By: Matthieu Le Taillandier, General Manager of France, UK, Ireland, and Benelux, STANLEY Security
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a shift in what business leaders want from their security infrastructure. As organisations navigate new ways of working, there is growing demand for an “always-on” approach; leaders require 360-degree visibility into their operations, but they are also looking to use these solutions for competitive advantage. Internet of Things (IoT) technology can deliver both.
With IoT, an organisation’s material assets – inventory, equipment, machinery, or entire buildings – are connected to a single network. Smart sensors then enable the collection of real-time information on the status of those assets, facilitating remote management. These devices are not new, but their applications are expanding rapidly with advances in technologies such as cloud computing and 5G. Juniper Research forecasts that, by 2024, IoT connections will more than double to 83 billion.
By leveraging IoT technology, along with a comprehensive security strategy and proper security solutions, organisations can not only better protect their assets but optimise their operations, driving improvements in efficiency, quality, and customer service.
Reactive to proactive security
Using data to accelerate business transformation is high on the agenda for every leader, but many are overlooking the valuable insight that can be gleaned from their physical assets. With IoT, organisations can harness the power of real-time alerts and long-term insights to help safeguard their people, assets and materials.
IoT technology allows for real-time asset monitoring, tracking location and environmental factors to help prevent the loss of valuable resources. It can also help to enhance employee safety, enabling workers to call for help if they feel unsafe or observe unsafe behaviour, and aiding evacuation in emergency situations.
But the wealth of data gathered by these devices enables organisations to go beyond reacting to imminent threats. With the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, organisations can identify patterns and exceptions in the data, powering the shift to more proactive and predictive asset management.
Not only is this important for business security, but for increasing operational efficiencies and meeting evolving customer expectations. Having 24/7 sight of assets – where they are, how long they’ve been there, and where they are in their lifecycle – can provide managers and operations leaders with a holistic view of processes, enabling them to enhance workflows.
Leveraging IoT for smarter supply chains
The pandemic caused widespread disruption to global supply chain. Smart technologies such as IoT will be vital in delivering the insight needed to keep supply chains moving. Without this data, companies risk further delays, waste, lost sales, customer dissatisfaction, and liability.
The interconnectivity provided by IoT solutions will be a driving force of Industry 4.0, with one of the key use cases being equipment optimisation. Downtime can be costly, but with internet-enabled sensors, operators can monitor machinery to track where it is in its lifecycle and anticipate maintenance requirements. And when equipment does malfunction, data on temperature, vibration and leak detection will provide insight into the cause, helping to prevent future breakdowns.
IoT insights can also shine a spotlight on process inefficiencies. When manufacturers can monitor the movement of assets along the production line, they can identify and address key points of delay that are leaving workers – and goods – idle.
Once goods have left the factory, logistics managers face the challenge of tracking their location and condition while they are in transit. Connected cargo containers – fitted with IoT devices and sensors – collect and share information such as the location, security, internal temperature and expected arrival time of shipments, this technology is known as Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS). This tech allows operators to receive real-time notifications if a container deviates from its planned route, experiences a change in conditions, or has its doors opened at an unusual time, allowing quick action to prevent product loss. This enhanced visibility can ultimately reduce shipping costs and lead times.
The retail sector has started to see IoT-driven disruption more recently, with one of the leading applications being automated inventory management. By tagging inventory, monitoring solutions can detect when stock is running low and trigger the reorder process. Not only do “smart shelves” reduce the risk of human error but, paired with business systems, they can identify trends in customer activity and help to optimise stock levels for different locations. This information can lead to more efficient use of capital and increased customer satisfaction.
Unlocking your asset-based intelligence
As organisations build back from the pandemic, and their focus expands beyond resolving immediate health and safety challenges, investment in security is becoming much more than an obligatory cost; it is being recognised as a key driver of value. IoT enables organisations to unlock the insights held by their assets, enabling them to use their human and capital resources safely and effectively. This will be an ongoing necessity for businesses looking to thrive in 2022 and beyond.