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How IoT solutions can help industry pivot post COVID-19

Published datePublished: Aug 6, 2020 ViewsViews: 2119
Deepak Sinha

Deepak Sinha

CTO
Deepak is a hands-on Technology Leader with expertise in designing software solutions for various successful projects for multinationals. He has total experience of 15+ years and has worked on all the phases of application development and has good experience in open source and mobile technologies. He is passionate on new Technologies and has strong interest on Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence etc.
How IoT solutions can help industry pivot post COVID-19

NBA players will wear intelligent rings to bring basketball back to its fans and safely continue the 2019-2020 season from July 30. As COVID-19 restrictions ease out, all businesses are now looking at technologies to help them resume their operations safely.  

When the COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020, technology helped ensure business continuity to a great extent by enabling working from home and remote collaboration. Different industries are looking at ways to use technology to continue working from home, maintain social distancing norms, and perform contactless transactions. IoT is uniquely placed to facilitate an intelligent recovery as it enables devices/assets placed physically apart to communicate & connect. 

How IoT can help Industry post COVID-19

IoT has emerged as the most viable solution in helping companies improve their products and services in a safe and hygienic way for their customers and employees. Of course, other technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are also pivotal, but IoT solutions can be the most effective. Let us see how. 

Physical distancing using IoT Solutions

People can return to offices only if they have safe workplace placesAs of now, since the situation hasn’t improved much, the home remains the safest out of all, and hence, work from home is here to stay within the corporate offices, at least for the short term. 

However, there are many situations where working from home or a safe space is not possible, like in the manufacturing industry, assembly lines, healthcare, retail stores, etc. Therefore, the biggest HR challenge of the day is ensuring safety for employees returning to work. In such a scenario, businesses must ensure that their customers and employees are safe.

Smart wearables and location-specific IoT sensors can regularly monitor if the employees in the factory or any other workspace are ensuring a safe distance from each other while working, and alerts can be sent to the central system if anything gets violated. Moreover, through integration with AI, it can also help in designing optimal workflows within the facility. 

Building up a Safe Working Space Using IoT Solutions

span data-contrast= “auto”>With Covid-19 travel restrictions being put in place, it is again impossible to visit work locations regularly and keep a manual safety check on all the assets, equipment & processes. Such regular checks are needed not only to prevent equipment downtime but also to ensure the safety of employees working in that place. IoT can help here by enabling remote monitoring and management of assets. For instance, machines in a factory, cold storage for a food business, inventory of a hospitality business, air conditioning unit of a building, etc., all can be monitored remotely through a centralized dashboard providing all the essential information.

Remote asset monitoring and management can then be integrated with AI-based systems to ensure predictive maintenance & immediate actions. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses already using IoT for automating their processes need to scale up further. Those not using IoT must introduce it within their facilities to resume operations. 

Contactless transactions with IoT Solutions

The same technology that enables people to work safely and remotely can be used to ensure contactless transactions. For instance, if two employees or a customer and a retail executive or two customers in a queue come too close to each other, a warning signal can be used to ensure safe distancing. The primary requirement here is that processes must be automated as much as possible to increase the possibilities of a contactless transaction 

What we have discussed now applies to all industries and work styles. Let us look at specific industries that can benefit by leveraging IoT to ensure the safe restarting of business activities. 

Industry use cases for Implementation of IoT Solutions 

IoT in the Hospitality industry

Hospitality is one of the worst-hit industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic because it thrives on a person to personal contact. Traveling or eating out is not a basic human need, so people find it easier to eliminate it from their daily lives when needed. IoT in hospitality can help implement social distancing and hygiene norms. IoT and big data can transform the hospitality industry and help get it back on its feet. Here are a few ways in which this can happen: 

Contactless device control – An intelligent interface that allows the guest to control all the devices in the room, like television, lights, thermostat, etc., can minimize the need to touch multiple surfaces, improving hygiene and health safety. The same device can additionally be used to kill the bacteria and viruses in the atmosphere using ultraviolet rays. 

Contactless services – IoT devices can be a good substitute for room service, payments, language translation, etc. , minimizing the need for face-to-face contact. 

