A living, breathing infographic? The digital twin as an infinite representative of the physical

Digital Twin

By Yaki Naude (IoT.nxt Head of Marketing – Brand and Creative)

What is a Digital Twin?

Digital twins are digital replicas (digitalised duplicates) or representations of devices, machines, connected products, processes, or (and this is where it becomes most useful) complex business eco-systems. “It really is what I refer to as dashboard 4.0. It’s a living breathing infographic giving all information needed in real-time.” says IoT.nxt® Digital Evangelist, Tobie Alberts. “It is unequivocally the next way for data scientists or data analysts (or even dashboarding companies) to create a simplified and easy way for end-users to experience their data as information.”

This information or data can relate to a multitude of objects, functionalities and processes. A good example is a cellular base station or cell tower, which we call an Intelligent Cell Site. In a project IoT.nxt is currently rolling out for a global leader in telecommunications, entailing the digitisation of 12,000 cellular base stations, each site is relatively complex with 144 connected or subdivided systems that have to be monitored in real-time. The digital twin can communicate intricate information visually, without the end-user needing any engineering experience.

IoT.nxt® has invested time and resources into creating a practical and fully agnostic platform that makes creating a digital twin a drag and drop away. This allows clients to position these digital twins and subsequently link the relevant data onto a visual representation of the real McCoy. Imagine trying to track 12,000 base stations without a digital twin. As more businesses become completely digitalised, it is more vital than ever to have complete visibility of an entire ecosystem and the insights to drive innovation without disrupting productivity.

The data generated by connected assets or sensors would present a massive problem for anyone creating reports or using traditional dashboards. Marrying various reports and many different data sets into one sexy image is not only practical but also allows for the customer to have a holistic view and gain an understanding of their assets or processes. This, ultimately, is where the power of the digital twins lies.

The digital twin duplicates the physical and helps enterprise understand their processes and/or assets in real-time, aiding in maximising overall equipment and process efficiency. Data is represented in moving 3D parts, flat digital twin designs or even process designs. “Take for instance the manufacturing industry. Here we find highly instrumented devices, with a multitude of sensors. These need to be monitored by accurate digital twins which precisely simulate performance in real-time, to enable machine learning – predicting future performances and possible failures.” Alberts continues.

Duplicated power

Multiple twins in a business owner’s eco-system creates an even bigger picture. When introducing twin to twin dashboards (one twin representing a product or process and the other for argument’s sake, a device) the interaction between the various twins can be visualised! Now, rinse and repeat, for an even bigger overview of digital replicas of the process within the inter twins. The concept around digital twins remains power:

  • A magnitude of data can now be collected in an easy and seamless way.
  • It is a tool or platform used by end customers to understand a process, product or device better.
  • Generating value. This value can either be in understanding the process, predicting failures or to manage devices better in a more holistic way.
  • It reiterates IoT’s true value!

A culmination of technology and digital art has brought us, at the dawn of this decade to an elevated level of visualisation in the IoT space, a function that IoT.nxt® has embraced to provide holistic overviews and a legion of solutions for any business owner across the globe.

Deploying our solution and platform, users not only have oversight of, and insight into, their entire value chain, but can bring together vast amounts of data from devices and sensors and effect real change rapidly and remotely. Any process. Any industry. Unlock an end-to-end solution that simplifies digitalisation, deploys fast and works for your business.

Contact them today.

[email protected]

RFID & IIoT: How do the technologies work together?

One component driving the growth of IoT systems in industrial settings across the globe has been the evolution of RFID and other sensor technologies. Although Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been around for decades, it has found new form in recent years thanks to the advent of IIoT and the fourth industrial revolution.

At its core, RFID finds natural application within the Industrial Internet of Things by helping to track inventory, improve efficiency, and enhance services across a range of sectors. Yet, as manufacturers increasingly look to utilising RFID technologies alongside their IIoT efforts, how exactly will these systems work together and what input could RFID have in the future IIoT?

What is RFID and how does it work?

At its most basic, RFID is the wireless use of radio waves to transfer digital data. There are three main components within the system that facilitate this: tags, antennas, and readers.

RFID tags are small tracking systems that transmit and receive information via an antenna and a microchip. The tags allow users to automatically identify and track inventory and other assets. They can be either battery-operated or passive, yet in an industrial setting, they tend to be passive. This means they don’t have a power supply and are instead powered by electromagnetic energy transmitted from RFID readers.

Working between the tags and readers are RFID antennas. RFID antennas are typically integrated with the RFID readers, supplying energy to the tags and sharing the data between the two components.

The RFID reader is really the brain of the whole system. Readers take in the radio signal created from the tags and convert this into digital information. This information is then sent by readers to the cloud platform for further processing.

What is the purpose of RFID?

RFID was developed during World War II initially as a way to identify friendly aircraft. Since then, it has come a long way and is now used in a wide range of applications. In an industrial context, the purpose of RFID systems is typically to monitor, track, and supervise different assets. 

For example, RFID tags could be attached to merchandise in a warehouse enabling employees to automatically conduct inventories with handheld readers that send the data to the company’s databases. Aside from inventory management and asset tracking, RFID technology can also be used for:

  • Personnel tracking
  • Controlling access to restricted areas
  • ID Badging
  • Supply chain management
  • Counterfeit prevention (e.g. in the pharmaceutical industry or Cigarette distribution)

What is the difference between RFID and barcode?

Given the similarity in design and purpose, RFID tags can often be confused with traditional barcodes. Yet, while both are commonly used for reading and collecting data from assets, their capabilities and how they work differ somewhat.

The key similarity between the two is that data is captured from both by a device which stores the information in a database. However, RFID systems have several key advantages over barcode tracking software. In particular, RFID tags are highly durable, with a long shelf life, far reading distance, encryption and storage information modification. 

Ultimately barcodes are designed to be used on a smaller scale than RFID tags, giving RFID a stronger advantage in an industrial setting. RFID tags come in so many variants to deal with extreme heat or cold conditions, steel or glass and virtually any kind of material, for clothing and overalls and hospital bedding, small or big – you choose the best tag for the job!

