Technology is taking off at lightning speed, with many referring to the Internet of Things (IoT) as the fourth industrial revolution. The Internet of Things refers to devices other than computers that are connected to the Internet and can send and receive data. The main players are – the sensors, the reporter, and data analysis. Sensors monitor processes, take measurements and collect data. This data is sent to the data collection unit and router – which we refer to as the reporter. The reporter is essentially the intermediary between the sensors and the data analysis server. Data is collected by the reporter and packaged to be sent to the data analysis server. Once this data arrives at the data analysis server it is analysed in a coherent and coordinated manner.

Prior to IoT, it was extremely difficult if not impossible to intelligently analyse data. IoT technologies offer automated mechanisms for pulling machine data into data warehouses for analysis. The perks of IoT are endless, from predicting when a machine needs servicing before it breaks down to gleaning the habits of consumers in order to drive sales. In a nutshell IoT and business make sense.

IoT Sensors

Sensors are the troops of the “Internet of Things”, and have countless capabilities. They monitor processes, take measurements and collect data. Not every sensor is the same, and different IoT installations require different types of sensors. These sensors can be used in a myriad of different applications from smart homes to the factory floor, agriculture and industry.

Different sensors have different uses.

  • Temperature sensors – these sensors can be used practically anywhere for example, in agriculture and the factory floor where they can measure the temperature of machinery or even the temperature of the soil, water, and plants.
  • Proximity Sensors –  These sensors detect motion and in the retail environment for example when a customer is close to a particular product, the sensor sends a deal or coupon directly to that customer’s smartphone.
  • Pressure sensors – While transporting liquids or gasses, the containing vessel is subjected to varying temperatures which can increase or decrease the volume of the product inside the vessel. This increase/decrease of volume directly affects the pressure inside the vessel and could be disastrous. By using pressure sensors, an alarm can be triggered when a pressure rises above operating conditions.
  • Water quality sensors – are commonly used in precision agriculture, and water treatment to measure and monitor rainwater quality.
  • Chemical, smoke, and gas sensors – can be used to monitor the quality of air in smart buildings and smart cities.
  • Level sensors – these sensors measure the level of liquids and fluids such as slurries, granular materials and powders that exhibit an upper surface. These sensors play an important part in smart waste management and recycling. They are also useful in measuring tank levels; diesel fuel gauging; liquid assets inventory; high or low-level alarms and irrigation control.
  • IR sensors – infrared sensors have various uses such as;  visualising heat leaks in homes; for doctors to monitor blood flow, and to measure chemicals in the environment.

The points outlined above are just a few examples of where and how sensors can be put to use. These sensors can be applied and adapted to suit the particular needs of your business.

IoT Reporter

“The reporter ” to coin a phrase is essentially the intermediary agent between sensor gathering and data analysis. The reporter unit and router gather all the information gleaned from the sensors, package this information, and send all of this data to the data analysis server so that it can be processed and analysed. In simplistic terms, this could be compared to a print journalist gathering information for an article. Once all the information is gathered, an article is written, which is in turn sent to the editor to check and approve.

IoT Data analysis

Data gathered from sensors is sent to the reporter (collection unit and router), and then to the data analysis server where it is analysed in a coherent and coordinated manner. Before the advent of IoT analysing, an influx of unstructured data provided by various devices was extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to analyse. IoT technology offers automated mechanisms for pulling machine data into data warehouses. This data is analysed using technologies such as machine learning to create analytic reports, predictive analytics and classification reports.

The purpose of data analysis is that it enables you to run your business proactively rather than reactively, as you are alerted in advance when things need to be repaired, replaced or recalled. Furthermore, data analysis in the retail environment is invaluable when it comes to predicting trends and pinpointing customer frustrations. If the customer feels valued they are far more likely to support your business. By analysing data intelligently you are able to make informed decisions which complement your business strategy.

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