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IoT Use Cases: Applications across industry segments

September 20, 2017
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The concept of internet of things (IoT) is gaining popularity worldwide as various industry verticals realise the benefits that the technology has to offer. It promises to be a veritable game changer for the Indian market, given its perceived role in accomplishing the Digital India initiative. Already several companies across sectors such as manufacturing, insurance, transport, logistics and retail are adopting IoT solutions to reduce costs, monitor functions and decrease machine downtime while improving their overall business efficiency and customer service. However, it is sectors such as healthcare and utilities,  and opportunities from initiatives such as the Smart Cities Mission that will create the biggest demand in the years to come.

A look at the various applications of IoT across major verticals...


IoT-driven manufacturing can create an ecosystem in which information and data can be captured in real time and actionable insights can be analysed to enable the continuous tracking of processes, capital assets, resources and products. The visibility afforded by smart manufacturing would give organisations the ability to streamline processes as well as ensure the optimisation of demand and supply. IoT systems are now being deployed in factories, warehouses and supply chain operations. For instance, sensors are being used for the continuous monitoring of critical assets, equipment, processes and product parameters within the factory. Companies are also exploring the option of connected products, which give feedback about their location and performance after they are deployed at the site. Production line systems are increasingly getting connected, which allows manufacturers to undertake predictive maintenance. This reduces unplanned downtime considerably, besides improving equipment utilisation.

Amongst various manufacturing segments in India, the automobile industry has adopted IoT/machine-to-machine technologies early on. For instance, Mahindra & Mahindra has implemented a digital factory at its Chakan vehicle plant in Pune. This is a near-real-time factory that uses internet protocol connectivity for all assets, from the shop floor to the data command centre. Any disruption in the manufacturing process can quickly be identified and tracked, allowing any problems to be fixed in the least possible time. Real-time control systems help in routing and tracking of vehicles as well as in quality assurance and equipment performance monitoring.


IoT presents plenty of opportunities for retailers to optimise their supply chain, promote personalised marketing, automate merchandising and operations, deliver a superior customer experience and explore advance revenue streams. For instance, IoT solutions can help retailers monitor and track inventory by triggering real-time actions based on data from high-resolution cameras and sensors on packages, shelves and other assets. IoT data can also be analysed for understanding which inventory is underperforming, which is overstocked or running out of stock.

The data received from IoT solutions can, moreover, be coupled with artificial intelligence capabilities to derive enhanced benefits. For instance, Croma Retail has reported that it is undertaking pilots in the fields of artificial intelligence and cognitive learning. Even Aditya Birla Retail is contemplating the deployment of some of these technologies to personalise the shopping experience of its customers. IoT solutions like digital signages are expected to see significant uptake amongst retailers for digitising the user experience. These solutions can help retailers in determining where the promotion merchandise should be placed.

Logistics and transport

Connectivity-enabled devices are now being used to track road, rail, sea and air shipments. This end-to-end monitoring reduces the chances of loss or theft, while ensuring that immediate action is taken in case the freight is in danger or is likely to be damaged. Further, with real-time updates on weather and traffic conditions, fleet drivers can cope with the situation better. Hero MotoCorp, for example, has equipped its vehicles with GPS connectivity to improve the visibility of its fleet in different locations so that the dealers know when certain vehicles would be available.

The enhanced in-transit visibility is very advantageous for logistics companies.  The use of various cloud-based GPS and radio frequency identification systems provides logistics carriers with key location statistics, which are otherwise difficult to gather. For instance, Delhivery, a courier dispatch company in Delhi, tracks its fleet in real time. It has an integrated instant invoicing system and provides alerts when its shipping trucks reach their destinations, break down or report to the warehouse.

Further, IoT solutions such as acoustic and visual sensors can be deployed on railway tracks and can be connected with a centralised alarm system to issue warnings on detecting any anomaly. This can help in mitigating derailment risks and providing real-time information about the status of ongoing repairs across railway tracks, thereby avoiding human and financial damage in a big way.


Smart grid technology has found many takers in the energy and utilities sector. Smart meters help in calculating energy consumption at regular intervals and transferring information to the utility company. The key benefit to the consumer is the provision of accurate, up-to-date billing information, which allows utilities to introduce more flexible payment methods. Smart meters also eliminate the need for periodic trips to each physical location to read a meter. Moreover, smart grids enabled by IoT technology address some key issues such as grid security, failure in the distribution network, line losses and overloading.

IoT technologies are also finding takers in the oil and gas sector, where companies are upgrading their pipeline networks with smart sensors that can trace leakage points, which, in turn, can help companies in eliminating unplanned well outages. For instance, Hindustan Petroleum is using IoT to automate several processes and provide real-time insights into its business. The company has installed sensors in the field units to gather information on temperature, pressure, flow rates, density, product levels, GPS coordinates, condition of devices, speed and other physical attributes. Similarly, GAIL is working towards adopting IoT solutions.

Banking, financial services and insurance

Banks are turning to IoT technologies to enhance the user experience and reduce costs in a big way. Some banks have started using beacons to send customised offers on customer smartphones as soon as they enter the branch. Further, some ATMs now have live stream video support that allows customers to speak to tellers if they need additional assistance. Besides, IoT can open up new opportunities in credit financing, especially for banking customers who lack credit history. Banks can use real-time biometrics and positional sensors to routinely assess the well-being of a farmer’s crop and livestock, track inventory and monitor the location of goods on a container ship that they are financing in the form of business credit or a crop loan or insurance.

Currently, Kotak Mahindra Bank is considering the deployment of IoT technology to ensure adherence to security and privacy norms. Meanwhile, UAE Exchange India is in the process of implementing solutions for improving the efficiency of its business-to-business division.

The insurance sector stands to gain significantly from the adoption of IoT solutions. In India, life insurance companies are still at a nascent stage of leveraging IoT technology to gain a competitive advantage. However, there are some organisations in the health insurance space that are using IoT solutions to find out relevant statistical information through wearables and other devices. By studying the risks arising from individual consumer behaviour, insurance companies can price their risks more effectively. Similarly, the use of motion detecting sensors in vehicles helps automobile insurance providers in predicting driving behaviour  for calculating premium prices.


With just one doctor per 1,700 citizens, the status of healthcare delivery in India is extremely disappointing. IoT can radically change this by ushering in a patient-centric approach wherein patients, particularly in remote and rural areas, need not travel long distances or wait for hours to get medical help. IoT solutions will facilitate near-real-time flow of information between doctors and patients. In an urban set-up, IoT can help in maintaining patient records, which can be accessed from anywhere any time. Moreover, devices can be installed inside ambulances, which give doctors real-time updates about a patient’s condition. Currently, Apollo Hospitals is exploring IoT solutions to transform its healthcare service with regard to effective in-patient care and post-discharge care, as well as overall preventive health and wellness.

Smart cities

The government’s planned investment of about $1 billion for 100 smart cities over the next five years is expected to be a key enabler for IoT adoption. Smart surveillance, automated transportation systems, smarter energy management systems, water distribution, urban security and environmental monitoring are some initiatives in the field of IoT applications for smart cities. Smart sensors can detect meter tampering, malfunctions and any installation issues in the electricity system. Smart dustbins, which are completely modular and provide historical and real-time data, can be deployed for trash pick-up and waste collection and disposal management. Smart and wireless outdoor lighting control systems with features like adaptive lighting can help save electricity by intuitively adjusting the brightness of street lights based on the presence of automobiles and pedestrians. Similarly, companies have launched a new smart parking solution for smart cities to allow citizens to find available parking spots.

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