IIoT: A hot spot for RFID application

The industrial space is a hotbed for supply chain nightmares. Major logistical inefficiencies are often traced back to manufacturers not having enough visibility into where their sensitive cargo is located and its condition. Together, RFID and IIoT provide real-time access to crucial data such as this and eliminate the root cause of many of these issues.

Through the network of connected RFID tags attached to products, warehouse shelves, and vehicles, IIoT software is able to track the conditions of sensitive goods. The cloud platform at the core of the IIoT system provides storage and analytics capabilities for all data generated by the RFID and sensor technologies. An IIoT platform then takes the information gained from RFID and sensor readings and runs them through analytics algorithms to visualise the findings. Depending on the parameters of the platform, these results could be expressed via dashboards, reports, real-time product location maps, and so on.

Additionally, IIoT solutions often use web or mobile applications to enable streamlined communication with users. For example, if the temperature at a warehouse was approaching a critical threshold these applications would instantly alert staff to the problem. 

The ultimate means to track

RFID and IIoT help to maintain product quality at various segments of the supply chain by monitoring properties of individual product packages. With an RFID and IIoT solution in place, inventory specialists are able to drill down any parameter to get a complete view of the assets on hand. They could learn, for instance, that of 3,000 packages, 800 will expire in 30 days. This means that when the inventory specialist receives the next order of packages they can easily single out which ones have the closest expiration date and ship them first.

To put this into a full-scale perspective, consider this example of how RFID and IIoT could be applied within a dairy industry setting:

A case in point: Optimising cold chain operations

Say a cheese manufacturer introduced a new cheddar product and each carton of the cheddar is packaged with an RFID tag. The ID tags hold all of the relevant data on the packages they are attached to (e.g. the date of production, warehouse location, etc.) and save this information to the IIoT cloud database.

When the manufacturer receives an order for the next 2,000 cartons of cheese, an inventory specialist can then utilise the RFID and IIoT monitoring systems to:

  • Trace the food from source to shelf and even fork to provide accurate information unique to that item to the retailer and client
  • Check if there is enough stock available
  • Determine which packages will need to be sent first (based on expiry)
  • Immediately locate the required cartons within the warehouse
  • Swiftly isolate problems in the manufacturing or logistics process

As a result, warehouse workers can easily find and transport the necessary packages for shipping. At the exits of the shipping area, RFID readers would scan the tags attached to the stock to ensure the correct packages are being shipped. With the integration of the IIoT solution and an order management system, the shipping is automatically recorded upon scanning and logged to assist with future production estimates.

The best of IIoT with IoT.nxt solutions

The evolution of IIoT is coinciding with that of RFID and sensor technologies. Together, these systems can allow users to access live information like never before, bringing forward deep insights for each phase of distribution. 

Whether it’s manufacturing, sales, transportation, retail or agriculture, the IoT.nxt solution can leverage every part of your ecosystem to increase ROI and generate meaningful data. Unlock real-time, condition-based monitoring, predictive maintenance and self-healing system design without replacing existing infrastructure. It’s your business, only better.

Make the most of all data collection and increase the efficiency of your operations, speak with our expert team today.

The State of IIoT

IIoT

Today, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is ushering in a new era of productivity and efficiency for industries across the globe. Yet, despite decades of use among some industrial players, IIoT can still seem like an emerging technology.

As is often the case with the adoption of new technologies, the road to acceptance has been long. However, while some challenges continue to exist for engineers, the number of IIoT deployments is steadily growing. So, where does that leave IIoT and what does the future hold for IoT systems overall?

IIoT

A slow start to adoption

Given its revolutionary impact on manufacturing, IIoT was initially anticipated to be rapidly adopted within the industrial space. In 2015, industry analysts predicted that come 2020, the market for connected devices would be anywhere between 50 billion and 100 billion units. Today, the forecast has fallen to a more conservative 20 billion or 30 billion units. The drop in expectations comes, in part, as one of IIoT’s prime uses – predictive maintenance – has proved much harder to scale than manufacturers initially expected.

Manufacturers struggled to integrate the new technology into their existing operational systems. As a result, in 2018, a survey of more than 600 high-tech executives by Bain & Company revealed that industrial clients were less enthused about predictive maintenance than they were just two years ago.

This kind of levelling of expectations is nothing new in the world of emerging technologies, but with 90% of businesses still in the planning phase, early predictions appear to have really missed the mark.

Current expectations and the future of IIoT

Despite initial growing pains, most industry analysts and pundits alike remain optimistic about the future of IIoT adoption. In particular, Gartner, Inc. forecasts that the enterprise and automotive IoT market will grow 21% to 5.8 billion endpoints in 2020. While by the end of 2019, it will be up 21.5%, with 4.8 billion endpoints expected to be in use.

According to the report, building automation will be the segment with the largest growth rate in 2020 (42%), followed by the automotive and healthcare sectors (31% and 29% respectively).

So far, their predictions appear to be holding true. IoT.nxt’s Terje Moen, having overseen the implementation of our unique technology solution across multiple verticals, notes that Smart Buildings solutions – to facilitate effective, efficient building management – stands out as the most in-demand amongst client ecosystems.

But, what exactly is an ‘endpoint’?

What is an IoT endpoint?

Essentially, an endpoint is a physical computing device that performs a task as an integral part of the interconnected ecosystem. These can be simple sensors or embedded devices within more complex environments. So, in the case of IoT, endpoints are the things that are connected to each other.

