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4 ways the Internet of Things (IoT) can help business owners

September 7, 2021

In recent years, smart devices—like smart home security systems, wearable fitness trackers and in-home voice assistants—have grown in popularity. According to research from McKinsey & Company, there were 12.5 billion network-connected devices in the world a decade ago. By 2025, that number is projected to reach more than 50 billion.1

Together, smart devices are a part of the Internet of Things (IoT)—a network of devices that are all connected to the internet and equipped with sensors that transmit, collect and share data. IoT devices aren’t simply beneficial for personal use either, and they are already changing the way businesses in industries like manufacturing, construction, retail and hospitality approach their operations. The following are just some of the ways IoT technology can help businesses:

  1. Building efficiencies—IoT devices can help businesses streamline their operations, either by eliminating unnecessary steps from their processes or by simplifying certain tasks. For example, a restaurant could equip its industrial coolers with IoT devices that measure and report the temperatures in the coolers throughout the day. Traditionally, this process is done manually; however, using IoT-enabled sensors, restaurants can set up automatic reports that document the temperature in the coolers in an easy-to-access report. Additionally, these sensors can alert that business if there are issues with the coolers that need to be addressed.
  2. Improving preventive maintenance—Equipment business owners use often requires routine maintenance to keep it performing at its best. Failing to maintain such equipment can result in costly breakdowns and disruptions. Thankfully, IoT technology can help businesses monitor equipment, reminding them when to perform maintenance or alerting them to potential issues.
  3. Preventing and limiting commercial property losses—There are a variety of sensors that can be placed on equipment or industrial systems that alert business owners to certain conditions that can lead to damage. For instance, businesses can use sensors that detect water leaks or alert them to abnormal vibrations in their water systems (a sign that water damage may be occurring). Similarly, there is a whole host of devices that can be used to detect the early warning signs of fire, which can help businesses limit potential damages.
  4. Boost workplace safety with wearables—These devices can be equipped with sensors, GPS systems and heart-rate monitors—all of which can help organizations track specific metrics related to workplace health and safety.
    • In addition to monitoring things like signs of fatigue, wearables can alert workers of poor posture or instances when they are overexerting themselves. Wearables can also be used to alert employees of potentially dangerous situations, such as unsafe levels of noise, explosion hazards or harmful toxins. This promotes prompt safety communication and quick employee response.
    • Continued training is one of the best ways to reduce the threat of injuries, and wearables can streamline this process for organizations. Certain wearables can help workers perform specific tasks more accurately by providing real-time instruction. In addition, motion monitors can give employees instant feedback if they are using an improper or potentially dangerous technique when completing a task.
    • Together, these features make wearables an effective tool for reducing ergonomics issues, like musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs are conditions that affect muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves. They are caused by a bodily reaction (e.g., bending, climbing, crawling, reaching or twisting), overexertion or repetitive motion.2 Direct costs of MSDs can be as high as $20 billion a year, with indirect costs (e.g., lost productivity and absenteeism) costing employers five times more.3
    • Wearables could be invaluable tools for companies looking to identify their greatest workplace safety challenges. These devices aid in the passive observation of employees and collect useful safety data that would otherwise be difficult or expensive for businesses to gather. By analyzing this data, organizations can gain insight into the behaviors of their workers as well as recurring safety concerns (e.g., slips and falls). This allows organizations to pinpoint their most pressing workplace safety hazards and address them with targeted solutions.