To put it simply the Internet of Things (IoT) is the idea of a network of devices connected to the internet and to each other. With the advancements in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC), devices can easily connect and communicate with each other. IoT devices like smartphones, wearables and even coffee makers have the ability to communicate with each other to make everyday life simpler.
For example, a smart watch can send a signal to the coffee maker that we’ve woken up, thanks to our movements, and by the time we get to the coffee maker our coffee is hot and ready to go. While IoT is already improving our daily lives, there’s plenty more that IoT is capable of.
Caroline Gorski, Head of IoT at Digital Catapult said, “It’s about networks, it’s about devices, and it’s about data, the Internet of Things brings those networks together, it gives the opportunity for devices to communicate not only with close silos but across different networking types and creates a much more connected world.”
How Does the Internet of Things Work?
The Internet of Things platform provides the space for devices to communicate together in a common language. The process starts with IoT devices communicating with each other and sharing data with the IoT platform. Once the data is on the platform, the data is integrated and analyzed, with the most valuable data being shared with applications in order to address industry specific needs. With data going back to businesses in real-time, they can monitor and analyze the information to fix any potential defects with their products or optimize processes in their supply chain operations. This helps manufacturers prevent similar issues in the future.
What does this mean for your business?
- Predictive Analytics – IoT devices can collect massive amounts of data each day. The data is collected and sorted, and with the use of predictive analytics this information can be turned into useful forecasts to be used amongst several industries.
- Monitoring – Whether it be a patient’s RFID-equipped prescription bottle to track a patient’s daily dosage or keeping track of inventory at a retail store/warehouse, IoT makes these applications easily adoptable.
- Automation – With machines and devices able to communicate with one another, the idea of robotics or machine automation, where machines can be remotely managed with little to no human interaction by communicating and analyzing the data is becoming more realistic for businesses. This practice is already in use in manufacturing facilities around the world.
- Security – Unsecured IoT devices can be susceptible to hackers that attack servers from hundreds or thousands of different IP addresses.
- Privacy – With potentially sensitive data being shared throughout multiple devices, if unsecured, that data could fall into the wrong hands.
- Compatibility – With no international standard for compatibility between devices, compatibility between devices from different manufacturers can be a concern. However, an industry standard could easily solve this challenge
Internet of Things in the Supply Chain
With devices being able to communicate with each other on the IoT platform, the supply chain is in the best position to benefit from the IoT. Currently, products easily get lost going from the manufacturing facility to the warehouse to the distribution center the retail store. With IoT, the process is streamlined to reduce product being lost in transit.
Manufacturing: The use of the IoT improves efficiency and productivity of manufacturing operations. This includes attaching sensor-driven manufacturing equipment that creates seamless communication between various devices and thus allowing for a streamlined production process of consumer goods.
Warehousing/Distribution Centers: In warehouses and distribution centers, IoT can help reduce inaccurate inventories with the use of robotics that can get a list of products to retrieve, place the said products in a bin, and deliver the bin to a warehouse worker for order fulfillment.
The warehouse worker then loads the products onto a truck with sensors detecting the products every movement while transmitting that data to a remote monitoring team before it leaves the facility.
Retail: Retail stores will see the biggest benefit from IoT. One such case that is already being implemented is the use of automated checkouts. With IoT, a system of RFID readers, smart shelves, and RFID tags can communicate with each other to keep track of the movement of products throughout the store. Consumers, before entering the store, would scan their mobile payment app to gain entrance. As they grab items off the smart shelf, the RFID tag sends a signal to the RFID reader to place the product in the consumers virtual cart. Once the consumer is finished they can walk out of the store, no waiting in line, and their virtual cart would deduct the total from the consumer’s mobile payment app. Smart shelves are used to help keep track of inventory and stock replenishment.
Internet of Things in Healthcare
One of the first cases of IoT was instituted in the healthcare industry through remote patient monitoring. In some cases, patients have limited mobility or find it difficult to make it to a doctor’s office. In these instances, patients are asked to utilize wearable devices, which capture data that is then sent to their physicians.
The data is then analyzed by a physician or computer in order to detect any abnormalities in the patient’s condition. Additionally, RFID-equipped prescription bottles can detect if a patient is keeping up with their daily doses and send reminders if they missed a dosage.
How can Barcodes help you with IoT Technology in the Supply Chain or Healthcare?
Barcodes has been a global leader in data capture and automation solutions since 1994. Barcodes has helped implement solutions in the manufacturing, warehouse & distribution, transportation & logistics, retail, and healthcare industries. Using IoT, Barcodes has dedicated experts that can help your business with its IoT strategy. When partnering with Barcodes, you’ll get experts who value innovation and understand the pain points in your business.