Examples of endpoints could include:

  • Wearables
  • Sensors
  • Smart Meters
  • Machinery, e.g. washing machine

The challenges facing IIoT adoption today

Ultimately, IoT extends beyond the commercial applications we talk about so frequently, or the smart devices changing the way we live. The technology being rolled out has huge potential and is set to change where and how businesses function in the future. So why isn’t it being adopted quicker? It comes down to a number of challenges, but what truly stands in the way of IoT adoption – particularly within the industrial space – are these five key factors:

1. Complexity of the technology

As is the case with the internet itself, IoT can be difficult to comprehend given it’s flattening effect. So, while the technology may be alluring for manufacturers it is so broad in scope that it can be hard for many companies to utilise at scale. Consequently, navigating the intricacies of IoT is holding some enterprises back in the planning phase of deployment. With roughly 3,000 IoT startups globally, it can also be difficult for manufacturers to choose an appropriate solution provider.

2. Lack of standards leading to ‘too many’

A lack of clearly defined standards has lead to the development of too many. Currently, there are over 400 standards – and growing. When you look across different vertical markets, this list grows even more as applications become increasingly more niche. For manufacturers, this serves to only generate confusion and take up more time in the initial development phase of implementation.

3. Security and privacy implications

Arguably one of the greatest concerns among customers is security and privacy. Increased connectivity and data sharing can give way to network vulnerabilities, cyber-crime and data breaches. So, since IoT devices communicate automatically, security as well as privacy are core concerns among manufacturers.

4. Expense and ROI concerns

Implementing IoT infrastructure is typically expensive, making ROI crucial for most corporations. For businesses, the cost of buying, installing and maintaining a robust IoT solution can be hard to justify. Especially since, in most instances, IoT solutions take years to fully establish. Companies want to know they will get good returns from such a huge investment and that in itself can be difficult to determine.

5. System integration and data overload

Many IIoT solutions are custom made or vendor-defined, this can pose a challenge for manufacturers as the data being collected may not be easily accessible or understandable. For data insights to be effective, the information collected by IIoT needs to be relevant to the customer and not overload them with unnecessary information.

Breaking barriers with bespoke IIoT solutions

IoT.nxt’s bespoke RaptorTM software offers smart solutions to the problems currently hindering the widespread adoption of IIoT technologies. From enabling smart control at the edge to activating true interoperability throughout your ecosystem, RaptorTM offers a unique solution to many of the issues manufacturers associate with IIoT technologies.

A true end-to-end provider

IoT.nxt understands the complexities manufacturers face in establishing IIoT technologies within their existing systems and procedures. So, we work directly with your business to develop strategies and implementation roadmaps that align with your business goals. No two businesses are the same and we’re focused on solving the unique industry challenges of individual clients.

No rip and replace

A lack of standards in the IIoT market has left many corporations cautious of IoT integration for fear it will waste time ripping and replacing their existing systems. Yet, IoT.nxt overlays it’s solution onto any device, process, or system to ensure seamless integration. Better still, our agnostic technology reduces unnecessary downtime by integrating seamlessly with current legacy systems.

Customised implementations

Since the IoT.nxt solutions exist concurrently with existing systems, the cost and implementation time typically associated with IIoT technologies does not apply. We can reduce associated costs by implementing our solution in slices, with little to no disruption to existing systems. Whether it’s a building, farm or base station, our RaptorTM software is geared towards rapid deployment.

Ensured data security

With IoT.nxt, manufacturers don’t have to turn away from smart IIoT technology due to security concerns. We protect what isn’t seen, granting peace of mind while simultaneously monitoring and collecting data to optimise connected assets.

As our Solution Design Engineer, Zahir Mamoojee, says “The RaptorTM enables these benefits by acting as a single gateway to the IoT cloud. By gearing security efforts towards that single gateway, it is possible to secure your information that has been transmitted to the cloud.”

Bespoke data generation

RaptorTM was designed with a specific set of protocol to only generate relevant data insights applicable to you and your systems. Our solution will set thresholds to alert you when there are anomalies, instead of just offering endless streams of data. No matter how rugged or remote the landscape, we can action change where it matters most to your business.

The best of IIoT with IoT.nxt solutions

While the technology landscape will always be blurry, companies that make IIoT a corporate initiative today can start moving toward greater successes in the near future. From schools to base stations, the IoT.nxt solution unlocks real-time, condition-based monitoring, predictive maintenance and self-healing system design. Optimise every corner of your ecosystem and opt for a true end-to-end provider.

Speak with our expert team today to see how we could help your operations.

Can your business really afford to not save on energy?

energy-management

In an industrial setting, energy isn’t taken for granted. One power outage can send devastating ripple effects across organisations ceasing operations and pausing the vital flow of information between parts of the value chain. Hardly a background mechanism, energy is integral to each part of any business – be it core power sources, backup generators or batteries.

If your business is looking to increase ROI and create drive meaningful returns, you need IoT.nxt. With us on your side, you’ll be able to easily create a technology-agnostic landscape that leverages true interoperability and maximises energy savings.

At its core, our IoT technology is able to leverage every part of your ecosystem, gearing each asset towards growth. IoT.nxt offers an energy management solution for any industry, any legacy system, any type of environment.

Combine manual data collection, a lack of sensor monitoring, and no performative analysis. What do you get? Wasted energy. Wastage equates to poor ROI, so can your business really afford to not invest in a smart energy management solution?

Next-gen energy management powered by RaptorTM

The makeup of our bespoke energy management solution facilities maximum productivity and can produce meaningful ROI in your business. Underpinning this solution is our RaptorTM software.

Zahir Mamoojee, our Solutions Architect for Energy management describes RaptorTM as “an in-house IoT.nxt software that integrates a myriad of devices, without a rip & replace tactic, across all mediums of communication.”

From enabling smart control at the edge to activating true interoperability throughout your ecosystem, RaptorTM has the scope to empower real energy savings, ultimately increasing ROI.

No rip and replace

Many shy away from IoT integration for fear of having to rip out and replace current operating systems or infrastructure. With an energy management solution powered by our RaptorTM software, you can overlay our solution onto existing legacy systems. Our agnostic technology reduces unnecessary downtime by integrating seamlessly with current legacy systems. Whether it’s a building, farm or base station, an IoT.nxt energy management solution is geared towards rapid deployment, so you start saving energy, quicker.

