Internet of Things, Big Data, Industrial Internet. These are prevalent themes which can be applied in different business areas. How are these three utilized in Logistics and Manufacturing, and what is the role of RFID in these trends?
We interviewed Atte Kaskihalme,
Business Area Director (Logistics & Manufacturing) at Nordic
ID. He has vast experience in RFID and he has been able to observe
the development of these trends in the business area.
All the three headlined trends relate
to gathering data, and more importantly, utilizing the gathered
data in business decisions. Data collection enables discerning and
predicting customer trends, forecasting repair times, enhancing
operations in production, etc. Big Data of the items is collected
in different ways, and the role of RFID is to act as a source of
identification and a way of delivering information. RFID is an
exceptional method of collecting data. Unlike barcode, it provides
data on item level. The name "Big Data" refers to the massive size
of the information gathered where Internet of Things refers to
physical objects connected to technology in order to collect data.
Industrial Internet is a combination of these two driving already
today standards of data communication.
"A general assumption with Big Data
collection is that every single data collection device has an own
IP address. This is not true - 80 percent of this collection is
related to objects without an IP address. In the 20 percent, the
objects are connected in the IP network in order to send the
gathered data for analysis. To be able to do so, these objects more
or less have for example an IP or Bluetooth address which enables
networking. For the remaining 80 percent, RFID based data
collection of item level data, location and sensor data is a right
solution where the network connected RFID readers gather the data
from the items," states Kaskihalme.
The most successful enterprises are
already taking the advantage of gathering Big Data. There are good
examples of how Big Data collection can help companies in improving
their main critical processes and thus business. Now we take a look
at those in logistics, asset management and healthcare.
Parcel logistics -
Several researches show that in today's
life, a business's number of customers is directly correlated with
the level of importance in utilizing Big Data. For example, United
Parcel Service (UPS) makes more than 16 million shipments to over
8.8 million customers internationally. The number of tracking
requests on a daily basis is 39.5 million on average. The company
collects data at every possible moment. Collecting Big Data is
important for parcel logistics as collecting data via the whole
operation and about parcel movements is crucial in transport
Asset management - London
Accenture and GE have researched the
massive potential of Internet of Things in asset maintenance. In
their opinion, Industrial Internet enables collecting data via
technology (including RFID) and uses the data for managing
operations. Their research showed that predictive maintenance of
assets can save up to 12% of scheduled repairs, which leads to a
30% reduction in maintenance costs and also to a 70% cut in
downtime from equipment breakdowns.
"We have seen similar results with our
references. For example, London Underground is using RFID at their
escalator maintenance," continues Kaskihalme. "With RFID, they are
able to avoid 45 minutes of out-of-service when the RFID based
system identifies the individual steps that need maintenance. The
data is collected with field engineer´s mobile RFID reader and
updated online in the maintenance system. The service process is
not only fast but very accurate."
Another example in asset management is
a water supply company who combines data from tags with sensors
attached in their pipes with business systems. Through RFID, they
are able to monitor the condition of pipes and predict the cost,
risks and asset performance. Moreover, they report improvement in
customer service and saving money due to RFID.
In patient safety, it is vital to
collect as much data as possible. Big Data here refers to
collecting patient related data into one central place and making
conclusions of the patient health. "With RFID, this is still taking
baby steps. Today, personal health and technology are connected to
each other outside the hospital for example via bracelets
monitoring heartbeat and other body functions. This is a pre-stage
for Big Data collection in healthcare, and it could be utilized
even further. Maybe one day RFID plays a major role in systems
where hospitals are getting up-to-date information on patient
health and changes with a minimal effort by the patient itself,"
As a summary, Industrial Internet is
seen as very important. As data collection becomes automated, the
amount of information constantly multiplies and becomes also more
complex. This kind of raw data is difficult to handle and thus it
is forecasted that in the future also reader systems, such as RFID
data collection networks, will become more intelligent providing
pre-processed data for the business analysis and thus the decision
making will be faster and more accurate than ever.
Atte Kaskihalme, Business Area Director
(Logistics & Manufacturing)