The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of physical devices that incorporate sensors to connect to and exchange data with other devices and systems on the Internet, creating a “smart” environment.
The IOT ecosystem is broken down into 3 categories:
These are physical devices and equipment in the home or outdoors that sense, process and transfer data. IoT hardware includes sensors and other endpoints, as well as routers and servers.
Software is installed on the IoT device and allows it to send, receive and process data. The software can also control the physical device.
This final layer of the IoT is critical: it’s how devices talk to each other and transmit data to a server. Connectivity brings together Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular.
Each technology is tailored to specific use cases.
The main factors to consider are cost, reliability, power consumption, configuration, ease of deployment and bandwidth.
Although Wi-Fi was not designed for IoT, it works well in cases where broadband network access is fairly reliable, such as the smart home, smart building and some smart city applications.
Wi-Fi modules generally cost less than cellular modules, and connectivity is technically free.
Data bandwidth is high which allows for large file transfers.
Logistically, Wi-Fi deployment for IoT can be complicated especially if the equipment is nomadic. When equipment needs to transmit large files, it consumes a lot of energy.
This is a popular technology for consumer devices. Bluetooth has also developed a low-energy connectivity option that is specifically adapted to IoT applications.
For devices that need to broadcast a lot of data, Bluetooth is a reliable solution.
Bluetooth’s range is quite short, making it impractical for deployments spread over large areas. Power consumption is also high with Bluetooth (although BLE is much more efficient).
Originally designed for consumer cell phones, cellular connectivity has recently expanded to IoT applications.
We find several protocols and standards that are used by the IoT (Cat-M1, Cat-1 and NB-IoT).
Cellular IoT devices rely on an IoT module and SIM card for connectivity.
Some IoT SIM card providers (such as Move & Connect) offer global coverage through the aggregation of multiple mobile operators.
Until the advent of 5G, bandwidth was lower than Wi-Fi’s capabilities. Transferring large amounts of data can be expensive with cellular technology.
Focus on some of the benefits of integrating IoT devices in enterprises:
IoT applications allow companies to monitor their assets and processes more closely.
Take predictive maintenance as an example: when IoT sensors are installed on a machine, companies can use the data collected to predict when the equipment will need to be maintained.
This allows them to intervene before the machine fails, thereby limiting downtime and extending the overall life cycle of the equipment.
IMPROVING EFFICIENCY AND PRODUCTIVITY
IoT devices help personnel perform tasks more easily, offering the potential for increased productivity.
Automating repetitive tasks normally done manually improves efficiency.
This optimizes work time to focus on more complex tasks and thus be more productive.
BETTER SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
Integrating IoT sensors into the supply chain provides better visibility and control, allowing companies to know where their assets are, what conditions they are stored in, and to track their route.
Sensors used in supply chain management typically incorporate GPS technology and can take the form of RFID chips or more complex mobile devices.