True data security

For many, data security is a concern when implementing IoT onsite as the equipment is typically integrated with a proprietary cloud system, creating security vulnerabilities and opening up assets to attack. Our RaptorTM technology allows you for agnostic integration, as well as heighten defence across all devices.

“The RaptorTM enables these benefits by acting as a single gateway to the IoT cloud. By gearing security efforts towards that single gateway, it is possible to secure your information that has been transmitted to the cloud,” says Mamoojee.

With IoT.nxt, you don’t have to turn away from smart IoT technology because of security concerns. We protect what you cannot see, granting you peace of mind, while simultaneously monitoring and collecting energy data, optimising connected assets for energy savings.

Bespoke data generation

RaptorTM was born in South Africa, a country that faces poor connectivity and internet connection availability and tumultuous energy supplies. Since the RaptorTM was developed in these harsh conditions, it thrives in the data generation and transmission departments, no matter how rugged or remote the landscape.

This is achieved by establishing a set of protocol to only generate data that is directly applicable to you and your ecosystem. For instance, we can enable protocol that only triggers data transmission when there is a change in the status quo, rather than wasting time transmitting data constantly, reducing your data footprint to the cloud.

Control at the edge

When sophisticated protocol and data generation are integrated, a connection break can disrupt real-time monitoring of energy data that fuels energy optimisation, creating unnecessary downtime and wastage. With our Raptor underpinning your connected assets, even if a connection is lost, data collection continues, and once the system is online reintegrates data into the system, creating zero losses.

Not only does our solution reduce data outages through control at the edge, but it also allows users to create custom methods for data filtering. We ensure that you only see relevant, actionable data from the edge, cutting out unnecessary analysis and monitoring.

Discover more insights about how you can optimise at the edge from Zahir Mamoojee:

Any industry. Any system. Any process.

Smart buildings

In any industry, any process or system can be digitised to create an interoperable hub of efficiency and productivity. Your building is no different. It may not be a rugged industrial landscape, however, optimised energy management can reduce wastage, increasing efficiency and ultimately improving the bottom line.

To not only extract but also normalise vital data from your supply chain, we integrate our RaptorTM into your ecosystem via cabling.

Take a look at the other benefits of our building management solution.

Generator management

Developed in-house, RaptorTM integrates different devices across all mediums of communication. Generators are no different.

Having a generator on-site likely means you’d need to plug into a BMS, incorporating all energy sources. Via cabling, you’d be able to integrate RaptorTM into your organisation so that you can extract data, normalise it and turn it into information that can be easily interpreted from team members organisation-wide.

Read more about our building management automation environment.

It’s your business, only better.

From schools and universities to server rooms and base stations, we have a solution that unlocks real-time, condition-based monitoring, predictive maintenance and self-healing system design. IoT.nxt optimises every corner of your ecosystem, from energy management to predictive maintenance – is your business ready for complete digitisation? We think so. Contact our expert team today.

IoT.nxt Security: Protecting What You Cannot See

iot-security

Pick up any newspaper, click over to a news website, and you’re bound to see a headline about the misappropriation of personal data by a corporation. Outrage ensues, yet consumer behaviour remains largely unchanged. Let’s talk about what news outlets are missing – detailed data insights are being used to ensure the future relevance of industries putting food on our tables and fuel in our cars, but how can a business protect their gold?

Every business endpoint has the potential for tracking, directly and indirectly, and collecting customer data, creating an unprecedented data network across the marketplace. But is that a bad thing?

“IoT.nxt is setting game-changing precedents for the power of IoT in security. Our DeviceDNA™ and SIEMconnector™ protect your data at the point of entry, providing true data security throughout your value chain. Security is vital for many when it comes to IoT and we’ve cracked it – our security solution secures data end-to-end so you can drive projects with peace of mind.” – Jason Bradlee, Chief Operating Officer – Americas.

More data than we can comprehend

In 2018, Forbes reported that there were 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created each day but that the pace was only accelerating with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). They went on to further estimate that over the two years prior, 90 percent of the data in the world was generated.

Those numbers, staggering as they may be, relate to consumer data. Now, picture the scale at which large enterprises operate. Gartner had estimated that 6.5 million devices would be connected by 2016, a number now expected to grow to over 20 billion by 2020, each device generating a plethora of raw data that, combined correctly, can paint a vivid, detailed picture into the operational functioning, capacity and potential of a business.

This galactic amount of raw collected data is leveraged for business optimisation, and therefore, requires technology to secure and protect it at every stage of the supply chain, for both the consumer and business. Imagine the ripple effects of industries like agriculture or mining not being able to accurately forecast supply?

Digitisation is coming for every industry – but is there a downside?

Interconnected devices produce amounts of data in the zettabytes with estimations that by the end of this year, we’ll hit 500 zettabytes in IoT data. Protecting such mammoth data deposits requires next-gen, forward-thinking security measures. Such security will not only protect collected data but ensure your system maintains future relevance, future-proofing your ecosystem. Yet, with future-relevance becoming harder to ensure and industries getting more competitive by the day, why aren’t we doing more to garner and protect our commercial data?

With more potential for data collection and tracking comes vulnerabilities as system reach expands. As the digital wave slowly overlays every industry, more applications, data and systems are optimised for this brand new world, and security upgrades cannot be left behind. An interconnected, interoperable ecosystem, for example, optimises efficiency and production value, however also creates vulnerability. Once access has been gained, an intruder could move laterally through a network. This is where the challenge lies for protecting an expanded attack landscape, with increased potential for damage.

True data security is enabled by the ability to run without an operating system. An edge gateway like this would be void of vulnerabilities. “The key is to control the gateway layer and limit the operating system at the edge, wherever possible.” – Bertus Jacobs, IoT.nxt Chief Technology Officer

Secure your data with solutions for the digital age

Much like in the physical world, it is futile to attempt to secure individual items. You wouldn’t secure each element of your household, but rather your house – so why wouldn’t you do the same within an IoT-enabled business?

