Over the past decade, The Internet of Things – often abbreviated as IoT – has grown immensely and is a popular buzzword for businesses and consumers alike.
Despite all the hype, especially in recent years, the meaning behind the term is a functioning technology that has become indispensable particularly in the private and business sectors. In fact, research institutes like Statista predict that there will be over 75 billion networked devices by the year 2025. That’s just 2 years away!
We are talking about a notable amount of devices that collect numerous forms of data ranging from laptops and televisions to smoke alarms and washing machines. Technology of this kind opens up countless opportunities for companies that recognise its potential- particularly its everyday use cases in the business world and its opportunities for return of investment (ROI). So, to put things into context let’s take a look specifically at the term condition monitoring – what are the different levels of meaning behind this buzzword? And what are condition monitoring solutions all about?
Condition monitoring can be defined as the continuous measurement and recording of various environmental or equipment parameters. This includes the evaluation of room temperature, its air quality, but also the temperature of one’s equipment and fill levels. Systems that can also be evaluated in a product or area’s volume, lighting and more. These values serve as physical indicators to better understand an environment or to determine a machine condition as precisely as possible. With that being said, how can corporations benefit from such technology in a fast-paced economy?
In the industry sector, which is becoming increasingly important for the IoT world in general, condition monitoring offers companies the chance to understand machines precisely and to record detrimental changes, such as signs of deterioration, as well as to be able to coordinate machine maintenance more efficiently. This very relevant topic is commonly referred to as Predictive Maintenance. Since monitoring is done in real time, it is able to react in time to emergencies and take appropriate safety precautions. Consequently, downtime can either be completely avoided, or at least minimised; furthermore, both machine efficiency and overall safety are promoted
A more typical use case of IoT and condition monitoring, however, is the intelligent office building – or Smart Office – which today is no longer a pipe dream, but rather a common reality. This is especially true after tackling the technology adaptions that came from the coronavirus pandemic. Who would have bet even 10 pounds on this rapid development in 2019? We have therefore learned to pay closer attention to environmental data, such as specific indoor air quality. Condition monitoring is now happening in schools and universities and those educational institutions spend considerable sums of money to ensure the safety of their students.
Nipping worries in the bud
The scope of condition monitoring is sufficiently broad that there is also a high demand for the making and optimising of intelligent condition monitoring solutions. Admins and technicians overseeing a factory floor, for example, need visibility of industrial control systems, like an IPC, in order to assess health statistics. These systems are prone to the same problems as any hardware, so a redundant array of inexpensive disks (RAID), storage, Central Processing Unit (CPU) usage and fan rotation are metrics that can help avoid stoppages to production. The Operational Technology (OT) infrastructure also relies on industrial network devices, such as switches, access points, so these need to be checked as well. Environmental conditions therefore need to be taken into consideration. Companies need to be alerted if the humidity level gets too high in certain areas, or if a high temperature might be indicating that cooling processes are not sufficient.
In the industrial environment, these solutions – of which there are several on the market today – are capable of analysing these potential faults, finding the causes of problems, and offer the chance to ensure the maximum service life of a machine. This guarantees a convincing ROI, saving costs as well as energy and raw materials. However, good condition monitoring solutions are actually also indispensable in the smart office sector, as well as, the condition monitoring of rooms in educational institutions or hospitals.
In industrial applications, condition monitoring enables precise fault identification, preventive action in the sense of Predictive Maintenance, a reduction in downtimes, the optimisation of maintenance intervals, and overall ensures improved reliability in production. In the smart office and comparable areas of application, it is clear that Condition Monitoring is the invisible companion for the smooth running of everyday activities – even when no airborne viruses are endangering health. Numerous studies, produced before 2020, for example, showed just how damaging poor indoor air quality can be for the concentration of office workers and students.
As the years have gone by, it is clear that IoT has not only become a popular buzzword, but has also evolved into the backbone of multiple industries across the world. Moreover, in an economy as unpredictive and as fast paced as ours, investing in this sort of technology gives companies the opportunity to remain efficient, flexible and be future-ready.
About the Author
Felix Berndt is Business Development Manager IIoT and Data Centers at Paessler AG. We believe monitoring plays a vital part in reducing humankind’s consumption of resources. Monitoring data helps our customers to optimize their IT, OT and IoT infrastructures, and to reduce their energy consumption or emissions – for our future and our environment. That’s why we offer monitoring solutions for businesses across all industries and all sizes, from SMB to large enterprises. We work with renowned partners, and together we tackle the monitoring challenges of an ever-changing world.