While India began its internet of things (IoT) journey much later than the developed economies, the country’s network of connected units is expected to expand at a much faster pace. As per a Deloitte report, the number of IoT-enabled units in India is estimated to reach 1.9 billion by 2020. IoT adoption is anticipated to grow across industries such as transportation, logistics, utilities, manufacturing, automotive, agriculture and healthcare. Manufacturing and utilities are expected to drive the highest demand, contributing significantly to IoT revenues by 2020. Substantial demand will also come from industrial and consumer IoT applications.
With agriculture likely to contribute about $1 trillion to India’s GDP by 2022, it is essential to modernise this sector. Besides, given the surge in the Indian population, there is an urgent need to boost productivity. In recent years, IoT and automation have found application in agriculture, with farmers gaining better control over the process of raising livestock and growing crops, making it more predictable and efficient.
Smart farming, a high-tech system of growing food hygienically and sustainably, is gaining traction. IoT-based smart farming involves real-time monitoring of the field with the help of sensors, to track parameters such as light, humidity, temperature and soil moisture, as well as the automation of the irrigation system. IoT-based smart farming can provide benefits such as efficient water usage and optimisation of inputs.
Agriculture is also emerging as one of the key industries for the deployment of drones, both ground based and aerial. Drones help in crop health assessment, irrigation, crop monitoring, spraying, planting, and soil and field analysis.
FASAL, an artificial intelligence (AI) start-up, uses advanced IoT and machine learning technologies to make on-farm predictions and provide information on crop health to the farmer anywhere and on any device. Airwood is an agriculture production management and data science company, which provides farmers with comprehensive data instruments, predictive analytics and process improvements for improving yields.
IoT can transform traditional, linear manufacturing supply chains into dynamic, interconnected systems. Predictive and preventive maintenance are the key applications of IoT in the manufacturing sector. For example, if a machine shuts down, connected sensors can automatically identify the fault and trigger a service request accordingly. In addition, radio frequency identification tags are used to track real-time productivity.
FANUC Robotics is an application that can fully automate a machining process. ThingsCloud, Doxper, SeeHow, Uncanny Vision and IOT Pot are some other popular start-ups that provide IoT applications for manufacturing companies.
IoT is enabling the healthcare sector to provide proactive treatment, faster disease diagnosis, and drugs and equipment management. Wearable devices like fitness bands, heart rate monitoring cuffs, glucometers and ECG monitoring machines are enabling better personalised care for patients. Further, the data collected from IoT devices helps physicians to connect with patients and provide immediate medical attention. Hospitals also use sensor devices for tracking the location of medical equipment like wheelchairs, defibrillators, nebulisers and oxygen pumps.
Apollo Hospitals has established an e-ICU system, under which all its ICUs are connected and a team of experts can monitor the patients 24×7, even remotely. With this system in place, a patient does not have to wait for more than 30 minutes. Apollo is providing better service to its patients with the timely monitoring of its services (patient wait time) as well as critical assets (doctors, surgeons, experts).
Transportation and logistics
IoT has many benefits for the transportation and logistics industry. It helps in managing warehouse operations, tracking last-mile deliveries and improving freight transportation management. IoT improves information exchange and distribution at each stage of transportation. It has applications in fleet management, public transit and smart inventory management, asset utilisation and geofencing. IoT revolutionises fleet management operations as it assists in effective fare collection and in obtaining useful insights into commuters’ preferences and behaviour.
There are several IoT and data analytics start-ups offering smart vehicle solutions for route optimisation, and load planning. GoBolt is one such company which enables the auto-allocation process including the minimisation of dry runs and asset optimisation. Mumbai-based startup Transport Hub, which is powered by intelligent algorithms, analytics and IoT, is taking automation in logistics to the next level. Another start-up Ather Energy aims to bring predictive maintenance and analysis to the industry using AI.
As global energy consumption is anticipated to grow by 40 per cent over the next 25 years, smart energy solutions are also gaining prominence. IoT-based smart grids can change consumption patterns by collecting data and providing instant analysis of electricity circulation. These applications can equip both customers and suppliers in gaining a better understanding of resource usage.
IoT-based sensors are being used to assess the overall health of assets such as turbines and transmission lines. They measure the wear and tear, vibration, temperature and other parameters of these assets. IoT has the ability to use real-time data for fine-tuning plant operations, which can facilitate energy conversion from fuel and effectively manage congestion on transmission and distribution lines.
Several parts of India are still struggling with power outages every day resulting from the inefficiencies of the power grid. Such issues can be easily resolved with the use of IoT. For instance, Haryana-based Zenatix combines IoT and AI to help large retail chains and banks to improve their energy efficiency and automate other manual operations. The company deploys various sensors, controllers and actuators for the purpose. OxraGrid is another company that installs low-cost sensors along the distribution network, and uses real-time data for predictive analysis of outages. Another Chennai-based start-up Energly uses cloud-based solution and analytics for improving energy efficiency. Sustlabs provides real-time insights on energy usage and house activity by connecting the electricity meter to the owner’s phone. Solar Labs uses IoT and AI to help solar firms understand the solar requirement and generate engineering designs that maximise solar generation.
IoT is likely to bring significant transformation in the education sector. It can connect learners worldwide. Interactive boards and digital highlighters are some of the examples. Meanwhile, digital wrist-bands and identity cards enable schools to track students, staff and visitors, improving campus safety. Edtech start-ups are personalising the classroom experience for thousands of Indian students to help them compete well and learn with the best possible methodology.
Going forward, IoT will be a catalyst for the digital transformation of various industries. It will help improve their operations and also drive growth.