Category: Smart Industry

Design Thinking for Internet of Things

To launch an Internet of Things product is easy. The difficulty is to launch a good IoT product that solves a real consumer need or  improves a process in a factory. This means, create something to have an utility and usability and  take advantage of the IoT possibilities. Here, is where design thinking can help you. This trendy path involves company multidisciplinary teams in order to prioritize the user’s preferences or necessities. This is is the center of design thinking, realizing that  people have something to say about the products they will use. If you can include  the possibilities of IoT on it, probably your new product has less risks when you will decide to launch it in the market. With IoT, the product, the “things” can tell you too, how to improve a design. For example, an IoT product sends information about how the consumer use it and you can include these preferences to build another one or to include new features ( the real customer experience). If you know well the customer experience journey, it will be easy to have a good product design.  

Photo by Defi de la Rua
Photo by Delfi de la Rua

Some agencies around the world are now working in Design Thinking for all type of business working with very qualified and multidisciplinary teams. One of them is Altair. They have a specific lab to help companies in product design and include all the process: from the concept design and prototype to the test and prototyping.

AltairTL

Another example well know is Fjordnet a company bought by Accenture in 2013. They have a portfolio of works that you can see at their website. One of them was with the airline company Finnair and the objective was to change the customer experience and improve it with a digital solution around the complete travel of a customer and not only the flight.

Finnair

They are a few product design companies, like Enero, smaller but  specialized in IoT products and design.   

If you want to know more about Design Thinking , here are some book recommendations to start:

Book Designing Connected Products

Book The Design of Everyday Things

Designing Connected Products have been writing for different authors and describes well all the path: From the differences of user experience with Iot products, the technology of connected devices , how to translate the research in products definitions, prototyping,….

If you are new to design and want to start with the basics, a good start is: The Design of Every Day Things was published for first time in 1988. the author Don Norman is an electric Engineer and a Phycologist and he puts in value concepts related with human behaviour, design and things.A must.

 

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5 Business Ideas to Automatize Processes with IoT

The Internet of Things and Cloud Computing have been accelerating the digitization of different economic sectors from the last 30 years. This is exactly the case of the Industrial Sector, where pioneers, started decades ago working on digitization and process automation, always looking better efficiency in their processes to be more competitive. This digital revolution of  Process Automation started in the fabrication area, inside the factories,  where the computers started managing connected machines and business systems.

Ten year ago, match in time  with the first mobility technologies and other technologies like Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) or GPS Systems in real time, another process started in the factories: the automation of processes outside factories, like logistic systems. Nowadays it seems normal to see traceability packages from factories to clients or in other areas of supply chain like inventory warehouse. Since a few year ago, many companies in different sectors are including Internet of Things in their strategies to transform and digitalize their businesses. The consequences  of introducing this tech are various and can give an answer to many different cases. The Process Automation outside factories is a good illustration about the use of IoT technologies to cost reduction and better efficiency.

When a company decides to transform their products into connected products, including sensors and internet connectivity into them, on one hand they want to explore new business models and in other hand  they also can use this information to automate some processes thanks the new information available or remote control over the products.There are so many examples already available, for example about Condition Monitoring ( we wrote a post about that here with a few examples)  on of them is Max, an elevator of Thyssen Krupp.

In the lift case,The elevators companies can introduce IoT in their maintenance processes and  include some sensors to receive information, analyze that and can predict some errors or failures before they happen. This improvement is a big change because now you can have the information in real time and before this specific information was only available if the maintenance team are there. The evolution of lifts towards the Internet of Things to the lift permits :

  1. Analyzing operational data from distance and improve the predictive maintenance, avoid failures  for example in some pieces that are starting to work improperly. It can automatize the maintenance, programming better scheduled calendar, including less maintenance.
  2. Improving the on-site maintenance by automating the process of provisioning the list of materials needed by the technician to do the job on the first visit. Therefore avoiding a second visit an intervention with the associated extra cost.    
  3. Automate the supervision of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) guarantee and process. Because you have real time information about availability and operation of the equipment, companies can improve their warranty service.
  4. Some quality processes can be automatize too, because now you have almost all the  statistical  information needed in the detection defective parts or production batches.  
  5. Billing processes can be improved by IoT too, for example including new variables like usage based billing usage conditions.

The Automation Process for connected objects is just one of the multiples choices  and challenges that  Internet of Things offers. If we have a map of the processes of a company, we will surely see IoT impacting in most of them. In some cases we can even see how the process is transformed from a manual process into a fully automated process.

Take for example a car rental through a mobile app . Thanks to IoT, now you can choose a car in one point of a city and return it in another place without human interaction in the process. Companies like Car2go and Emov are already this service in Madrid City.

Are you thinking to improve your business processes and be more efficiency with IoT? Contact us, tell us about your business  and we offer our best IoT solution to you.

Recently our CEO Miguel Castillo was invited by ICEMD (spanish) to write an article about Process Automation and IoT. This post is not a literal traduction but include some of his words in that.
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Is Blockchain a game changer for the Supply Chain?