To adjust and adapt to the sweeping wave of digitisation, businesses must take steps to shield data collected from connected assets from increasingly sophisticated attacks at the point of integration, rather than trying to defend the house from within. Plug holes and reduce vulnerabilities by deploying a data security solution that protects your entire value chain, and enables central control over large deployment.

Deploy built-in security

As a first step towards ensuring the protection of a data pool, businesses can secure data protection by integrating devices with next-gen security that is already built-in. Every IoT.nxt device has a unique data token, DeviceDNA™, that dynamically identifies a device connected to the enterprise. Therefore, your ecosystem will be fully-equipped immediately with a strong security protocol once you integrate IoT.nxt devices.

Smart monitoring and testing

Protecting your ecosystem against ever-increasingly sophisticated attacks also lies in remaining actively vigilant, deploying real-time monitoring of potential threats. To maintain the integrity of the collected data, constant monitoring is a must. Performing regular real-time testing to uncover and dare we say, predict potential vulnerabilities and threats are vital to achieving true data security in an interconnected ecosystem.

Leverage automation for true data security

Automating cybersecurity process evaluates the efficiency of your security solution, building greater defences for stored data. Instead of deploying manual processes of a bygone era to protect new age data collection and storage, leverage the use of information technology to inform incident responses and security event management decisions.

Security automation allows for every connected platform to be tracked, monitored and tested under a single case management system. It also enables the compression of alerts and warnings from thousands of connected assets to be stacked based on specific fields, such as time and IP address, host name, or user. Whatever your industry, empower your ecosystem with contextualised logic via an automated engine from which you can trigger the appropriate workflow.

IoT.nxt ensures the security of connected assets

An interconnected ecosystem is a hallmark of smart IoT optimisation, however, connected assets can be vulnerabilities if security is ignored. However, don’t turn away from progress, find a solution. An IoT.nxt solution. Our smart platforms provide an adaptive security solution that empowers your ecosystem with true data security.

Integrated into every IoT.nxt device is our DeviceDNA™, contains unique characteristics and identifiers that make up the DNA™ of the device; they are then combined in a cryptographic process to produce this unique token. IoT.nxt devices marry built-in security, intuitive monitoring and automation to rapidly deploy true security at the point of integration.

Protect what you can’t see before it’s too late. It’s cheaper and faster than you think. Chat with the IoT.nxt team today.

Harvesting Smart Seeds: The Role of Data and AI in Agriculture

AI in agriculture

In agriculture, it’s the things you can’t predict that are the most terrifying. While struggling to be ever more productive, doing more with diminishing resources and battling mother nature and market shifts, staying on top of every element within your agricultural ecosystem is vital. In rugged, often isolated conditions, how can data be drawn from every thing, process, production line, bud and beast?

Anticipation, prediction, forecasting – these are all in a days’ work for a farmer. How can you be out in the field and on top of the latest tech? How can you have eyes everywhere, monitoring current conditions and adjusting procedures according to shifting climate patterns? Solving these problems is the key to the future of agriculture and, with 3 billion more mouths to feed by 2050, the stakes are certainly not diminishing. Adapting and adopting AI technology from farm to fork poses a solution to issues of predication and forecasting faced by every farm.

“The agricultural space impacts the daily activities of people across the world – this will never change. What has changed is how we drive the operational efficiency within the agricultural industry.” – Zac Steyn, Business Development Manager

The farm to fork solution

Implementing AI and big data within an agricultural ecosystem can enable monitoring across the whole supply chain, rather than just the individual processes within it. Collecting data via AI implementation across your ecosystem plants the seed for real-time forecasting and intelligent prediction, evaluating efficiency and production levels. When married with IoT devices, AI in agriculture, not to be confused with the more commonly used abbreviation for artificial insemination, has a variety of applications across the agricultural ecosystem.

Integrating IoT devices that collect and store big data to fuel AI intelligence is the key to monitoring erratic climate conditions, unlocking supply chain visibility and reducing wastage via predictive machine learning. Alongside technology like sensors, drones, big data and AI integration, the agricultural ecosystem is more than ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Foresight to combat the forecast

It’s no secret that climatory patterns are on the move, and are becoming more erratic and unpredictable. Coupled with a volatile climate and landscape variability, legacy systems are failing to compete, poking holes in farming production, resulting in wastage. Of course, these challenges are hardly new, however, without intuitive technology, farmers are struggling to combat scalability as demand for production increases. Wastage can be plugged across the value supply chain with smart IoT devices collecting data that fuels AI integration from the top down.

From fire detection to livestock monitoring, AI could deliver the key we need to unlock a harvest of resources for future generations.

Leveraging drone capabilities

Monitoring capability and finite accuracy come together with a drone, but is there room for this technology in agriculture?

It’s no secret that drones have immense monitoring capability. With the help of attached sensors, drones can expand the reach of IoT technology and not only monitor crop health, soil health, soil moisture levels but detect pest and weed presence in crops. With such monitoring and detection capability, farmers are empowered with data that can predict anomalies in crops and equip the right people within the supply chain to adjust systems accordingly, reducing damage to production.

Rather than waiting on bees and leaving things to chance, farmers can also utilise drones to pollinate crops, eliminating vulnerabilities in the supply chain. Drone footage can also be live-streamed to give farmers and people down the value chain insight into activity and progress. Gathering real-time contextualised data that empowers evidence-based decision making can plug wastage holes and reduce unnecessary downtime when anomalies occur.

Pinpoint vulnerabilities in crops before it’s too late. Drones can provide high-resolution imagery to display crop health in real-time, from spotting bacterial and fungal infection to crop development.

The IoT.nxt agriculture solution equips farmers with drone surveillance that performs soil and field analysis, irrigation, crop spraying and monitors crop health in real-time. Integrating IoT.nxt drone monitoring enables GIS mapping, real-time imaging and potential to increase yields. Our solution can optimise your agriculture ecosystem by employing drone capability, monitoring assets from crops to trackers, ensuring our platform provides a top-down solution.

