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IoT in action…at a music festival

This was the Internet of Things, in full force, in the least likely of places...


It was the last place you’d expect to see the Internet of Things (IoT) in action: sun-baked, dusty and dirty event grounds in rural southwestern Ontario. It was home for three days to 40,000 twenty-somethings rocking a music festival marathon who had made a questionable decision to camp in a shade-less, 40-acre grass field on a sizzling hot July weekend.

It’s likely no one realized IoT kept it all together.

The second annual Wayhome music festival, which brings together legions of alternative rock fans to the quiet hollow of Oro-Medonte, Ont., went cashless this year.

No need for a bulging wallet. Instead, festival-goers were outfitted with a snappy multi-coloured bracelet with an RFID tag stitched inside. For the huge crowds, sun-burned and well lubricated with cheap beer, it was all incredibly convenient.
No long lines, no one fumbling with cash, and no waiting on point-of-sale machines to complete transactions.

A quick tap of the wrist, a click on an iPad and off we went. An e-mail detailing each transaction hit the inbox instantly, for those who absolutely needed to know come Monday morning how many Molson Canadians had quenched their thirst.

Those little bracelets also gave festival organizers access to a treasure trove of data. They had insight into everything from how much beer was consumed to how many bottles of water will be needed next year. Sensors at the gates told organizers who was inside and who wasn’t. And all that information, captured in real-time, will be deployed to organize Wayhome 2017.

This was IoT in the least likely of places. If 40,000 people living in a field over three nights can be connected to an incredibly vast network by a tiny sensor on each person’s wrist, think of the potential and competitive benefits for manufacturers who can also leverage IoT’s immense potential.

Manufacturing is entering an era where deep data inter-connectivity will become the norm, and IoT more of a necessity than an option.

This was the Internet of Things, in full force, in the least likely of places…

Between 2013 and 2018, IoT is expected to boost manufacturing output from $42.8 billion to $98.8 billion, according to computing-giant Cisco. Canada’s share would represent about $522 billion. By 2020, the number of IoT-connected devices will increase 285% to 38.5 billion.

Like most technology advances, there’s a high level of caution related to entering such a new world. So far, adoption has been slow, according to US consulting firm Accenture. Just 7% of respondents to a recent survey had formalized a plan to deploy IoT technologies across their operations.

A PwC survey found 35% of US manufacturers are currently collecting and using data via smart devices to enhance their processes. Thirty-four per cent said adopting an IoT strategy will be critical to their operations and 38% are currently embedding sensors in products so customers can collect sensor-generated data.

Some big companies have taken the leap.

General Electric has deployed more than 10,000 sensors to collect process data that tells operators the production status of each unit in a New York battery factory. And StanleyBlack&Decker deployed IoT at a Mexico plant to monitor production status in real time through mobile devices and Wi-Fi RFID tags. The company says it improved overall equipment effectiveness by 24%, labour utilization by 10% and throughput by 10%. Are you a Harley Davidson fan? Your new hog was made in an IoT-connected factory.

Canadian businesses are catching on. A report by Toronto-based research firm IDC reveals that 45% of mid to large Canadian enterprises have adopted at least one IoT solution, and it’s on the radar for the other 55%. That puts us into the mid-range of countries with higher rates of technology adoption. The US leads the way at 51%.

The Industry 4.0 era is here. Smart factories will be tracking metrics such as machine utilization as a normal part of business. If IoT works for a music festival, it can work anywhere and for any size operation.



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