IoT is a giant, digitally connected universe of billions of physical devices around the world; “things” that collect and share data about how they’re used and the environment around them. These objects are embedded with internet connectivity, software, sensors and other hardware that enable them to connect and exchange data with other systems and devices over the web.
IoT extends the power of the internet beyond smartphones and computers to ordinary household objects such as lightbulbs, locks, smart microwaves, wearable fitness devices, sophisticated industrial tools, and self-driving cars, affording them a higher degree of analytical and computing capabilities.
How automation is connecting the IoT devices
- Sensors to collect the data from the environment for the IoT system to process it
- Connection and identification from the device to the IoT system through an IP address
- Actuators that allow the devices to take action based on data from their own sensors and network feedback
- IoT gateway to bridge data from the different devices to reach the cloud. It also translates the devices’ protocols into one standard protocol and filters out unnecessary data from the devices.
- The cloud, where all data from the IoT devices is gathered and processed by software
- User interface, from where users get the data from the devices so that they can make the required commands that the devices need to execute
The advantages of automation in IoT
- Increased uptime
Uptime refers to how long your business is open or running. Employees come in and leave at specific times, so unless their shifts overlap, your business will only be open for a specific number of hours every day. When your business processes are automated, there are no time restrictions, so your business can run around the clock. Your employees will not have to focus on repetitive, manual tasks, freeing them for higher-level work.
In factories, where engineers fix faults in machinery or other devices, automation can save time and efficiency costs because software bots can pinpoint the exact source of the fault and notify engineers so that they can fix it quickly and get things back up and running.
- Operational efficiency
In supply chain and asset management, automation and IoT bring intelligence through sensors and scanning technologies. These help companies improve existing technologies such as barcodes by supplementing them with passive radio-frequency identification (RFID) such as tracker tags to perform cycle counts or a global positioning system (GPS) for equipment and fleet management.
- Improve safety compliance
For businesses dealing in perishable goods whether it’s a production company or retail business. IoT and automation enable better compliance by ensuring refrigerated food products don’t exceed or go below the FDA regulations on temperature thresholds. They can help ensure customers get products that are fit for human consumption and allow for timely response to any problems that arise to avoid recalls.
In factories where manufacturers automate maintenance reporting and diagnostics, the combined solution of automation and IoT can provide information on each aspect of the manufacturing process to reduce accidents and increase efficiency.
- Strengthened Security Access and Control through Technology
While IoT technology may introduce many attack vectors to automation systems, it also presents the solution. Physically, IoT automation can detect the presences of unauthorized individuals and alert authorities, automatically locking doors, or preventing access altogether. Advanced computer security can also take advantage of automation to defend against cyber attackers. Automation helps defenders make visible their entire network, adhere to a policy-based approach to system configuration, management, and security, and conduct many of the low-level maintenance tasks automatically while alerting IT teams of more serious breaches, or patterns that may signal attacks.
Disadvantages of IoT Automation
- Greater Connectivity Increases Attack Vectors
Unfortunately, adding more devices means more vectors for cyber attackers. IoT security is a branch of security practices that aims to solve this growing concern.
- Internet Dependency
IoT and automation are heavily dependent on the Internet to function. Redundant connectivity systems are advisable, whereas losing connectivity even for a short while could seriously cripple production with huge costs.
- IoT Planning, Building, Management Complexities
There is significant planning, building, and management of the complexities in IoT automated systems. For all their advantages, engineers must still be actively involved in these systems to ensure they continue to operate as intended.