It seems like everyone is talking about the Internet of Things (IoT). Connected devices are all the rage: from smart watches to smart traffic lights, our personal gadgets, business systems, and government objects and appliances are always on, always connected, and always transmitting data.
The CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, has predicted that the IoT will generate $14 trillion in profits over the next decade. And the McKinsey Global Institute expects the IoT to have the third largest economic impact through 2025 (behind only that of mobile internet and automation of knowledge work).
Gartner has created a graph of emerging technologies and their journey toward becoming mainstream. On it, the Internet of Things has reached the height of its hype and is well on its way toward the plateau of productivity.
Many sources are examining the devices that comprise the IoT. According to BusinessInsider, “device shipments will reach 6.7 billion in 2019 for a five-year CAGR of 61% . . . the enterprise sector will lead the IoT, accounting for 46% of device shipments this year.” And according to Intel, by 2020, there will be 200 billion smart devices comprising the IoT, which equates to 26 smart objects for every human being.
But focusing our discussions of Internet of Things solely on the devices is completely missing the point. In fact, it is the data that is gathered by these devices that will be fueling the great changes that will come from the IoT revolution.
To examine the IoT as it relates to the businesses, which drive the trends, is to examine the buildings, the systems, and the individual devices that drive the business.
The Building Internet of Things (BIoT)
Commercial buildings, manufacturing sites, and retail facilities have an internet of things of their own. Lighting systems, HVAC, computers, equipment, and many other devices power the building and the business within its walls. Again, the devices themselves may boast interesting technological advancements and innovations (like energy star ratings or CFL lighting), but it is the data gathered from monitoring these devices that’s truly powerful and enlightening for business.
It is the data that helps streamline processes and enables operational efficiencies that run buildings more intelligently and profitably.
To track and monitor the energy consumption of devices and systems, forward-thinking enterprises are installing wireless CT energy submeters at the device level. They track the power consumption of each device, aggregate the data in real time, and benchmark it against other devices at similar locations or industry standards. With this new advancement, these companies are ensuring equipment optimization and effectiveness by getting alerts of anomalies that can save them from costly equipment failures. They easily optimize consumption, infrastructure, and behavior.
Early detection of malfunctioning equipment
When The North Face needed to cut energy costs and improve operational efficiencies , they installed circuit-level energy sensors in four retail locations. These BIoT sensors sent the data they gathered into an intelligence engine that aggregated the data and computed it to deliver insightful operational optimizations.
For example, managers received a real-time alert when energy consumption data revealed that the AC fan system in one location was not working properly. This enabled the store to realize a 69,420 kWh/year ($10,500) savings and avoid an equipment failure.
By tracking the devices and benchmarking the locations against each other, they discovered that in another location, the HVAC system’s air handlers were over-cycling. Thanks to this notification, they saved 16,016 KW. The combined energy and maintenance savings was approximately $2,250.
Early detection of malfunctioning equipment saves time and money and lengthens the life of equipment. It also enables companies to transition from costly and time-intensive preventative maintenance schedules to predictive maintenance, which is based on data, and calls for service only when service is truly needed, eliminating unnecessary downtime and exorbitant repair costs.
The benefits of device-level monitoring do not end with early detection of malfunctions. The North Face project was also able to pinpoint off-hours lighting consumption in one location that led to a 10% annual energy savings.
Other projects have been able to alert management when BMS systems have been overridden. For example, an automation system may be overridden for a one-time weekend meeting, which requires lights and air condition. But if the person who initiated the override forgets to cancel it, systems may waste energy every weekend indefinitely. Monitoring these devices reduces waste.
By gathering data from all devices all the time, without interrupting the businesses processes, we are able to study the energy profiles and enact efficiency measures that save energy and save money.
When we talk about the Internet of Things and its place among corporate agendas, we must also consider sustainability and other Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives and their place as well. CSR often relies heavily on a behavioral element, and facilitating behavioral change is most effective when it can be backed by data.
That is, telling employees that they need to save energy is not as effective as presenting them with data about which device is inefficient and how their behavior can contribute to energy efficiency in the short run, which contributes to company profits in the long run.
But what about the devices?
Without connected devices, there would be no Internet of Things. The devices are important; they are the crux of IoT. Their advancements are important. Our devices are becoming faster, smarter, less expensive, and more connected – and that is all great for business and great for businesspeople.
But the real greatness of the Internet of Things is not only in its devices, but also in the data we gather from those devices and the insight that data lends itself to. With the data, our energy consumption becomes more efficient, our energy expense is lessened, and our buildings and businesses benefit.
Through the IoT’s data, our businesses and industries are more efficient because the IoT connects processes, people, data, and devices.