How do IoT sensors work to feed AI intelligence?

IoT.nxt sensors are capable of empowering your entire ecosystem with real-time data from crops to livestock. The applications for IoT sensor technology are endless. For example, sensors can be used to measure the movement of water around a plant, from the roots to the tips of the leaves. This information is helping farmers to understand the most efficient ways to use water when breeding plants.

The agility of IoT sensors allows the technology to adapt to hostile and rugged landscapes. In a recent project launched by Stanford graduates called Ceres Imaging, sensors were attached to small planes to help farmers collect irrigation and fertilizer data.

This unprecedented information technology is opening doors to a variety of other applications. We can now use sensors for biomedical diagnostics and monitoring the environment. As the technology behind sensors continues to progress, the opportunities are endless such as testing crops for disease prevention and pesticides.

Big Data-driven livestock monitoring

According to research completed by the Stanford GSB team, American farmers who implemented precision monitoring technology reported average cost reductions of 15% and a 13% increase in yields. The livestock sector is seeing an ever-increasing pressure to reduce their environmental footprint. As technology is becoming increasingly more ingrained in agriculture, it is creating a revolution in the world of livestock management.

New developments in the past decade have made managing livestock much more efficient and data-driven. Livestock technology is bringing a new dynamic that is increasing productivity, welfare and management of animals. Data-driven decision making leads to more accurate and timely choices that will increase the efficiency of livestock production. For example, companies, along with IoT.nxt, have leveraged interconnected field sensors and animal tags to track and manage livestock, monitor health and fertility status, providing real-time alert management, reducing predator attacks.

In one project, IoT.nxt leveraged Bluetooth technology, tagging each animal with a low-energy tag that connects and interacts with our Virtual IoT Gateway. We install the gateway at the entrance of a water pit, allowing it to detect the cattle’s individual tags as they enter the area. Heads are automatically counted and the system issues an alert if any tagged animal is not detected within a certain period of time. Utilising this Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, the farm has continual visibility on its valuable live assets.

Seed your farm with an IoT.nxt solution

Embracing the role of IoT in utilising big data to enable AI in agriculture is the key to unlocking the potential of your farming ecosystem. We’re ready to equip your business with increased visibility and management of livestock, crops, silos and farm equipment, enabling smarter decisions and heightened efficiency.

Isn’t it time you started to harvest the power IoT.nxt puts in your hands?

Avert Avoidable Disaster: The Partnership Taking on the Challenges of the Tailings Dam Industry

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The goal for many mining professionals is to implement a real-time disaster management prevention plan that safeguards the environment, human life, and massively reduces risk. With so many potential hazards and a very real incident risk and ripple effect, data is key to understanding and, ultimately avoiding, disaster. In a bid to avert avoidable disaster, we’ve partnered with IsoMetrix to take on the challenges of the tailings dam industry.

Prevent disasters before they happen

The need for innovative solutions in tailings management has never been more apparent. Just this year, the Brumadinho dam disaster in Brazil demonstrated the kind of destruction that can occur as a result of catastrophic system failures. When the tailings dam at the Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine collapsed on January 25, many lives were lost and ecosystems destroyed. This has left behind a level of damage that experts predict will be felt for years to come in the area.

Consequently, in an ever-increasingly digitised world, the potential to transform the seemingly impossible into the possible is not only foreseeable but necessary to protect the world’s resources and human life. Enter the IoT.nxt IsoMetrix tailings solution. Using intelligent, real-time data collection from IoT and the IsoMetrix data analytics, these seemingly unattainable goals can be reached.

By rapidly deploying a full-scope tailings management platform you are granted top-down view of necessary stakeholders. This enables you to instil next-gen disaster prevention protocols for real-time results and predictive forecasting of future incidents.

Two heads are better than one

In a nutshell, the benefit of this solution to mines and other operations with large waste storage facilities is managing compliance and risks. In conducting analytics on all the data and providing information quickly through alerts, reports or dashboards, failures can be detected and acted on more readily. Benoit Froment, Regional Partner and Business Director at IsoMetrix, put it best when speaking at the International Tailings Management Conference in Chile last week.

“Together, IsoMetrix and IoT.nxt strengthen operational management practices and deliver improvements to existing controls and monitoring solutions,” said Mr Froment. “This gives environmental managers the ability to report on performance monitoring to external stakeholders and allows for the rapid collection, management, and quality-checking of data from a wide variety of monitoring instrumentation and remote sensing technologies.”

Any landscape, no matter how rugged

With this tech-agnostic solution, we can deploy our custom-fit solutions into any ecosystem, no matter how rugged. Whether it’s a mining plant or a tailings dam, our technology overlays existing legacy systems to create an agile ecosystem, with real-time data monitoring and comprehensive data analysis and reporting.

There is no doubt that a tailings dam is a significantly ruggedised landscape. As we all know, a tailings dam is an earth-fill embankment dam that can be used to store byproducts of mining operations after separating the ore from the gangue. Tailings can be liquid, solid, or a slurry of fine particles, and could be toxic and potentially radioactive. Hence, with unstable ingredients, the need to minimise risk and protect the environment, both natural and social, is paramount to not only the operation but the success of a tailings ecosystem.

Knocking challenges out of the dam

No matter how much a tailings ecosystem may need a smart IoT solution, implementation certainly brings its challenges. There are a variety of factors that can withhold, or make managers hesitate to deploy an IoT solution, including the cost of implementation, possible disruption to operations creating wasteful downtime, and fear that technology takeover fever will lead to a loss of jobs.

These challenges have halted many tailing dam ecosystems from digitising in the past, however, IoT.nxt and IsoMetrix are ready to bring the Fourth Industrial Revolution to your business, no matter how rugged the surrounding environment.

IoT.nxt implements a tailored IoT solution rapidly, without creating unnecessary downtime, and we agilely deploy our technology to ease the fear of technology fever, and simultaneously overlay with existing legacy systems, retaining a familiar environment for your valued workers.

