Remote operations in a factory using IoT technology

Remote Operations and IoT: Redefining Industrial Control and Monitoring

The Internet of Things (IoT) revolutionizes industry by enabling remote monitoring and management of devices to predict issues and improve efficiency. This article is a must-read for newcomers, as it delves into IoT remote monitoring, its functioning, applications in different sectors, and the primary benefits for industrial environments.
JAN KUCERA, CEO & CPO at Spotflow
Jan Kucera
CEO & CPO at Spotflow
Published on:
March 14, 2024

The Internet of Things allows you to monitor machine performance, predict potential issues, and streamline operations by remotely collecting data from a virtually unlimited number of devices, improving efficiency across the board.

In this article

If you're new to the Internet of Things, then this article is for you, because we'll go over:

  • What IoT remote monitoring is,
  • How IoT remote management works,
  • Its applications across various industries, and
  • Main benefits of IoT in industrial settings.

Are you already familiar with the basics? Then, we encourage you to check out our article on Remote management of IoT devices, where we dig deeper into cloud-to-device communication. With that said, let's explore how you can improve your industrial efficiency with IoT technology.

How IoT Remote Management Works

IoT remote management is an umbrella term for IoT technology that monitors and controls machines, systems, and entire operations remotely in real-time. Thanks to IoT devices' modular and resilient nature, the technology can be used in most industries and settings—from operating a fleet of harvesters in a field or monitoring the performance of machines in a factory to controlling environmental conditions in dangerous locations such as oil rigs.

Although the actual design of any given IoT system depends on the intended use, most IoT applications follow a 3-step process:

  1. Collect
  2. Monitor & Analyze
  3. Configure

Data Collection

The first step is connecting the machine to a network and getting its data. Depending on what data you want to capture, you can start by placing one or more sensors on the device. It goes without saying that remote data collection is faster, safer, and cheaper than getting it in person.

Today, you can find a sensor for real-time monitoring of basically any parameter or information relevant to your business, such as temperature, pressure, vibrations, humidity, location, fill levels, and even the exact time it took to produce a single component.

Connectivity is also quite simple, as there is a wide range of communication protocols (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) and technologies (cellular networks, satellite) to choose from, depending on specific conditions like location, sensor range, data requirements, or power consumption.

Data Monitoring & Analysis

As data begins to flow, it is sent to an IoT platform that manages the devices' authentication and connection to the cloud. Once the data arrives to the platform, analysis and monitoring are performed on it. What comes next differs from workflow to workflow. Ideally, the system is designed to identify significant information that requires human intervention while autonomously managing the rest.

Consider a scenario where the system detects a change in the temperature of a freezer, indicating that it's becoming colder than the desired level. In such a case, the embedded device promptly instructs the machine to increase the temperature and monitors the situation. If the temperature stabilizes, the issue is resolved. However, if the temperature continues to drop, it's likely a malfunction that requires manual intervention. Then, an alert containing the necessary information goes to the cloud for processing.

Faster data processing translates into a rapid generation of actionable insights. This, in turn, leads to a shorter time to action for any issues and minimizes a machine's downtime. The benefits extend beyond addressing ad-hoc problems, as the increased data volume allows for more comprehensive analysis and real-time insights for proactive decision-making, thereby enhancing overall operational efficiency.

Machine Configuration

The last step is updating the device with improvements and tweaks resulting from your data analysis. It can be done in person or remotely; we have already established that doing it remotely is faster, safer, and cheaper. But the benefits don't end there. The IoT technology also allows you to take care of routine tasks such as software maintenance and updates or send quick commands like emergency shutdowns.

Imagine an automated welding robot arm from which you collect data like electric current and motor temperature. When the temperature exceeds the optimal threshold, say 80°C, the IoT platform sees it in the incoming data and instantly instructs the device to change the motor setting by lowering its speed. Any possible issues are automatically prevented, and the human operator checks a notification and decides if the events need further investigation.

IoT Applications and Benefits Across Industries

Agriculture

  • Livestock monitoring – IoT platform tracks animal health, activity levels, and location, enabling early detection of illness and optimizing feeding schedules.
  • Precision irrigation – IoT devices in the field monitor soil moisture levels and weather conditions, allowing for optimal watering schedules and reducing water wastage.
  • Crop monitoring – Sensors monitor plant growth, detect diseases or pests early, and provide insights into ideal harvesting times.
  • Automated greenhouses – IoT systems control and automatically adjust temperature, humidity, and lighting in greenhouses to create ideal growing conditions for plants, increasing yield and efficiency.

Manufacturing

  • Predictive maintenance – IoT sensors on manufacturing equipment monitor performance in real-time, and, thanks to the analysis done in the cloud, predict potential failures and schedule human or remote maintenance to minimize downtime
  • Quality control – IoT devices monitor production processes, detect defects in real time, and automatically adjust machine settings to maintain product quality standards.
  • Supply chain optimization – IoT technology provides real-time visibility into the supply chain, enabling manufacturers to track shipments, monitor supplier performance, and identify opportunities for optimization.

Logistics

  • Live tracking – GPS devices track the location and status of shipments, providing real-time insights into the supply chain and enabling proactive management of delays or disruptions.
  • Predictive analytics – IoT sensors collect data on weather, traffic, and route conditions, enabling logistics companies to optimize delivery schedules and minimize costs.
  • Fleet management – IoT technology monitors vehicle performance, fuel consumption, and driver behavior, allowing route improvements, reducing fuel costs, and increasing safety.
  • Last-mile delivery optimization – The systems optimize last-mile delivery routes, reduce delivery times, and improve customer satisfaction by providing real-time updates and delivery notifications.

Mining

  • Safety monitoring – IoT devices detect hazardous gases and monitor air quality, and workers are alerted to prevent accidents and injuries.
  • Remote operations – The technology allows for the remote operation of mining machinery, reducing the need for workers to be physically present in dangerous environments.
  • Industrial efficiency – IoT systems monitor energy consumption and production in mining operations, identifying areas for optimization such as equipment usage, lighting, and HVAC systems, leading to cost savings and a reduced carbon footprint.
  • Environmental monitoring – IoT sensors monitor factors like water quality, noise levels, and dust particles, helping companies comply with environmental regulations and minimize their impact on surrounding ecosystems.

The Bright Future of IoT

Simply put, the Internet of Things helps you achieve more with less. It allows you to elevate efficiency, preempt issues, and streamline operations by leveraging the capability to gather and analyze data from diverse machines remotely in real-time. From agriculture to logistics and from manufacturing to mining, the applications of IoT are as expansive as they are impactful.

What's even better is that you don't have to navigate this transformative journey alone! Here at Spotflow, we specialize in providing developers with the tools they need to effortlessly collect, analyze, and manage data, allowing them to build smart IoT solutions tailored to your business needs. Send us a message today, and let's see how we can make your IoT life easier.

About Author

JAN KUCERA, CEO & CPO at Spotflow

Jan Kucera

CEO & CPO at Spotflow
Jan has a passion for computer science and technology. His expertise lies in creating cutting-edge technological platforms, which have been widely adopted by many Fortune 500 companies. Jan believes in prioritizing the product and placing users and their needs in the center. His ultimate goal is to revolutionize the rigid IoT industry and position Spotflow as the leading provider of IIoT platforms, helping IoT solutions builders to achieve their goals.
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