I read an interesting article that was posted in the Financial Post which spoke about how companies were using various automation and robotic solutions to improve the safety and quality standards in the food industry.  The purpose was to:

- improve the accuracy of cutting (for better consistency among food supplies)
- provide better inspection tools
- better detect what foods may be spoiled prior to shipping

While this solution had an indirect relationship to the M2M world that we know and love, I wondered....how is M2M being used today to provide a better level of quality control for companies and consumers?

Lower "DOA" through better on-site testing

It has been common practice for many industries to do testing before products are shipped to customers.  M2M solutions have allowed companies to build on these practices.  Companies such as manufacturers of heavy machinery are able to better retrieve real-time information during the pre-tests by using tools that are already manufactured into the units.  This makes for better "real-life" tests while lowering down the need for expensive testing equipment at the factory.

Better information from the field....about how things are actually used

Generally, I consider those in the Engineering field to be smarter than most people.  However, as smart as they are, even they cannot imagine all of the different variables in how customers may use their products.  Customers may use them with accessories / services that were not anticipated.....they may use them for longer periods than they were designed for.....they may use them in more aggressive manners, resulting in higher operating temperatures and more wear and tear on certain components.  Regardless of how these products may be used differently than expected, M2M solutions provide engineers with better feedback than what they get now, to allow them to make changes based on how products are actually used.  They may mean that they alter the durability of a battery, recommend using heavier grade lubricants or it may mean that they reinforce certain welds on products.  It also allows them to remove what is not needed (allowing them to take out unnecessary components/accessories to reduce cost / weight / design complexity of many products).

Know when things will fail....often before they actually do

I received a notice in the mail about a software upgrade for my Acura a while back.  The upgrade was for some algorithms (or something like that) that the transmission used to optimize fuel consumption.  My guess is that the engineers knew something before I did.  What likely happened was that the engineers received some reports as to what gear changes were made, and based on this information, they were able to find ways to optimize the transmission algorithms to improve fuel consumption.

Another way that quality control is improved in this manner is the detection of excessive or unplanned wear/tear on certain components.  Imagine that a device is designed (and sold) as having an expected life in the field of 10 years.  That would mean that each key components should be designed to have a degradation level of no more than 10% each year (preferably, much less).  After two years in the field, engineers start to notice that the life of these parts is falling at a much faster rate.  They now have the luxury of time.....they can notify their customers and find ways to have these key components changed/upgraded before they actually fail. 

In a perfect world, things would last as long as planned every time.  However, being proactive to your customers on possible issues goes a long way to improving customer service and the perception for your products.

Bottom line

In this economy, companies need to find a great balance between lowering costs and maintaining the same level of quality that their customers have become accustom to.  M2M solutions allow for companies to catch issues earlier than before, make changes on the fly and decrease the amount of downtime in the field.....sounds like smart business to me!

As always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs, such as the right M2M solution for you. Browse our website @ www.novotech.com.  As well, feel free to reach out to me directly ....larry(@)novotech.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) and you can follow me personally as well (@LBNovotechM2M).