nodes limited in memory and power
  • the Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT); lightweight, publish-subscribe network protocol, designed for connections with remote locations where a "small code footprint" is required or the network bandwidth is limited.

The Platform Layer: Making sense of data

Often referred to as the 'Heart' of any IoT strategy, the platform layer is the one that is responsible for monitoring, controlling, analyzing, communicating, assessing, and actioning aspects of the environment. This layer is responsible for accumulating, storing, and processing the raw data received from the physical devices and translating it into a usable format that can be fed to business applications in the next layer.  This magical work of making the data usable for the application is carried out in two broad stages:

The Data Accumulation Stage: The goal of this stage is to accumulate the data from the physical devices, sort out diverse data formats (both structured and non-structured) and store it most efficiently. The real-time data is captured through an API and works as transit hub between event-based data generation and query-based data consumption. This stage is also responsible for defining if the received data can be put to use as per the business requirements and make necessary amendments for data to work for business.

The Data Abstraction layer: Data collection is fruitless until and unless it is prepared for consumer applications to use and generate meaningful insights for business decisions. The entire process of abstraction involves combining data from different sources(both IoT and non-IOT like ERP, CRM, SAP, etc.); reconciling all the data formats, and aggregating data into one location.

Together the data accumulation and data abstraction layer make it easy for the software developers to focus on solving particular business needs, enhance their productivity and drastically improve the efficiency of the complete data life-cycle.

The Application Layer – Enabling Business to take informed decisions

This layer is responsible for analyzing the 'cleaned' data as per specific business requirements. Based on the industry vertical and the specific problems that need to be solved, there are hundreds of applications available which can be used to analyze data. Device monitoring, mobile apps, business intelligence, analytics solutions using machine learning, deriving artificial intelligence algorithms, and hundreds of other such business requirements can be easily dealt with these applications. Thebes part of the application layer is that it is interoperable and is nonconfined to one use case. This enhances the flexibility and scalability of the ecosystem and also makes it cost-effective to deploy.