While much of the talk regarding technology usually revolves around consumer electronics, or even subjects like smart cities, software development and cryptocurrency, little is said about the industrial sector, probably because it hasn’t incurred much into new technologies yet.
One place that caught our attention was none other than Canada. Thanks to an ambitious funding program, the country is on the edge of experiencing a surge in tech projects, and sectors like industrial, manufacturing and even healthcare are in line to receive benefits.
However, there are already some players that have been providing compelling services for a while now. We recently got the chance to talk with two of those very interesting companies. They are based in Vacouver (selected as the second-best Canadian city for tech companies, just behind Toronto), and both are harnessing the power of IoT to shake up the industrial sector, even at an international level.
Location. Context. Intelligence.
Fathom provides a high accuracy indoor location service using Bluetooth. In other words, it’s a service for tracking anything in a closed environment, where GPS isn’t as reliable. That goes from objects to people, as told by Paul Ransom, Head of Sales for UK and Europe.
“It’s for indoors, and GPS doesn’t work indoors. That’s why we use Bluetooth,” he confirms. Fathom claims it can get the latitude and longitude of any signal within a 2-meter radio. For that, the company sells its “Fathom Hub”, a receiver which a “high positioning algorithm.”
“Let me put this Fathom Hub up in the ceilings, like an access point, which is a six-antenna bidirectional scanner,” explains Ransom. “It scans the environment for Bluetooth signals. Let me put multiple hubs on different sides of the room, then we can triangulate the whole area.”
There’s also another particular aspect that makes the service special: it’s all in real time. “Anyone coming into the area with a Bluetooth signal, we can psychically locate them in real time. So we use it for industrial manufacturing, like car manufacturers, or even the health sector, and even organizers where they’re constantly trying to locate moving equipment. Anything that needs to be tracked, weather it is equipment or a person.”
The company also has several use cases to showcase how it has successfully implemented its service. Ransom highlights one example where they helped a large bus carrier in the US. “50 buses parked there every night,” he explains.
“They had a problem: if bus no. 1 is parked behind 30 other buses and it had a flat tire, they needed to move the other 30 busses. So what we did was, we put a beacon into the bus and the driver was instructed where to park it. And if the engineer needed to locate the bus, they could locate it immediately.” Before, locating an specific unit could take up to 40 minutes or even 1 hour.
Industrial Machines ready for the Internet of Things
There have been three industrial revolutions in history. First, there was the steam engine. Then, electricity came to dominate as the main source of energy. Lastly, the computer changed forever the way we work in every possible aspect of our lives.
According to iFourZero, we’re on the edge of a fourth revolution, which is being ignited by none other than the Internet of Things. The incursion of this technology into the industrial sector results in what the company pertinently calls “Industrial Internet of Things”, or IIoT.
Ali Tüzmen, Co-founder & CEO of iFourZero, subscribes to those believes: “Industrial is going to a new era, so the new IoT technologies are getting their entrance to the industrial companies to replace the old technologies of 50 years ago.”
The product is called Machine Cloud, and is essentially a digital hub where industrial machinery can interact with itself and compile data about its performance. “We’re acquiring the data, the Big Data of the machines in real time,” explains Tüzmen.
“We convert it to a digital UI, and run applications to improve the productivity, the speed and the flexibility of the industrial company. To improve it not with the old technology, but with the new one.” In other words, as he puts it, iFourZero normalizes this data and pumps it into the platform.
The company can deliver advanced results based on Big Data in three ways. Descriptive, telling the client “what happened and when”; Predictive, telling what may happen in the future; and Prescriptive, combining statistics to provide technical advice for further actions.
“This is what we are doing. To improve the industrial sector not with the old technology, but with the new one.”