Sensors and the IoT enable much better situational awareness, enabling asset owners to know things immediately and remotely that, without these technologies, would have been very difficult (or very expensive) to know at all. This enables decision-making based on more accurate facts.
In recent years, sensor technology has changed dramatically. Sensors have become smaller, cheaper, and less energy-intensive, and this trend is accelerating. Sensors and the IoT enable much better situational awareness, enabling asset owners to know things immediately and remotely that, without these technologies, would have been very difficult (or very expensive) to know at all. This enables decision-making based on more accurate facts.
The IoT provides a potential for cost-savings and better situational awareness within assets. As communications technologies and networks advance (and, with them, the ability to transmit data from huge amounts of sensors), the mass application of sensors of all kinds can be useful in many areas which were earlier unthought of. Today, home appliances like refrigerators can be connected to the Internet, and can provide information on their content. In another novel example, some beekeepers are even adding sensors to their beehives that enable them to know details like the temperature of a given hive and the volume of honey that it contains.
Today, even ordinary smart phones include sensors like magnetometers, proximity sensors, barometers, gyroscopes, and accelerometers. Current focus areas for future sensor development are energy harvesting for energy-autarkic sensors, nano-sensors, biosensors, and chemical or environmental sensors. The massive application of real-time connected sensors will also facilitate novel ways to design, operate, maintain, and inspect assets, thus facilitating optimisation across the lifecycle.What lies ahead?
There are technologies of this kind that are already in use today, and the first generation is rolling out as we speak. What lies ahead is broader implementation, and this will happen sooner, rather than later – certainly before 2025. However, the first generation of this kind of sensor deployment will almost certainly be characterized by sub-optimal design, implementation, or sensor quality. This will lead to ‘false starts’ and waste. For example, whole assets may be discarded because its sensors do not work as promised, or do not provide the right information. Later generations (post-2025) will learn from the first-generation initiatives, and will improve the design of sensor deployment and data usage.Contributors
Main author: Siegfried Eisinger
Editor: Thomas Fries