Whether you’re a mine manager or metallurgical engineer, IoT.nxt and IsoMetrix have the tools to implement a next-gen top-to-bottom IoT platform that creates a single view of all essential parties to enable vital commands and protocols for efficient off-site management. Sounds like a bunch of words? See it in action.

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What digitisation looks like in action

Marrying technology seamlessly, the IoT.nxt and IsoMetrix tailing dam solution digitises your ecosystem rapidly and can future-proof your business against shifting market and environmental conditions.

A tailings management platform that really has it all

The IsoMetrix platform includes a comprehensive overview of every corner of your ecosystem. This platform intertwines every necessary component from leadership and participation to planning, evaluation of performance, and improvement. Then it is married with ongoing support blocks and real-time operational procedures, such as responsibility matrices, and emergency preparedness. When you leverage our simple drag and drop usability you can reduce risk in your ecosystem, protect the exterior environment and ultimately, safeguard lives.

Reducing avoidable tailings dam risk

Implementing an IoT.nxt and IsoMetrix platform enables predictive maintenance and real-time adjustment for the rarest of anomalies. Tailings management can be risky business, so it’s vital to have the right team and technology behind you that works efficiently to reduce detrimental risk.

The IsoMetrix IoT.nxt solution reduces avoidable risk by enabling remote scheduling of audits, through a top-down accessible view of your ecosystem and immediate, contextualised visibility of findings. Our devices also enable real-time event monitoring of crucial incidents, providing relevant data to inspire affirmative and instant action.

Protecting the surrounding environment

Deploying an IsoMetrix and IoT.nxt solution also creates safeguards for the environment surrounding your ecosystem. In an environmentally-conscious market, it’s important to meet compliance laws with active compliance modules. Woven into our solution is up-to-date compliance regulation that allows your business to meet obligation without creating unnecessary disruption to your business, or wasteful downtime.

By enabling real-time environmental data collection and condition monitoring, coupled with off-site smart audit schedules, our partner solution instils barriers and procedures to protect the environment and meet external policy and compliance obligation.

Safeguarding human lives

The IsoMetrix platform layout brings together and integrates the government and community to create an efficient synergised solution that contributes vitally to disaster prevention. By creating a harmonious workflow from top-to-bottom in an accessible platform, the right people are fed the necessary and, possibly, life-saving information in real-time.

Rapidly deploying our platform will also create predictive emergency preparedness that can safeguard human lives, and prevent avoidable man-made disaster. By implementing critical components and scheduling necessary drills, our solution is ready to digitise your ecosystem, connect every asset and create a hub that protects the external environment, both natural and social.

A seamless partnership

The recent partnership between IoT.nxt and IsoMetrix creates a unique opportunity for a seamless partnership. Marrying IoT.nxt’s expertise in transforming data and IsoMetrix’s unique ability to interpret such data, coupled with their knowledge for the tailings dam niche, creates a customised solution for any tailings dam ecosystem.

IoT.nxt is committed to overlaying our solution with minimal disruption to operations by overlaying our technology onto existing legacy systems and integrating into accessible software. Think you’ll need high-tech, expensive software to be compatible with our devices? Think again. Our partner solution integrates with any Microsoft Outlook account. We mean it when we say implementing an IoT.nxt IsoMetrix solution is cheaper and faster than you think.

Inevitably, two heads are better than one! So, implement a seamless partnership into your ecosystem today. Get in touch for an IoT.nxt and IsoMetrix solution today.

Leveraging the intelligent edge

It’s the big new buzzword in IoT, but how mature is the ‘intelligent edge’? Brainstorm convened a special roundtable to find out.

The intelligent edge is still a new concept for many. So what is it and why do they need it?

Gareth James, network and security sales specialist, VMware: The intelligent edge is important for three reasons. You need real-time decision-making at the edge, where speed is important and you can’t afford the latency of roundtrips. Then you’ve got cost reduction – the more processing you can do at the edge, the less data you have to send back to head office, so you can reduce your data bandwidth costs. Lastly, it’s about business continuity, because the last thing you want is that if you lose connectivity to the edge, the business can’t function.

Rudeon Snell, lead for SAP Leonardo Intelligent Technologies, EMEA South at SAP Africa: We see this convergence happening right now. Sensor prices dropped by 90% in the last five years and there’s been an explosion of data use. Customers can’t wait for latency in the roundtrips to process the amount of data that’s being generated. If you think about smart city constructs, intelligent buildings, agri-solutions, areas where cloud isn’t pervasive, you have to have alternate solutions in place that can simulate the experiences that customers are after. It’s a relatively new technology that’s projected to go mainstream in the next five years only.

George Senzere, solutions engineering manager, Schneider Electric: It’s defined in lots of ways, but I like to see it as a place where the real action is. You’re talking about smart buildings, smart factories, your house, it’s everything. What’s driving it is the deluge of data generated by the IoT. You have to look at reduction and deduplication of data. Then there’s protection of data, and where data is stored. Intelligent edge can also help with compliance around data sovereignty laws.

Rudeon Snell, SAP: What I love about the notion of the intelligent edge is that it’s the glue you play with to aggregate data from multiple sources into a cohesive layer from which you can make even more informed business decisions. It’s not just about dealing with forward-facing integration of IoT, but also integrating data from legacy equipment and taking all of that data into a layer of abstraction in the cloud, from which more informed business decisions can be made.

Tobie Alberts, digital evangelist, IoT. nxt: Operational Technology (OT) has been around for a long time. We’ve been doing intelligence at the edge for a long time. Why is it important now? Because we’re marrying OT with IT, and we have the ability to have IT run on the edge, side-by-side with my systems. When we talk about IT, this is nothing new – we’ve been talking about the client/server relationship forever and it goes around in a circle over time; first, everything happened on the server, then it all happened on the client, then it all happens in the cloud again. What is happening is that people who manage businesses are now looking at OT and saying, ‘I can manage my servers from my phone, so why can’t I manage my printing machine or infrastructure from my phone?’ To do that, you need intelligence at the edge.

