• Kevin Harris

IoT set to change the face of industry

Updated: Nov 28, 2018

The Internet of Things (IoT) is being talked about as the 4th industrial revolution or Industry 4.0. What makes this interesting is that the first 3 industrial revolutions (Steam, Electricity and Computing) were probably only named in retrospect. This time, we're able to look ahead into the future and recognise in advance how important this current period of development will be for industry.

An IoT device is essentially a device that performs a function or task while connected to the internet. It might receive an instruction over the air, but it definitely sends information back to a database when it is done. You may not be familiar with what these devices look like, so let me give you a few examples. Cell phones, GPS, smart electricity meters and smart TVs are all examples of domestic devices. Tracking devices for vehicles and assets are also IoT devices as are some security cameras and alarms.

In an industrial or commercial context, they look a little different. These would typically be sensors that measure light, temperature, pressure, level, density, voltage, amperage, pH or many other process parameters. Once the data from these devices has been collected, processed and stored, it can be used for anything from notifying an operator to automatically triggering a secondary process.

In order to make this happen, you need a device (thing), data acquisition module, data processing module and a communication module to work together to deliver useful information to the user. Modern devices such as smart phones contain all of the required modules, but legacy devices like temperature probes contain none of them.

Making it all come together is not simple, but with the right partner it is possible to select the appropriate hardware, network and data handling platform to revolutionise the way your business operates. Despite all of the capability of this technology, it is never installed for the sake of the technology and it is useless unless it is solving a particular problem for the end user.

When designing systems and solutions, it is vital to properly understand the problem. No solution, regardless of how clever and elegant it is, can solve a problem that is inadequately defined. Before embarking on an implementation of your own, I would highly recommend taking some time to define your problem statement and your desired outcomes. When this is done, the likelihood of finding a robust and lasting solution is greatly improved.

Kevin Harris

MD Fabsmart Africa

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