Submitted by Larry Bellehumeur on 

While the number of M2M deployments is starting to accelerate, there have been many applications/uses that have been in place for years, if not decades. Applications such as Vehicle tracking and the monitoring of Oil wells are two examples of solutions that have become such commonplace that even people who are not employed in the M2M space are well aware of their benefits (such as reducing fuel, optimizing driving routes and in the case of oil wells, complying with government regulations and monitoring of a valuable asset). However, these applications (and ones like it) make up a very small part of the overall value that M2M deployments can bring to a company.

Here are a few of the benefits of M2M that many people may not have thought of:

Offering monitoring services to your customers It is common in the business world for companies to have one of their assets deployed remotely, and often on the premises of one of their customers. This may include large items like heavy machinery, kiosk type solutions such as banking/parking machines and various pieces of high end medical equipment. Since many of these devices are vital to a company's operation (or in the case of medical equipment, they have impacts on people's health), many customers are opting to have manufacturers/distributors monitor their "health" to optimize their usage. This is often a chargeable service, and one that customers are usually willing to pay to maintain a certain level of service. While offering break/fix services is not new, M2M allows for a level of pro-activeness that has never been possible before. Customers can have downtime virtually eliminated, often not even knowing that a service went down before it is repaired.

Optimization of remote repair/service crews For many trades, there is a shortage of skilled labour, despite some weakness in the economy. It may be that customers are keeping devices longer than expected (which creates more opportunity for repairs/downtime), a spike in sales in particular areas or a general reduction in new workers entering that trade. Whatever the reason, the shortage of skilled workers in some professions hurts company's bottom line (both the service company who is limiting their revenue potential, as well as the customer who is losing the ability to keep their machinery functioning). While an M2M solution can't instantly train workers, it offers the following:

1) Ability to perform simple resets over the air (reducing the frequency of visits by a serviceperson, allowing more work to be done by key resources)

2) Reduction in clerical work for each call (either through a Field Force Automation solution that simplifies data entry / clerical work, or by machines being able to report automatically what service work was done by a repairperson)

3) M2M solutions allow for the ability for maintenance to be better optimized (reflecting the true hours of operation), resulting in lower repairs.

4) Finally, vehicle tracking solutions allow for optimized routing, preventing unnecessary time spent staring at the windshield of the repair vehicle, instead of working at a customer location.

Better usage data I have to admit, this one is even somewhat new to me.....Many manufacturers are finding their margins cut due to overseas competition/slower economy, and they are trying to find ways to both optimize their products (to increase the value that they are offering their customers without reducing selling price) as well as to reduce unnecessary costs to bolster margins. M2M solutions allow manufacturers the following benefits:

1) Seeing how their products are ACTUALLY being used. Perhaps brake pads are not lasting as long as expected, or perhaps a manufacturer cannot figure out how their competitors are able to cut costs while improving build quality (by reducing unnecessary components).... Whatever the reason, manufacturers are starting to use M2M to get a better sense of the accuracy of their engineering assumptions that they used to design the product.

2) Determining possible trends/issues in products. In the past, it was often only through customer complaints that a manufacturer was able to see part/design flaws. Now with M2M, manufacturers can get real time information about the health of their product, allowing them to be more proactive in nature. This provides better customer service and can prevent large repair expenses / recalls.

3) Better input for future products. Most people in business have used (correctly, I may add) the old adage about listening to their customers. However, many customers don't speak up about issues/needs for future products, and this is dangerous for manufacturers. These are not flaws in the design, but rather unanticipated usage patterns or requirements, and without the right information, a company may miss the target with their next product launch. M2M solutions allow companies to see where the market is you need to use a bigger battery because people are often experiencing downtime recharging? .... Do truck owners often come close to / exceed the recommended weight on the truck (meaning that you may wish to raise capacity) or do none of them come anywhere near capacity (meaning that having such a large capacity is both adding unnecessary costs and perhaps putting your product at a cost disadvantage)?....Can you better time the intervals of your maintenance to reduce the amount of downtime for a piece of equipment, reducing the Cost of Ownership?

As always, let Novotech know how we can help you with any of your M2M needs!