Paul Williams, country manager, Fortinet: WiFi and 5G will be the glue that holds the Industrial IoT (IIoT) together. The mobile operators are planning on offering 5G; they’re not there yet because it’s going to need the buildout of infrastructure and they don’t have licences yet.

Tobie Alberts, IoT.nxt That’s why intelligent edge is being built here; African infrastructure isn’t reliable. It’s not going to happen in the US, where they have fantastic cloud solutions or in Europe, where there’s great narrowband for a few euros a year.

Rudeon Snell, SAP: We understand the value of the solutions that we propose, but all of this rises and falls on customer adoption and consumption of intelligent edge solutions. That will only happen when customers see the value of those solutions. The metrics that matter to the organisation must be positively impacted by what you propose. They don’t care about the tech, they care about how it affects the top or bottom line. A lot of customers still feel that intelligent edge is a nice-to-have.

So is intelligent edge a confusing sell, because customers are still only just adapting to cloud?

Riaan Graham, regional director, Ruckus: The way the industry used to sell, those days are gone. We used to be able to just drop a piece of tin. If you can’t add value to the endcustomer’s business, you won’t get the numbers. You need to understand their core business, and, more importantly, you need to understand where the core pain points are; you’ll see it before they do. They’re too close to the problem. It’s a consultancy process – you identify what the problem is, where the shortcomings are, and what the KPIs are.

Rudeon Snell, SAP: It’s also about translation of value. If you can’t land your message with your audience, and they don’t get it, the sales cycle isn’t going to move. How do we translate the value proposition into something that’s meaningful?

Trent Odgers, cloud and hosting manager, Veeam Software: I don’t like to think of cloud as a destination or of edge as a destination. It’s ‘and’, not ‘or’. As much as you’re going to compute at the edge – and that brings benefit – it’s still going to send information back so that you can analyse and get reports and get information. Amazon has announced Edge. You can now run Azure IoT on vSphere, the vendors are trying to work together to solve these problems. Everyone’s trying to figure out how to do it with what they have, so there’s some retrofitting.

Rudeon Snell, SAP: You also need political will inside an organisation to embrace this progress. It’s not enough anymore to show a pain point and a solution that will demonstrate value. Those days are ending because now everyone is highlighting pains – so how do you differentiate yourself?

Blockchain is a classic example of this differentiation challenge – everyone is playing around with it, experimenting with it, so what? There’s a similar challenge with edge.

Hein Badenhorst, client technical advisor and data lead, IBM: It’s not just about political will, it’s about trust at all levels. All the things that have happened with digital transformation – it’s been oversold, a lot of people have played with it. We talk about putting something intelligent on the edge that’s going to perform some business function on the business’ behalf, but at the moment, many of the big CIOs find it difficult enough to control just what’s inside a datacentre. Now I have to convince them that I’m going to put something intelligent out there that will operate on my behalf? The trust level has to go up exponentially.

What kinds of challenges do we see intelligent edge solving?

Riaan Graham, Ruckus: Take the big metros. We understand the challenges that all the metros have. They need to be able to do service delivery better and a pragmatic IoT strategy could do that. But they work in silos. There’s no political will to share data between departments. If you look at smart meters that have been rolled out – they all have WiFi or 3G. Why don’t we use that technology to start taking readings more accurately and have a dynamic environment, to fix things proactively?

Paul Williams, Fortinet: Think about water meters. People complain about paying their bills because they’re too high, sometimes thousands of rands a month. If you have intelligence at the edge, you can have an active portal that lets you monitor and add a cut-off level to stop you going over a limit for water use.

George Senzere, Schneider Electric: That’s the point, we understand it and we know what the value is. But for someone in a business to figure out a return on investment, it’s difficult.

Trent Odgers, Veeam: Shadow IT will figure it out. Either government will get involved or businesses will get involved or users will take a couple of Raspberry Pis and just do it for themselves.

Gareth James, VMware: And that’s why we can’t sit and wait for 5G to happen. There’s a plethora of other technologies and solution sets that will deliver results today and deliver results immediately.

Presumably for IIoT, we’re going to be talking WirelessHART, Zigbee and industrial WiFi anyway?

Hein Badenhorst, IBM: One of the problems is that I spend a lot of my time talking to clients about analytics and data and why it’s a good thing to do. But as soon as you start talking about the core discipline behind it, that you’ll have a lot more objects generating data, and you need somewhere to store that data and someone to take ownership of it, and data scientists to look at it, and build up an API so that when something happens on the edge, it triggers a business proces. We talk about it as if it’s plain and simple. But the IT of that organisation can’t even manage the patches on their operating systems correctly. We spend a lot of time trying to pre-package the analytics and take the heavy lifting away from them.

Rudeon Snell, SAP: We need more of an open ecosystem where we collaborate with customers specifically. The analogy is that we all have bank accounts, and we trust the bank to hold our money as opposed to storing it under the bed because a bank is geared up to be better at storing money. It’s the same thing – our clients are struggling to deal with patches, yet they’re heading off and starting data science competencies. It’s about trust, it has to be a partnership ecosystem so that people can come to us and be honest and say, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. This is what I want, how do we both win by building it?’ Those conversations aren’t happening enough, it’s still an adversarial system where clients are trying to squeeze extra value, you’re trying to get a bigger-size deal. How do we grow the pie rather than look for a bigger slice?

Riaan Graham, Ruckus: That’s where the ecosystem partnerships become very important. Rudeon Snell, SAP: And yet all of the vendors are developing edge capabilities that don’t necessarily conform to the same standards.

Riaan Graham, Ruckus: In the IoT world now, we have ZigBee, LoRa, maybe 40 other standards and the race is on. And it should be; we haven’t found the VHS from the Betamax yet. Let the reigns run free, but early adopters need to be brave enough to adopt one and be flexible.