How Industrial and Warehouse Environments Are Adopting IoT

Survey reveals that IoT is swiftly moving from a technological concept to a practical industrial tool.

Survey reveals that IoT is swiftly moving from a technological concept to a practical industrial tool.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has been called the next wave of information technology (IT) because it holds the potential to enable new insights and efficiencies by tapping into data from smart, connected devices, sensors and machines.

The IoT’s benefits range from improved efficiencies and time savings to better energy efficiency.

In industrial settings such as warehouses, distribution centers (DCs), and manufacturing plants, there are many types of machines and systems that consume energy.

Lighting fixtures, industrial machinery, exhaust fans, materials handling systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning/cooling (HVAC) systems, as well as a plug load (power from the electrical wall socket), are a few examples of the systems that can be connected to the Internet as part of an IoT strategy.

While building control and monitoring systems have existed for decades, they have tended to be point solutions.

The IoT’s great potential is as a platform to interconnect many types of systems and devices to provide the visibility needed to coordinate an enterprise’s assets as conditions change, and to balance competing priorities in keeping with operational goals.

For example, having building energy controls connected using an IoT platform could help an enterprise manage its lighting, HVAC, plug load, fans and other sensors for significant savings, arrange proactive maintenance based on information about product installation date and expected life, and benefit from demand/response energy rate savings and rebates from a utility provider.

To best understand how enterprises are embracing and adopting IoT, Peerless Research Group (PRG) on behalf of Modern Materials Handling and Daintree Networks surveyed hundreds of warehouse professionals who are responsible for tasks involving operations management, warehouse operations, facilities management, information technology, environmental health and safety, as well as energy and sustainability for their organization.  

Roughly four out of 10 manage more than one facility and one out of every five is responsible for warehouse or DC space in excess of 500,000 square feet.

The participants noted that achieving greater control over expenses was the top concern and challenge, along with the need to show rapid payback for technology investments.

Significantly, the results showed that adoption by end-users is in the very early stages. Based on the results, an element slowing adoption is the fact that warehouse decision-makers need more information and education about IoT and, in particular what it is and how it can dramatically impact the way we work.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Less than one-half of 213 respondents (43%) say they are familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT).  

To gain a better understanding from decision-makers about their knowledge and acceptance of IoT, a definition was provided to all respondents.

Gartner defines the Internet of Things as “a network of dedicated physical objects (things) that contain embedded technology to sense or interact with their internal state or the external environment.

The IoT is an ecosystem that includes things, communication, applications and data analysis.” In simple terms, IoT is about automating various processes in an enterprise through M2M (machine-to-machine) connections to gain operational efficiencies.

After exposure to this definition of IoT, there is a slight spike in familiarity among survey respondents.  Still, nearly one-half (46%) have either heard of IoT but are not sure what it’s all about or haven’t heard of it at all.  

Only 12% are highly familiar with the Internet of Things.    



While the full survey includes valuable insights regarding organizational challenges, planned green initiatives, and perspectives on employee comfort and more, the IoT information was the most compelling.

Of particular interest, six out of 10 survey respondents familiar with the IoT believe it will play a key role in improving facilities’ operational efficiencies.

The overall results confirm that the IoT is gaining interest among warehouse and distribution center decision-makers as a means of operational advantage, and that the IoT is now moving from concept to practical application.

In addition, the results revealed that a strategy of monitoring and controlling energy consumption and leveraging solutions to enable greater energy efficiencies and operational efficiencies is an approach that will allow organizations to reduce costs while transitioning to an enterprise-wide Internet of Things deployment. 


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