Digital Transformation through IoT: Post NL; Unilever and Alcatel-Lucent
On an IoT use case session, broadcast virtually from the Amsterdam-based event, Rutger Katz, senior program manager for digital transformation at the Netherlands national post service Post NL, outlined how the organisation had attached sensors to some of its 250,000 roll containers, to track packages more effectively.
“We used to rely on scanning, but the sensors allow us to find out which trucks the packages are on, their exact location, any blockages that might come up. If there are a lot of trucks waiting but not many roll containers that need to be transported, we can send some trucks off in another direction. It’s a very big cost saving for us,” said Katz.
Katz admitted that in traditional organisations, digital transformation could be “a hard sell” and it was better start with a cost-saving approach first.
“You need a good business case. The next step for us would be using the IoT data for more predictive purposes. How many trucks are we going to need beforehand? And how are we going to arrange the trucks during the busy times such as Black Friday, Christmas, and New Year’s when there is a very big pressure on our network,” he added.
From a vendor’s perspective, Laurent Bouchoucha, VP of development at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s network business division, said that building IoT applications was about building solutions based on specific customer requirements.
“If we want to improve the productivity of nurses in a hospital our product manager spends a week with nurses and learns the needs of the job – and after a week we have a decent knowledge,” he said.
“If you want to optimise a optimise safety for roads transportation – as we are doing – we spend a week in a security operation centre to assess what type of IoT data they, and, in case of an incident, how do they want this data received,” he added.
Like Post NL, Bouchoucha recommends that firms start with the “low hanging fruit”. In healthcare ALE started with locating wheelchairs and beds – after finding out that nurses spend around one hour per day trying to locate these assets.
“The most obvious ROI is cost and time – and these are the projects that will get through at first. Demonstrate that it works and aim to demonstrate its value within a 12-month timeframe,” he advises.
Larger organisations such as Unilever are already using IoT and intelligent edge services to generate a next generation digital model of a physical environment – a so called ‘digital twin’.
Satyajit Wattamwar, data science & digital expertise leader at Unilever R&D added that there are now over 30 pilot plants and that the biggest challenge currently is retrieving usable data and optimising performance.
“You cannot ignore a single piece of information that is happening in the factory. The scale is huge, and the challenge is big,” he said.
“I scout many different technology partners, including IoT and data scientists, but even the most advanced technology solution companies struggle when it comes to the optimization,” he added.
According to Bouchoucha a key challenge for enterprises using IoT is how to get the right data to the right people as quickly as possible so that they could make the best decisions. “And the best decision, in the end, will usually be a human one,” he added.
Subscribe to our Editor's weekly newsletter