How real is IoT?

From asset tracking to inventory control to energy conservation, Indian companies are doing a lot of homework to reap benefits from IoT disruption that are throwing up new opportunities for redefining business models

By: Prerna Sharma & Charu Murgai

Indian enterprises are in the early stages of understanding the impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on their business, but the potential is huge. IoT is gaining popularity among Indian enterprises, government and consumers, but security concerns and the lack of relevant business cases may limit adoption in the shorter term.

According to Mckinsey, the digitization of machines, vehicles, and other elements of the physical world is a powerful idea. Even at this early stage, IoT is starting to have a real impact by changing how goods are made and distributed, how products are serviced and refined, and how doctors and patients manage health and wellness. But capturing the full potential of IoT applications will require innovation in technologies and business models, as well as investments in new capabilities and talent.

In India, the potential for transformation using IoT is huge as in the energy and utilities sector, there are segments such the state electricity boards, transmission and distribution companies, and private power producers that are adopting smart grid technology, not only to manage power supply and demand, but also to study customers’ power usage behavior. A few companies in the Indian oil and gas industry have initiated IoT pilot projects for cost-effective remote monitoring and maintenance of pipeline networks. Similarly, in the FMCG industry, a few companies are experimenting with IoT technologies to manage supply chain, inventory and warehouse, and to improve marketing effectiveness and in-store experience for consumers.

Looking at the huge opportunity and potential for IoT among Indian enterprises, Dataquest identified such leading companies that have scripted their success stories using IoT.

HPCL: Automating Processes

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Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, commonly known as HPCL, has the second largest share of product pipelines in India with a pipeline network of more than 2,500 kms for transportation of petroleum products and a vast marketing network consisting of 13 zonal offices in major cities and 101 regional offices facilitated by a supply & distribution infrastructure comprising terminals, pipeline networks, aviation service stations, LPG bottling plants, inland relay depots and retail outlets, lube and LPG distributorships.

With expanding business, the need for deploying right kind of technology was the top concern for the management, so that right and timely decisions are taken. Starting from mobility to IoT, HPCL have enjoyed the benefits from these emerging technologies. Among all its tech initiatives, the major two IoT projects that have changed the rules of the game are: The vehicle tracking system helps us to monitor the movement of trucks to ensure that the products are delivered as per the logistics plan and we are able to ensure the quality and quantity of product that is delivered to our customers.

In all these systems, sensors installed in field units capture state information like temperature, pressure, flow rates, density, product levels, GPS coordinates, state/condition of devices, speed, and such physical attributes. These attributes are captured and used for both monitoring the processes as well as controlling these systems.

These systems enable us to operate our facilities efficiently and provide real-time visibility of the status of the condition of these systems. For instance, retail outlet automation systems help in monitoring the performance of the outlets in real-time and pro-actively attend any issues.

“One of the biggest challenge is to integrate the existing solutions available in the market. It limits the opportunities of exploiting the rich information captured by these systems in other use cases. I believe that the vendors should address some of these concerns by adopting open standards,” added ST Sathiavageeswaran, Executive Director, Information Systems, HPCL.

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