Solving Real-World Business Challenges with IoT

The Head of Automation Development, IoT, and Analytic Solutions at Alfa Laval, Jan Acklin, shares his knowledge on the practical applications of IoT, providing guidance for businesses considering implementing IoT into their operations.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a transformative force in today’s world, promising a myriad of benefits in both consumer and industrial applications – from enhancing convenience in our daily lives to optimizing operations and efficiency in various industries.

As we navigate this evolving IoT ecosystem, the question that often arises is: what are the most interesting and innovative applications of IoT for businesses today? 

To answer this question, we sat down with Jan Ackalin, the head of automation development, IoT, and analytic solutions at Alfa Laval.

Enhancing production uptime

In industrial settings, IoT is making a significant impact by enhancing production uptime – ensuring that the equipment is available precisely when expected, as Jan explains. Different industries have different production demands. Some industries require equipment to operate continuously, while others may have intermittent production runs during specific seasons or for short batches.

By providing real-time monitoring, predictive maintenance, data-driven decision-making, remote control, and customized alerts, IoT technology helps organizations maximize equipment availability and performance.

As a result, businesses can achieve higher OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) levels, reduce downtime, and ultimately improve their bottom line through increased productivity and cost savings.

Performance and yield improvement

The benefits of IoT for businesses extend beyond the factory floor. Jan highlighted that the fundamental idea behind IoT is to achieve better results and performance using fewer resources, and it can be applied to multiple industries. He illustrates this concept with two examples:

“Take agriculture, for example. IoT sensors optimize irrigation, fertilization, and planting schedules, resulting in increased crop yield without the need for additional resources. Another good example is smart buildings – IoT systems adjust heating, cooling, and lighting based on real-time data, leading to significant energy savings,” Jan explains.

Contributing to cost efficiency

Cost efficiency is at the heart of IoT’s value proposition for businesses, particularly in the realm of Industrial IoT (IIoT).

IoT empowers organizations to optimize both initial purchase costs and ongoing operational expenses.

In a manufacturing facility, IoT sensors can be installed on production equipment. By collecting and analyzing data from the sensors, organizations can gain insights into their usage patterns and make informed decisions about the capacity they need, ensuring they don’t overinvest in resources. 

IoT sensors can also detect signs of equipment wear or potential failures in advance, as Jan explains. By addressing maintenance needs proactively, organizations can reduce the cost of operation and prevent costly breakdowns, ultimately improving efficiency. 

Another way IoT contributes to cost efficiency is by optimizing energy and resource consumption. By monitoring and controlling systems in real-time, organizations can reduce energy and water usage, directly impacting operating costs.

It’s worth noting that similar principles can be applied in various other industrial sectors, including energy, logistics, and agriculture, where efficient resource management, predictive maintenance, and energy optimization are key factors for success.

Ensuring regulatory compliance

Jan also explained how IoT plays a crucial role in helping businesses ensure compliance with regulations. Governments and industries are introducing rules, such as environmental impact tracking. Tamper-proof solutions are favored by third-party entities overseeing compliance approvals and certifications, so it’s essential to have systems and technologies in place that are secure and resistant to tampering or manipulation.

To illustrate, let’s consider a manufacturing company tasked with tracking its carbon emissions to meet stringent environmental regulations. It implements IoT sensors throughout its facilities to monitor emissions in real time. These sensors collect data and securely transmit it through encrypted channels to a central system, making it extremely challenging for unauthorized parties to alter or manipulate the information.

Moreover, IoT excels in streamlining the administrative tasks associated with compliance reporting, significantly reducing the burden of manual labor. By automating data collection, analysis, and reporting, organizations can submit compliance reports promptly and with a heightened level of accuracy. The result is not only efficient reporting but also enhanced data integrity, an invaluable asset in industries where adherence to regulations and standards is paramount.

Success lies in finding problems worth solving

Jan offered valuable advice for businesses looking to adopt IoT solutions. One key piece of advice is to avoid adopting IoT simply because it’s a popular trend. Companies must have a clear understanding of how IoT aligns with their specific business needs and use cases.

Overinvesting in technology without a well-defined strategy often leads to failure.

Additionally, he encourages companies to prepare to rethink their practices and culture when integrating IoT. “It can be difficult for companies with long-standing practices to make this transition smoothly, and resistance to change within the organization can be a major challenge,” Jan warned.

In conclusion, Jan emphasized the importance of choosing the right technology partner:

“In our experience, Infinum has proven to be a reliable partner. Our relationship was like a harmonious dance. In a dance, both people included need to participate and respond to the changes in rhythm and pace. Infinum has been able to keep up with our pace, taking the lead whenever necessary.”