Resource optimization – Motion and temperature sensors installed in rooms and public areas of the property can ensure optimum utilization of resources for maintaining temperature and lighting conditions. 

Cost optimization – Data collected from devices and sensors on the IoT network can enable businesses to optimize variable costs like electricity, water, room service, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), etc. Hospitality is a labor-intensive industry. Occupancy trends can help optimize staff requirements, cutting labor costs. 

IoT in the Manufacturing industry

Manufacturing is an investment-intensive industry. The current shutdown has pushed many organizations into the red, and they need to recover as fast as possible. The Industrial Internet of Things (II0T) can help businesses improve productivity while operating in safe conditions using interconnected intelligent devices. Businesses that were already using IIoT partially needed to implement it more widely. Those still not in Industry 4.0 need to embrace it immediately. Find below some of how IoT in the manufacturing industry can be helpful: 

Social distancing – Ensuring social distancing on assembly lines is a nightmare for most Industries. IoT devices and sensors can be installed so that an alarm alert goes off when people come too close to each other. 

Predictive maintenance – Most Industries already have had too much downtime and would want to keep further downtime to a minimum. Predictive maintenance through sensors and intelligent tags can ensure that there is no breakdown of equipment and hence disruption in the assembly line.  

Process automation – Predictive maintenance can be designed to trigger remote inspection when required to make the equipment maintenance process contactless. As the number of automated processes increases, the amount of physical interaction required decreases. 

Data insights – Due to the pandemic restrictions, manufacturing units have had to divide work into shifts, reschedule timings, and calibrate production according to demands. IoT can combine the data collected with artificial intelligence and analytics to provide insights necessary to make these changes in real time.  

IoT in the Healthcare industry

Digitization of the healthcare industry has been ongoing over the past few years. However, given the recent pandemic and the cits challenges and more providers need to embrace IoT technologies to ensure the rapid adoption of innovative healthcare solutions. 

Remote healthcare – Telemedicine and remote care have made inroads into traditional healthcare but need to scale up quickly if the Healthcare industry is to cope with the surge in demand. There needs to be wider adoption of telemedicine, especially for routine treatments, so patients do not need to come to the hospital and risk exposure to coronavirus. 

Use of robots – Medical robots can help in COVID-19 detection centers by measuring temperature, delivering medicines, and disinfecting the premises. The data being collected can then be used by other devices in the IoT network to take appropriate action. 

Connected diagnostics – Imaging and other diagnostic equipment can be connected to the healthcare providers so that they receive the results directly. This eliminates the need for patients to visit their healthcare practitioners to get prescriptions or medical advice. 

Equipment maintenance  Correct functioning of medical equipment is crucial to ensure uninterrupted healthcare services. Innovative equipment or sensors and intelligent tags attached to brownfield devices enable continuous monitoring and predictive maintenance. IoT technology can also optimize these resources, cutting operating costs. 

IoT in Retail Industry

Retail InIndustryas have been severely affected by the pandemic, especially brick-and-mortar stores, due to the social distancing and hygiene norms in place. However, with the help of IoT, they can bounce back and gain more customer loyalty by showing that they care. 

Avoid crowds within stores — Automated counting of people entering an area, be it a shopping mall or a standalone store, can be used to monitor whether more people can enter or they must wait for some of the customers inside to leave. Footfall counters can also double up as compliance facilitators so they don’t fall foul of the authorities. 

Contactless in-store delivery – Robots can deliver goods to the aisles or a specific area. This might bring about a feeling of insecurity among the existing employees. Hence, businesses must convince their employees that this is not to replace human resources but to make them more efficient and safer. 

Data insights – Actionable data from sensors placed strategically inside the stores can help gain insights into shopping traffic patterns. This can help them prepare for shoppers with total safety and hygiene in place. 

Enforcing social distancing – Indoor positioning and location-aware IoT technology can help understand how long people are standing in queues and work towards decreasing that time. 

Inventory optimization – Optimizing inventory is the most crucial use of IoT app development in the retail industry. Beacons, smart tags, sensors, card tracking, and in-store navigation can collect data about which goods are in demand and enable stores to quickly adapt to the changing customer demand. 