Probably you are already familiar with the the Blockchain concept. It is like a Digital Big Bookkeeping in which the information is distributed and safely stored in many places instead of in a single bookkeeper. These places are databases that offer  the  guarantee that the information is always true using the Blockchain algorithms. Using Blockchain for record and track transactions can be useful in many ways, one of the most interesting is the traceability of products, like food. This can revolutionize the food supply chain  and this is precisely the idea of initiatives like Provenance.

Provenance  defines itself like a “platform  that empowers brands to take steps toward greater transparency by tracing the origins and history of products”. They use blockchain, for example  in a pilot about tracking tuna from Indonesia with a traceability tool: a great idea, don’t you think? This  pilot was developed from january to june this year, tracking yellowfin and tuna fish from fisherman to export stage. And at the end of the chain, consumers  have access to all the information about the product:  from the data of the tuna catches to  the conversion in factories in tuna cans. The quality, the ethic, the day of the catches …  this is the revolution, the access to the all the information in the chain and the guarantee that always this information is true.

Mega-Diagram

Actual players in distribution, like Walmart, are taking positions working in programs to track food and put chinese pork on a blockchain. Thinking for a moment about that: you can see all the steps of a product chain until it arrives in your hands. You can also check the authenticity of it, if you want ( including second hand products!)  Is it the end of fake products thanks to blockchain? Can brands protect their creations from fraud? The global trade of counterfeit products are worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year said by OECD. Brands want to protect from fakes and this is an opportunity for new business like VeChain  who use blockchain technology to protect brands & products. Check also BlockVerify and how they  track pharmaceutical products by offering a to ensure consumers that they receive an original product.

Blockverify

In this point  new business and new paradigms are changing some industries and emerge new type of business like Everledger that actually works avoiding fraud and following an ethic chain path in diamonds.

Everledger

The benefits of putting Blockchain technology in the supply chain systems are huge and we will see more wonderful ideas of companies and how old industries adapt to it. The way to do contracts (Smart Contracts), banks and venture capital companies are the first interesting parts in blockchain, surely you read some news about partnerships and ideas around them.

As you can imagine, in order to use Blockchain technology in the supply chain, some of the systems have to implement IoT devices in order to get new sources of data.   

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Condition Monitoring: real examples of use

Ever wondered how many machines fail around the world every second? It might be impossible to know the exact number because most of the machines are not connected to a system where they can report errors. If the machine is critical to your business or to your life, you might have a maintenance contract to prevent failures or at least have a repair as soon as possible. Companies providing maintenance contracts have tried to prevent failures in their systems by programing periodic inspections and maintenances job and to avoid common failures. Normally periodic inspections follow a protocol the check the parts of the machine and try to fix minor malfunctions to avoid a big one. Internet of Things, in some industries, has revolutionized the maintenance process by introducing Condition Monitoring Systems that can prevent malfunctions and sudden failures. Condition Monitoring, picks data that machinery is transmitting while it operates ( like temperature, vibrations,fluids, electronic data, power consumptions …), analysing them and combining with other external information ( like site conditions, for example the weather or the repair history) . Mix all the data, process it with the right tools and workflows and as result you can predict possible failures.

Verizon has a special division working in develop IoT Products in Smart Monitoring & Management ( you have the link at the end of the post) , if you see the next video you understand better what Condition Monitoring is:

The connected machinery and the Internet of Things allows to have important data to analyze and to program better maintenance jobs. This new procedure is very important for the people who work with this machinery (sometimes very dangerous) trying to prevent possible accidents and helping the Maintenance Team “predict” better inspections. In fact, Condition Monitoring has become a very important step in the Maintenance Strategy. Big companies like Caterpillar (CAT) are working with this technology in many fields and improving it every day to offer better solutions, one example you can see in the video about how Cat® MineStar™ Health works:

The benefits are huge: more secure machines, planned maintenance becomes more effective, important reductions in repair costs and an increase in the machine life expectancy. The IoT has changed the Maintenance Concept of many industries and machines and there are already many examples around us, like in the elevators of ThyssenKrupp.

Sometimes, there are machines working in hostile environments and access to them is difficult. In this case we can combine Condition Monitoring with Remote Diagnosis of the problems. Siemens has expertise in the area. They use remote monitoring and diagnosis in wind turbines deployed worldwide, normally in remote areas to collect all sort of alarms remotely but also detecting potential errors before become major failures.

Carriots Iot Platform is already used by several of our industrial customers in their Condition Monitoring strategy. Our software is a building block of the solution, easy to integrate with existing devices and IT systems used in maintenance workflows. If you are a manufacturer of machinery willing to offer new maintenance services, or a company providing maintenance services, don’t hesitate to contact us!

For further information:

http://www.verizonenterprise.com/products/internet-of-things/smart-monitoring-management/condition-based-maintenance/
http://www.cat.com/
https://max.thyssenkrupp-elevator.com/es/
http://www.energy.siemens.com/co/en/services/renewable-energy/wind-power/remote-diagnostics.htm

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