In this article, we'll look at 5 ways to reduce costs and ensure maximum return on investment so you get the most out of your IoT implementation.
Align sensors and use cases with your ROI goals
Your IoT strategy should focus on achieving specific goals that are directly beneficial to your operations, and your goals will help determine what hardware and network to choose.
For example, eliminating manual temperature checks in a coffee shop could save baristas more than five hours a week, assuming they need to check the temperature once an hour for five minutes. During that time, selling an additional 4 cups of coffee per hour at $25 per cup could generate an additional $500 in revenue for installing temperature sensors.
For sensors and hubs to choose the right network connectivity technology
Connectivity is a key consideration in implementing the IoT, and the associated costs can be high, so it's worth weighing the different options.
WiFi offers high bandwidth and low latency, which is ideal for streaming video from smart cameras. However, the cost of building a WiFi network for sensors can be high due to the short transmission distance: you may need many hubs to cover a large area.
If your work devices only need to report small, infrequent packets, such as temperature readings once every half hour, a WiFi network may be a bit of a stretch.
Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology is popular and often cheaper due to its long range, low power consumption and relatively simple design. This technology can support monitoring in otherwise problematic areas such as underground spaces.
Cellular IoT LPWAN technologies (LTE-M and NB-IoT) have low bandwidth and are optimized to minimize power consumption. To provide large coverage areas, network operators only need to upgrade their existing 3G/4G network infrastructure to provide network coverage. In addition, your sensors can easily be connected to the network without additional equipment. This is very cost-effective, especially for areas not covered by cellular networks.
Consider the frequency of data transmission
When choosing an IoT device, you need to choose those devices that have the right or (even better) settable frequency in terms of sampling and sending data frequency. Unnecessary sampling and sending frequencies can lead to a rapid increase in costs due to increased power consumption, processing and storage requirements.
To solve this problem, you must consider network efficiency and utilization: Do you need to know every 10 seconds if the temperature of your refrigerator is normal? If you transport or store medicines, you can, but if you store food, every 15 minutes is sufficient.
Edge processing can help you achieve high sampling rates and reduce the cost of cloud processing and storage. It works by performing some simple processing of sensor data on the "edge" (the IoT device itself) before the data is uploaded, such as discarding readings that don't meet alarm criteria. This technique allows for high frequency sampling, but can significantly reduce the network load, thus saving on data costs.
Review installation costs
IoT implementation involves more than just hardware and software costs, and the full installation costs of any IoT project should be considered at the outset. This can vary greatly, depending on the number and type of sensors and any additional network setup required.
Before estimating the likely costs, there are a few questions to ask:
Does the sensor require a professional to install, or is it plug-and-play?
Are installation tools provided with the sensors, or is there an additional cost?
Is the installation secure enough to prevent theft or sensor damage? And what is the cost of replacing the sensor?
Selecting a Platform
After you've chosen your device and calculated the cost of installation, you'll also need to evaluate your software options. Without adequate intelligence and alarm suppression mechanisms, your IoT technology could trigger a lot of work orders and potentially lead to more unwanted calls. In turn, this can lead to knock-on costs.
Alert mechanisms can be set up appropriately for your use case. For example, if your refrigerator sensors are reporting a reading every minute and the readings are consistently high, it doesn't make sense to send duplicate alerts to your platform every minute. A software solution that tracks the status of faulty work orders can suppress duplicate alert work orders and only send further alerts when a fault escalates.
As mentioned earlier, edge processing helps suppress alerts, but a smart, flexible platform should have this capability as well. You need options that are easy to set up to correspond to your operational processes.
Choosing the right software platform can really maximize the ROI of your IoT project. Visualizing and aggregating your IoT data and correlating it with operational data can provide powerful insights. You can even choose a platform that uses your IoT data to trigger remedies and assignments for your operations team via an app.