Why bother with IoT?

Information.. That is one important aspect of IoT automation.

But first, what is this "IoT" buzzword? Well, it means having a device, connected to the internet, that sends information about itself, in a running process. Here are some examples:

  • Shelf XYZ678 in your warehouse, is now empty.
  • Items on conveyor belt 78G stopped moving.
  • The engine of truck 354, overheats and require maintenance.
  • Employee number 1234 just passed by gate ABC.
  • Tank HL233 is now 75% empty.

These are just examples of information that can be received from IoT devices, and can trigger an action. You can order parts, book appointments, sound a siren, or whatever action that completes a process. This can help the business by moving the automation forward, without the intervention of a person.

Automation is beautiful. Imagine your fridge is running out of milk, and it automatically sends an order to the grocery store to have it delivered. Imagine your employee attendance system knows if an employee came through the gate. Imagine your clothes starting you on a diet when things get stuffy... etc. The possibilities are endless.

This all sounds very nice, but there is also the risk of false information. False information can be a device malfunction, or a security breach. A security breach is the most critical, as it opens the doors to industrial espionage. An attacker can listen to your information, and can also alter the information to degrade your business. So, it is important that information security is well practiced, with validation & verification steps in your IoT automation.

Let's see some false information examples:

  • Shelves are full, no need to restock [Fact: they are empty].
  • The conveyor belt is moving smoothly, we will meet the deadline [Fact: items are jammed, shipping is delayed].
  • Truck 354 broke down, we should send a rescue truck to move the cargo [Fact: no alert was sent to warn of engine overheat, no maintenance booking done, no spare-parts ordered].
  • Items tampered with in room or building [Fact: no alert was sent to warn of unauthorized employee access].
  • All fish in the tank are dead [Fact: no alert for low-water in tank].

Any automation should be monitored & measured for optimum performance. But when in tune, the business processes run smoother than ever, less costly, with minimum errors.