IoT in the Pharmaceuticals industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has further underlined the need to optimize capacity utilization, strengthen supply chains, and increase production in the pharmaceutical inIndustryThe global need to produce more drugs at scale has never been felt more acutely. But supply chains have been disrupted due to the pandemic, drug production has decreased, and R&D activities have taken a beating. Post-pandemic, the pharma industry needs to figure out how to boost both R&D and the production of drugs while keeping researchers and workers safe. IoT can be of help in their three-pronged strategy to pivot post-Covid-19. 

Supply chain management – IoT devices, sensors, and tags can remotely monitor the end-to-end supply chain, from procuring API (active pharmaceutical ingredients) to shipping the drugs to the end user. This is crucial in the pharma supply chain as varying temperatures and weather conditions can spoil the products and hence needs to be monitored continuously. Post-pandemic, patient-centric healthcare would be the new normal owing to the greater use of telemedicine and connected healthcare. So, the supply chain would change too. 

Drug manufacturing environment – IoT can help maintain the ambient temperature and other environmental conditions necessary to produce drugs. The equipment can also be equipped with intelligent tags and beacons to monitor them. All these data can be fed into a dashboard that alerts a supervisor when action needs to be taken. This eliminates the need to verify the drug production environment or inspect equipment physically. 

Drug research and development  Drug development environment parameters like temperature, humidity, light, radiation, etc., must be exact. A failure at any level can mean the scrapping of the whole project, leading to huge losses. The pharmaceutical industry’s IoT can help monitor and manage these conditions in real time. 

IoT in Logistics & Transportation

The supply chain was deeply affected — as evidenced by the lack of essential goods – due to the COVID-19 restrictions and is still recovering considerably. Business leaders feel IoT can be a great enabler in putting supply chains in order so that everyone is prepared to operate effectively in future disruptions and shutdowns 

Real-time Cargo Data – Sensors and intelligent tags can provide a real-time data analysis of the transported containers. IoT in logistics can monitor container variables like temperature, humidity, etc., and detect theft or spoilage. The supervisors can monitor the data on a single dashboard, and alerts can be received immediately in an emergency. As an incident in the supply chain has a cascading effect on downstream activities, real-time insights can help prepare for emergencies. 

Tracking Fleet Operations – With the help of GPS-based sensors, IoT in Transportation can help track fleets. Fleet operators can use IoT to monitor driver behavior and patterns while ensuring optimum fleet utilization. Moreover, it can also assist in keeping real-time track of a vehicle’s location, idle time, running speed, average speed, etc. 

How TechAhead can help 

As discussed, IoT can help your business recover at speed post-COVID-19. However, you must be careful in adopting IoT to achieve maximum benefits with minimum investments. After all, your business has already lost revenue over the past few months due to the pandemic. The first step in adopting IoT to pivot your business must be understanding where it stands and how it can benefit from IoTYou can take the help of an in-house expert or external business analyst. Remember that having all expertise for implementing IoT inhouse is unnecessary. You can always take the help of experts for everything from understanding business requirements to development and maintenance. 

TechAhead has a team of IoT solution specialists experienced in end-to-end IoT application development. From analyzing business requirements and designing a solution to mobile app development and providing maintenance supportTechAhead has the required expertise in all domains associated with IoTIf you already have the technical experts for developing the application but need help understanding the business requirements or using the proper framework for developing the application, our consultants and business analysts can help you. 

Summary

The technology ensured business continuity through remote work and collaboration during the COVID-19 lockdown. As the economy opens up slowly, technology will again help businesses pivot. Businesses are exploring technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, cloud computing, etc., but the main center of attraction out of all that is going to play a massive role in IoT. This is because it can easily facilitate the three primary conditions businesses need to put in place — having a safe working space, ensuring physical distancing, and performing contactless transactions. 

IoT can help Industries like healthcare, retail, hospitality, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, etc., to get back to work while complying with social distancing and hygiene norms to ensure employee and customer safety.

Also, read about: 8 Best Android, iOS Pregnancy Apps for Moms in 2020

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